When Disney’s animation studio went on strike and subsequently unionized in 1941, it was NOT the first American studio to do so. But it was the most important.
Then, as now, Disney was the 800-pound gorilla of American animation and its every business move reverberated with outsized weight throughout the entire industry.
Jake S. Friedman’s new book The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation’s Golden Age (Chicago Review Press, 2022) tells the story of the Disney strike in greater detail than ever before. The events are set against a lively and dramatic milieu where the art of character-based performance animation was still being developed, a visionary boss was unceasing in his quest for excellence, workers’ unions were controlled by mobsters, and the stakes were the future of an entire nascent industry.