Monday, June 4, 2018

Eighty Years Ago TODAY ...

The Norconian Club (and Walt) then, and the Narconian Club now (okay, actually 2006).

... Walt Disney Productions threw a "Our Movie Is A HIT!" party out in Corona, California and riotous things happened::

... The most infamous—party ever hosted by Walt Disney was the 1938 Snow White Wrap Party at the Norconian Resort in the California Desert, a party thick with booze and brassy music, also weighted down by tense politics. ...

The day of frivolity at the Norconian Club started in a sedate and orderly manner, with golf, horseback riding, and high dives off the tall board at the resort's giant pool. Everybody was well-behaved. Everybody was having (pretty much) a good time.

But the partying got wild after the evening dance contest. Walt took the stage, made some perfunctory remarks about the features and hard work that lay ahead, but failed to mention bonuses from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Apparently some kind of profit participation for Disney employees had been bandied about when artists were working seven-day weeks to meet Snow White's production deadlines, and the expectation on June 4th was that Walt would say something about additional checks. (Disney's first animated feature was on its way to being the highest grossing feature ever*.) But no speech regarding extra money was forthcoming.

Many employees were irritated at this.

Whether it was resentment over not receiving more moolah, or oceans of alcohol, or simply the high animal spirits of a lot of twenty-three-year-olds, restraints were thrown off late on the evening of June 4th, with at least one drunken animator (Fred Moore) tumbling out an upper story window, a horse getting ridden through the inside of the club, and ink-and-paint girls being thrown into the huge pool.

Walt was not pleased.

The all-day, all-night wing-ding that happened in Corona never happened again. Nobody got paid bonuses for Snow White, and three years later a long strike of Disney employees changed the character of the Disney company.

Looked at through the right prism, you could say that the merriment of June 4th, 1938 had repercussions for Disney and American animation for decades.

Find more on the Disney party at the Norconian Club here, here, and here (scroll down for the "Walt's Field Day" program).

* A record Snow White held until Gone With the Windw in 1940.

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