October 8, 1942. Disney animator Art Babbitt sits on the witness stand in California Superior Court. He is using Walt Disney Productions over wrongful termination.
On November 24, 1941, 98 Disney artists were laid off. For the most part, these were artists who had participated in the 9-week Disney Strike, which had only ended that August. Arbitrators from Washington had come in to settle the strike. One of the conditions stated specifically that Babbitt’s job would be protected. But Babbitt was among those fired in November.
[Babbitt was simultaneously suing Disney in civil court over unpaid bonuses. This man was suing Walt Disney Productions – twice – at the same time. That takes moxy.]
Witnesses would include Warner Brothers directors Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and Frank Tashlin, Disney directors Jack Kinney, Dick Lundy, Bill Roberts, Dave Hand, and Wilfred Jackson, and of course, Walt Disney himself.
Babbitt was on the witness stand for two and a half days, and he never faltered once. One of the first questions his lawyer, Charles M. Ryan, asks is to describe the Disney process from concept to creation.
What’s unique is that this is not promotional material (like the “peek behind the scenes” newsreels promoting Snow White) or dramatized (like The Reluctant Dragon). This is genuine testimony of how golden-age Disney films get made, described by a well-spoken and informed animator DURING the golden age! And what’s more, he speaks to the layperson, clarifying points that trial examiner, the honorable C.W. Whittemore, can understand.
Really, really interesting.
I’ve watched the reluctant dragon before, but, of course it was just a rough idea of it.
Now, reading the words of Babbitt about it is a completely other story.
Thanks you for this!