Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Disney and the war: Service With Character

My book on Disney's involvement in World War II is now available in both print and e-book formats on Amazon. It's a revised edition of the book Toons At War, which I self-published 13 years ago! The title of the updated and revised edition is: Service With Character. The Disney Studio and World War II.

The second edition contains a lot of new information on Disney's contributions to the home front, military training films, propaganda films, life at the studio during the war, and the Studio's creation of over 1,200 combat insignia. This book covers a huge variety of topics related to Disney during World War II.

Click on this link to check it out.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Remember Pearl Harbor

. . . and the sacrifices of the men and women who served in the military of all Allied nations during the war.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Pedro insignia art

This piece was offered to me a week or two ago.

The art was created in the spring of 1945 by Hank Porter. The art was created for the Safehand Air Courier Service and features the character Pedro from the feature Saludos Amigos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Donald Duck bond poster

This great Donald Duck poster was created by Hank Porter.

The layout of the text in the final poster is slightly different than the original illustration, but the Donald Duck in both is exactly the same. Just a super piece!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Remember Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941. "A day which will live in infamy . . . "

Remember Pearl Harbor!

A December 9, 1941 editorial in The Oregonian newspaper claims to have been the first to use the catchphrase, "Remember Pearl Harbor!" In the months that followed the surprise attack, all manner of retail items were emblazoned with the phrase, and sold to Americans wanting revenge for what happened to her sailors, soldiers, and ordinary citizens that sunny Sunday morning on December 7.

Disney artist Hank Porter created all of the art found on the six Aircraft Warning Service posters in this thread. Five of the images come our way courtesy the Porter family, while the sixth is from The Walt Disney Archives.

One of the posters in the series features a caricature of a stereotyped Japanese soldier. This type of illustration is rare from the Disney Studio. While other Hollywood cartoon studios often portrayed enemy stereotypes in their cartoons, Disney rarely did. And for the amount of war-related combat insignia and home front items produced using Disney-created art, the number of "enemy" stereotypes depicted is an exceptionally small number.

As a side-note, I've been interviewing WW II veterans about their time in the military for many years now. In 2006 I interviewed a Pearl Harbor survivor named Donald Stratton. Donald not only witnessed the Japanese attack firsthand, he lived it - Donald was aboard USS Arizona the morning of December 7. My interview with Donald is one of the most emotional interviews I have ever conducted with a WW II veteran. Donald's recollections of that fateful day can be read here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day - Appreciate America

Today is the day we honour the sacrifices our military veterans have made. In Canada and other Commonwealth countries we refer to today as Remembrance Day - for my American friends it's Veterans Day.

I thought the following would be an appropriate image to post.

This patriotic poster was printed in August 1941 for the Department of Education, and is from a set of nine featuring famous cartoon characters from the 1930s and 1940s. Other posters in the series featured images of Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy, Uncle Bim and Chester from The Gumps, Joe Palooka, Harold Teen, The Toodle Family, and Don Winslow.

Donald Duck was featured on his own poster with the tagline: "I get exasperated at people who squawk!" The Mickey Mouse image on the poster in this entry was also printed on a cachet.

View last year's blog post here.

Having personally interviewed around four dozen WW II veterans, I am fully aware of the sacrifices they've made, and what they've done to guarantee the freedoms many of us take for granted. The next time you see a veteran, consider offering them a word of thanks.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Disney Studio service flag - film footage - never seen before

There's a great site on the internet that's making available public domain government film footage. The site, CriticalPast, has posted some great Disney-related clips.

clip in particular shows the Disney Studio's service flag - the only image I've ever seen of the flag in almost 20 years of researching the Studio's involvement in the war.

When queried several years ago, the Disney Archives had no knowledge of the flag or what happened to it.
This exact flag is mentioned in the 1943 Disney employee newsletter, a softcover booklet titled Dispatch From Disney's. A letter in the newsletter "penned" by Mickey Mouse read:
"We now have quite a service flag and all of us here are damned proud of it. We have it hanging in the 2nd floor window facing the theater and it's visible from the walk as you come in from the commissary. Nora and Esther made it at night after work and we think it's the best looking in the valley."
By 1944, the Studio's flag had 165 stars sewn onto it. The breakdown of staff serving in the military included: 85 Army, 49 Navy, 21 Marine Corps, 7 WAVES, 2 Merchant Marine, and 1 WASP.

