|Birth name||Willard Gustav Bowsky|
September 26, 1907|
Montclair, New Jersey
November 27, 1944 (aged 37)|
near Barr, Bas-Rhin, France
|Buried||Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1944|
|Unit||94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 14th Armored Division|
Willard Gustav Bowsky (September 26, 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.
Bowsky was born in New Jersey in 1907 into an Italian-German Jewish immigrant family, the second son of Herman Bowsky and Emma L. Bowsky (née Cimiotti), both born in New York City. Herman Bowsky's parents emigrated from Germany; while Emma's father was born in Austria of Italian descent and emigrated from there as a young adult. Willard's brother, Merle, was born December 25, 1904.
Bowsky 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. 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. The German forces were overwhelmed but still inflicted loss on the Allied troops, utilizing four-barreled flak wagons originally designed as anti-aircraft artillery.
- Willard Gustav Bowsky; U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947
- "Willard G. Bowsky". American Battle Monuments Commission. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- National Jewish Welfare Board, Bureau of War Records, 1940–1969. New York, New York: American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History; United States Census, 1900, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 34, New York City Ward 19, New York County, New York, United States.
- United States Census, 1900, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 34, New York City Ward 19, New York County, New York, United States.
- Culhane, Shamus (1986). Talking Animals and Other People. New York: Da Capo Press, pp. 40-41
- Timothy J. O'Keefe (2014). Battle Yet Unsung: The Fighting Men of the 14th Armored Division in World War II. Casemate Publishers. p. 23.