Inspiring tale of the women who contributed their creative prowess to Walt Disney’s creations.
Holt (Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars, 2016, etc.), who writes with a researcher’s mind and a storyteller’s heart, engagingly chronicles the lives of the women animators at Disney from their humble (and much ill-treated) beginnings breaking into the Ink and Paint Department during the company’s rough commencement, through its founder’s death in 1966, to the studio’s modern age. In the majority of the narrative, the author focuses on five fascinating women who broke into the studio and made significant contributions. The first was Bianca Majolie, who went to high school with Walt Disney. The second, Grace Huntington, is worthy of her own biography. When she wasn’t laboring over Snow White or Bambi or dealing with the ingrained chauvinism at the studio, she was breaking aviation records as the highest-flying woman on Earth. There’s also Sylvia Holland and Ethel Kulsar, whose vision for Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid would find its way onto cinema screens nearly 50 years after they wrote its treatment; and Mary Blair, the visionary who became invaluable to Walt, creating the concept art for Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and the Disneyland attraction It’s a Small World. Though these women have long since passed—Holt based her portrayals on correspondence, notes, photographs, journals, and interviews with family and friends—the author’s resurrection of this lost age is eminently readable and inspiring and will appeal to the many fans of Hidden Figures. Disney-philes will appreciate many of the rarely revealed stories, some of which are painful—e.g., the stars of the racist-leaning Song of the South, among them Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel, barred from their own premiere.
A compelling story of women with talent, artistic vision, and spines of steel.