The flag also displayed five gold stars, which represented an employee killed in the line of action. These staffers included: Burdette Sykora, Assistant Direction; Gerald James, Animation; John Leighton Jr., from the New York office; Robert Squire, Cutting Department; and Bernard Walmsley from the Traffic Department.

At the time, the 165 stars repersented more than 25 percent of the Studio's manpower.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

United China Relief - part 2

This great image of Walt Disney holding the finished art for United China Relief, comes from the family of artist Van Kaufman. Click here to see a previous post on the topic.
Click the label below the post to see some additional blog entries related to Van Kaufman.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance / Veteran's Day

Today, November 11, is the day we honour our veterans for their service.

During World War II, Walt Disney and his staff displayed their patriotic side in many forms. The following item from my collection represents one of the many home front items produced at the Studio during the war. This program, and one other version, were stock images produced for the Masquer's, a Hollywood social club composed of Hollywood's elite that was formed in May 1925.

During the war, members of the Masquer's club traveled throughout California, entertaining men and women in the Armed Forces. Some of the club's more famous members included Buster Keaton, Sid Grauman, Gene Autry, Jack Warner, Lauren Bacall, Phil Silvers, Tom Mix, Humphrey Bogart, Louis B. Mayer, Jesse Lasky, Lionel Barrymore, Joseph Schenck, Lou Costello, Joe E. Brown, Spencer Tracy, and Shirley Temple.

The illustration on the cover of this program was created by Disney artist Hank Porter, as were the inside and back cover drawings.

This program was for an event hosted in honour of the 441 Base Unit and marked the 72nd such function hosted by the Masquer's. This dinner and show took place on August 19, 1944, in The Masquer's Club, in Hollywood.

This program belonged to Lorraine Krueger, an actress and tap dancer who appeared in 30 movies over the course of her career, in addition to 281 camp shows during WW II.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seaman Si - The Funniest "Gob" in the Navy

Here's a little hardcover 95-page booklet published in 1918 that I added to the collection quite awhile ago. The art was created by Perce Pearce who started at the Disney Studio in February 1935. Pearce was employed as a story man, producer, and director.

The booklet tells the story of Seaman Si and is subtitled, "The Adventures of a Blue Jacket on the High Seas of Fun and Adventure." The art was created while Pearce was stationed at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois. At the time, Great Lakes was the largest naval training center in the world.

As an interesting side-note, Roy Disney trained at Great Lakes when he joined the service during World War I. More info on Roy's time in the service can be found in a previous post on my other blog Vintage Disney Collectibles.

The book is a bit on the fragile side, so I doubt I'll be scanning anymore images from the inside pages, so enjoy the above for now.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

56th Signal Battalion - insignia

Several months ago I added a February 1945 anniversary program for the 56th Signal Battalion to my collection. The back cover features a colorful reproduction of the unit's Disney designed insignia. This particular design was created in the winter of 1941, by Disney artist Van Kaufman.

To get around War Department restrictions, which disallowed any insignia designs that gave away a unit's designation, Kaufman has used 5 stars above the rabbit and 6 stars below to indicate the 56th's designation. The lightning bolt was often used as a sign the unit in question was involved in a communications role, while the rabbit in question may or may not be Thumper from Bambi.

The 56th was first constituted in October 1927. During WW II, units such as the 56th provided communications for U.S. Army Corps Headquarters - this included both radio and telephone line hook-ups.

In July 1942, the unit left the United States for Scotland. From there the men engaged in training exercises in Northern Ireland, and in November 1942 the unit traveled to England, where they remained until the D-Day invasion.

A DUKW amphibious Radio Beach Landing Vehicle. Normandy, 1944
Image courtesy: http://www.pbase.com/rhssr

On June 6, 1944, the men of the 56th Signal Battalion landed at Omaha Beach, on the Normandy coast of France. From there the unit supported combat operations in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and finally Czechoslovakia.

