The outbreak of World War II had an enormous effect on Walt Disney Productions. Overseas film markets, which had contributed greatly to Walt’s profits on earlier films, were completely shut off and a critical source of revenue was thus eliminated. The decreased chances of recouping production costs on the very expensive animated features combined with the animators’ strike of 1941 to effectively end the first golden age of Disney animation.
Even with the end of the war, Walt’s problems weren’t over. War-ravaged European nations adopted protectionist policies to save their economies; while Disney films continued to bring in profits in Britain, Walt couldn’t take his money out of the country. Forced to spend his British film revenues in the U.K. or not at all, Walt began producing a series of live-action films shot in England. The first of these, Treasure Island, would premiere in 1950. It would be Walt’s first completely live-action film.
Walt spent a great deal of time in Britain during this period, and it appears that he was nice enough to bring along the family! The original caption of this photo read:
Walt Disney and his family arrive from a three-month trip abroad via TWA Constellation at Los Angeles, Ca., on Aug. 1949. He is posing with his wife, Lillian, left, and their daughters Diane, 16, and Sharon, 13, right. Disney was supervising filming of the movie “Treasure Island” in London.
A couple of notes – first, it must be kinda breezy out there on the tarmac. Second, how awesome are Diane’s gloves? I think the ladies must have all shopped at the moire effect boutique. And wow – how tall was Sharon? She was 13 in this? I doubt Walt would have let her wear stilettos, so either she was quite a tall drink of water or she was standing on someone. Also, I’m jealous about the ride on the TWA Constellation.
Diane Disney Miller still lives in California, and is busy at work on preparations for the upcoming Walt Disney Family Museum. More on that soon…