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John and Faith, courtesy of Hofstra Univ images

Last month when I was in the New York City area, I had the opportunity to go out and visit Emily Hubley and her family. Emily is one of the four siblings of John (1914-1977) and Faith (1924-2001). The Hubleys are particular heroes of mine, I wrote about them in detail in Drawing the Line. It was fun spending the day with Emily looking through the family's treasure trove of animation classic art. Emily and Georgia were the little girls who got to be the soundtrack of the classic short Cockaboody.

Emily with a drawing from Cockaboody, click on image

I looked through John & Faith’s drawings for Moonbird, The Windy Day, The Hole, Zuckercandle and the correspondence and photos from the Walt Disney Strike of 1941. One revelation was that John had saved a lot of his layout work from his Disney years, 1935-1941. I held original layouts from Bambi, the seq where Bambi and Celine amble through the clouds of love. Also, color setups for Pinocchio and Snow White. There was a beautiful model sheet of the dwarf, Doc, that was pasted up from an animator's key poses, with the blue pencil roughs still underneath.

Emily showed me a little letter handwritten in pencil from the young John Hubley to his parents back in Wisconsin, that he had gotten to Hollywood and landed a steady job at this animated cartoon company called Disney’s.” I’ve turned in a dozen layouts, and I think I got the job….” To see the tentative excitement and expectation in this 22-year-old who grew to become a multi-Oscar winning giant in our business was inspiring. He was once a nervous newcomer also.

I also studied John’s annotated script for the feature film of Finian’s Rainbow. John was set to direct and had teamed with Disney master animator Bill Tytla, who was to head the animation team. Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald were lined up to do voices. But the film was killed because of the Hollywood Blacklist. They dragged John in to testify about his politics and the clients fled.

my man Marky Maypo from a 1956 commercial

Cut off from mainstream commercial filmmaking, John and Faith turned to creating independent short films, and were among original backers of the creation of ASIFA as an international animation organization. Faith said later:” I know this sounds totally irreverent but I think Johnny’s career was made by the Blacklist.” It got him out of the studio system and got him into being an independent. I don’t think he would have done it otherwise.”
Just like if he did not support the strike against Walt Disney, he would have been a successful layout supervisor on the Disney feature films, but UPA and Gerald McBoing-Boing, and all those wonderful Oscar winning films may not have happened.

Me with John Hubley's memento of the Disney Strike

It’s a great message to those of you out there today facing layoffs or other unwanted changes in your careers. Look how John and Faith Hubley took the problems they were handed and made them into opportunities. The system never beat them, they turned it around and created their own success.

The Hubley family moves on. Emily is an animator and filmmaker in her own right, having contributed to films like Blue Vinyl and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mark, Georgia and Ray are also filmmakers.

Thanks Emily and all the Hubley clan for sharing your memories with me.

Birthdays: Marcus Tullius Cicero, John Paul Jones, Victor Borge, Zazu Pitts, Sergio Leone, Robert Loggia, Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, Ray Milland, Anna Mae Wong, Steven Stills, J.R.R. Tolkein, Victoria Principal, Mel Gibson is 51.

1777- BATTLE OF PRINCETON- After the Christmas victory at Trenton, George Washington’s little army gives the main British army the slip, wheels around behind them and surprise attacks another redcoat regiment at The Royal College of New Jersey, now called Princeton. Years before, young student Alexander Hamilton had failed the entrance requirements to study at Princeton and instead went to Kings College, later renamed Columbia. Now artillery major Hamilton had a pleasure rare among rejected college applicants- that of being allowed to fire a few cannon balls into the college’s admissions building.

1871- Henry Bradley patents Oleomargerine in the U.S.. It had been demonstrated in the Paris Exhibition of 1867 as a butter that didn't spoil, so it could be used by armies in the field.

1899- An editorial in the New York Times refers to the horseless carriage as an “Automobile”. This is the earliest known use of the word.

1933- MGM hired producer David O. Selznick to produce movies. His father-in-law Louis B. Mayer set his salary at $4000 a week. This was after telling his workers that conditions were so bad at the studio that everyone needed to take a 30% salary cut. Newspapers joked “The Son-In-Law Also Rises”

1952-The T.V. series DRAGNET premiered today. “The story you have seen is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Star Jack Webb produced and wrote most of the scripts and oversaw the deadpan acting style.”Just the facts, Maam..”

1958- Howard Rushmore was the editor of Confidential, one of the most ruthless scandal magazines in show business. This day for reasons never explained Rushmore murdered his wife then took his own life in the back of a NYC taxicab. Today Howard Rushmore would probably be considered a serious journalist.

2004- After partying hard all New Years in Las Vegas, 22-year-old pop singer, Britney Spears married friend Jay Alexander for a joke. She later realized the jokes on her because the marriage was legal. She annulled it a day later. Later that year, Alexander, who listed himself as unemployed, was seen driving around rural Louisiana in a $90,000 luxury BMW.