Lieutenant R. Hilliard poses in front of an enemy pillbox near St. Vith, Belgium, September 1944
Image courtesy: http://www.pbase.com/rhssr

In February 1946 the unit departed Europe for home. On March 8, 1946, the unit was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The 56th Signal Battalion was awarded several battle streamers and the Meritorious Unit Commendation, for its participation in WW II.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

War comes to the Disney Studio

Everyday routine at the Disney Studio changed dramatically the day following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 8, 1941, Walt Disney received an urgent phone call at home. There had been an invasion of sorts at his Studio in Burbank.

In an interview with his daughter Diane and author Pete Martin, Walt Disney recalled that fateful day when he received a phone call at home:

"...I was at home and we got word that they’d bombed Pearl Harbor...it was on the radio...shortly after that I got a call from the Studio Manager and he had been called, in turn, by the police. He said, 'Walt, the Army is moving in on us'...they came up and said they wanted to move in, and [he] said, 'I’d have to call [Walt],' and [the Army] said, 'call him but we’re moving in anyway.' Five hundred troops moved in the Studio."

"I had a big closed sound stage. They said, 'We want that, get this stuff out of here.' We had to move all of our equipment. They moved into every area. We had some sheds...where we parked automobiles. They said, 'What are these sheds?' I said, 'Parking for the employees.' They said, 'Take 'em over.' They moved in there and stored three million round
s of ammunition. They posted guards at all of our gates."

"They had 14 trucks on this sound stage because they could close the stage and work in a blackout. That’s where they were repairing all of the optical systems for the anti-aircraft [guns]. These soldiers were part of the anti-aircraft force that was stationed all around. They had these guns all over the hills...because of the aircraft factories." "I had them there for eight months before they moved out...they were sleeping in every room. I had to double my artists up in rooms so that an officer could have a place to sleep. They had their sleeping bags down on the floor...they set-up their own mess kitchen."

"It was kind of exciting. But it was kind of funny they way he said, 'Well go ahead...call him up and ask him.'"

I acquired the following document recently. Click on the image to see a larger copy.

The memo was sent out by Walt Disney just 11 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I think the memo really conveys the emotion and sense of urgency surrounding America's entry into the war.

In the hours and days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was a real feeling the mainland of the United States would also come under enemy attack. With the Lockheed aircraft plant a next door neighbor, there was a very real possibility the Disney Studio might be hit by stray bombs during an air raid. Thankfully this never occurred.

I hope to post some more interesting war related inter-office memos in the near future. I recently obtained a small cache of them and I am hoping some will be as interesting as this one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Van Kaufman - insignia artist

This great newspaper clipping came my way via Kris Kaufman, son of Disney artist Van Kaufman.

Van was one of several artists who helped Hank Porter fulfill combat insignia requests at the war's outset. Van was eventually drafted and served in the Army Air Force, attaining the rank of Tech Sergeant.

This image appeared in the April 2, 1942 edition of the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express. The headline above the photo read: "Junior Army Sees Demonstration On Defense Cartoons," while the caption read:

"Junior Army members, who were guests of Walt Disney at his studio, are shown as they applauded Van Kaufman, studio artist, after he showed them how he drew insignia for Army and Navy planes using characters made famous in "Fantasia" as themes."

Van returned to Disney's after the war, but in 1949 left at the invitation of Art Fitzpatrick, famed automobile artist. The two produced dozens of magazine ads for Mercury, with Art working on the cars and Van working on the backgrounds and people.

In 1953 Art went to work for Buick and took Van along with him. The pair eventually produced 285 illustrations for Buick's Wide Track campaign. To learn more about Art and Van's association and to see some of the stunning automobile art they created together, please visit this link.

Upcoming weeks will feature more great images from the scrapbook Kris has of his father's wartime inisgnia contributions.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

3rd Auxiliary Surgical Group - insignia

In honor of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which took place on the beaches of the Norman coast, June 6, 1944, I present the insignia art for the 3rd Auxiliary Surgical Group, which came into my possession a couple of years ago.

Attached Image

From what I have been able to glean off the internet, the 3rd was one of the early precursors to a modern day MASH unit. Portable surgical hospital teams consisted of an operating surgeon, two assistant operating surgeons, an anesthetist-internist, and up to four enlisted technicians. They were attached to clearing stations, field hospitals, and evacuation hospitals and performed procedures on patients in whom delay or transport would likely be fatal.

