This post is a continuation of the previous episode about the timeline of Walt Disney’s history:
This timeline page corresponds with the seventh podcast episode, which you can find here:
1925 (Walt 23 Years Old)
–October 1925– Mintz ordered Walt to stop sending the cartoons ahead of schedule (every 16 days instead of every 21 days/2 weeks). He furiously wrote Walt a letter that complained about “Walt’s ingratitude…his ineptitude… and his greed.”
-At the time, Mintz was negotiating a deal for national distributorship with the Film Booking Office for Krazy Kats instead of Felix and Alice.
-Distributorship had previously been done by Mintz on “state’s rights” basis, where he went from state to state and sold to individual theaters, but the trend was moving more towards large groups selling nationwide.
-To help alleviate tension, Mintz offered Walt to come to New York to renegotiate a new contract, similar to the current one:
-$1,500 per film ($900 paid on delivery of the negative, and $600 paid up to 90 days afterwards)
Walt wanted to change the terms of the contract:
-$350 for each film that made over $4,000, and then an even 50/50 split of profits made over $4,350
-“All matters regarding making of comedies are to be left to me.” –Walt
-Mintz refused this request, so Walt ended their deal discussions
1926 (Walt 24 Years Old)
–February 8, 1926– Walt wired Mintz with new terms of the deal:
-$500 after the first $4,000, then $500 for Mintz, then an even 50/50 split of profits
-Walt asked to keep the rights to the Alice Comedies
-Mintz ventured out to California to close the deal, but at the end of it, Mintz kept the rights to Alice.
–February 1926– Disney Bros. moved studios to Hyperion Avenue from Kingswell Avenue.
-Spent $3,000 on restorations/renovations
-It was a “little green and white structure with a red tile roof, and a nice little plot of grass right in front of us.” –Walt about Hyperion Avenue
-Disney Bros. changed to Walt Disney Studios
-Walt suggested paying Virginia Davis less, $25 per day, since the previous year she only worked for 18 days, as her part had become overshadowed by Julius the Cat and the rest of the animated world.
-The Davises freaked at the notion, so Walt hired instead two different girls at that rate:
-First, Dawn O’Day (Only appeared in one short)
-Then, Margie Gay
-Then, in early 1927, Lois Hardwick
-Walt kept in contact with his Kansas City business clients from the Laugh-O-Gram days, offering to do odd projects for them.
–Carl Stalling– Offered to make more Song-O-Reels, like Martha
–Thomas McCrum– Finally got him to sign a deal for Clara Cleans Her Teeth, where Lillian’s niece, Marjorie Sewell, was “a ragamuffin who is ostracized by other children because her teeth have gone rotten.”
-Walt went from making $300 profit per film to $+100, to $-61.25 per film by the end of 1926.
-Walt received a stipend from the studio for his car, but he and Lillian weren’t able to buy furniture for their apartment until they moved in 1927 to an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue near Sunset Boulevard.
–Winter 1926– Walt became tense, terse, and overbearing. The stress of money problems, mixed with the demands of Mintz, caused Walt to demand perfection from his employees, rather than the camaraderie they’d previously had.
–Rollin Ham Hamilton quit “because he couldn’t bear the abuse that Walt heaped upon him.” Per Isadore “Friz” Freleng.
-Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising began plotting to steal away Walt’s employees as early as August 1926 to start their own studio (again) because “business is business.”
-Rudy was fired for “falling asleep at the animation camera with his hand on the button.”
-Friz Freleng was fired for playing hooky and was seen out in public when he was supposed to be working.
-Ub Iwerks convinced the remaining employees to hunker down and take the brunt of the abuse, but “the resentments would linger.”
1927 (Walt 25 Years Old)
-Mintz was in talks with Universal to pick up a new series
-Walt sent Mintz sample sketches of rabbits
–March 4, 1927– 26 episodes of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was picked up by Universal Studios (re-entering the animation market)
–March 1927– Walt finished his last Alice Comedy (56 total)
–Early April 1927– Walt finished the first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, and it took him about 2 weeks to complete it. However, Universal and Mintz weren’t happy with the cartoon, so Universal refused to release it. Mintz wanted a monocle for Oswald.
-By Spring 1927, Walt had hired more employees, going from 10 to 22, including Les Clark and Hazel Sewell (now in charge of the ink and paint department)
-Also, because Oswald’s success was linked directly to Iwerks’ drawing of the character, within 2 months of drawing the Oswald, Walt increased his pay to $120 per week from $70/week.
-At the time, Walt was making $100 per week and Roy was making $65 per week.
-The Oswald films finally started making a profit for the Disneys (about $500 per short), and Walt and Roy split these profits 60/40.
-With this money, they bought some land most likely for Uncle Robert and John Cowles and their oil drilling business
-They also put down $200 deposits for their houses on Lyric Avenue (houses were to be built next to each other). The total cost for these pre-fab, pre-made houses was $8,000 per house.
