Friz Freleng was born Isadore Freleng on August 21, 1906 in Kansas City, Missouri. With no formal training in drawing, his first job as an animator was with United Film Advancement Services in 1924 at the age of 17. The first work Friz is credited with was for Disney Studios where he worked as an animator on the “Alice” series in 1927. Friz then did some animation for Robert Winkler Productions in 1928 starting with Fiery Fireman and for Screen Gems (Port Whines) in 1929, but it was his work in Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid in 1929 under the direction of Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising when he first worked for Warner Brothers, though known at that time as Leon Schlesinger Studios.
Under Leon Schlesinger’s supervision in the budding animation department of Warner Brothers, Freleng’s career as an animator and director rocketed, producing some of the most beloved cartoons in America’s golden age of animation.
Freleng worked as the head animator and oftentimes producer on the two main animation subdivisions established by Warner Brothers, Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies.
In the late forties, after Tex Avery and Bob Clampett had left Warner Brothers, Freleng’s career as a director soared. Though nominated throughout his career for numerous Academy Awards, it wasn’t until 1947 that he eventually took the Oscar for Tweety Pie. Freleng then won Oscars for Speedy Gonzalez in 1955, Birds Anonymous in 1957, Knighty Knight Bugs in 1958, and The Pink Phinkin 1964.
In 1963, Freleng along with David De Patie created the DePatie-Freleng Studio that specialized in short films and television commercials. It was here that Freleng enjoyed great success with his Pink Panther television series.
Freleng returned to Warner Brothers to direct a number of specials, such as Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters and Porky Pig in Hollywood.
In 1986, Freleng appeared as himself in the Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary, and three years later he made another appearance in the television special, Roger Rabbit and the Secrets of Toon Town.
Freleng, in addition to his production work, wrote the script for the Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981), while contributing to the Bugs Bunny’s Third Movie: 001 Rabbit Tales and Daffy Duck’s Movie: Fantastic Island.
He also penned the book: Animation: The art of Friz Freleng (1994).
The New York Museum of Modern Art honored both Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones in a 1985 retrospective that set attendance records for the institution that remain unbroken to this day.
Friz Freleng passed away due to a heart ailment at his home in Los Angeles on May 26, 1995 at the age of 88.
Today Freleng’s artwork is highly prized and sought by many collectors. Expect to pay a pretty penny for his work.