The 3rd had previously seen action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before being deployed to England in advance of Operation Overlord. I haven't been able to find out much about the unit, but what few facts I have located are presented below:

Of the Group's 18 portable surgical teams, 12 landed on Omaha Beach, while six landed at Utah Beach.

Two surgical teams from the 3rd accompanied the glider assault wave - their mission was to establish aid stations on the fields of the landing zone and to set-up an operating room for major surgical procedures.

A group of eight men from the 3rd also volunteered to go in on D-Day with the 101st Airborne Division - this detached service was an experiment to see if there was any advantage in taking a surgical team to where the casualties were, rather than transporting those casualties back to evacuation hospitals. The volunteers involved called themselves the 1st Airborne Surgical Team and they were attached to the 326th Airborne Medical Company.

Prior to the Battle of the Bulge, two surgical teams from the 3rd were sent to the 44th Evacuation Hospital in Malmedy, Belgium. Trucks carrying members of one of the teams passed through the main crossroads outside of Malmedy just minutes before German units took control of the intersection.

Dr. Norman Kornfield was a member of one of the 3rd's surgical teams. On December 22, 1944, in Liege, Belgium, Kornfield anesthetized the German officer who was thought to have ordered the Malmedy Massacre. Fifty years later, a newspaper article recounted Kornfield's experiences:

"...he needed blood badly. But blood supplies for Allied soldiers were scarce. I decided to just give him saline, and he died...an hour later, an American military intelligence team came to the hospital and asked to interrogate the captured German officer. Kornfield...regretfully told the intelligence team that the patient had died only an hour before. I could have saved him, Kornfield said. But the intelligence men told him not to regret his decision to withhold the needed blood. You did the right thing, Doc, one of the men said. We know everything we need to know about the Malmedy killings."

I am not quite sure what animal is depicted in this design and why it was chosen. it looks to me to possibly be a mole, but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what type of medical instrument the animal is holding.

UPDATE: September 6, 2010

I now believe the animal in the image is a guinea pig, and the surgical instrument he is supposed to be holding in his hands is a scalpel.

Here is the image as it appeared in the April 1944 edition of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

206th Coast Artillery, Battery B - insignia

Love the patriotic color combination in this piece, which was created by Hank Porter in the spring of 1941. I thought the colors were appropriate for a Memorial Day post, which my friends in the USA are celebrating to honor their veterans. I added this piece of original art to my collection a year or so ago. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter !

I bought this neat little Easter card a few months ago and seeing this weekend is Easter, I thought it appropriate to publish this post now. The card is marked on the reverse "Hallmark" and "Copyright 1943 Walt Disney Productions."

The inside of the card reads:

"Behind this little Easter card
Are many thoughts of you,
And many special wishes
For good luck in all you do,
And may the luck and happiness
ou're being wished today
Be with you always, everywhere,
Along your future way."

The card was mailed in April 1943 to Private First Class Ralph F. Bupp, who was stationed with the Headquarters Detachment, 33rd Medical Ambulance Battalion.

Ralph F. Bupp

I've been unable to find any information on the 33rd Medical Ambulance Battalion, but a search of the internet for Pfc Bupp yielded the following: Ralph F. Bupp was born on February 2, 1921 and died March 7, 2007 at the age of 86. His obituary stated he had worked at the York Haven, Pennsylvania, Hydroelectric Plant. This has to be the same person the Easter card was mailed to as the return address on the envelope was also in Pennsylvania. The obit also stated Mr. Bupp was a veteran of WW II and was the recipient of the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

I really enjoy collecting WW II related Disneyana. Part of the joy is researching the history behind the items and I am very happy I was able to find out at least a little bit of info on this WW II veteran.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Desert Battalion

In the spring of 1942, Gladys "Robbie" Robinson, wife of the great actor Edward G. Robinson, formed the "Desert Battalion," a service organization with the purpose of providing entertainment to U.S. military servicemen stationed in California.

Mrs. Gladys Lloyd "Robbie" Robinson poses with film and television producer Collier Young at a gala event in the Robinson home. The painting overtop the mantle is a Renoir, part of Edward G. Robinson's renowned art collection.

