Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Workers caricatured in Dumbo

Imagine my surprise when I learned from Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO's May 29 edition of Union City! that Dumbo, beloved Dumbo, was featured in a strike in 1941:
Animators working for Walt Disney begin what was to become a successful five-week strike for recognition of their union, the Screen Cartoonists' Guild. The animated feature "Dumbo" was being created at the time and, according to Wikipedia, a number of strikers are caricatured in the feature as clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise" (1941).
According to Lisa Johnson,
On May 28th, 1941, seventeen artists were escorted out of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. They were fired for pro-union activity. Later that evening, fellow outraged employees gathered and made stirring speeches in support of their colleagues and urged for swift action. Three-hundred workers went on strike the next day.


Hit the Big Boss (For a Raise)
Oh were gonna hit the big boss for a raise!
Yes were gonna hit the big boss for a raise!
Oh were gonna make some money, cause we know that were funny
Were gonna hit the big boss for a raise!
Dumbo was not the only Disney character featured by animators and others during the various strike actions, as shown in the photo above.   The Big Bad Wolf, Daffy Duck, and naturally Mickey Mouse figured prominently on signs, notices, and posters.

Want to learn more about the strike?   Take a look at 1941: Disney cartoonists strike, The Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics, and Disney Strike of 1941.

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