I thought I was looking at a photograph of my grandson, but it turns out I was mistaken. That’s not one of my grandsons - it’s me. This is a photograph taken at the Walt Disney Studio back in 1957 and I took the picture myself. The camera was set on auto and placed on top of my animation desk. I simply stood by the window until I heard a click from the camera and the moment was frozen in time. You are now able to see young Floyd in his new G-wing office.

Let me explain the events of 1957 and why we’re now located in G-wing on the first floor of the Animation Building. Until this day, our little unit had been working upstairs in 2-G. We were a clean-up unit and we managed to cram ourselves in a room usually occupied by story men. This served as our little headquarters until our unit was finally ready to move full speed into production on our Sleeping Beauty clean-up duties. I can describe the wing as if it were yesterday. Director, Nick Nichols occupied the room next door. His team handled the TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club. On occasion, the director-animator created television commercials and his artists worked in a large room at the west of the building. Perhaps you remember some of the commercials that were produced. Does Peter Pan Peanut Butter sound familiar? What about Bucky Beaver and new Ipana Toothpaste? Yep, these commercials were being produced right down the hall. Across the hall you’d find two amazing layout artists, Jack Huber and Homer Jonas preparing for their next assignment. Their director, Les Clark (who occupied the adjoining office) had just been given the opening sequence of Sleeping Beauty. No easy task, this lavish opening had to be completed with a limited budget because so much had already been spent on Walt Disney’s latest feature film. However, our little unit was being beefed up and more members were being added to our team. Animator, Freddy Hellmich would lead the unit comprised of Disney veterans and a few newbies like myself. We moved downstairs to G-wing where our group occupied several offices and for the next two and a half years we would be finalizing the rough pencil animation on the three fairies, Flora, Fauna and Meriweather. It would not be an easy task and sometimes we would be asked to revise our work to meet the demands of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. I do not joke when I say we often sketched a scene at least three times before it met the approval of the directing animators.

Anyway, this is what I looked like in 1957 when Walt Disney ordered the final push on Sleeping Beauty. Six hundred plus artists would labor long and hard to meet the film’s 1959 deadline. Even as we worked, the old Disney veterans seemed apprehensive about the future. Would Walt continue to support animation, they wondered? Would there be cutbacks and layoffs after the animated masterpiece was completed? These were questions yet to be answered but we couldn’t give it too much thought. After all, we were too busy trying to complete the latest stack of animation drawings on our desk. Whatever the future held for all of us would have to be answered another day.

It's 1957 at the Walt Disney Studio and a very young Floyd Norman has just moved into his new G-wing office.

It's 1957 at the Walt Disney Studio and a very young Floyd Norman has just moved into his new G-wing office.

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AuthorFloyd Norman