Myron (Grim) NatwickOccupation / Title:
16/08/1890Date of death:
Wisconsin Rapids, US
Myron Natwick was born in Wisconsin Rapids in 1890 and died 100 years later in LA, California of pneumonia and heart disease. He is best known for creating the most popular character from Fleischer Studio, Betty Boop. She was considered the first female cartoon character to reach international fame and attention.
Family and early life
He got his nickname Grim in highschool due to his “anything but Grim” personality, and his artwork and poetry from highschool at the time was quite well-known and popular locally.
After leaving Hearst to study abroad in Europe, Natwick came to work for Max Fleischer as an animator when he returned to the States. Fleischer and his brother Dave were at the time producing the popular Song Car-Tunes sing-a-long series, and had the idea to create a cartoon character from the Helen Kane song “Boop-Boop-A-Doop”. Natwick was asked to draw up this cartoon, and originally she was a woman mixed with canine features, with a dog’s head and floppy ears. After modifications and redesigns, Natwick decided to minimize these dog-like characteristics and instead drew Betty Boop with an oversized head, and a tiny, curvaceous body. With his many years of experience in art school and drawing nude female figures, he created an extremely feminized cartoon character, both womanly with her exaggerated figure, and child-like with her peach-shaped head, high-pitched voice and giant eyes. Betty for Natwick was “never vulgar or obscene…a suggestion you could spell in three letters: S-E-X. (Lenburg 256)”
Over the course of his illustrous career, Natwick was offered by work by many animation studios due to the success of Betty Boop. Leaving Fleischer to work with Ub Iwerks, the two animators collaborated on Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper cartoons for Celebrity Pictures until 1934.
In 1937, Natwick joined Disney to work on the first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His job was focused on the development of the eponymous title female character.
In 1940, he animated the segment of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” in the Disney film Fantasia, leaving again shortly to work for Fleischer who had moved his studio to Miami. In this segment of Fantasia, Mickey is shown using his Master’s magician hat to animate a broom do to all of his work for him, carrying buckets of water back and forth for him. As Mickey drifts off into sleep, he dreams that he is conducting the symphony of the galaxy, God-like, animating with torrents of water and clouds forming and dispersing at the wave of his hand. He wakes up and discovers that the broom and water situation has gone out of control, finally forced to chop up the broom with an ax, only to discover the wood pieces have multiplied and flooded everything.
Natwick worked again for the Fleischer Studio after leaving Disney, helping to animate Popeyes and the Fleischer studio’s first Feature, Gulliver’s Travels (1939). During the Second World War, he worked for the United States Army, animating films for training soldiers. After the war, he collaborated with Walter Lantz on the massively popular Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda cartoons.
Over the course of Natwick’s long career, where his experience and expertise was highly valued, he collaborated with figures such as Steven Krantz on The Mighty Thor as a part of the Marvel Superheroes cartoon series. In the 70′s, Natwick trained younger animators, and post-humously released his last animated film Arabian Knight in 1995.
Honors and awards
Natwick was honored in 1976 by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) for the Hollywood prestigious Winsor McCay Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons . New York : Applause Theatre & Cinema Books , 2006 . Print.
- “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCAYto7Svwo