Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fleischer Studios Cartoonist Jean Karaty Passes On

Jean Karaty, who worked at Fleischer Studios after they moved to Miami, died on 27 November 2014 at the age of 97.

Jean Karaty was born Jean Shehan in Dublin, Georgia on 22 February 1917. It was in the Twenties that her family moved to Miami, Florida. It was in 1938, after Flesicher Studios had moved from New York City to Miami, that Jean Karaty went to work for the animation studio. It was at her mother's dress shop in Miami that a Fleischer employee noticed Mrs. Karaty's drawings of animals, cartoon characters, and animals, and suggested that she visit the studio.

Mrs. Karaty started work at Fleischer Studios as an opaquer, an artist who colours in the individuals cels of an animated film.  While at Fleischer Studios she worked on both "Popeye" and "Betty Boop" shorts. When Fleischer Studios transitioned their "Popeye" shorts from black and white to colour, Jean Karaty was one of their few colourists.

Unfortunately Fleischer Studios did not last. The studio increasingly found itself in debt to its distributor, Paramount. Worse yet, By 1940 Max and Dave Fleischer had stopped speaking to each other due to both personal and professional disagreements. The failure of the studio's second feature, Mr. Bug Goes to Town, would ultimately lead to Paramount forcing Max and Dave Fleischer to resign as the heads of the studio. Paramount then re-formed Fleischer Studios to create a new animation company, Famous Studios. Paramount also moved the studio's operations back to New York.

As one of Fleischer Studios' best employees, Paramount executives offered Jean Karaty a job with Famous Studios. This would have meant she would have to move to New York City. Unfortunately, her parents objected to her moving to New York City and as a result she did not take the job with Famous Studios.

It was many years later that the Fleischer Brothers' old rival, Walt Disney, offered Jean Karaty an offer of a job in Orlando, Florida  As Mrs. Karaty's husband Michael owned a Whiteway Service Station in downtown Miami that had been there for years and neither of them wanted to move, she declined Mr. Disney's offer.

Jean Karaty was not only one of the last living ties to the Golden Age of Animation, but also one of the last living artists who had worked for the legendary Fleischer Studios.

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