Tuesday, October 20, 2009

getting yelled at by Walt Disney

Back around 1991 I answered an ad in the back of The Dallas Observer for "animators". A local comic book artist was wanting to start an animation studio and his ace-in-the-hole was an old-time, golden age studio animator named Bill "Tex" Henson who was going to train us all.

Tex is probably most remembered as a supervising animator (Tex said "THE supervising animator") in Mexico for "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" and he had a long career that included many Casper cartoons at Paramount's "Famous Studios", many commercials and other work in TV thru the 80's.

However, he got his start just out of high school at Disney around 1943 where he was originally hired as a "story" artist.

But in 1991 we were sitting around our "studio" (Krash. Pow! it was called) practicing our inbetweens while Tex spun tales about the old days. Someone asked, "So what did you and Walt talk about when you were at Disney?"

Tex explained that he was very low in the organization and he did not have much occasion to "talk" with Walt Disney.

"... I DID get yelled at by him once," he added but then turned his attention back to whatever he was drawing on at the moment.

"Oh, come on, Tex," I said, "you GOTTA tell us about that one!"

So he told us how one day they were having a meeting where the story artists were pitching their storyboards to the directors. On this occasion Walt Disney was sitting in on the meeting although not saying much.

Tex had just finished presenting his ideas and one of the directors said "Gee, Tex, that's funny stuff... but it's really more like what they do over at Schlesinger's."

(Leon Schlesinger was the original owner of the cartoon studio that we now think of as "Warner Brothers")

To which Tex replied, "Well, it wouldn't hurt us to be more like Schlesinger's!"

"GOD DAMMIT!" Walt stands up and shouts, "They can make their cartoons THEIR WAY... and WE... will make OUR CARTOONS... OUR WAY!" And then he stormed out of the room.

No one got fired over this. Apparently screaming Walt was not common but not unknown either. Tex continued at Disney for several more years (he was the one who came up with the names "Chip and Dale" for the chipmunk duo) until he was hired away by Famous Studios.

That's the way Tex told us the story and that's the way I remember it... so it must be true.

1 comment:

Taber said...

Hah! Great story!