Disney goes to war at the Great Park
Though Walt Disney didn’t film on the battlefields and fronts of the war as the other five directors did, Disney Studios’ war effort was also crucial to boosting morale on the home front and for the American forces at war. That effort will form the basis of a new exhibit, Walt and the Flying Bull, to run June 3 – Aug. 13 at the Great Park Art Gallery.
In 1943, Walt Disney Productions designed the El Toro “Flying Bull” logo for Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. This Great Park exhibit will include the history of Disney Insignia Art, and will also include contemporary art inspired by World War II, created by artists working for Walt Disney Productions, Marvel Entertainment, and Pixar Animation Studios.
The show will also include photos taken in 1942 by Bob Blankman, an archivist for the First American History Collection and a member of the first unit stationed at El Toro during the opening of the base, and photos taken after the closure of MCAS El Toro in 1999 captured by The Legacy Project.
During World War II, more than 90 percent of Disney employees were devoted to the production of training and propaganda films. In all, the Disney Studios in Burbank produced some 68 hours of film. In addition, Disney animators and artists used their talents to design some 1,200 military insignia and emblems for units such as the Flying Tigers, Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees), the mosquito fleet of PT boats, and many other branches of the armed forces, for a total of some 1,200 insignia in all.
The logos were known for their humor. Almost every Disney character of the day was used, with Donald Duck the most requested. Issue Journal, the online journal of business and design, put it well: “As incongruous as Disney characters are to the horrors of war, these cartoon military patches embodied pop culture, innocence, American values, and everything the troops loved about home—a much more fitting emblem than a heraldic pompous symbol with no sentimental significance.”
The reception for Walt and the Flying Bull is Sunday, June 4 from 1-3 p.m.