Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Studio Strike of 1941 Part 1

This blog thing is a really great way to meet people and see things you would have never had a chance to see otherwise. Such is the case for the following images. A reader of this blog has sent in these wonderful images. The images are of animators on the picket line at the Walt Disney Studio in 1941. The strike is one of the defining moments for Walt Disney and the Disney company. It exposed a rift between Walt and his staff and may have sent him off exploring many other avenues. I believe it may be argued that if the strike did not happen, neither would have the live action films and Disneyland. The first image shows the strikers walking the picket line wearing their evening clothes. It appears the Ink and Paint department (or the wives of the animators) have joined the strike. This may have taken place at a Movie Premiere.

The second image is of an effigy. It may be of Walt or of Gunther Lessing the Disney legal rep.

The next image shows a great picket sign featuring Walt caricatured as the Reluctant Dragon.

The fourth image shows a great Jiminy Cricket sign. The anti-strike sign hanging off the studio building is interesting.

I would like to thank Bob Cowan (RCowan@mywdo.com) for letting me post the images. I will post some more images tomorrow.

15 comments:

Dave said...

Wow- These are rare, incredible photos! A fantastic piece of history. I agree with your theory that had the strike not happened, Disneyland could well not exist today.

I'm sure you know this, but the man in the second photo is Art Babbitt, leader of the strike and Walt's nemesis. He was a consummate animator and did the "mushroom" sequesnce from Fantasia, one of my faves.

Thanks to you and Bob for posting these!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

WOW, thanks for the Saturday Morning history lesson! Super Rare, I agree with your assessment regarding live action films and Disneyland, this strike reshaped the whole company.

Thanks for sharing these, love the reluctant Walt sign, sure shows these were artists.

Thufer said...

very unique images and really good to see others than the standard picture in almost every walt bio. wow, simply amazing.

Davelandweb said...

Patrick - I could be wrong but I am pretty sure that in the last picture, the guy with the cig is actor John Garfield, also an activist, who died very young.

Major Pepperidge said...

Well, I'm sure dave accidentally said "second photo", but that is definitely Art Babbitt in the first photo. Wonder why they were in formal wear? The lady behind him sure looks glamorous!

The strike was without question a major turning point in the history of the Disney Studio. However, WWII had it's huge effect as well. Walt and his cartoons were considered to be some of the finest examples of filmmaking in Hollywood, pre-1940. After the war, his cartoons lost popularity when compared to the more brash Warners and MGM offerings. People no longer had much interest in cute little animals dancing and singing!

Major Pepperidge said...

Now that Dave (of Daveland) mentions it, that DOES look like John Garfield!

Davelandweb said...

It also looks like Art is in #3, first one holding up the dragon.

outsidetheberm said...

Wonderful images! History in the making. Thank you both!

jedblau said...

These are amazing...never seen anything quite like them.

Matterhorn1959 said...

I do have another image which I will post tomorrow of John Garfield at the strike. And yes it is Art Babbit in the formal photograph and maybe in the dragon photo as well. Art was a fantastic animator who was wrongly blacklisted by Walt Disney.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Incredible pics

David said...

That probably is Gunther Lessing getting his head chopped off. They pulled an effigy of Lessing up onto a telephone pole and set the dummy on fire. Pretty acrimonious.

I read that when Ub Iwerks crossed the line to go to work no one bothered him.

I'll be posting some strike images on my blog in the near future.

Dave said...

Major - Thanks, for pointing that out. I didn't mean to put Art on the chopping block.

(...although figuratively, that's what happened!)

Biblioadonis aka George said...

Great photos. Thanks to both of you for sharing them.

I agree, without the strike, we might not have the same Disneyland or WDW today!

Robert Cowan said...

I must thank all of you that have commented on these pictures! There are very few publications that provide the insight I've received in this blog. What's amazing is that these photos were stuffed in an envelope that was included with some artwork I purchased at an auction -- they were not even mentioned in the description of items for sale!
--Bob Cowan