Tuesday 9 October 2012

Walt Gives Credit

I’ve never been very impressed with Jack King’s work as a director at Warner Bros. in the mid-‘30s. But I sure like his caricatures of fellow staff members when he was at Disney that were published in the June 20, 1931 edition of The Motion Picture Daily. Best of all, King even made drawings of the Assistant Animators.

Uncle Walt and composer Frank Churchill got caught in the gutter between pages so you can’t see all of them. But you can click on the photo of each page to view the rest.

Since I’m not amongst the throng of Disney experts, I was quite surprised to see the names of several people associated with the studio among the assistants. Frank Tipper, George Grandpré and Cecil Surry all moved on to the Walter Lantz studio; Surry and Grandpré spent some time at Warners, as did Joe D'Igalo, Carlos Manriquez (many years later) and Dick Marion, who got screen credit on TV animation as Dick Hall. Chuck Couch worked for Lantz, too. Of course, the best known out of the bunch on that page is likely Roy Williams because of his television work in the 1950s on “The Mickey Mouse Club.”

Seeing the caricatures is fascinating because Disney had a reputation of never, ever, giving anyone credit for his cartoons, certainly not after Ub Iwerks left to start his own studio in 1930. But not only are they seen (so to speak) in the Daily, there are short biographies on them in one of the articles. Some are gags, as you’ll be able to tell. The paper says three copy editors and two proof-readers fixed all the typos but I’m sure you’ll spot at least one glaring one.

CAROLYN SHAFER, research chief: “Was born of poor but dishonest parents, in Indiana by special permission of Will H. Hays. Came to California to become physical culture teacher, but discovered there were more dumbells in movies than in gymnasiums. Also a tendency to plumpness made be a poor advertisement for my chosen profession. Have spent years of study trying to determine whether Mickey Mouse sleeps with his whiskers inside or outside of the bedcovers.” 
FRANK CHURCHILL: “I was born in New England, but somehow escaped a Puritanical conscience. Came to Los Angeles at the tender age of four and am still hanging around. Started as a plumber at the age of twelve until I read in a magazine where some one guaranteed piano playing in twenty lessons. After receiving my diploma from the post office I immediately went to work at $16 a week in a Main Street picture palace. I’m still up in the dough. At present I’m trying to write musical scores for cartoons.” 
DICK LUNDY : "I was born in or around the locks of Saulte St. Marie, Mich., at a very young age. At the age of four I visited Detroit for about ten years, where they made me go to school. I then got the wanderlust and after seeing several towns in several states I landed in California on a box car one foggy morning in 1921. I received my art education at Venice High School and was graduated from there in 1926. Since that time I have been called battery-man, chauffeur, banker, real estate salesman, and various other names. Since 1929 until now I have been having the happy experience of seeing Mickey Mouse do the right thing at the wrong time.”
EARL DUVALL: “Born June 7, 1898, in a front room across from the Navy Yard, Washington, D. C. Public schools too difficult . . . entered business college. Big success at fourteen as page for U. S. Senator Joseph Weldon Baily of Texas. Joe got in bad with Senate and Mrs. Duvall’s son joined the regular army. Served during the war at Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, New York. After the war hooked up with New York World and then entered art department Washington Times. Later with Washington Post, Bell Syndicate, New York. Came to California for no reason whatsoever and Walt gave me a job. Married, have one son and hay fever.” 

