Willard Bowsky (1907 – November 27, 1944) was an American animator best known for his work at Fleischer Studios in New York City and Miami, Florida, where he worked on cartoons featuring Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman, in addition to two feature-length animated films.
Willard Bowsky was born in 1907 in New York City, the second son of immigrant parents Herman and Emma (Cimiotti) Bowsky. He grew up as a child in Manhattan and across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He attended local schools and began drawing when young. In the 1920s, while still living with his parents, he began his career in animation.
In the late 1920s, Bowsky began working at the Fleischer Studios. He was promoted to credited animator in 1930 in Screen Song "bouncing ball" cartoons and Talkartoons, starring the character Betty Boop. Bowsky began his long association with Popeye the Sailor with the 1933 cartoon Blow Me Down!. For these cartoons, Bowsky was head animator, and effectively served as animation director. Dave Fleischer, the credited director of all of the Fleischer work, served as creative producer and head storyman.
In 1938 Bowsky relocated to Florida with the Fleischer Studios. He went on to work on the Superman cartoons and the Fleischer Studios' two feature-length films, Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town.
Shortly after Fleischer Studios was reorganized as Famous Studios in 1942, Bowsky enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 14, 1942 during World War II. While most animators serving during the war were assigned to animation studios serving the military, Bowsky did combat duty with the 14th Armored Division. He was a platoon leader with 50 men under his command in the 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. Bowsky was killed in action (KIA) on November 27, 1944 in a nighttime firefight with German forces near Metz, France.
- Culhane, Shamus (1986). Talking Animals and Other People. New York: Da Capo Press, pp. 40-41
- Gulliver's Travels (1939), animated film online, Internet Archive, Library of Congress
- Mark Mayerson, "Comments on Willard Bowsky", Mayers on Animation blog
- Willard Bowsky at the Internet Movie Database
- Willard Bowsky at Find a Grave
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