–December 1927– When they moved in to their new homes on Lyric Avenue, Lillian’s mother moved in to help keep Lillian company.
–Christmas 1927– Walt got Lillian a puppy, Sunnee. He adopted her from a local kennel (he had asked her to pick what kind of dog she would want if she had to choose, since she hated dogs), placed her in a hat box (kept at Roy’s house until it was Christmas morning). Lillian was initially upset when she saw the hatbox because she thought Walt had gotten a hat “without her approval”, but she opened it and immediately fell in love with the puppy. (The hatbox opening would later be reused as a scene in Lady and the Tramp).
1928 (Walt 26 Years Old)
–January 1928– Ub Iwerks approached Walt to inform him of Mintz’s plan to oust Walt from his own company/the Oswald cartoons. By this time, Mintz had already convinced multiple of Walt’s animators to defect, including Hugh Harman. Mintz had also approached Iwerks to defect, but he had refused. Walt dismissed the idea out of hand instead of accepting it and taking action.
–February 2, 1928– Charles Mintz signed a new 3-year contract with Universal Studios for the Oswald cartoons.
-Walt arrived in New York the 3rd week of February 1928 to renegotiate his contract with Mintz, hoping to increase his pay per film from $2,250 to $2,500. Walt treated this business trip like a “second honeymoon,” so he brought Lillian to celebrate with him on what he thought would be a slam-dunk business deal.
-When Walt arrived in New York, he first paid a visit to Fred Quimby of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Walt pitched him the Oswald cartoons, hoping to get a rival bid that he could use as leverage against Mintz in their negotiations. Quimby, instead, turned him down and said “cartoons are on the wane.”
-Walt went next to see Mintz, who offered a much worse deal than their current one:
-Just pay for negative films (About $1,400 each)
-50/50 even split of profits
-Walt left upset and contacted Jack Alicoate, who had helped Walt set up his original contract with Margaret Winkler for the Alice Comedies. Alicoate told Walt to keep bargaining with Mintz, but in the meantime, he also set up another meeting with MGM and Fox.
–March 1, 1928– At this point, Walt began to acknowledge the precarious situation he was in, so he wired Roy “to have an attorney draw up “ironclad” year-long contracts with two option years” and “to be held in readiness until he gave the word.”
–March 2, 1928– Walt and Lillian had lunch with Mintz and his wife, Margaret Winkler, at Hotel Astor. Mintz refused to talk business at the lunch, but Walt said to Roy, “I could see that he had something up his sleeve.” At this time, Walt pulled the trigger for Roy to have his employees to sign the contracts, “MAKE THEM SIGN OR KNOW REASON BEFORE ALLOWING THEM TO LEAVE” before Mintz had the opportunity to do the same.
-Roy wired Walt back that his employees refused to sign the contracts. Walt realized that since jobs in the animation market were scarce, they should have all jumped at the opportunity. Since they didn’t, Walt realized that Iwerks was right; Mintz had signed his animators right out from under him under the supervision of George Winkler.
–March 3, 1928
-Walt tried to entice Bill Nolan, lead animator for Krazy Kats with Mintz, to leave and come work for him in California
-Walt met with MGM, who refused again to make any cartoons that year
-Walt met with Fox, who said they couldn’t sign a contract for a cartoon they themselves didn’t create
-Walt met with Jack Alicoate, who told him to basically hang in there
-Walt met with Mintz
-He offered to increased the pay from $1,400 to $1,750 for each film
-50/50 profits split
-Walt jumped at the opportunity, despite his claims that he had two other deals on the table from other companies/distributors. Mintz instead made Walt wait and come back the next day, offering to even help him accept one of the “other offers.”
-Walt left to meet with Manny Goldstein, a Universal executive who was an acquaintance of Alicoate
-Goldstein offered a deal for Walt the following year (Mintz had a deal that was in effect through the year). Goldstein even said he’d deal with Mintz, but Goldstein requested Walt not discuss this meeting with Mintz.
–March 4, 1928– Walt met with Mintz for the last time when he made his last offer:
-$1,800 per cartoon
-50/50 split of the profits
-Mintz takes over the Walt Disney Company and pays Walt and Roy $200 per week as employees
-Walt left the meeting with Mintz and met with Goldstein again, who said he’d intervene and deal with Mintz. Walt also sent a wire to Roy requesting $100 and asking to find out where the allegiances lie for his remaining employees.
-Walt spent his remaining time in New York trying to court Bill Nolan, who instead finally joined animating for Mintz and Oswald.
–March 13, 1928– Since his costs had amounted to $1,000 by this time and nothing was happening, Walt finally left deflated.
-Lost Oswald,except the remainder of his contractually obligated cartoons, a large majority of his staff, except Iwerks, and Bill NolanFollow for the latest updates: