Animation History
January 21, 2019 posted by Jerry Beck

From the Files of Walter Lantz…

It’s a holiday in the States – and I thought it might be a good day to spend time rummaging through my Walter Lantz files. I don’t know if I’ve posted some of these stills here in Cartoon Research or on Facebook before – but here’s a potpourri of visual materials submitted for your approval – and for future reference. Enjoy!

Walter Lantz at his drawing board

This came from Ned Comstock at the USC Cinema Library – an obscure 1969 article about Walter and his hobby of painting, from the children’s Golden Magazine (from Western Publishing – who were conveniently publishing Lantz character comic books).

Walter and his characters

Walt Disney congratulates Lantz at an event celebrating Lantz’s 25 years with Universal Pictures – in 1953.

I’ll bet you were wondering how much money directors Alex Lovy and Paul Smith were paid in 1958? This piece answers that question:

And I’ll bet you were also wondering how much Christmas bonus they received at year’s end? And how much did the whole staff get? And who were the whole staff at Walter Lantz in 1958? This little document tells us that:

That’s it for now. Enjoy the rest of your MLK Day – now with MLK (“More Lantz Knowledge”).


  • Interesting that LaVerne Harding had a special compensation by verbal agreement. There’s probably a good story there.

  • this is a very cool piece of anim history! Great seeing you (Jerry) at the Animation Guild party last night.

  • How’s about a large TASCHEN Lantz Archives book? That’d be pretty neat.

  • I’m a fan of Walter Lantz, but the direction he took with Oswald vs the likes of Mickey and Popeye? I mean the early-mid 30s “cuter” Oswald was bad enough, but I’m just baffled what he was thinking with the fuzzy white bunny Oswald. Ugh. Glad the character went back to Disney, which is one of the rare times I’ll say that.

    • Actually, only the late 1920s version of Oswald — the version of him that’s in the cartoons that Walt Disney produced — is back with Disney. The later Oswald cartoons as well as that version of the character still belong to Universal. So, they are free to create new material with THEIR Oswald should they ever want to.

    • I gathered Universal had retained rights to their Oswald films. As to rights to their “version” of Oswald, I wasn’t clear on that, but it doesn’t seem like something they will be looking to leverage much. For most of us the real Oswald is the Disney Oswald I think.

      My point was it seems like Lantz was kind of in a strange dark period in the mid-late-30s producing not-terribly-compelling cartoons v. the competition (Disney and Fleischer particularly, and an up-and-coming Warner Brothers) and effectively ruining the one stand-out character he did have. That all slowly turned around with the creation of Andy Panda and especially Woody Woodpecker.

    • After 1932 Lantz’s Oswald definitely grew cuter and more insipid, but the earlier Oswald cartoons were very funny, probably more so than the Mickey Mouses of the time. Director Bill Nolan and his animators (including Tex Avery) produced cartoons with wild, boozy humor. Sadly, after 1932 Lantz decided Oswald should copy Mickey more closely, so the musical interludes grew and the humor shrank.

  • I find it ironic that the Walter Lantz article in the children’s magazine shares visual space with a DISNEY ad.

  • Hmm. His wife gets a bonus, but not Daws Butler or Dal McKennon.

    • I doubt they were on staff. Freelancers don’t get bonuses.

  • LOVE that photo of the two Walts. Thanks for sharing, Jerry! – William

  • HA! I remember reading that issue of Golden magazine! Thanks for the memories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *