Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day and the animation artists who served

For most Americans, Memorial Day is a day off and the official kickoff of summer.  In a local Los Angeles suburb, it's not even referred to as Memorial Day but "Fiesta Days," whatever that means.  However, in spite of local governments and the media, the day was set aside to remember all those who served their country, often making the ultimate sacrifice.

Official logo of the First Motion Picture Unit

Many of the artists from animation's so-called Golden Age were not actually in combat during WWII but served in one form or another, usually working for the US Army Signal Corps in the First Motion Picture Unit turning out training films for the various service branches.  There were both East Coast and West Coast units, most of the veterans who worked for Jay Ward served on the West Coast at Fort Roach, Hal Roach's studio facility in Culver City.

Ward director Bill Hurtz is seated second from the right in the bottom corner.

The above image features many of the era's brightest stars from many of the different animation studios and full identification of the personnel can be found at here at Mike Barrier's essential animation history website.  More photos and even a short clip of the animation department from the FMPU can be seen at Mark Mayerson's blog here.  Other artists might have worked at the studios on training films for the military while not actually being a member of the service.  Not all of Ward's artists were old enough to have served in the FMPU during WWII and many served after that conflict. 

Roll call for Jay Ward's artists (staff, freelancers or subcontractors) who served their country in the US military:

Norm Gottfredson
Jim Hiltz
Bill Hurtz
Roy Morita
Sam Nicholson
Dun Roman
Jack Schnerk
Bill Scott
Al Shean
Al Wilson

Veterans still with us:

Gerard Baldwin
Sam Clayberger
Bob Inman
Alan Zaslove

May we always remember those who served.

This list is by no means exhaustive and if anyone knows someone who should be on it, please let me know.

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