BERT LEWIS : “Born in St. Louis, Mo. Played at Philharmonic one year. Scored many pictures such as “Pollyanna,” “Woman,” and others. Organist at various theatres before coming to Walt Disney.” 
BURT GILLETT: Like Hal Roach born in Elmira, New York, and we were both brats in the same school room for years. .Served my apprenticeship in life as a newspaper reporter and cartoonist. Ten years of writing and animating in Mutt and Jeff, Inkwell, Fables and Felix the Cat. For the past two years have been helping to put the laughs and life into Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony.” 
HAZEL SEWELL: “Head of the inking and painting department. Am Walt’s sister-in-law and they say a successful wife and mother besides running the traceing dept.” 
BILL GARRITY : “They call me the chief sound man, and I make all the noise around the studio. Being Irish I enjoy being a very jolly sort of a companion for the sound stage.” 
BILL COTTRELL: “Born 1906 South Bend, Ind., of English parents. Learned to speak English in 1910. Went abroad in 1920. Sentenced to salt mines in Siberia for soaping royal wind shield of Czar Nicholas’ carriage. Escaped to California in 1923. Attended Occidental College in 1920. Awarded consistent freshman medal 1926, ‘27, ‘28, which included a paid vacation at Lincoln Heights, the third year. Two years behind the crank at Disney’s camera and has never been in focus yet.” 
GILLES DE TREMAUDAN : “Am called Frenchy for short. Born in Manor, Saska., Canada, because my folks lived there. Graduate of Franklin High School in L.A. Two years playing at art at Otis Institute. Expect my career as animator to end with each preview.” 
FLOYD GOTTREDSON : “I have it on good authority that I was born in Utah. (No, Mormons don’t wear horns.) Played hookey from art education by mailing empty envelopes to my correspondence school. My facial attributes are a composite of striking resemblances to Calvin Coolidge, Bull Montana and Richard Barthelmess. (Ed. Note —Please enclose 25c. for all fan photos, to be mailed direct from Walt Disney Studio.) Awarded aluminum medal by four Marx Brothers for inventing collapsible jail with removable bars in 1928. Worked as projectionist until Will Hays organization discovered what was wrong with the industry, then suddenly decided to become a cartoonist after 19 years at the drawing board have decided to take up art. Employed by Walt Disney for the past two years, and as long as Mickey pays the grocery bill I can’t kick.” 
WILFRED JACKSON : “I was born in Chicago but moved before I could join Al Capone. Did the next best thing by settling in Glendale. Always had a yen for cartooning and after leaving Otis joined up with Mickey Mouse and have been making a living ever since.” 
JOHN CANNON: “For no good reason I was born in Terre Haute, Ind., the son of a boilermaker. The reform school was too crowded so I enrolled in Venice High School. I failed in everything but necking. Walt Disney gave me a job leading the animals out on the sets. I married a home town girl and now that there are to Cannons we can make BOOM BOOM, and soon there may be some little cartridges running around, being proud of their POP !” 
JACK CUTTING : “Fell off a rose bush in Central Park, New York, about 1908. Later transplanted to California soil. Am being carefully cultivated in the Walt Disney nursery. Started career as cartoonist by playing on the Mickey Mouse baseball team. This naturally lead to animation.” 
RODOLPH ZAMORA : “I was born in Mexico City. My dreams were to become a respectable dope fiend, but I could not accomplish this so I lost all self respect and became a cartoonist. I lived at the expense of Pat Sullivan and now Walt Disney carries the burden.” 
DAVID HAND : “I was born in the shadow of my father’s brick-yard at Plainfield, N. J. Visited Plainfield High School. Tried lumber-jacking in the North Woods. No soap! Studied cartooning under Orr and DeBeck at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1917-18, and while there located my future wife. Started animating Andy Gump in Chicago 1919. Fascinated by easy work and big money decided to stick. With Bray Studios, Out-of-the Inkwell, Eastman Educational Films, and now Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies.” 
TED SEARS : “Born : Pratt Falls, New York, in 1900.
“Educated in pool rooms.
“Youngest graduate of Elmira Reform School, ‘09.
“Married Eva Tanguay in 1913.
“Two children, Lew Cody and George Bernard Shaw.
“Favorite sport : Murder.
“Batting average : 237.”
BEN SHARPSTEEN : “Born in Tacoma, Wash. Graduated from agricultural college but gave up agrarian pursuits to help out Uncle Sam’s Marines during the war. Marine life made me so lazy I couldn’t bear the thought of hard work again so I became an animator, joining the old International Film Company in New York. Work as an animator on old Mutt and Jeff cartoons and on Fleischer’s “Out-of-the-Inkwell.” Twice deserted the ranks of animation for newspaper and commercial art. Guess I am too old to make another change so will stick to animating as long as it sticks to me.” 

W. NORMAN FERGSUON : “I was born on the East Side of New York in 1902. Played games in and out family entrances of saloon on Second Avenue until chased by bartender. Sold newspapers on Fifth Avenue at the age of ten. Had ambition to become fireman but moved across the bridge to the wide open spaces of Brooklyn and decided to be a cowboy instead. Was transferred from public school to high school in Brooklyn by mistake and much to every one’s surprise became a stenographer. But consistent misspelling forced me to draw pictures for a living. And then came Mickey Mouse, with whom I have been associated in California for the past two years.” 
EMIL FLORHI : “Chief cartoonist for Judge for many years. Art Director for Once a Week (now Collier’s Weekly). Installed color system for the New York Sunday World. Studied portrait painting in Munich, also landscape. Painted portraits of four different Presidents of the United States and various movie stars here and well known brokers and society people of New York. I can paint equally as well with my toes as my fingers. My greatest ambition has always been to paint the princess of an African king, but I have never had enough cash to get to Africa.” 
LESLIE CLARK: “Born only in 1907 due to the bashfulness of my fond pater. Received early education at the corner saloon in Bingham, Utah. Entered the department of the Peoria City Street Service in 1919, which later afforded opportunities for many follow-ups, including a position of beach combing on the sands of Venice. Began my art career designing labels for tomato cans which enabled me to later break into other branches of artistic endeavors such as decorating tire covers. At present I am with animated cartoons.” 
JACK KING : “I was born in Birmingham, Ala., where Al Jolson first heard the name of ‘Mammy.’ I became restless at the age of four and decided to become a millionaire. In 1914 I worked with Barre, who was starting work in the animating field. Along came 1917 and the U.S. joined the Allies. Years after the Armstice I was driving a truck which ran into a Ford. The man driving the latter turned out to be one of the world’s greatest humorists. His name was Walt Disney. Of course Walt’s ambition was to get even with me for running into him. so when he formed his Mickey Mouse organization he sent for me. I’m putting one over on Walt though and am enjoying it.” 
THOMAS PALMER : “I was born in New York under the signs of prohibition and Tammany Hall. The urge to draw substituting the proverbial spoon in the infant's mouth, I decided to be a bleck shipp. After studying life drawings at the Academy and various other social clubs. got tired of looking at contours and drifted into commercial business. The lure of the flickering funnies was irresistible so I entered the animation business with Mutt and Jeff. Then worked with Oswald the Rabbit, until Mickey asked me over to his studio.”

The other interesting article amongst the various stories is Walt relating the birth of Mickey Mouse. No stories of characters being grabbed from him, no train rides, no suggestions from wives, no mouse on a drawing table. We’ll have to post it with some other pictures at a later date.

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