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I. Klein Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: Apr 2008

Biographical History

I. (Isidore) Klein (1897-1986) was a Jewish American cartoonist and animator. Born in Newark, New Jersey, he studied at the National Academy of New York and the Art Students League, and began his career drawing cartoons for silent movies. He went on to work on Mutt and Jeff and Krazy Kat cartoons and for educational and promotional films, but returned to cartoon animation in the late 1920s when sound was developed for films.

Over his career Klein worked for several significant animation studios including Van Beuren Studios, Screen Gems, Hal Seeger Productions, and Walt Disney, often writing as well as animating. For several years he was an animator and writer for Paul Terry's Terry-Toons studio, drawing popular characters such as Mighty Mouse and Farmer Al Falfa. In the 1940s he moved to Paramount's Famous Studios where he wrote for several animated series including Casper, Little Audrey, Little Lulu, and Popeye. In the 1960s Klein began animating, producing and directing his own work as a freelancer for several studios including Famous. He worked on many theatrical cartoon shorts and television shows, and was key animator for Beetle Bailey and for Hal Seeger's The Milton the Monster Show.

In addition to his cartoon work, Klein produced animated television commercials, political and comical illustrations for major publications including Common Sense, New Masses, New Yorker, Colliers, and Life, and wrote articles for various trade journals. He was active in his union, Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 841 in New York City, serving on the Executive Board and twice as President, and as editor of Top Cel, the union's monthly paper. He also contributed several articles to the multi-volume Walt's People, about the Disney Studios.

He is sometimes credited as I. Klein, Izzy Klein, and I. Klien.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The I. Klein Papers contains artwork, correspondence, memorabilia, writings, and one item of miscellany.

Artwork includes cartoons for Collier's, Common Sense, Life, New Masses, and the New Yorker; illustrations for Top Cel, the monthly paper of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 841 in New York City of which Klein was editor; drawings for Hal Seeger's Milton the Monster show; and two exhibit catalogs and a poster for "We the People."

The bulk of Correspondence is between I. Klein and Jim Carmichael, Klein's friend and editor of The Peg Board, monthly paper of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839 in Hollywood, California. There are a few letters from Walt Disney, as well as correspondence with various magazines and publishers. Klein contributed some cartoons to an exhibit of the cartoon in wartime, and there is some correspondence with the War Cartoons Committee on this topic.

Memorabilia consists of two clippings and an interview with Klein and his wife, artist Ann Klein, on the work of Louis Lozowick.

Writings consists mainly of published articles on various topics related to animation and cartooning, including reminiscences of his years at Disney Studios, profiles of Milt Gross and Bill Tytla, reflections on sex in cartoons (specifically Fritz the Kat). Also included here is Klein's account of a potential split in Local 841 in 1968-1969.

A chronology of World War II events comprises Miscellany.

Arrangement of the Collection

All series are arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has the papers of more than one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Klein, I.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Animation (Cinematography)
Animators -- United States.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Jewish artists -- United States.
Jews, American.


United States -- Civilization, 1918-1945 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Politics and government, 1901-1953 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

I. Klein Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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