A Letter from Grim Natwick (1931)

Collector Martin Almeyer sent me this curious piece from his animation collection: a 1931 letter (in a Fleischer Studios envelope, above) by Grim Natwick to his Toledo, Ohio friend Matt Zimmer, about his plans to leave New York and join a studio on the west coast. Natwick would land at Ub Iwerks shop and later went onto Disney (on Snow White), back to Fleischer in Miami (on Gulliver), then to Lantz and UPA in Los Angeles.

The letter, posted below, written on a piece of Fleischer animation paper and dated “Lincoln’s Birthday”, isn’t significant – but to animation history junkies like me, its just one more piece of the puzzle and another sliver of insight into the real person behind the pencil.

  • Matthew Koh

    If only I can read cursive writing.

  • Didier Ghez

    Jerr, not significant, but this is still very good stuff. We live in the same world.

  • Darkblader

    Can somebody translate this? I cant read cursive writing

  • For Matthew Koh (and anyone with sight difficulties or for whom English is not their primary language), here is the transcription of the letter:

    Lincolns Birthday (February 12), 1931

    Dear Mat:

    Once more, in my rambles around the country, I expect to drive thru your town. I would like to see you to say “hello” and possibly suggest some way for you to bust into animated cartoons. I have got back into the game myself and am headed for Hollywood–this time to work in one of the cartoon studios out there.

    If this reaches you and you expect to be around Toledo about February 20th, please write back at once–If I hear from you I’ll probably give you a phone call when I get near your town–


    Grim N.

  • Steve A.

    Always great to see the animation masters were everyday people too. Sad to think that letters like this will not exist from future masters.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I’m only stunned someone in my hometown actually had this (or Grim actually passing by here, that’s an accomplishment)!

  • You can read the whole story behind Grim’s trip to Hollywood and read the letter from Roy Disney that prompted it at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive…


    Lots more about Grim’s career there too.

  • The interesting thing about this letter is the date. If you check the letter from Disney I linked before, you’ll see that Grim received his offer in the first week of January. About a month later he was driving cross country to join Iwerks. He sure didn’t think very long about going West.

  • GhaleonQ

    Because I NEVER get to do this apart from mentions of Grim Natwick, woo, Wisconsin Rapids!

    Oh, and cool letter. It’s on a nice fulcrum of American animation history.

  • rnigma

    I wonder if Matt Zimmer ever did “bust into animated cartoons.”

  • David

    Were people kidding about how they can’t read cursive writing ? I’m not being insincere or mocking them , just really surprised to read that . I know that learning to write with cursive form is a dying skill , but are there humans who really can’t read it ?

  • I used to own this letter but sold it many years ago. I bought several pieces that were listed in a Grim Natwick sales list that I recall was put together by Stephen Worth, including one neat piece of non-Disney art – the art was executed in india ink in the 1920s and showed a bunch of kids in silhouette running up a hill to tip over an outhouse.