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Dearborn, Michigan
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/26/19



Dearborn, Michigan
City of Dearborn
Ford Motor Company World Headquarters
Motto(s): "Home Town of Henry Ford"[1]
Country United States
State Michigan
County Wayne
Settled 1786
Incorporated 1893 (village)
1927 (city)
• Type Strong mayor–council
• Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr.
• City 24.52 sq mi (63.50 km2)
• Land 24.23 sq mi (62.77 km2)
• Water 0.28 sq mi (0.73 km2)
Elevation 591 ft (180 m)
Population (2010)[3]
• City 98,153
• Estimate (2018)[4] 94,333
• Density 3,899.11/sq mi (1,505.44/km2)
• Metro 4,285,832 (Metro Detroit)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
• Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48120, 48121, 48123, 48124, 48126, 48128
Area code(s) 313
FIPS code 26-21000
GNIS feature ID 0624432[5]
Website Official website

Dearborn is a city in the State of Michigan. It is located in Wayne County and is part of the Detroit metropolitan area. Dearborn is the eighth largest city in the State of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 98,153 and is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States.[6] First settled in the late 18th century by ethnic French farmers in a series of ribbon farms along the Rouge River and the Sauk Trail, the community grew in the 19th century with the establishment of the Detroit Arsenal on the Chicago Road linking Detroit and Chicago. In the 20th century, it developed as a major manufacturing hub for the automotive industry.

Henry Ford was born on a farm here and later established an estate in Dearborn, as well as his River Rouge Complex, the largest factory of his Ford empire. He developed mass production of automobiles, and based the world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company here. The city has a campus of the University of Michigan as well as Henry Ford College. The Henry Ford, the United States' largest indoor-outdoor historic museum complex and Metro Detroit's leading tourist attraction, is located here.[7][8]

Dearborn residents are Americans primarily of European or Middle Eastern ancestry, many descendants of 19th and 20th-century immigrants. Because of new waves of immigration from the Middle East in the late 20th century, the largest ethnic grouping is now composed of descendants of various nationalities of that area: Christians from Lebanon and Palestine, as well as Muslim immigrants from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The primary European ethnicities, as identified by respondents to the census, are German, Polish, Irish, and Italian.


Before European encounter, the area had been inhabited for thousands of years by successive indigenous peoples. Historical tribes belonged mostly to the Algonquian-language family, especially the Council of Three Fires, the Potawatomi and related peoples. In contrast, the Huron (Wyandot) were Iroquoian speaking. French colonists had a trading post at Fort Detroit and a settlement developed there in the colonial period. Another developed on the south side of the Detroit River in what is now southwestern Ontario, near a Huron mission village. French and French-Canadian colonists also established farms at Dearborn in this period. France ceded all of its territory east of the Mississippi River in North America to Great Britain in 1763 after losing to the English in the Seven Years' War.

Beginning in 1786, after the United States gained independence in the American Revolutionary War, more European Americans entered this region, settling in Detroit and the Dearborn area.[9] With population growth, Dearborn Township was formed in 1833 and the village of Dearbornville in 1836, each named after patriot Henry Dearborn, a general in the American Revolution who later served as Secretary of War under President Thomas Jefferson. The Town of Dearborn was incorporated in 1893. Through much of the 19th century, the area was largely rural and dependent on agriculture.

Stimulated by industrial development in Detroit and within its own limits, in 1927 Dearborn was established as a city. Its current borders result from a 1928 consolidation vote that merged Dearborn and neighboring Fordson (previously known as Springwells), which feared being absorbed into expanding Detroit.

According to historian James W. Loewen, in his book Sundown Towns (2005), Dearborn discouraged African Americans from settling in the city. In the early 20th century, both whites and Afrian Americans migrated to Detroit for industrial jobs. Over time, some city residents relocated in the suburbs. Many of Dearborn's residents "took pride in the saying, 'The sun never set on a Negro in Dearborn'". According to Orville Hubbard, the segregationist mayor of Dearborn from 1942 to 1978, "as far as he was concerned, it was against the law for a Negro to live in his suburb."[10]

The area between Dearborn and Fordson was undeveloped, and still remains so in part. Once farm land, much of this property was bought by Henry Ford for his estate, Fair Lane, and for the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters. Later developments in this corridor were the Ford airport (later converted to the Dearborn Proving Grounds), and other Ford administrative and development facilities.

