Art Babbitt and Walt Disney

By Bram Bruers

Editor’s Note: Members of the Disney Avenue family, please help me welcome another talented contributing writer to our amazing team. Bram Bruers truly is a one of a kind Disney fan who comes to us from the Netherlands. He also enjoys collecting animation art and even has a few from the private collection of Walt Disney himself! Bram has been fortunate enough to develop some wonderful relationships with many Disney legends including members of the Disney family. In fact, Roy E. Disney once said he thought of Bram as the biggest fan of his uncle Walt. Bram is looking forward to sharing some wonderful Disney history and objects from his collection with the Disney Avenue readers!

– Keith Mahne

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Many Disney fans have heard of the Nine Old Man. They were Walt Disney’s favorite group of Animators. But some times people forget that in the 1930’s the nine old men where nine YOUNG men. And the best animators in the 1930’s at the Disney studio were the people the nine old men looked up to and learned their talents from. One of these special animators was Art Babbitt. Join us today as we take a closer look at the man who had gained a reputation as “The Greatest Animator Ever” and his relationship with Walt Disney…

One of my all time favorite animators of the 1930’s at the Disney studio was Art Babbitt. Babbitt was a one of a kind artist. He was the first artist that really took film footage of people and watched it slowed down. By doing so, he would study how people and animals move. Art was the first animator who did this. In the 1930’s Walt Disney wanted his cartoons to be just as life like as action films. So that study of how people and animals moved was very important for the studio. To make cartoons not just a simple piece of drawings but drawings that touch people and most important that people forget that there watching cartoon characters.

Babbitt was so interested in animation that in the early 1930’s he asked art teacher Don Grim to come over to his house and give him and some of his Disney friends art lessons. They were all young boys in those days and enjoyed drawing the realty of naked women. Upon hearing of these lessons, Walt Disney asked Babbitt to come to his office. He said to Babbitt, “Well look Art, I don’t think that it would be nice if the press found out about your drawing classes at your home. I don’t think it would be a nice story in the news papers that a group of Disney artists are drawing naked women at one of the artist home’s.” Babbitt explained that the real reason for the classes was to hone in on drawing characters more realistically as Walt had wanted in his films. Walt Disney understood that something like this would be very important for his films and he asked Don Grim to use the sound stage at the Disney studio to give his artists lessons in making the animations more life like. And of course, at the studio they learned to draw Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck very well and, in this case, by not utilizing naked woman.

After the premiere of Snow White on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney and his staff celebrated the success of the film later that night. It was the Snow White wrap party. Babbitt actually filmed Walt Disney and his group who are seen having a wonderful time at the party. Art decided to play a joke on Walt that evening as well. He told a policeman to go tell Walt that he was making too much noise and that he needed to quiet down. Walt, realizing that this was a joke, cracked a smile and told the officer, “I’ll have your badge!” I actually have this rare footage to share with you in a moment.

Walt Disney and Art Babbitt where not the best friends however. Babbitt was the strike figurehead in 1941 and shortly after the strike, he was fired from the studio. But Art spoke years later with great respect for Walt Disney. He gave him credit of being an artistic leader of hundreds of people who were all very different but were able to come together and make a one of a kind movie like Snow White and Pinocchio. I would like to take a moment and give Art credit that he never made up evil rumors or ever told negative stories about Walt Disney. Many people who where extremely important to the strike of 1941, began calling Walt Disney an anti-feminist and anti-Semitic, which are where these awful rumors originated and simply are NOT true. Babbitt never reiterated these evil stories. That is also the reason that I love him, not just as an artist, but also as a human being.

Here now is rare footage from the Snow White wrap party. In this video, Art Babbitt talks about Walt and the events of that night. Have a look:

 
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Bram Bruers is a one of a kind Disney fan who comes to us from the Netherlands. Ever since he could remember, he always enjoyed the films of Walt Disney. It all started at the age of twelve when he saw two documentaries on the making of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. From that day forward he wanted to know everything he could about Walt Disney, his family and also about the people that worked directly with Walt. Bram has a huge collection of films and documentaries of Walt Disney. He also has several autographs from all sorts of very important people in Disney history. He also enjoys collecting animation art and even has a few from the private collection of Walt Disney himself! Bram has been fortunate enough to develop some wonderful relationships with many Disney legends including members of the Disney family. In fact, Roy E. Disney once said he thought of Bram as the biggest fan of his uncle Walt. Bram is looking forward to sharing some wonderful Disney history and objects from his collection with the Disney Avenue readers!
 
 



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