Monday, May 07, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jack Ozark

Strange as it Seems with art by Jack Ozark (signed in panel 2)

Jack Ozark was born Jacob Ozarkawitz on February 21, 1914, in Chicago, Illinois according to his Social Security application which was transcribed at World War II draft card. However, Ozark’s World War II draft card said he was born October 21, 1915.

In the census records, Ozark’s parents were Samuel and Ethel, both Russian emigrants. Ozark’s Social Security application said his father’s first name was Simon.

A 1917 New Brunswick, New Jersey, city directory listed Samuel as a huckster who resided at 5 Bishop Street.

In 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Ozark and his parents were Racine, Wisconsin residents at 1610 Frederick Street. Izark’s father worked at a bakery.

Paterson, New Jersey city directories for 1923 and 1924 listed Ozark’s father at 310 Hamilton Avenue and the following year at 473 East 26th Street.

Ozark was a student in the 1930 census. The Ozark family lived at 395 East 28th Street in Paterson. Ozark’s father was a weaver at a silk mill.

The Popeye Cartoons website said Ozark “had a passion for sports cartooning that started while in grade school drawing for ‘The Criterion’ — Patterson (New Jersey) Eastside High School’s monthly magazine. Jack used samples of those sports cartoon to secure a job at the Fleischer Studio in 1932.” According to Cartoon Research, “Jack Ozark began in animation at Fleischer on March 4, 1932, at age 17, probably as an opaquer, working his way up to becoming an animator. In Miami, he worked on Gulliver’s Travels, animating on the ‘It’s a Hap-Hap-Happy Day’ sequence….” The Animation Guild said Ozark also worked on Mr. Bug Goes to Town and the early Superman shorts.

Ozark was listed in the 1933 and 1936 Paterson directories with the latter saying he was an employee with Fleischer Studios Inc. The 1937 directory said Ozark had moved to New York City. The 1936 and 1937 directories misspelled his surname “Ozarkowitz”.

The 1940 census recorded Ozark in Miami, Florida where the Fleischer Studios had relocated. The cartoonist’s home address was 1520 S.W. 5th Street. The census said he had completed four years of high school. 

On October 14, 1940, Ozark registered with the army. His description was six feet, 190 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. Ozark was a Connecticut resident when he enlisted in New York City on April 20, 1942. Ozark’s military record said he had three years of high school education.

The Fleishcer Studios website described Ozark’s time in the army.

With the onset of World War 2, many of the Fleischer Studio animators voluntarily enlisted into the service. Among them was Jacob Ozarkowitz, who in March 1942, left his job as animator at the Fleischer’s Miami studio to join fellow animators working at the New York Army Signal Corps unit.

…Upon arrival at the Signal Corps, Ozark was given an intelligence test that stopped short his stay. The results revealed that he had close to a genius I.Q. Taking advantage of Jack’s brainpower, the army decided to station him in northern Canada as a code breaker….
The Florida, County Marriage Records at said Ozark married Shana Levinsohn on October 16, 1943.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ozark was the fifth artist to draw John Hix’s Strange as It Seems which began in 1928. Hix was followed by Dick Kirby, Doug Heyes and George Jahns. Ozark started on the series in April 1966. The Redlands Daily Facts (California), August 21, 1969, profiled Ernest Hix, Jr. and mentioned Ozark near the end of the article, “A cartoonist drawing the pictures for ‘Strange’ would not, of course, have a common name, such as Smith or Jones. Ernie’s illustrator is named Ozark — like the mountains....Jack Ozark.”

The Animation Guild said “After the war, Jack spent several years at Famous Studios (the Fleischer studios corporate successor) and then years on the west coast which included work at UPA, Disney, Bakshi and two decades at Filmation.”

In the 1970s Ozark contributed art to horse racing publication, American Turf Monthly.

Ozark passed away November 16, 2000, in California. He was laid to rest at Mount Sinai Memorial Park

—Alex Jay


I worked with Jack at Filmation in the summer of 1968. Jack was a funny, friendly person who loved to tell stories. His favorite studio was Fleischer's, and he liked to sing some of the songs from Gulliver's Travels to us "kids". His trademark phrase was "I'm master of the mirror, kid!" Jack kept a small mirror on the side of his animation desk and used it to get the expressions right for his characters. Jack could really turn out animation fast, which explains why he spent 20 years at Filmation!
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