I’d like to introduce you to:
Much has been written about animation in the early days being a man’s world, with women being relegated to the ink and paint departments or other ‘secondary’ disciplines. This, as in most other professions, has changed. But we could go back again to the early days of animation and say that it was also a largely white world. This too has changed.
Some Disney detractors have used such observations to label Walt anti-semitic or racist, or whatever other derogatory label would get them the most publicity for their publications. But in all fairness (?) it should be mentioned that women and minorities didn’t enjoy the same opportunities as white males in North America in the early days and the Walt Disney Studio was hardly unique in its employee demographics.
But I don’t want to turn this article into a soap box sermon just because the Disney Legend I’m highlighting just happens to be an African-American. However, the points I’ve shared thus far are a part of established history and so do become a part of Floyd Norman’s life story. He was and is the first black animator at the Walt Disney Studios.
Please join me in the hope that things like that will no longer be relevent or worthy of mention as our world becomes more universal and accepting!
So now I’d like to let the man himself tell you…
Who the hell is Floyd Norman?
I began my career at the Walt Disney Studios many years ago and I’ve worked on more animated feature films and television shows than I can remember. What’s really cool however, are the awesome people I’ve known and worked with throughout my career at Walt’s magic factory. It’s truly a who’s who of animation and it includes Walt’s famous “Nine Old Men” as well as the top story men who created the Disney classics. It was an amazing mentoring opportunity as well as a master class in Disney animation. My career eventually spanned several decades and I even witnessed the arrival of the “young turks” who would take the torch passed to them by the Disney Masters.
My first animated feature film was Walt’s masterpiece, “Sleeping Beauty” which wrapped in 1958 and ushered in the Old Maestro’s final decade. In 1966 I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Walt Disney on his final animated film, The Jungle Book. I capped off my career in 1999 with the Pixar production of “Monster’s Inc.” and I reluctantly “retired” from animation in the year 2001. However, I never retired from cartoon making. Since that time I’ve worked on several feature and television productions for various studios and I continue doing so even today. I’ve never considered myself top in my class and I certainly don’t buy into the “Disney Legend” thing. There are far too many forgotten talents out there that continue to go unrecognized. So, what’s my secret, you ask? It’s easy, really. I simply won’t stop working. Recently, I’ve been kept busy on various projects including Reel FX’s “Free Birds,” Cartoon Network’s “Annoying Orange” and some cool new projects for Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Italic text and picture from Mr. Fun’s Blog
I bolded the type above because it caught my eye and sensibilities. There are many underrated contributors behind all of our favorite Disney Classics and we should appreciate them as much as we do our heroes. It’s nice to see someone who has certainly stood out give a shout-out to everyone else! Sorry Floyd, but that makes your Disney Legend title well-earned to me!
Behind every Disney Legend is a rich history and an interesting story to tell. Please check out his blog and be sure to immerse yourself in the creativity of a man who always seems to be smiling. Obviously he’s up to something, and I think you owe it to yourself to find out what! You may find clues at AFROKIDS.com
Oh, and by the way Floyd, Ward Kimbal called and he wants his glasses back! (Kidding!)