Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
After the studio was purchased from Leon Schlesinger in 1944, Selzer was assigned studio head at Termite Terrace by Jack Warner. Much of what is known about Selzer's personality and business acumen is from Chuck Jones' autobiography, Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist. In it, Jones paints Selzer as an interfering bore with no sentiment or appreciation towards animated cartoons.
Despite his indifference towards animation, Selzer clashed with animators and writers over creative issues on many occasions. One documented incident reveals that Friz Freleng nearly resigned after butting heads with Selzer, who didn't think that pairing Sylvester the cat and Tweety was a viable decision. The argument reached its crux when Freleng reportedly placed his drawing pencil on Selzer's desk, furiously telling Selzer that if he knew so much about animation, he should do the work instead. Selzer backed off the issue and apologized to Freleng the next day, a wise decision on two fronts: Warner Bros. did not lose Freleng's talents to a competing studio, and Sylvester and Tweety proved to be among the most endearing duos in Warner Bros. cartoons.
In a similar incident, Selzer forbade Robert McKimson from producing any future cartoons with the Tasmanian Devil in them after seeing the Devil's premiere short and deeming the creature far too grotesque to be a recurring character. Selzer changed his mind and allowed further Tasmanian Devil cartoons only upon discovering from Jack Warner that Taz was in fact a massive hit with audiences.
Despite this, Jones appreciated Selzer's interferences in retrospect, if only because it gave the creative team something to push against. For example, it was his edict that "camels aren't funny" that inspired Friz Freleng to disprove him by making Sahara Hare, a cartoon in which much of the comedy arises from Yosemite Sam's attempts to control his dim-witted camel. Similarly, Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese created Bully for Bugs in direct response to Selzer's declaration that there was nothing funny about bullfighting.
The only real pride Eddie Selzer seemed to take from his position as producer was the fame afforded to him by his association with the Looney Tunes characters. Although he loudly (and indelicately) declared that there was nothing funny about a skunk who spoke French, he proudly accepted the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1950 - for For Scent-imental Reasons, a Pepe Le Pew cartoon.
Perhaps the quote that encapsulated Selzer best was his furious reaction upon seeing a group of animators laughing over a storyboard. He stormed into the room and demanded "What in the hell does all of this laughter have to do with the making of animated cartoons?"
Eddie Selzer died in 1970 at the age of 77.
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