Books &Disney &Illustration 31 May 2012 06:14 am

Retta Scott’s Cinderella

Retta Scott‘s name was always an intriguing one for me.

She was an animator on Bambi, Dumbo and Plague Dogs. She was layed off at Disney’s when they hit a slump in 1941 but came back to do a number of Golden Books for Disney. The most famous of her books was her version of Cinderella, one which was so successful that it remains in print today as a Little Golden Book.

When asked why females weren’t animators at the studio, the Nine Old Men who traveled the circuit, back in the 1970′s, often mentioned her. They usually also said that she was one of the most forceful artists at the studio, but her timing always needed some help (meaning from a man.)

Ms. Scott was known predominantly for her animation in Bambi. Specifically, she’s credited with the sequence where the hunter’s dogs chase Faline to the cliff wall, and Bambi is forced to fight them off.

The scene is beautifully staged and, indeed, is forceful in its violent, yet smooth, movement. I was a young student of animation, at the time, so this sequence has always had a long and lasting impression on me.


I’m curious to know how Western Publishing proceeded with the illustrated Disney books. Apparently a large number of Disney artists contributed to the books – at least in the 40′s & 50′s. Bill Justice, Dick Kelsey, Mary Blair, et al. Then, of course, there are the Golden Books that didn’t have a Disney connection by Disney artists. The Poky Little Puppy by Gustaf Tenggren is, of course, the most famous of these.

(Retta Scott working on Pastoral seq. from Fantasia. From The Art of Walt Disney by Finch.)

Here are some of her illustrations for Cinderella published in 1950 to tie in with the Disney film. Oddly, the illustrations don’t completely look like the film’s characters. The cat and mice are close, but Cinderella, herself, is very different, less realistic. She looks more like a Mary Blair creation. When I was young, I was convinced that these were preproduction illustrations done for the film. If only.

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4 Responses to “Retta Scott’s Cinderella”

  1. on 31 May 2012 at 2:03 pm 1.Stephen Worth said …

    Cinderella is the most aggressively realistic Disney film from this era. I wonder if they planned it as a live action/animation film like Song of the South originally. If it looked like the Golden Book, it would have been a LOT better.

  2. on 01 Jun 2012 at 5:47 am 2.Stephen Macquignon said …

    I enjoy seeing her work thanks for posting it

  3. on 01 Jun 2012 at 3:55 pm 3.The Gee said …

    “If it looked like the Golden Book, it would have been a LOT better.”

    You know, I was wondering whether or not it would work as well as the stills, from a character animation standpoint. I could see it working well enough.

    But, today, just now, I got to thinking: An important aspect of what you wrote is probably less about what they COULD have attempted than it is about something else.

    There really isn’t a good reason why a short version using this Golden Book style can’t be done NOW.

    Does that make sense?

    Ideally it would be Disney doing it, yeah. And, it could be done without wasting too many resources (not that productions may usually work like that)

    The studio could easily one up the attempt they tried with that Nessie cartoon by being just a wee bit bold. Just Sayin’….

  4. on 03 Oct 2012 at 3:48 am 4.Dann Scott Marceau said …

    My mother (Retta’s niece) has the original Cinderella book she signed and sent to my great- grandparents William Ernest and Nancy Scott. It is signed with the date of 1950, I was and will always be very proud of my great aunt.Thanks for the appreciation of her art. Dann.

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