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Selzer, Edward (“Eddie”)

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 22, 2004

(1893-1970)

    When Warners purchased the Schlesinger cartoon studio in 1944, they installed Selzer as producer. Previous to his appointment there, Selzer had been the head of West Coast publicity for Warner Brothers. Many of the artists believed he was chosen because he lacked a sense of humor. The general consensus was that he was mostly a figurehead at the studio, and barely competent even in that role.

    Selzer had directed the Ripley’s Believe It or Not short subject series in the early 1930s, and had also been the publicist for Vitaphone between 1931 and 1933, before becoming head of studio publicity in the thirties.

    Certainly, most of the stories told about Selzer involve his narrow-minded approach to animation. Chuck Jones in particular mocks Selzer in his autobiography, citing his reaction to Pépe le Pew (“Nobody would laugh at that sh*t”) and then gleefully accepting the Oscar won for the Pépe short For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) as his own. He similarly mentions Selzer’s dictum against making bullfight cartoons, provoking Jones into the making of Bully for Bugs (1953), his admonition against making gags about Eisenhower, and his interrupting of a hilarious story conference with the question “What has all this laughter got to do with the making of animated cartoons?” Jones also observes that Selzer looked like Mr. Magoo.

    Curiously enough, it was Jones who put references to Selzer in his cartoons. The poster for the concert in The Rabbit of Seville (1950) identifies one “Eduardo Selzeri”. Heaven Scent (1956) has a shop selling “Selzer Water”, the same product as seen in Deduce You Say (1956). A sign for the Selzer Mining Co. is seen in Ready, Set, Zoom! (1955). (Incidentally, Jones misidentifies the drawing showing this on page 94 of Chuck Amuck; he identifies the cartoon as Beep Beep (1952), which did have a mine sequence, but which did not have the sign.)

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