The "feminine battalion" of so-called "brigadears," was composed of women between the ages of 18 and 25. During the week these young women contributed to the war effort on the home front, where they worked in offices, factories and war plants. On weekends they paid their own bus fare and traveled to desolate military bases, where they danced non-stop for hours in the sweltering heat with lonesome G.I.'s.

Women volunteering for the battalion worked under strict guidelines: they had chaperones; were not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages; were not allowed to engage in any sexual activity including kissing; and they had to promise not to divulge military information. Over the course of the organization's two year existence, the 600 young women of the Desert Battalion covered some 350-thousand miles.

In 1944, Mrs. Robinson and Jack Preston published a soft-cover book titled, The Desert Battalion. Mrs. Robinson personally phoned Walt Disney asking if he would be willing to supply the illustrations. As with many dozens of other home front requests, Disney obliged. At least two Disney artists, (Roy Williams and Freddie Moore, as noted in a copy of a letter from Mrs. Robinson to Don Douglas), created 12 india ink illustrations for use in the book. The book's dust jacket and several other illustrations were created by famed newspaper strip artist Milt Gross.

Original Disney Studio illustration found in the book.

According to an inter-office communique, in order to avoid legal problems with their existing publisher, Disney agreed to have the drawings marked "c WDP." The acknowledgment in the front of the book also stated: "The Walt Disney drawings in this book were produced and contributed by the staff of Walt Disney Productions - supervised by Don Douglas."

Original Disney Studio illustration found in the book.

In a December 2, 1944 letter to Mrs. Robinson, Disney wrote:

"Dear Mrs. Robinson.

Many, many thanks for the very handsome cigarette case which you sent to me through Don Douglass.[sic] It is extremely elegant and I hardly know how to thank you for it.

Mrs. Disney and I regretted our inability to come to your party but we had some out-of-town guests with us that week which made it necessary for us to decline your invitation.

I want to thank you, too, for the generous supply of autographed copies of THE DESERT BATTALION. I am sending them out to friends and members of our staff who I know will enjoy them. I think the finished book turned out very well and the fellows who worked on it got quite a kick in doing the sketches.

Thank you again for the beautiful case, and my best wishes for your continued success in the splendid work you are doing. I am,


Walt Disney"

Letter sent by Walt Disney to Mrs. Robinson regarding a gift and the book.

The Robinson's granddaughter recently decided to dispose of her collection of material related to the Desert Battalion, which was passed down to her through the family. The group includes 11 original Disney illustrations; two original Gross illustrations; an original letter from Walt Disney to Mrs. Robinson; two original copies of the book; a shadow box display of insignia of the units the Battalion entertained; 95 patches, pins ribbons and wings; six scrapbooks containing over 425 related photographs; over 350 letters from servicemen, press, parents and military officers (including one from Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight David Eisenhower); a Disney ad for the book; and numerous other pieces of ephemera.

The pre-auction estimate of lot number 334 in sale number 52 is $40,000 - $50,000. The auction will occur in the offices of Goldberg Coins in Beverly Hills, on April 25th, 2009. The start time of the auction, which also includes two other non-WW II Disney autographed items, is 10am. All items pictured in this post are courtesy goldbergcoins.com

It will be interesting to see where the bidding settles when the hammer drops on this lot.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

68th Tank Battalion - insignia

From the collection of my friend Dennis Books, the original pencil art for the 68th Tank Battalion. This design was created by Hank Porter and features the Silly Symphonies character Toby Tortoise.

The 68th Tank Battalion arrived in England on February 24, 1944 and came ashore at Utah Beach on July 22, 1944. As part of the United States 6th Armored Division, (part of Patton's Third Army), the battalion participated in five major campaigns over the course of just 9 1/2 months.

The following statistics give some indication as to the battalion's participation in the war: 84 officers and enlisted men were killed in action; 212 were wounded; there were six battlefield commissions, while two Distinguished Service Crosses, 97 Silver Stars and 327 Bronze Stars were awarded. The 68th received 80 new light and medium tanks during their deployment and fired some 6,400 rounds of 76mm ammunition and 10,844 rounds of 105mm ammunition.

