BAXTER'S BREAKDOWNS
August 3, 2020 posted by Devon Baxter

An Al Eugster Scrapbook

One of the rewards of my work in writing detailed biographies on different Golden Age animators for Cartoon Research is when a relative reaches out in the reader comments. After the posting of my animation profile on animator/director Al Eugster, reader Chuck Schmitz commented in June, saying Eugster was his uncle. I received his contact info, and he replied back: “Al’s mom [Hedwig Feigel] was my grandmother. Her second husband [Charles Schmitz] was my grandfather.”

Chuck also mentioned some items he owns from Eugster’s collection, which includes photographs, scrapbooks, journals, correspondence, and various gag drawings/caricatures. With his permission, we’d like to share this selection of “goodies” with you:

Al Eugster as a young boy, dated 1912.


Drawing of Al by Rudy Zamora, dated October 16, 1929. Fleischer expert G. Michael Dobbs notes that in the spring of 1929, Eugster and Zamora walked over the Queensboro Bridge to apply for a job at Max Fleischer’s studio, then located in Long Island City. The two told Nelly Sanborn, Dave’s secretary, that they had inked and animated at Pat Sullivan’s, although neither had actually animated at that point. They were hired for $35 a week with the promise of a raise to $40 in two weeks if they were satisfactory; they had been making $25 a week at Sullivan’s operation. In the fall of 1929, the studio moved back into Manhattan to 1600 Broadway, a building that was well known as a center of the New York film industry. Eugster and Zamora were still inkers by the time this drawing was made.


Al’s contract from Max Fleischer, which promoted him to full animator. Adjusted for inflation, $55 in 1930 is equivalent to $849.03 in 2020 currency; the $10 increase would be an additional $154.37 today.


Al, dressed in a dapper suit in a photographed dated 1930, was now one of the main animators at Max Fleischer’s studio.


A $20 addition to Al’s weekly salary at Fleischer’s, a year after his promotion as a full animator, where he would have been paid $75 a week; $75 in 1931 is equal to $1,272.02 in 2020 currency, while the additional $20 is equivalent to $339.21 today.


From left to right: Rudy Zamora, Harry Love and Al Eugster, dated 1932. At this time, Eugster and Zamora migrated to California, where they worked at Charles Mintz’s studio as animators on the Krazy Kat cartoons. (Zamora had taken a job at Walt Disney’s studio a year earlier.)


Another photograph of Al, dated 1934. At the time this photo was taken, he took a job as an animator at Ub Iwerks’ studio.


Jumping ahead in Al’s career with this Christmas card from 1941, signed by animators and assistants in his unit at Fleischer’s studio in Miami. Just a week before that Christmas, Dave Fleischer severed connections from his studio, with Max resigning two weeks after. Their successors Seymour Kneitel, Izzy Sparber and Sam Buchwald took over as supervisors before they became known as Famous Studios.

The people whose signatures are on the card are as follows, listing five animators and five assistants:

Abner = Abner Kneitel (animator)
Tom G. = Tom Golden (animator)
Harold = Harold Walker (animator)
Phil = Phil Lepinsky (assistant)
Dave = Dave Higgins (assistant)
Tom B. = Tom Baron (animator)
Wally = John Walworth (animator)
Hilmer = Hilmer Swens (assistant)
Sheid = Frank Scheidenberger (assistant)
Ellsworth = Ellsworth Barthen (assistant)


Personalized birthday card to his wife Hazel “Chick” Scott, dated 1943; her birthday would have been September 16. They were married from 1934 until her death in 1995. It should also be noted that judging by the signature of his first name, this New Years card shared in the previous animation profile dates from the 1940s—not the early 1930s as previously assumed.


Gag drawing signed by Dave Tendlar, dated 1950. “Sam” refers to Sam Buchwald, who served as the president of Famous.


Christmas card addressed to Eugster, dated 1950.


Gag drawing with a caricature of Al, circa 1950s.


Christmas card to Al with caricatures of animators George Germanetti and Bill Pattengill, dated 1953. Tony Creazzo (on the left) previously worked at Paul Terry’s studio in the mid-1940s as an in-betweener. He is also credited as an assistant animator in 1974’s The Mad Magazine TV Special.


A page from Eugster’s work journal noting his involvement with the production of a television episode on Joe Oriolo’s Felix the Cat show.


Advancing forward in Eugster’s career, dated October 1975, indicated by the calendar on the wall. At this point, he was the key animator at Paul Kim and Lew Gifford’s studio, working on segments for Schoolhouse Rock!

For more info on Al Eugster: See Mark Mayerson’s Al Eugster pages; and my previous profile here.

Hope you all enjoyed today’s post! There will be an exciting new post coming up — probably the most extensive research I’ve done for this site.

9 Comments

  • Didn’t he also work on some animated commercials?

  • Thanks for posting this. It’s always nice to see some new Al Eugster pictures and material that hasn’t been seen before. I like the Felix the Cat tv production sheets.

  • Still trying to find life with Elsie

  • Excellent post.

  • Thanks for this, Devon. The material is all new to me.

  • All that talent. Why weren’t the Famous cartoons better?

  • Mark Mayerson:

    After seeing the posting today on Cartoon Resaerch website about Al Eugster, I think I can identify someone in one of your pictures.

    In Al Eugster’s Photo Album The Fleischer Studio 1939-1941 the first photo with everyone standing and crouching around the fountain, the short man with a cigarette in his hand between Nick Tafuri and Shamus Culhane I believe is George Germanetti. I base this on that Christmas card that says Seasons Greetings to Al from Ward # 3 posted today on Cartoon Research.

  • Thanks for this excellent post — and a special thank-you to Chuck Schmitz for preserving these drawings, photographs and documents.

  • Fantastic stuff! Nice job, as usual!

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