More recent additions are The Henry Ford (a reconstructed historic village and museum), the Henry Ford Centennial Library, the super-regional shopping mall Fairlane Town Center, and the Ford Performing Arts Center. The open land is planted with sunflowers and often with Ford's favorite crop of soybeans. The crops are never harvested.

With the growth and achievements of the Arab-American community, they developed and in 2005 opened the Arab American National Museum (AANM), the first museum in the world devoted to Arab-American history and culture. Arab Americans in Dearborn include descendants of Lebanese Christians who immigrated in the early twentieth century to work in the auto industry, as well as more recent Arab immigrants and their descendants from other, primarily Muslim nations.[11]

In January 2019, Dearborn Mayor John "Jack" O'Reilly, Jr., terminated the contract of Bill McGraw, new editor of the Dearborn Historian, a city publication. He refused to allow distribution of the Autumn 2018 issue to subscribers. That issue, on the 100th anniversary of Henry Ford's acquisition of the Dearborn Independent newspaper, discussed the influence that Ford exerted in expressing his anti-Semitism. The mayor's suppression of the issue received national publicity.[12][13] The Dearborn Historical Commission held an emergency meeting and passed a resolution calling for the mayor to reverse these actions.[14] The suppressed article was published in DeadlineDetroit and may be read here.


Parklane Towers

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.5 square miles (63 km2), of which 24.4 square miles (63 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.37%) is water. The city developed on both sides of the Rouge River. An artificial waterfall/low head dam was constructed by Henry Ford on his estate to power its powerhouse. The Upper, Middle, and Lower Branches of the river come together in Dearborn. The river is widened and channeled near the Rouge Plant to allow lake freighter access.

Fordson Island (42°17′38″N 83°08′52″W) is an 8.4 acres (3.4 hectares) island about three miles (5 km) upriver on the River Rouge from its confluence with the Detroit River. Fordson Island is the only major island in a tributary to the Detroit River. The island was created in 1922 when engineers dug a secondary trench to reroute the River Rouge to increase navigability for shipping purposes; businesses needed it to be navigable by the large lake freighters. The island is privately owned, and public access is prohibited. The island is part of the city of Dearborn, which has no frontage along the Detroit River.[15][16]

Dearborn is among a small number of municipalities that own property in other cities. It owns the 626-acre (2.53 km2) Camp Dearborn in Milford, Michigan, which is located 35 miles (56 km) from Dearborn.[17] Dearborn was among an even smaller number of cities that hold property in another state: for a time the city owned the "Dearborn Towers" apartment complex in Clearwater, Florida, but this has been sold. Camp Dearborn is considered part of the city of Dearborn. Revenues generated by camp admissions are incorporated into the city's budget.


As of the 2010 census, the population of Dearborn was 98,153. The racial and ethnic composition was 89.1% Whites, 4.0% black or African-American, 0.2% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.2% Non-Hispanics of some other race, 4.0% reporting two or more races and 3.4% Hispanic or Latino.[22] 41.7% were of Arab ancestry (categorized as "White" in Census collection data).[23]

Dearborn has a large community of descendants of ethnic Europeans who arrived as immigrants from the mid-19th into the 20th centuries. Their ancestors generally first settled in Detroit: Irish, German, Italians, and Polish. It is also a center of Maltese American settlement, from the Mediterranean island of Malta. Also attracted to jobs in the auto industry, some were among immigrant Maltese who first settled in Corktown.[24]

The city has a small African American population, many of whose ancestors came to the area from the rural South during the Great Migration of the early twentieth century.[25]

In Census 2000, 61.9% spoke only English, while 29.3% spoke Arabic, 1.9% Spanish, and 1.5% Polish as first languages. There were 36,770 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.42.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,560, and the median income for a family was $53,060. Males had a median income of $45,114 versus $33,872 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,488. About 12.2% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 and over.

