Monday, April 18, 2011

Disney Studio service flag - film footage - never seen before

There's a great site on the internet that's making available public domain government film footage. The site, CriticalPast, has posted some great Disney-related clips.

clip in particular shows the Disney Studio's service flag - the only image I've ever seen of the flag in almost 20 years of researching the Studio's involvement in the war.

When queried several years ago, the Disney Archives had no knowledge of the flag or what happened to it.
This exact flag is mentioned in the 1943 Disney employee newsletter, a softcover booklet titled Dispatch From Disney's. A letter in the newsletter "penned" by Mickey Mouse read:
"We now have quite a service flag and all of us here are damned proud of it. We have it hanging in the 2nd floor window facing the theater and it's visible from the walk as you come in from the commissary. Nora and Esther made it at night after work and we think it's the best looking in the valley."
By 1944, the Studio's flag had 165 stars sewn onto it. The breakdown of staff serving in the military included: 85 Army, 49 Navy, 21 Marine Corps, 7 WAVES, 2 Merchant Marine, and 1 WASP.

The flag also displayed five gold stars, which represented an employee killed in the line of action. These staffers included: Burdette Sykora, Assistant Direction; Gerald James, Animation; John Leighton Jr., from the New York office; Robert Squire, Cutting Department; and Bernard Walmsley from the Traffic Department.

At the time, the 165 stars repersented more than 25 percent of the Studio's manpower.


Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, that's pretty cool to discover an image of something that you've known about (but never seen) after so long!

DisneyDave said...

Yes, it's what keeps me interested in the subject matter...there's always something new waiting to be discovered! I originally wrote about the service flag when I first researched and wrote my book Toons At War back in 2000.

I'm currently working on a series of booklets titled "Getting to know Walt," which look at one particular aspect of Walt's life.

I've been discovering really neat bits of previously unpublished material. The series will include individual booklets that explore Walt's polo hobby; his time with the Red Cross in France; as a letter carrier in Chicago; and his school days at Benton Grammar school.