Friday, February 26, 2016

The Disney Mistake

And while we're on the subject of the Academy Awards, President emeritus Tom Sito points out that when Walter Elias Disney won the Motion Picture Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award on February 26,1942, Walt was a wee bit downcast and defensive:

... I've got a lot of thanking to do. First, for the little short subject award which we're very proud of. My musicians for their music -- it's going to be hard to get along with them now, I know. "Fantasia," in a way I feel like I should have a medal for bravery or something. We all make our mistakes, I know, but it was an honest mistake. ...

I'm well aware of the high ideals that this award symbolizes, and I sort of feel like I should rededicate myself to those ideals. I've been through a very trying year, the toughest year. I hope there's never another one like it. ...

Disney was melancholy for a reason. Fantasia had tanked at the box office. Dumbo, modestly budgeted, was on its way to profits, but Bambi, not yet released, had a big price tag and Walt was understandably nervous. (Justifiably so. The picture lost money in 1942).

Then, of course, there was the long strike that the studio had endured. Forty percent of Walt's staff walked out in a bitter job action, and Disney took it personally. Employees who had been with him for years were black-listed, consigned to a special filing cabinet on the third floor of the Animation Building and ultimately let go, some of them years later.

Some wounds never heal, especially when you're a hard-scrabble mid-Westerner with a demanding and distant father.

But it's all long ago and far away at this point. Walt's Company is about as far away from bankruptcy and receivership as a publicly-traded company can be, and most of the participants from that distant time are gone. Still in all, it's good to peer back and hear what the founder was thinking seventy-four years ago.


Ken Roskos said...

I just heard this lead early this morning:

Disney CEO asks employees to chip in to pay copyright lobbyists

Steve Hulett said...

Yup, I meant to put this up. And now I will.

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