As of the 2012 estimate, Dearborn's population was thought to have fallen to 96,474, a decrease of 1.7% since 2010. Over the same period, though, SEMCOG, the local statistics agency of Metro Detroit Council of Governments, has estimated the city to have grown to 99,001, or an increase of 1.2% since 2000. SEMCOG's July 2014 estimate listed Dearborn with a population of 102,566.[26]

Arab Americans

The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn

Main article: History of the Middle Eastern people in Metro Detroit

The city's population includes 40,000 Arab Americans. Since the late 20th century, there has been growth in immigration from new areas of the Middle East, such as Syria.[27] Arab Americans own many shops and businesses, offering services in both English and Arabic.[28]

Per the 2000 census, Arab Americans totaled 29,181 or 29.85% of Dearborn's population; many are descendants of families who have been in the city since the early 20th century. The city has the largest proportion of Arab Americans in the United States.[29] As of 2006 Dearborn has the largest Lebanese American population in the United States.[30]

The first Arab immigrants came in the early-to-mid-20th century to work in the automotive industry and were chiefly Lebanese Christians (Maronites). Other immigrants from the Mideast (Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs) have also immigrated to the area. Since then, Arab immigrants from Yemen, Iraq and Palestine, most of whom are Muslim, have joined them. Lebanese Americans comprise the largest group of ethnic Arabs.[31][32] The Arab Muslim community has built the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in North America,[33] and the Dearborn Mosque. More Iraqi refugees have come, fleeing the continued war in their country since 2003.

Warren Avenue has become the commercial center of the Arab-American community. The Arab American National Museum is located in Dearborn.[34] The museum was opened in January 2005 to celebrate the Arab American community's history, culture and contributions to the United States.


Further information: Economy of metropolitan Detroit

Dearborn skyline with Ford River Rouge Complex in background, 1973

Edward Hotel and conference center

Ford Motor Company has its world headquarters in Dearborn.[35] In addition its Dearborn campus contains many research, testing, finance, and some production facilities. Ford Land controls the numerous properties owned by Ford, including sales and leasing to unrelated businesses, such as the Fairlane Town Center shopping mall. DFCU Financial, the largest credit union in Michigan, was created for Ford and related companies' employees.

One of the largest employers in Dearborn is Oakwood Healthcare System. Other major employers include auto suppliers like Visteon, education facilities such as Henry Ford Community College, and museums such as The Henry Ford. Other businesses headquartered in Dearborn include Carhartt (clothing), Eppinger (fishing lures), AAA Michigan (insurance), and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Largest employers

According to the City's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[36] the largest employers in the city are:

# / Employer / # of employees

1 / Ford / 44,000
2 / ADP / 10,000
3 / Automotive Components Holdings (Ford/Visteon) / 7,000
4 / Oakwood Health System / 6,167
5 / Severstal (now AK Steel) / 4,900
6 / Percepta / 4,450
7 / Dearborn Board of Education / 3,339
8 / Auto Club of Michigan / 1,752
9 / EP Management Corporation / 1,400
10 / United Technologies Auto (Lear) / 1,200


Colleges and universities

University of Michigan–Dearborn

University of Michigan–Dearborn and Henry Ford College are located in Dearborn on Evergreen Road and are adjacent to each other. Concordia University Dearborn Center, and Central Michigan University both offer classes in Dearborn.[37][38] Career training schools include Kaplan Career Institute, ITT Tech, and Sanford Brown College.

Primary and secondary schools

Dearborn residents, along with a small portion of Dearborn Heights residents, attend Dearborn Public Schools.[39] The system operates 34 schools including three major high schools: Fordson High School, Dearborn High School and Edsel Ford High School. The public schools serve more than 18,000 students in the fourth-largest district in the state.

