Grumpy Old Men

Here they are, kids. Two of the most dangerous men in the animation business. Why, you ask? It's because neither gives a rat's behind about speaking our minds. Especially, when the subject is the art of animation.

Last Friday I was delighted to attend another one of Walt Peregoy's gallery openings. And, I've attended a few in my time. When we were youngsters, the shows were usually in the Walt Disney Studio Library where artists were encouraged to exhibit their work. And, in case you're wondering, Walt Disney often attended these openings as well, although the Old Maestro had his own particular taste in art.

As you can imagine, the stories detailing the “Clash of the Walt's” are now legendary. Peregoy, never one to temper his opinion about art made it clear to all who would listen and that even included the boss, Walt Disney. On more than one occasion the two of them went toe to toe over the stylistic merits of a Disney film, and Walt Peregoy was not shy in expressing his opinions.

Since I was a regular visitor to Walt Peregoy's upstairs office toward the rear of 2F on the second floor of the Animation Building, I gained a good deal of respect for the artist who was unwilling to compromise. In an industry where selling out has become a way of life, Walt Peregoy stood on his principals. Though often dismissed from a Disney project, you couldn't help but believe that even Walt Disney respected the passionate artist for his unwillingness to “play the game.” When people often remark that Walt Peregoy is a cranky, opinionated angry old man, I remind them that the artist is no different than when he was young. Of course, age has taken its toll on the brilliant artist, he remains the same guy he was when we spoke back in the fifties and sixties. An artist totally committed to his art in a time when most artists today have morphed into the animation version of Mel Cooley. For those old enough to remember the “Dick Van Dyke Show,” the Richard Deacon character was the ultimate “suck up.”

So you see, Walt Peregoy is one of my Disney heroes and there's a little bit of Peregoy in all my gags and in my blog posts. When I see something wrong, I call it out. Whether the person happens to be an in-betweener or the producer-director, I take no prisoners. Like Walt Peregoy, I'm not impressed by the size of your house or your paycheck. Screw up, and I'm coming after you. Of course, I'm following in a grand tradition. After all, Walt Disney didn't suffer fools either.