The next image shows 68th Tank Battalion T/4 Mickey Rue standing beside a Sherman nicknamed "Little Nell VII" that has been decorated with the battalion's Disney-designed insignia. One has to wonder what fate met the preceeding six "Little Nells."

To me, this photo shows the men in the unit thought highly enough of their Disney design to actually paint the emblem on a piece of their equipment. One has to wonder why the current crop of senior Disney Company managers is so afraid of this part of their corporate history when the servicemen who requested the designs showed them so proudly.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dick Kelsey, Captain, United States Marine Corps

The first image in this post was provided by a fellow collector who happens to be in the Marine Corps. The item was on display at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Museum, when he snapped this photo.

The caption accompanying the piece of art read:

"Early in World War II, Disney Studios Art Director Richmond 'Dick' Kelsey joined the Marines. In 1943 Capt. Kelsey was stationed with the 1st Marine Division at Mt. Martha, 30 miles from Melbourne, Australia. At the request of two friends he created a series of pastel artworks to decorate the Officer's Club. One of those friends saved this scene, poking fun at the 1st Marine Brigade's 1941 service in Iceland."

Kelsey had a long career at the Disney Studio - he worked as an Art Director on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. Other films he contributed to included Make Mine Music, Melody Time, So Dear To My Heart, and Alice in Wonderland. He also worked as an Assistant Designer during Disneyland's formative years.

Kelsey was listed on the reverse of the 1943 Dispatch From Disney's pin-up as:

The 1st Marine Brigade was created in July 1941 to garrison Iceland. The Brigade was composed of the Sixth Marines, Fifth Defense Battalion, and the Second Battalion, Tenth Marine Regiment. The unit was disbanded in March 1942, only to be reformed temporarily again, this time for the invasion of Guam in July 1944.

The Disney-designed insignia for the 1st Marine Brigade was created by artist Hank Porter in December 1941. The whimsical emblem featured a penguin in an ice-laden boat. The star on the penguin's scarf was Porter's way of indicating the unit's designation.

The 1st Marine Division, to which Kelsey belonged, saw extensive action in the South Pacific. The Division participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, Battle of Cape Gloucester, Battle of Peleliu, and the Battle of Okinawa.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More Cy Young

This just in, courtesy my friend Michael Barrier, an article that originally appeared in the November 27, 1944 Los Angeles Times:

Artists Sketch Women in War

Sgt. Cy Young, ex-cartoonist in the Walt Disney Studios, Ed Gerard and Cecil Maggi are on hand regularly in the U.S.O. Women's Service Center, Pershing Square, to make free sketches of woman Marines, Wacs, Waves and Spars to be sent home to the families of the service women.

One of the most popular features of this club's activities, the sketchers turned out almost 100 pictures in the U.S.O. lounge room yesterday.

Scroll down two posts to see a piece of original combat insignia art created by Cy Young in 1943.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Previously undocumented Navy training film

A friend recently sent me the following screen grabs from a training film, which was part of a series produced at Disney's in 1943 for the Navy. While almost all of the Studio's training films were produced in black and white, for some reason two of the films in this series were produced in color - you're looking at shots from one of them.

The agency of the film was produced for, the Naval Air Operational Training Command, was stationed at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida. JAX, as the base was referred to, started life as a Primary Flight School, where new pilots learned the basics. As the war progressed, JAX became one of the so-called "top gun" schools, where the cream of Navy pilots received advanced instruction in fighter tactics.

As an interesting side-note, the Studio designed five different combat insignia for units stationed at the base, beginning with the first created in March 1941.

There is a lot more information about this previously unknown and undocumented series of training films, which I hope to be able to share with you at a later date, but for now, enjoy the accompanying image!

2nd Signal Photo Lab Unit - insignia

While this particular design was not created at the Disney Studio and does not feature a recognizable Disney character, I was very happy when a friend offered the piece to me at a very reasonable price.

This piece of original insignia art bears the initials "CY 1943" in the bottom right quadrant. According to a note penned in India ink on the reverse, the finished art was created by none other than Disney artist Cyrus S. (Cy) Young. (The emblem's design components were created by a fellow serviceman, but it was Young who put the idea to paper and painted the finished product).

Young, who was born in Hawaii in 1900, was an extremely talented artist who started the Disney Studio Special Effects Department in 1934. He was later joined by Ugo D'Orsi. The two artists were responsible for some of the greatest effects animation created in that time period.

