November 10, 1931 - November 3, 2014 Bernie Fleischer, a distinguished musician, union leader and employee benefits executive, has died at age 82. Bernie died unexpectedly at his home in Studio City after experiencing complications while recovering from back surgery. Bernie was born in Bronx, New York, growing up just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. His early introduction to music began with his father. Lou Fleischer was one of the five Fleischer Brothers of the historic Fleischer Studios, where he served as head of the music and sound department. This was one of America's largest animation studios famously known for the Popeye, Betty Boop and Superman serials, and feature movies including Gulliver's Travels. At the age 10, Bernie was the voice of Raggedy Andy in the Raggedy Ann & Andy feature cartoon, the stimulus for sale of many Raggedy Ann dolls over following decades. In 1939, Bernie's family moved to Coral Gables when the studio moved from New York to Florida. In 1942, the Fleischers settled in Redondo Beach, CA. Bernie graduated from Redondo Union High School in 1949 where jazz musician Chet Baker was a band mate. Bernie played clubs on Central Avenue and in Broadway theatres. Planning to be a lawyer, he was accepted into law school at UCLA. Before beginning the study of law, he had an opportunity to play for two summers behind Frank Sinatra at Cal Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe. This experience changed the course of his life. He went on to receive a Bachelors degree in Music at UCLA. During the Korean War, he served in the Air Force band. Bernie was a founding member of the Baja Marimba Band at A&M Records, where the band produced 10 albums from 1965 to 1971. From the mid-70s to early 80s, Bernie was an active and distinguished studio musician, participating in the scoring of many motion pictures, television shows, phonograph records and commercials. He was active in the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (known for its Grammy Awards), serving as president of the Los Angeles Chapter, national trustee and television committee chair. In 1985, he was elected president of Professional Musicians Local 47 in Los Angeles, a post he held for three terms until 1991. Bernie loved music, he loved musicians and he wanted to give back to the industry that had brought him so much joy. From 1991 to 1992, Bernie was vice president at Bleiweiss Communications responsible for writing and designing client communication materials. From 1992 to 2000, he served as vice president at PacFed Benefit Administrators, an employee benefits firm based in Glendale, Calif. He was board member of Pacific Federal Insurance Corporation until retirement and continued to work on special projects. Bernie married DeeDee Daniel in 1989. DeeDee is the daughter of Eliot Daniel, who composed the theme song for the indelible television sitcom I Love Lucy. Eliot was Local 47 president from 1957 to 1958. In retirement, Bernie pursued his dream of learning to sail and obtained a captain's license from the U.S. Coast Guard. DeeDee and Bernie loved spending time on their boat with friends, often reminiscing about their sailing trips around Tahiti and the Virgin Islands with good friend Jason Wright and his family. On Saturdays, the Fleischers had a standing tennis date. Sundays were spent on their boat. Bernie and DeeDee have many close friends who share memories of the great times spent sailing to Catalina. Bernie was instrumental in setting up the Reuben Allen Education Foundation for Kids, which provides acoustic musical instruments and the opportunity to play music to young people in financial need. He served as both a foundation board member and Secretary. Bernie is survived by his loving wife DeeDee, daughter Julie, son Joe, granddaughter Sara and grandson Alexander. Per Bernie's wishes, his remains were cremated. A memorial service is being planned; the date has not been set. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation or Meals on Wheels. Husband - Captain - Friend ¿You will live in our hearts forever.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Nov. 26 to Dec. 6, 2014.