Animation History
September 18, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

Fleischer Studios in Miami

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Today a special pictorial tribute to the Fleischer studio building in Miami, Florida. As we all know, after the success of Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Paramount had Fleischer create a feature (Gulliver’s Travels, 1939) to cash in on a perceived demand for animated features. Max Fleischer choose to build a new studio in right-to-work Florida – a state-of-the-art facility designed to create Popeye cartoons, Gulliver’s Travels, as well as the last few Betty Boop’s, the first Superman cartoons and Mr. Bug Goes To Town.

The images below are courtesy of Leslie Cabarga and his vital book, The Fleischer Story

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What was it like inside? This Cinecolor Popular Science short shows off the studio – and the work done on its interior.



In 1986, I visited Miami and made a point to check out the location of the studio – and to my surprise, it was still there. It was now a Miami-Dade County Family Planning and Youth Center. The staff graciously allowed me to run around the place and take pictures. I was about 42 years too late…

I snapped a few photos with my Kodak Instamatic camera. You can see that the front door was boarded up and was now simply a window (the new entrance was around the corner). The center courtyard was still in great shape. The whole place had that “if time stood still” feeling…

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If these walls could talk – or draw

I went into the gym – which, according to the studio floor plan above, was the screening room and recording studio back in the day. Note the projection booth port-holes above the basketball hoops. I ran up those stairs, in hopes of finding a loose animation drawing from a Superman cartoon or a Technicolor reel from The Raven – but alas, it as pitch black and completely empty.

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A few years later – in 1991 – Fleischer animation art collector Martin Almeyra took his own photos of the place – now adorned with shades over the windows (click thumbnails below to enlarge). Below that, the latest photo of the studio – now a Miami Police Department. A fitting use for a building that once created heroes like Popeye and Superman.

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(Special thanks to Ray Pointer and Leslie Cabarga)

12 Comments

  • That Fleischer Studios letterhead is obviously the work of the Mystery Title Card Artist, an expert at lettering if ever there were one. Has anything more been unearthed about the mysterious A. Greenbaum?

  • I assume when the police stationed there have problems with any of the perps, they have cans of spinach in their squad cars. Or call for Superman when they need back-up…

  • At least the building still stands in 2013. That can’t be said about every former cartoon studio of historical note.

    • I think of too many buildings downtown that were once department stores or other local businesses that are now the apartments or charter schools of today.

  • Thanks for posting this. Somewhere I have photocopies of the original Architectural Record article about the Miami Fleischer Studio.

    • I found my photocopies. The story indeed in Architectural Record, January 1939 issue pages 33 through 37 inclusive. The article is entitled, “Light, Sound, and Atmosphere Controlled In Studio Design”.

      Architect: C. Sheldon Tucker
      Associate: John M. Lyell
      Building cost: $300,000

    • I’ve had a Xeroxed copy since the 1970s. The cost as reported in the article is twice as what is recorded among the Fleischer Studio assets and balances. The cost of the land was $5,000 and the building cost $150,000.

  • I *think* one of the Warner Bros. cartoon studios (the Merrie Melodies one, not the Termite Terrace one) is still up, and is a TV station now.

  • The letters on the front entrance were chromium steel. I have a paper weight made from them.

  • Also worth mentioning: Paramount Theatres was among the leading exhibitors in Miami at the time, and played up the short-lived local ties to the Fleischers. Two of their Miami Beach venues, the Sheridan and Colony, hosted “Gulliver’s Travels” world premiere — day-after Miami News press coverage at

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BrxhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HNgFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4578,6313251&dq=gulliver%27s+travels+premiere&hl=en

    (drag the highlight box to the opposite page for the Sheridan’s opening day ad)

    Along with Paramount’s 1926 movie palace, the Olympia (aka Gusman Center) downtown, the 30s-era Colony remains alive as performing arts centers. The Sheridan would endure as a magnet for southeastern U.S. premieres, roadshow engagements, and Cinerama, but end up abandoned nearly a decade before demolition in the mid 80s.

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