Vanity Fair on Disney’s Ink-and-Paint Girls

Disney Ink-and-Paint Girl

Patricia Zohn writes about Disney’s ink-and-paint girls in this month’s Vanity Fair. She started researching the topic after speaking to her aunt, Rae Medby McSpadden, a former ink-and-paint artist. Most of the facts will be familiar to animation history buffs, but it’s a well-written slice-of-life piece that adds color to the bygone days:

During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the “girls”–as Walt paternalistically referred to them–thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks. “I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is finished and I can live like a human once again,” Rae wrote after she recorded 85 hours in a week. “We would work like little slaves and everybody would go to sleep wherever they were,” said inker Jeanne Lee Keil, one of two left-handers in the department who had to learn everything backward. “I saw the moon rise, sun rise, moon rise, sun rise.” Painter Grace Godino, who would go on to become Rita Hayworth’s studio double, also remembered the long days merging into nights: “When I’d take my clothes off, I’d be in the closet, and I couldn’t figure it out: am I going to sleep or am I getting up?”