Released in 1928, Walt Disney's cartoon Steamboat Willie perfected synchronicity between image and sound and encouraged Disney to continue his technological innovations with the founding of Walt Disney Studios. As a result, viewers were treated to feature-length films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Cinderella—many of which would not have been possible without the work of female artists. Holt (Rise of the Rocket Girls; Cured: The People Who Defeated HIV) rectifies a serious wrong committed by authors of books on Disney and his studio as she tells the often-omitted stories of these enormously talented women: shy Bianca Majolie, creator of the cartoon short "Elmer Elephant"; daring and idealistic Grace Huntington, who pushed boundaries both as an animator and test pilot; and the grand dame of animators, Mary Blair, whose artistry mystified her male colleagues and earned her the respect of Disney. VERDICT This eye-opening and empowering title at last places in the spotlight many of the groundbreaking women who worked for Walt Disney Studios.—Leah Huey, Dekalb P.L., IL
"Nathalia Holt's richly detailed group biography shines a welcome light on Disney's true heroinesnot the princesses on the screen, but the talented female artists and writers working hard behind the scenes. The Queens of Animation is also a crisp reflection on Hollywood's charged and changing relationship with beauty, race and fame." Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Figures
"A remarkable true story, unforgettably told. Walt Disney gave women artists a chance when few others would. Their experiences included opportunity, discrimination, heartbreak, and beauty. Holt has unearthed a vivid, soaring, vitally important untold story of women's contribution to technology, entertainment, and art." Lisa Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Code Girls
"Readers who loved Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls will find so much to enjoy in this deeply researched, loving celebration of Disney's long-overlooked female pioneers. Holt evocatively blends social history, technological advances and the personal lives of these forgotten artists to champion their achievements and their extraordinary legacy." Kate Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Radium Girls
"Holt's marvelous The Queens of Animation grips from the first page with its alternately harrowing and inspiring tale of the women who breathed life into iconic Disney characters. This important book not only corrects cultural history, it subtly changes it. As Holt shows so masterfully, the bright colors and curved lines that become those fairy tale figures are the results of real women's brains, strength, and passion." Mary Gabriel, author of Ninth Street Women
"Disney's female artists and writers have finally been receiving long overdue recognition. Holt's heartfelt, deeply researched tome, however, is the first to truly highlight the sexism they experienced at the studio...Using letters,
interviews with family members, and archived documents, Holt captures the full scope of Disney history, from Snow White to Moana, through intimate portraits of the women who worked there. This groundbreaking work laments the discrimination these artists endured while celebrating the verve, creativity,
and resiliency they drew on to bring beautiful art and three-dimensional characters to the big screen." Biz Hyzy, Booklist (starred review)
" This is one you don't want to missand won't want to put down. Holt brings her empathy,
smart writing, and knack for research to the story of another group of extraordinary, unsung women heroes : the remarkable women who overcame sexism, intimidation, harassment, and no small amount of mansplaining to reshape Walt Disney Studios, and even transform the way Walt Disney himself thought about art and storytelling." Brian Jay Jones, author of Becoming Dr. Seuss and George Lucas: A Life
" Eye-opening and empowering...Holt rectifies a serious wrong...as she tells the often-omitted stories of these enormously talented women." Leah Huey, Library Journal (starred review)
"Think of this book as if Hidden Figures
were about Walt Disney Studios instead of NASA. The Queens of Animation pulls back the curtain on a handful of influential, and largely under-recognized, women writers and animators who helped shape the early aesthetic of Disney during a time when the industry was largely a boy's club...Holt goes from
Snow White up to Frozen
in this essential read ahead of the launch of Disney+ this fall." Jeva Lange, The Week, 25 Books to Read in the Second Half of 2019
" The Queens of Animation draws on the revealing and engagingly personal stories of many talented women who had a hand in the creation of the animated Disney films we all lovea long overdue recognition for their contributions. It's time to resuscitate and honor all that women have clandestinely molded and shaped." Kara Cooney, author of When Women Ruled the World
"A riveting and essential read about the women who helped create many of the most famous Walt Disney films. Like Hidden Figures and Rise of the Rocket Girls, The Queens of Animation tells us a story we need to hear, one that was lost to history until now." Charlotte Gordon, author of Romantic Outlaws
" Engrossing...While restoring these women to their rightful place in history, Holt also covers the evolution of Disney's animated features, such as how the studio continually integrated new technological innovations, including the multiplane camera, stop-motion animation, Technicolor, and many others. Going up to the present to highlight how women have continued to play key roles in making films like Brave and Frozen, Holt's thorough and enchanting account will be a must-read for Disney enthusiasts and champions of women's artistic contributions." Publishers Weekly
In this engrossing history, Holt (Rise of the Rocket Girls) highlights Disney’s largely forgotten female writers and animators. Animation aficionados may know of the studio’s largely female-staffed Ink and Paint department, but the contributions discussed here embraced many other areas. Grace Huntington was the second woman ever hired for Disney’s story department, as well as an avid, record-setting pilot. Artist Sylvia Moberly-Holland supervised key Fantasia and Bambi sequences, while designer Mary Blair masterminded Cinderella’s mid-century modern aesthetic, and was later asked personally by Walt Disney to oversee Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World After All” ride. Despite demonstrating their immense talents, Holt’s subjects faced continual workplace slights and hostilities, from sexual harassment to the denial of credit for their accomplishments. While restoring these women to their rightful place in history, Holt also covers the evolution of Disney’s animated features, such as how the studio continually integrated new technological innovations, including the multiplane camera, stop-motion animation, Technicolor, and many others. Going up to the present to highlight how women have continued to play key roles in making films like Brave and Frozen, Holt’s thorough and enchanting account will be a must-read for Disney enthusiasts and champions of women’s artistic contributions. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company (Oct.)
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.