In the summer of 1941, Walt Disney’s top animator led hundreds of Disney artists out on strike, nearly breaking the studio. This is the true story of those two creative geniuses, plus a corrupt advisor and a mafia gangster, who collided to cause the greatest battle in Hollywood history.
An essential piece of Disney history has been unreported for eighty years.
Soon after the birth of Mickey Mouse, one animator raised the Disney Studio far beyond Walt’s expectations. That animator also led a union war that almost destroyed it. Art Babbitt animated for the Disney studio throughout the 1930s and through 1941, years in which he and Walt were jointly driven to elevate animation as an art form, up through Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia.
But as America prepared for World War II, labor unions spread across Hollywood. Disney fought the unions while Babbitt embraced them. Soon, angry Disney cartoon characters graced picket signs as hundreds of animation artists went out on strike. Adding fuel to the fire was Willie Bioff, one of Al Capone’s wise guys who was seizing control of Hollywood workers and vied for the animators’ union.
Using never-before-seen research from previously lost records, including conversation transcriptions from within the studio walls, author and historian Jake S. Friedman reveals the details behind the labor dispute that changed animation and Hollywood forever.
Join a book talk with the author Jake S. Friedman on March 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, at The Lambs, 3 West 51st, 5th floor. RSVP@The-Lambs.org. The book will be available to be purchased and signed by the author.
Jake S. Friedman is a New York–based writer, teacher, and artist. He is a longtime contributor to Animation Magazine, and has also written for American History Magazine, The Huffington Post, Animation World Network, Animation Mentor, and The Philadelphia Daily News. For ten years he was an animation artist for films and television as seen on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Saturday Night Live. He currently teaches History of Animation at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The rest of his time he specializes in mental health for the creative psyche.