This picture of the entire Disney staff was probably taken some time in late 1933 or early 1934. The staff is holding boxes of Post Toasties. Walt and his brother Roy had hired Herman “Kay” Kamen to merchandise the Disney brand in 1933, and soon Mickey was on wristwatches and breakfast cereals. Suddenly the Mouse went from movie star to household brand all of his own, and Walt was able to afford to make the expensive, experimental cartoons he wanted.
Art Babbitt is flanked by his friend, animator Hardie Gramatky on the left, and animator Johnny Cannon on the right. In front is Freddy Moore, the animator boy genius. Art shared an animation room with about 7 other guys, two of them being Hardie and Freddy. Hardie had gone to college at Chouinard art school … but more on that later.
The above photo captures a playful moment in which Art, appearing solemn, is flicking Freddy Moore’s ear! The next moment Freddy probably spun around, batting furiously at Art’s hand. Art would have played dumb and still laugh his ass off.
I love Walt’s face here. He looks like a kid in a candy store, living his dream. Everyone around him looks so enthused and excited to be there. The studio staff numbers about 110 people here – including the ladies of the ink & paint – and it was still growing!
I’m including some slightly higher-rez images of the group shot below. Click to enlarge.