Charles B. Mintz TLS regarding Virginia Davis, Walt Disney’s “Alice”

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Charles B. Mintz TLS regarding Virginia Davis, Walt Disney’s “Alice”
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Charles B. Mintz, Typed Letter Signed, One page, Quarto, dated Oct. 1st, 1925, on M.J. Winkler Distributor letterhead bearing the Krazy Kat and Disney Alice caricatures. Written to Mrs. Maragret J. Davis, mother of Virginia Davis, Walt Disney’s “Alice” that mixed live action with animation. It reads (in full):

“Dear Mrs. Davis:–

Thank you for your kind letter of Sept. 15th.

I am happy to hear that Virginia is doing well. I can also agree with you when you say that big things may be looked “for” for her in the future.

You are quite welcome to the press sheets although any credit that is forthcoming is due Mr. Winkler owing to whose fore-thought they were forwarded to you.

You are mistaken when you say that Virginia was replaced on account of Mr. Winkler’s friendship for some person. The reason for the replacement, as I understand it, is that Mr. Disney needed the services of Virginia for about eighteen days throughout the entire year of 1925. Under these circumstances he figured that he would not be justified in contracting for the entire year. I further understand that he offered Virginia the opportunity of doing work on the ‘Alice comedies on a salary basis of $25.00 per day and that you would not agree to allow her to work under those conditions.

Nevertheless it is not too late to make amends and if you are desirous of going ahead under these conditions, I will be very happy to write Mr. Disney and ask him to use Virginia as we and the people who distribute the pictures throughout the county, like her very much.

I should like to hear further from you. Kindest regards to Mr. Davis, Virginia and yourself from Mrs. Mintz and me.

Sincerely yours,

C.B. Mintz”

After reading a book by Edwin G. Lutz, called Animated Cartoons: How They Are Made, Their Origin and Development, he found cel animation to be much more promising than the cutout animation he had been working on and decided to open his own animation business, recruiting fellow co-worker, Fred Harman, as his first employee.

Disney always kept an eye on his competition and suggested turning the Fleischer Brothers’ formula around for a new series which instead of using a cartoon character in a live-action environment, suggested to Ub they use a live-action girl in a cartoon environment.

For the starring role, Walt remembered a little girl from a local bread advertisement, 4 year-old Virginia Davis. The new film was entitled Alice’s Wonderland. With the film conceptualized, Disney wrote Margaret J. Winkler, influential distributor of Felix the Cat and Out of the Inkwell. By the end of the series, the focus was more on the animated characters rather than the live-action “Alice.” After filming the first 14 Alice comedies, Virginia was offered a new contract that stipulated only 18 working days for the entire year. Virginia’s mother found the conditions unacceptable and wrote Mintz in New York.

An important document in the early history of the Disney Studios.