Regular readers, and people who know The Beat know how much we adore legendary animator Floyd Norman. Many were the times during our Disney days when Norman would stand in our office and deliver a succinct but pithy truth that has stood with us to this day. Luckily readers can enjoy the Norman point of view in his columns at Jim Hill Media, and today he pens a great one which explains that sometimes the true test of a true visionary is accepting something that you don’t agree with:

Maybe Walt Disney wasn’t the first “control freak” in history, but he was certainly worthy of that dubious title. Every story idea, art style and casting choice in a motion picture had to go through Walt first. When you worked for Walt Disney you either became Walt Disney or you went somewhere else. Your story ideas had to be acceptable to Walt. Your art styling had to match Disney’s artistic sensibility. The studio was the perfect reflection of its founder.

Knowing these things, would it surprise you to know that the Old Maestro actually encouraged dissension in the ranks? Would you be shocked to know Walt Disney allowed his artists and writers to pursue their own vision even though it might be in total opposition to the accepted Disney style?

To be sure, Walt Disney was an enigma. On one hand, he wanted things done his way, and he was not tolerant of opposition. Having said that, how does one explain the latitude he often gave those who traveled a different path? Some might say he was only giving those “radicals” enough rope to hang themselves so he could be done with them. Such was not the case. The Old Maestro may have ultimately rejected their ideas, but he was perfectly willing to allow those ideas to be pursued.

Don’t take our word for it, read the whole thing, with pictures.

Above: Ward Kimball, a maverick if ever there was one.


  1. I just had lunch with Floyd, as we do every Friday. Besides being a “legendary animator” and recipient of numerous awards, including the Winsor McCay, he is a true gentleman and overall nice guy. He has such a rich history of cartooning and animation. How many guys can still say that they used to work with Walt Disney?