Divine Child High School and Elementary School are in Dearborn as well; the high-school is the largest private coed high school in the area. Henry Ford Academy is a charter high school inside Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. Another charter secondary school is Advanced Technology Academy. Dearborn Schools operated the Clara B. Ford High School inside Vista Maria, a non-profit residential treatment agency for girls in Dearborn Heights. Clara B. Ford High School became a charter school in the 2007–08 school year.

A small portion of the city limits is within the Westwood Community School District.[40] The sections of Dearborn within the district are zoned for industrial and commercial uses.[41]

The Islamic Center of America operates the Muslim American Youth Academy (MAYA), an Islamic elementary and middle school.[42]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit operates Sacred Heart Elementary School. It previously operated the St. Alphonsus School in Dearborn. In 2003 the archdiocese closed the high school of St. Alphonsus;[43] and in 2005 closed the St. Alphonsus elementary school.[44]

Global Educational Excellence operates multiple charter schools in Dearborn: Riverside Academy Early Childhood Center, Riverside Academy East Campus (K-5), and Riverside Academy West Campus (6–12).[45]

Public libraries

Henry Ford Centennial Library

Dearborn Public Library includes the Henry Ford Centennial Library, which is the main library; and the Bryant and Esper branches.[46]

Dearborn's first public library opened in 1924 at the building now known as the Bryant Branch. This served as the main library until the Ford library opened in 1969. In 1970 what became known as the Mason building was classified as a branch library. The library was renamed in 1977 after Katharine Wright Bryant, who developed a plan for the library and campaigned for it.[47]

Around April 1963 the Ford Motor Company granted the City of Dearborn $3,000,000 to build a library as a memorial to Henry Ford. Ford Motor Company deeded 15.3 acres (6.2 ha) of vacant land for the public library to the city on July 30, 1963, the centennial or 100th anniversary of Henry Ford's birth. The Ford Foundation later granted the library an additional $500,000 for supplies and equipment. On November 25, 1969 the library was dedicated. Library employees have occupied the building since its opening; originally only the library had offices in the building. In 1979 the library staff gave up the western side's meeting rooms, and the City of Dearborn Health Department occupied those rooms.[48]

The Esper Branch, the smallest branch, is located in what is known as the Arab residential quarter of the city. The library has about 35,000 books, entertainment and educational videocassettes, music CDs, children's music cassettes, audio books, and magazines. Newspapers are also available. It features many Arabic-language books, newspapers, and videocassettes for Arabic-speaking residents. This library was dedicated on October 12, 1953. Originally named the Warren Branch, this structure had replaced the Northeast Branch, which opened in a storefront in 1944. In October 1961 it was named after city councilman Anthony M. Esper.[49]

Post office

During the years 1934 to 1943, during and after the Great Depression, murals were commissioned for federal public buildings in the United States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department. They often featured representation of local history. In 1938 artist Rainey Bennett painted an oil-on-canvas mural for the federal post offices in Dearborn titled, Ten Eyck's Tavern on Chicago Road.


Sports facilities

Sports facilities include the Dearborn Ice Skating Center.


Further information: Transportation in metropolitan Detroit and Dearborn (Amtrak station)
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Dearborn, operating its Wolverine three times daily in each direction between [[Chicago, Illinois and Pontiac, Michigan, via Detroit. Baggage cannot be checked at this location; however, up to two suitcases, in addition to any "personal items" such as briefcases, purses, laptop bags, and infant equipment, are allowed on board as carry-ons. There are two rail stops in Dearborn: the regular Amtrak station and a rarely used station at Greenfield Village. Amtrak operates on Norfolk Southern's (NS) "Michigan Line". This track runs from Dearborn to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Most of the freight traffic on these rails is related to the automotive industry. Norfolk Southern's Dearborn Division offices are also located in Dearborn.

Dearborn is served by buses of both the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) systems.

