William Sturm

Birth: 1906
Death: 1981

Occupation/Title:
Animator with J.R. Bray, Fleischer Studios, Disney Principal of Bill Sturm Studios

Bio Summary
William A. Sturm was born in 1906 in New Jersey. He then attended The Art Students League and worked for J.R. Bray as a teenager. He would work with Pat Sullivan, producer of Felix the Cat in the 20’s where he would be credited with the twisting of the Felix’s tail into the question mark. He worked with Fleischer Studios where he worked on Popeye before moving on to Disney. He opened his own studio where he worked for the government and commercial accounts doing training films and animated commercials for Coca-Cola, Bosco, Brylcreme among others.

Early Life/Family
William resided in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Sturms grandparents owned bungalows on Budd Lake since the early 1900‘s. WIlliam purchased a summer cottage at Budd Lake in 1946. He bacame a resident of Budd Lake in 1951. WIlliam met his wife Margaret at the Wigwam, an early Budd Lake dance hall. His son William C. Sturm is a painter.

Education/Training

William Attended the Art Students League

Career Outline
As a teenager WIlliam worked for J.R. Bray then worked with Pat Sullivan, producer of Felix the Cat in the 20’s. He is given credit for twisting Felix’s tail into a question mark. He would go to work as an animator on Betty Boop, Service with a Smile (1937), Buzzy Boop (1938) and Grampy’s Indoor Outing (1936). Sturm created the 3 spies including “Snoop” and “Snitch” on the Fleischer Studios first full-length cartoon feature “Gulliver’s Travers” 1939. Until the 1940’s he animated more than a dozen Popeys. While working at Disney Studios he would garner credits in Dumbo and Fantasia. Pluto was a character he concentrated on while at Disney. He worked with Fletcher Smith Studios, animated commercials, did Quality Bakers starring Miss Sunbeam promoting Sunbeam Bread. He would eventually open his own animation studio in New York. Made army training films for WW2, animated commercials and inserts and created instructional films. During the war years, Sturm published editorial cartoons for the Bergen Evening Record as well as a series of cartoons on civilian defense for US Navy. He created “Snafu the Gremlin” for the GI newspaper but the war ended before they were published. In the 1950‘s, his product commercial animation clients included Coca-Cola, Bosco, Brylcreme, Stroehmer’s Bread, City Bank, Tootsie Rolls and other products.

Comments On Style

Influences

Personality
Bill Sturm, was “a more easygoing guy”. He entertained many of his artist friends from New York City at his Budd Lake home. One of his visitors was Williar Pyle,a Disney animator best known for Bambi. As Howard Beckerman remembers, “He would stop by my desk and chat for a while. He once mentioned that he had worked at Disney’s and that Walt was interested in Bill’s experience with technical animation. Disney was looking for knowledgeable talents for the training films he was producing for the armed services during World War ll. Bill also mentioned that he had worked on Dumbo and that the animators loved that film because it was in the pure cartoony style they most enjoyed doing. Bill was an experienced animator but seemed more interested in enjoying the simple things in life. He had a summer place in Budd Lake, New Jersey and in the past, long before I arrived at the studio, had held gatherings there for the staff on weekends.” “With the studio’s existing problems, Bill seemed, of all the principals, to be the most unaffected by anything.” Howard also recalled, “I thought he was a good man. A few times we had lunch together and he liked to stress the importance of eating a “real” lunch. To him gobbling down a sandwich was unhealthy compared to a hot lunch with a variety of foods on the plate.” William was very active with the Mount Olive Scout Troops. He did “chalk talks” a scout would draw a line on the board and he would create a character from the line.

Anecdotes

Miscellaneous
“Give it the kiss of life.” -William Sturm

Filmography
Popeye's Premiere 1948 (short) (animator-archive footage-uncredited)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1940 (short) (animator)
Females Is Fickle 1939 (short) (animator)
Gulliver's Travels (animator) 1939
The Fresh Vegetable Mystery (short) (animator) 1939
The Scared Crows (short) (animator) 1939
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (short) (animator) 1938
Mutiny Ain't Nice (short) (animator) 1938
Buzzy Boop (short) (animator) 1937
Little Lamby (short) (animator) 1937
Fowl Play (short) (animator) 1937
Service with a Smile (short) (animator) 1937
A Car-Tune Portrait (short) (animator - uncredited) 1937
Organ Grinder's Swing (short) (animator) 1936
Grampy's Indoor Outing (short) (animator) 1936
Greedy Humpty Dumpty (short) (animator) 1936
I Wanna Be a Life Guard (short) (animator) 1936
A Song a Day (short) (animator - uncredited) 1936
The Cobweb Hotel (short) (animator) 1935
Adventures of Popeye (short) (animator - uncredited) 1935
King of the Mardi Gras (short) (animator) 1935
You Gotta Be a Football Hero (short) (animator - uncredited) 1935
Choose Your 'Weppins' (short) (animator - uncredited) 1934
Shiver Me Timbers! (short) (animator) 1934
She Reminds Me of You (short) (animator) 1934
Let's You and Him Fight (short) (animator) 1933
Wild Elephinks (short) (animator) 1933
Blow Me Down! (short) (animator) 1933
Down by the Old Mill Stream (short) (animator)

Honors

Related Links
http://www.mopl.org/sturmshow.htm

Bibliographic References
Interview with Howard Beckerman Copyright Mount Olive Public Library 2004 Researched and created by Wendy Sandford with the assistance from Ethel Vickery

Contributors To This Listing
Michael Berger
Howard Beckerman

Animators Hall of Fame