Willard Bowsky (Willard Gustav Bowsky)

Willard Bowsky

Willard Bowsky was born in New Jersey in 1907 into an Italian-German Jewish immigrant family, the second son of Herman Bowsky and Emma L. Bowsky (née Cimiotti), both born in New York City. Herman Bowsky’s parents emigrated from Germany; while Emma’s father was born in Austria of Italian descent and emigrated from there as a young adult. Willard’s brother, Merle, was born December 25, 1904. Bowsky grew up as a child in Manhattan and across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He attended local schools and began drawing when young. In the 1920s, while still living with his parents, he began his career in animation. In the late 1920s, Willard Bowsky began working at the Fleischer Studios. He was promoted to credited animator in 1930 in Screen Song “bouncing ball” cartoons and Talkartoons, starring the character Betty Boop. Bowsky began his long association with Popeye the Sailor with the 1933 cartoon Blow Me Down!. For these cartoons, Bowsky was head animator, and effectively served as animation director. Dave Fleischer, the credited director of all of the Fleischer work, served as creative producer and head storyman. In 1938, Bowsky relocated to Florida with the Fleischer Studios. He went on to work on the Superman cartoons and the Fleischer Studios’ two feature-length films, Gulliver’s Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Shortly after Fleischer Studios was reorganized as Famous Studios in 1942, Bowsky enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 14, 1942. While most animators serving during the war were assigned to animation studios serving the military, Bowsky did combat duty with the 14th Armored Division. He was a platoon leader with 50 men under his command in the 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. Willard Bowsky was killed in action (KIA) on November 27, 1944 in a nighttime firefight with German forces near Metz, France. The German forces were overwhelmed but still inflicted loss on the Allied troops, utilizing four-barreled flak wagons originally designed as anti-aircraft artillery. Bowsky’s remains were buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-Avold, Moselle, France.

More Images

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  • September, 26, 1907
  • USA
  • Montclair, New Jersey


  • November, 27, 1944
  • Barr, Bas-Rhin, France

Cause of Death

  • killed in action


  • Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial
  • Lorraine, France

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