Rudolf Ising first worked in animation in the early 1920s at Walt Disney's studio in Kansas City. When Disney moved operations to California, Hugh Harman, Ising, and fellow animator Carman Maxwell stayed behind to try to start their own studio. Their plans went nowhere, however, and the men soon rejoined Disney to work on the Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit films. It was during this time, that Harman and Ising developed a style of cartoon drawing that would later be closely associated with, and credited to, Disney.
When producer Charles Mintz ended his association with Disney, Harman and Ising went to work at Winkler Pictures' new animation studio.
At some point during the production of Winkler's Oswald cartoons, Harman and Ising went to Universal to try and convince the studio to put them in charge instead of Mintz. Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Pictures, got tired of the internal politics and terminated Winkler Pictures' contract. This resulted in Harman, Ising, and other former Winkler staff establishing Harman-Ising Productions.
Harman and Ising began pitching an animated/live-action short film titled "Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid" to various people. When producer Leon Schlesinger viewed the film, he gave the two the greenlight for the Looney Tunes series. A sister series, Merrie Melodies was created a year later (both titles being a parody of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies).
Harman and Ising had a fallout with Schlesinger in 1933 and soon departed for MGM, taking the copyrights to Bosko with them. There, he and Harman created another series that parodied Silly Symphonies again, Happy Harmonies. At MGM, 37 shorts were produced until 1938 when the series ended. After the series ended, MGM terminated Harman and Ising, who were subcontracted to produced cartoons for MGM, though they were hired to MGM's cartoon studio the following year.
Ising still found some work as an animation freelancer, directing, for example, cartoons in the Silly Symphonies series for Disney in 1938. When Disney later reneged on a deal he had made for two other Harman-Ising pictures, the animators sold the cartoons to Fred Quimby at MGM. Quimby rehired Harman and Ising, but they no longer worked together.
The following year, Ising's "The Milky Way" became the first non-Disney film to actually win the trophy. Ising left MGM to join the military in 1943.
Rudolf Ising died of Cancer on July 18, 1992, while in Newport Beach, California.