From 1924 to 1947, Dearborn was the site of Ford Airport. It featured the world's first concrete runway and the first scheduled U.S. passenger service.[citation needed]


Dearborn has a mayor-council form of government. As of 2019, the Mayor of the City of Dearborn is John B. "Jack" O'Reilly, Jr.[50] The City Council President is Susan Dabaja.[51]


The metropolitan-area newspapers are The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

The Dearborn & Dearborn Heights Press and Guide publishes local news for Dearborn and the neighboring Dearborn Heights.[52] The Arab American News is published in Dearborn.[53]

Notable people

Henry Ford's Fair Lane estate in Dearborn

River Rouge from Henry Ford's estate

• Frankie Andreu - professional cyclist, rode Tour De France multiple years
• Bazzi - singer
• Dave Brandon – CEO of Toys "R" Us, chairman of Domino's Pizza
• David Burtka – chef and actor, married to Neil Patrick Harris
• Brian Calley – 63rd Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
• Garrett Clayton – actor
• Jim Cummins – NHL player
• John Dingell – former dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, longest-serving Congressman
• Agnes Dobronski – Michigan educator and legislator
• Ronnie Duman - auto racer
• Chad Everett – actor, Medical Center, The Last Challenge, Made in Paris, Airplane II: The Sequel
• Rima Fakih – Miss Michigan USA 2010, Miss USA 2010,[54]
• Henry Ford – iconic automaker, founder of Ford Motor Company
• Edsel Ford – Henry Ford's son, second president of Ford Motor and co-namesake of Fordson
• Dan Gheesling – winner of Big Brother 10 (U.S.) and runner-up on Big Brother 14 (U.S.)
• Russ Gibb - concert promoter and media figure
• George Z. Hart – Michigan state senator
• Ahmad Harajly – rugby player (USA Rugby)
• Orville L. Hubbard – Mayor of Dearborn from 1942 to 1978
• Al Iafrate – NHL defenseman
• Art James – TV quiz-show host
• John C. Kornblum – diplomat, former Ambassador to Germany
• Derek Lowe – Major League Baseball pitcher, 2004 World Series champion with Boston Red Sox
• Don Matheson – actor, Land of the Giants
• Nancy Milford – author and biographer
• Alan Mulally – CEO of Ford Motor Company
• Dorothy Naum - baseball player
• Johnny Pacar – actor, Flight 29 Down, Make It or Break It, Now You See It...
• Eugenia Paul – actress and dancer
• George Peppard – film actor, known for Breakfast at Tiffany's, How the West Was Won, and more
• Tom Price - United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
• Brian Rafalski – NHL defenseman (New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings)
• Doug Ross – college ice hockey coach
• Soony Saad – soccer player
• Scott Sanderson – All-Star Major League Baseball pitcher in 19 Major League seasons for seven teams
• Norbert Schemansky – four-time Olympic medalist in weightlifting
• Suzanne Sena – host of Independent Film Channel program Onion News Network and former Fox News anchor
• Serena Shim – Lebanese-American journalist
• Jim Snyder - Major League Baseball player and manager
• Edward Stinson – aviation pioneer
• Windy & Carl – musicians

Target of Christian missionaries and politicians

In the 21st century, the Arab-American community in Dearborn has sometimes been subject to public prosyletizing by Protestant Christian missionaries and inflammatory statements by political candidates. In 2010, Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, and two other people acting as Christian missionaries, were arrested at the Dearborn International Arab Festival. They had been handing out Christian literature aimed at Muslim believers. The four were prosecuted for breach of the peace. Police ordered them to stop filming the incident, to provide identification, and to move at least five blocks from the border of the fair.[55]

After reviewing the video evidence, the jury acquitted the defendants.[56] The four defendants filed a separate civil suit against the city. Dearborn was found to have violated their constitutional rights related to freedom of speech. The city settled the lawsuit and issued a formal apology to the individuals.[57]

Sharron Angle, a Republican senatorial candidate in Nevada, said in an October 2010 political speech that the Arab Americans in Dearborn contributed to a "militant terrorist situation,"[58][59] and that the city government was enforcing Islamic sharia law.[58] Mayor Jack O'Reilly strongly criticized Angle for her deliberate misrepresentation of the city and its residents, and he called her comments "shameful."[58] He said her claim was based on distorted Tea Party accounts of the arrest of members of an anti-Islam group at an Arab festival.[58]

