A BEST BOOK OF 2019: Library Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Financial Times
From the bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls, the untold, "richly detailed" story of the women of Walt Disney Studios, who shaped the iconic films that have enthralled generations (Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Figures)
From Snow White to Moana, from Pinocchio to Frozen, the animated films of Walt Disney Studios have moved and entertained millions. But few fans know that behind these groundbreaking features was an incredibly influential group of women who fought for respect in an often ruthless male-dominated industry and who have slipped under the radar for decades.
In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt tells their dramatic stories for the first time, showing how these women infiltrated the boys' club of Disney's story and animation departments and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and unforgettable narratives that have become part of the American canon. As the influence of Walt Disney Studios grew---and while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace intimidation---these women also fought to transform the way female characters are depicted to young audiences.
With gripping storytelling, and based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation reveals the vital contributions these women made to Disney's Golden Age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney's first female-directed full-length feature film.
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.