It's not exactly a huge deal, but Pacific Title & Art Studio, one of Hollywood's earliest production houses, is being sold to an investment group for $23 million. A guy named Leon Schlesinger started the business in 1919 and focused those early years on making tltle cards for silent films. (Legend has it that he helped finance "The Jazz Singer.") Once the talkies took over, Pacific handled main titles and opticals, and by the 1990s, it moved into the digital arena - digital compositing, 3D CGI animation and visual effects. It had been a division of publicly held Safeguard Scientifics Inc. Actually, there's an interesting backstory about Schlesinger, who sold the company in the 1930s and went over to the animation department of Warner Bros. Cartoon legend Chuck Jones remembered him well in an interview.
Well, Leon Schlesinger was very lazy, and that stood to our advantage, because he didn't hang over us or anything. He spent as little time in the studio as he could. He'd come back and ask us what we were working on, and we knew he wasn't going to listen, no matter what we said. So we would say something like, well, "I'm working on this picture with Daffy Duck, and it turns out that Daffy isn't a duck at all, he's a transvestite chicken." And he would say, "That'th it boyth. Put in lot'th of joketh." He had a little lisp. So, one day, when he went out, Cal Howard, one of our writers, said, "You know that voice of Leon's would make a good voice for Daffy Duck." So he called in Mel Blanc and said, "Can you do Leon Schlesinger's voice?" And Mel said, "Sure, it's very simple." The one thing we forgot was that Leon was going to have to see that picture, and hear his own voice coming out of that duck.
Did you think you'd be fired?
Oh, yes. I expected to be fired. In fact, we all wrote our resignations, all of us that worked on the film. We figured we'd resign before we got fired. Fortunately, we didn't send them in. Leon came crashing in that day, as he usually did, and we assembled all the troops to watch the picture. Leon jumped up on his platform and said, "Roll the garbage." That's what he always said. It made you feel like he really cared. So we rolled the garbage, and of course everybody in the studio knew the drama of the situation, so nobody laughed. He didn't care, he didn't pay attention to what anybody else did anyway. It was only his opinion that counted. So at the end of the picture there was this deathly silence, but old Leon jumped up and glared around, and we thought, "Here comes the old ax." And he said, "Jesus Christ, that's a funny voice, where'd you get that voice?" So, that was what it was, and he went to his unjust desserts, doubtless taking his money with him. But the voice lives on. As long as Daffy Duck is alive, Leon Schlesinger is there, in his corner of heaven.