Preacher Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, known for burning a Quran, the sacred book of Islam, planned a protest in 2011 outside the Islamic Center of America. Local authorities required him either to post a $45,000 "peace bond" to cover Dearborn's cost if Jones incited violence, or to go to trial. Jones contested that requirement, and he and his co-pastor Wayne Sapp refused to post the bond. They were held briefly in jail, while claiming violation of First Amendment rights. That night Jones was released by the court.[60] The ACLU had filed an amicus brief in support of Jones's protest plans.[61] A week later, on April 29, Jones led a rally at the Dearborn City Hall, in a designated free speech zone. Riot police were called out to control counter protesters.[62][63][64] Jones also planned to speak at the annual Arab Festival on June 18, 2011, but his route was blocked by protesters, six of whom were arrested. Police said they did not have enough officers present to maintain safety.[65] Christian missionaries accompanied Jones with their own protest signs. Both festivalgoers and counter protesters said the missionaries had yelled insults at Arabs, Muslims, and Catholics.[66]

On November 11, 2011, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Ziolkowski vacated the "breach of peace" ruling against Jones and Sapp on the grounds that they were denied due process.[67] On April 7, 2012 Jones led another protest in front of the Islamic Center of America, where he spoke about Islam and free speech. The mosque officials had locked it down to prevent damage. The city used thirty police cars to block traffic from the area in an effort to prevent a counter protest.[68]

Historical timeline

European exploration and colonization

• 1603 – French lay claim to unidentified territory in this region, naming it New France.
• July 24, 1701 – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his soldiers first land at what is now Detroit.
• November 29, 1760 – The British take control of the area from France.
• 1780 – Pierre Dumais clears farm near what is today's Morningside Street in Dearborn's South End.

Early U.S. history

• 1783 – By terms of the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain cedes territory south of the Great Lakes to the United States, although the British retain practical control of the Detroit area and several other settlements until 1797.
• 1786 – Agreed year of first permanent settler in present-day Dearborn.
• 1787 – Territory of the US north and west of the Ohio River is officially proclaimed the Northwest Territory.
• December 26, 1791 – Detroit environs become part of Kent County, Ontario.
• 1795 – James Cissne becomes first settler in what is now west Dearborn.
• 1796 – Wayne County is formed by proclamation of the acting governor of the Northwest Territory. Its original area is 2,000,000 square miles (5,200,000 km2), stretching from Cleveland, Ohio, to Chicago, Illinois, and northwest to Canada.
• May 7, 1800 – Indiana Territory, created out of part of Northwest Territory, although the eastern half of Michigan including the Dearborn area, was not attached to Indiana Territory until Ohio was admitted as a state in 1803.
• January 11, 1805 – Michigan Territory officially created out of a part of the Indiana Territory.
• June 11, 1805 – Fire destroys most of Detroit.
• November 15, 1815 – Current boundaries of Wayne County drawn, county split into 18 townships.
• January 5, 1818 – Springwells Township established by Gov. Lewis Cass.
• October 23, 1824 – Bucklin Township created by Gov. Lewis Cass. The area ran from Greenfield to approximately Haggerty and from Van Born to Eight Mile.
• 1826 – Conrad Ten Eyck builds Ten Eyck Tavern at Michigan Avenue and Rouge River.
• 1827 – Wayne County's boundaries changed to its current 615 square miles (1,593 km2).
• April 12, 1827 – Springwells and Bucklin townships formally organized and laid out by gubernatorial act.
• October 29, 1829 – Bucklin Township split along what is today Inkster Road into Nankin (west half) and Pekin (east half) townships.
• March 21, 1833 – Pekin Township renamed Redford Township.
• March 31, 1833 – Greenfield Township created from north and west sections of Springwells Township, including what is now today east Dearborn.
• April 1, 1833 – Dearborn Township created from southern half of Redford Township south of Bonaparte Avenue (Joy Road).
• 1833 – Detroit Arsenal built.
• October 23, 1834 – Dearborn Township renamed Bucklin Township.
• March 26, 1836 – Bucklin Township renamed Dearborn Township.
• January 26, 1837 – Michigan admitted to the Union as the 26th state. Stevens T. Mason is first governor.
• 1837 – Michigan Central Railroad extended through Springwells Township. Hamlet of Springwells rises along railroad.
• April 5, 1838 – Village of Dearbornville incorporates. Village later unincorporated on May 11, 1846.
• 1849 Detroit annexes Springwells Township east of Brooklyn Street.
• April 2, 1850 – Greenfield Township annexes another section of Springwells Township.
• February 12, 1857 – Detroit annexes Springwells Township east of Grand Boulevard.
• March 25, 1873 – Springwells Township annexes back section of Greenfield Township south of Tireman
• May 28, 1875 – Postmaster general changes name of Dearbornville post office to Dearborn post office, hence changing the city's name.
• 1875 – Detroit Arsenal closed.
• 1875 – Detroit annexes another section of Springwells Township.
• 1876 – William A. Nowlin writes The Bark Covered House in honor of country's 100th birthday.
• June 20, 1884 – Detroit annexes Springwells Township east of Livernois.
• 1889 – First telephone installed in Dearborn at St. Joseph's retreat.

