The Disney Girls

Girls at Disney

I’m fascinated by the continually emerging stories of women who worked in creative positions at Disney during its Golden Age. Women didn’t have it easy at the studio, but through sheer determination and dedication, a surprisingly large number of them managed to find their way into artistic positions, including Retta Scott, Bee Selck and Retta Davidson.

Didier Ghez just posted a May 1941 Glamour article that has photos of other creative women at the studio such as Ethel Kulsar, Mildred Rossi, Gyo Fujikawa and Sylvia Moberly-Holland.

Semi-related is this reprint of a Parents’ Magazine article from January 1949 in which Walt Disney describes everything that he’s learned about girls and women. The article is prefaced with new comments from Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller.

A book about the achievements (and struggles) of women artists at Disney would have been amazing, but sadly we’ve missed the boat on that one. Nearly everybody who should have been interviewed for such a book is now deceased. Through the Internet, however, we can begin to put together pieces of the puzzle and gain a better understanding of their role in creating the classic Disney films.


  • http://www.chadtownsend.com Chad T

    A book on this topic would be very interesting. Hope you have that in the works.

  • http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com Ken Priebe

    It’s so funny that you should post this today Amid, because this morning on the bus to work my mind starting wandering….for some reason I began thinking about the production of Snow White. I was pondering the fact that so much is said about the animators and the performances they give, their draftsmanship, etc. (and rightly so) but the final product, or final version of their work in the film is all presented to us by the work done by these women in the cel department. The actual artwork created by the animators is only seen in books, behind-the-scenes footage, and archive collections. Very interesting.

  • kborcz

    cool links!

  • Chuck R.

    Ken: A good observation that often gets mentioned when speaking of the production design in 101 Dalmatians. Apparently, when the animators started seeing their own drawings projected up on the screen they were very charged by it. So much so, that disagreements erupted over how much cleanup should occur before xeroxing Milt Kahl’s work.
    If you haven’t yet, check out the bonus material in the recent 101 Dalmatians set.

    There’s also a great anecdote about the dedicated staff of women putting rouge on Snow White cels using the same intuition they use on their own faces. I hope it’s true.

  • http://afrokids.com Floyd Norman

    I continue to write about the women of Disney animation whenever I get a chance.

    I’ve just completed a piece for Jim Hill Media on animation artist, Elizabeth Case. Hopefully, Jim will put it up sometime next week.

    Check it out if you get a chance.