Art Babbitt was a very good animator and a good artist, but his destiny was, of course, wrapped up with the strike.

Ward Kimball
Art Babbitt & Marjorie Belcher


Born on October 8, 1907 in Omaha, Nebraska, Arthur Harold Babitsky aka Art Babbitt started his career animating medical films and commercials as early as May 1924. He was hired by Paul Terry in 1929. When he saw The Skeleton Dance, he decided he would join the Disney studio, which he did on July 25, 1932.

He was instrumental in the creation of the studio night classes and animated on the most important shorts from day one: Three Little Pigs, The Country Cousin, The Wise Little Hen… in that short he animated Donald Duck in his first role, and he later developed the character of Goofy in Mickey’s Service Station.

Snow White

On Snow White, he apparently was the first to do some character development on Dopey, animated a scene of Doc sorting diamonds and various other shots of the dwarfs, but his most important task was to animate the Queen, helped by Bob Stokes and others. Although he insisted on the fact that none of his animation used the rotoscope reference exactly, it is fairly obvious that the footage used for that reference was very close to the final animation. This in no way detracts from the remarkable work done on this character, who has become mythical thanks in large part to his talent.

He later claimed that at the time of Snow White, his salary was about $15,000 a year, bonuses and stock distribution included.

On August 8, 1937, he married the main model for Snow White, dancer Marge Belcher, who was 12 years younger than him. Arthur expected a stay-at-home loving wife and Marge expected to tour the country in various dance shows. The marriage lasted only 4 years and ended on October 2, 1941.

According to him, he and Dick Huemer were the only two supervising animators on Snow White to not get a bonus following the film’s success.

Scene 6 (1028)

The Strike

In 1941, Arthur was among the leaders of the animators’ strike. He claimed that Gunther Lessing, the company’s head of legal department, came to him to form a union, a move which he hoped would bar regular unions from entering the studio.

Walt Disney never forgave Babbitt and although he kept working at the studio until 1947 on classics such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Fun and Fancy Free, he eventually left the studio and joined UPA in 1949.

He later worked on Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure and the ill-fated film The Thief and the Cobbler with fellow Snow White animator Grim Natwick.

It is quite obvious from his interviews that he remained bitter about his experience with Disney until his death on March 4, 1992.

This blog dedicated to Art Babbitt by Jake Friedman is your best source for information about the animator.

Art Babbitt, The trouble-maker

Check out Amber Hannen’s documentary about the animator.