This inter-office memo, dated December 18, 1950, issued by the office of Roy O. Disney on behalf of Walt was sent to John W. (Jack) Cutting, head of the studio’s Foreign Relations department in Paris.
Jack Cutting joined Disney in 1929, a time when the studio–only employing nineteen animators at the time–had just begun to gain momentum on the heels of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon releases. Cutting, who was given $18 a week and a key to the front door of the Hyperion Avenue studios, lent his talents to a number of Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony shorts. He also helped pioneer the synchronization of sound and image on many of those early releases. A few years later, he became Walt’s first-ever assistant director (under Snow White-director Dave Hand), then took over directorial duties himself for 1938’s Farmyard Symphony. The next year, he directed the Oscar-winning short The Ugly Duckling. In 1941, Cutting traveled to South America with Walt Disney as part of the famed El Grupo, contributing to both Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. Eventually relocating to the foreign offices, he oversaw dubbing and translation for the studio’s many film projects for many years.
The memo was typed and personally signed by Madeleine Wheeler, Roy Disney’s longtime secretary. Wheeler would be with Roy for a total of 34 years, her boss sometimes not being able to afford to pay her in anything but company stock. Luckily for her, the eventual value of her accumulated 6,000 shares more than compensated for any lapse in paychecks when money was tight around the studio. Her message here, one of thousands she sent on behalf of the brothers Disney, is a quirky and endearing request from the studio head himself, titled “Corkscrews for Walt.”
The message is accompanied by the original Walt Disney Productions air-mail envelope, sent to Cutting’s residence, and sealed with a promotional sticker featuring the studio’s soon-to-be-released Alice in Wonderland, as well as a piece of Cutting’s own personalized company stationery.
This one-of-a-kind document connects both Walt and Roy to two of their most faithful and devoted studio employees, and offers a rare and informal glimpse of Walt’s human-side, so often masked by his public image in leading one of the world’s largest and most influential entertainment companies.