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote in their book Disney Animation - The Illusion of Life: "Through the entire thirties, the entire Effects Department consisted of only two men: Ugo D'Orsi, a straightforward, stubborn, and dedicated Italian, and Cy Young...quiet and sensitive...who loved to play the bass fiddle as a hobby." Thomas and Johnston added, "Since [D'Orsi and Young] did most of the careful work themselves, they needed only a single assistant between them."

In his book Paper Dreams, John Canemaker noted Young had his start in animation at several New York silent cartoon studios including J.R. Bray's, Paul Terry's and Max Fleischer's. Canemaker added that in the 1920s, Young created technical animation at the Annapolis Naval Academy and medical animation for the Tuberculosis Society of America.

According to Canemaker a "1941 studio personnel report described Young as the 'most highly specialized technical animator in the industry'." Young was fired from Disney's the day before the infamous 1941 employee strike. He was rehired in July of that year, but then fired for good in mid-September.

During the war, Young served as a Sergeant in the 1st Signal Photo Lab, at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. Curiously, Young is listed as a member of the Armed Forces on the reverse of the pin-up gate-fold found in the Studio employee newsletter, Dispatch From Disney's. The notation was made despite the fact he was let go almost two years prior.

I have not been able to locate much information on either Young's unit, or the Signal Unit he created the art for. I recently sent an email to the Signal Corps Museum at Fort Gordon, Georgia, asking if they had any history for either unit and am currently waiting to hear back from the Museum historian.

After the war Young worked as a clerk with the Air Force. Sadly, and like so many other Disney artists before him, Young met a tragic end - he committed suicide on January 16, 1964.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year greeting

Wishing all my visitors a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!



Monday, December 29, 2008

1st Polish Armored Divisional Signals - insignia

This design was created at the Disney Studio for the First Polish Armored Divisional Signals.

Here's some background I have in my database for the unit:

"This unit was part of the 1st Polish Armored Division. The unit was formed in February 1942 and was comprised of men who had been evacuated from France in 1940. The Division saw action in Normandy in 1944, and then campaigned through Belgium, Holland and Germany. The Division ended the war with the capture of the German port of Wilhelshaven."

A friend who specializes in WW II Polish military history wrote to me recently adding, "The signals unit...was a Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. J. Grajkowski. "

This is one of the very few insignia designs created during the war to feature the likeness of Mickey Mouse.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

M.C.A.S. El Toro - insignia

The first item in this post was acquired a couple of months ago. The image shows part of the cover of a hardcover unit history yearbook-type book, published for men who served at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. The book is filled with numerous black and white photos of the base and some of the units that trained or were stationed there.

At one point in time the servicemen added a rather large anatomical part to the bull, which was eventually removed upon orders emanating from higher up the command chain. The second item is a matchbook cover with an image of the design that I have had in my collection for years.

Disney Christmas card

Walt Disney began issuing corporate Christmas cards in the early 1930s. Beginning in the late 30s the cards often promoted the current or soon to be released animated feature film. This post shows the 1943 card.

The images come to us via my friend Lance Fontenot, who owns a near complete run of Disney corporate Christmas cards.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

13th Armored Division - Christmas card

Here is the second version of the Division's Christmas card. I have been trying to obtain this particular design for a couple of years now and was successful this past summer in finally obtaining one. The other version can be seen here.

I now own 5 items that depict this unit's Disney-designed insignia including:

2 Christmas cards
soft-cover large format book detailing the Division's pre-deployment history
program for a musical stage play the men performed before deploying overseas

Monday, October 20, 2008

USS Satyr - insignia

This piece of insignia art was offered on eBay a couple of months ago. The design was created for the USS Satyr, a Landing Craft Repair Ship.

Satyr was laid down in August 1944 and through a series of commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies, eventually arrived at Guam as the war ended. After being repaired following a collision, Satyr performed Occupation Duty in Japan.

Satyr did see action during the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. She was eventually decommissioned and transfered to the South Vietnam Navy in September 1971 and with the fall of the South Vietnam government, the vessel served in the Philippine Navy.

This design was created in the spring of 1945.