Monday, April 04, 2016

The Animation Guild Golden Awards Interview #19 -- Sadie Bodin

Sadie Bodin came into the East Coast animation business in 1931, working first for the Fleischer Studios, then at Van Beuren.

Sadie was a pioneer in the field in multiple ways: she was an early female employee when there weren't a whole lot of women in the industry, and she was one of the first people to be terminated for union activity. ....

As Tom Sito relates:

... Hard-drinking [Burt] Gillett quickly earned a reputation for emotional outbursts and instability [after he arrived at Van Beuren]. The artists held regular informal sessions at the Metropole Bar a few doors from the studio to complain about their situation.

Numbers of artists, including Bill Carney, Lou Appet and Sadie Bodin, began to meet with representatives of the AMPWU to discuss going union. Spies in the crowd soon reported everything to Gillett. On February 14, 1935, Gillett called a staff meeting. He shocked everyone when he said he knew all about the union talk and that there had been a meeting. Bill Littlejohn, who was nineteen years old at the time, told me, "The big artists came out of Burt's office white as sheets." The staff shrank back, intimidated, but the grumbles of discontent continued.

Another snitch told Gillett that an inker named Sadie Bodin was overheard in the ladies' room encouraging her girlfriends to stand up to him and not to do the extra work. Gillett's reaction was to immediately fire her. ...

On April 17, 1935, Sadie Bodin and her husband became the first people ever to picket an animation studio. They stood during the lunch hour for several days on Seventh Avenue with signs reading, "Van Beuren Violates Sec. 7-A NRA by Firing Union Labor for Union Activity." Her coworkers shuffled mutely past her in and out of the building, eyes down. They were all too intimidated to go out and stand with her. ...

Sadie left the animation business in the late thirties, returning after World War II. She worked at an array of New York Studio into the middle seventies, after which she retired. Sadie passed away in 1995.


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