The Geek and the Disney Directory

This guy was such a geek. A true Disney fan boy with pixie dust still in his eyes. One morning we caught him out in the lobby taking a photograph of the studio directory. His name had just been added to the wing directory and he was so proud he took a photograph to show to his mom and dad back home. “Pathetic,” we thought. who would ever consider doing a stupid thing like that?

I gotta confess, I wish I had been as “stupid” as the young Disney animation artist with the camera. Looking back over fifty years I sure wish I had taken more time to document the events at the Walt Disney Studio. I did take a few photographs but not nearly enough. Every time I discover another picture from that era it's like finding a personal treasure. The photographs I did take were a valuable asset to my book, “Animated Life” and they serve to show fans and historians alike what life was like at Disney in decades past.

However, let's get back to the young Disney artist with the camera. You see, this young artist had just been given a new assignment. That meant he would now have a office in D-Wing. For those not familiar with Walt Disney's Animation Building, let me explain. The building had a series of wings housing the animation staff. Each wing had a lobby with a directory that listed every artist in the wing. Should you be lucky enough to have an office in highly coveted D-wing your name would on the directory along with “The Nine Old Men.” That's why the young artist wanted a photograph of the directory. He wanted his parents to see that he had finally made the big time. He was sharing a wing with the most famous animators in the world.

Of course, fifty years ago we thought his actions were laughable. Who would think to take a photograph of their name on a studio directory? Looking back, I realize what seemed stupid at the time was actually very wise indeed. After all, his name was listed along with, Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Ward Kimball and Frank Thomas. Of course, my name was listed on that directory as well, but I never thought to take a photograph. And as you can imagine, that's something I still regret today.