Incorporation as village

• March 24, 1893 – Village of Dearborn incorporates.
• 1906 – Detroit annexes another section of Springwells Township.
• 1916 - Henry, Clara, and Edsel Ford move to Dearborn.
• 1916 – Detroit annexes more of Springwells Township, forming Dearborn's eastern boundary.
• 1917 – Rouge "Eagle" Plant opens.
• November 1, 1919 – The first house numbering ordinance in Dearborn starts. Residents required to place standard plate number on right side of the main house entrance five feet up.
• December 9, 1919 – Springwells Township incorporates as village of Springwells.
• October 16, 1922 – Springwells Township annexes small section of Dearborn Township east of present-day Greenfield Road.
• December 27, 1923 – Voters approve incorporation of Springwells as a city. It officially became a city April 7, 1924.
• September 9, 1924 – Village of Warrendale incorporates.
• November 1924 – Ford Airport opens.
• April 6, 1925 – Warrendale voters and residents of remaining Greenfield Township approve annexation by Detroit.
• May 26, 1925 – Village of Dearborn annexes large portion of Dearborn Township.
• December 23, 1925 – Springwells changes name to city of Fordson.
• February 15, 1926 – First U.S. airmail delivery made, going from Ford Airport in Dearborn to Cleveland.
• September 14, 1926 – Election approves incorporation of village of Inkster. Unincorporated part of Dearborn Township split into two unconnected sections.
• October 11, 1926 – Only dirigible to ever moor in Dearborn docks at Ford Airport.

Reincorporation as city

• February 14, 1927 – Village of Dearborn residents approve vote to become a city.
• June 12, 1928 – Voters in Dearborn, Fordson and part of Dearborn Township vote to consolidate into one city.
• January 9, 1929 – Clyde Ford elected as first mayor of Dearborn.
• 1929 – Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village opens.
• July 1, 1931 – Dearborn Inn opens as one of the first airport hotels in world.
• March 7, 1932 – Ford Hunger March crosses Dearborn city limits. Four marchers are shot to death by police and Ford service men.
• 1936 – John Carey becomes mayor of Dearborn.
• June 19, 1936 – Montgomery Ward opens in Dearborn.
• May 26, 1937 – Harry Bennett's Ford "service" men beat United Auto Workers (UAW) official Richard Frankensteen in the Battle of the Overpass
• June 21, 1941 – Ford Motor Company signs its first union contract.
• 1939 – The Historic Springwells Park Neighborhood is established by Edsel B. Ford to provide company executives and auto workers with upscale housing accommodations.
• January 6, 1942 – Orville L. Hubbard takes office as mayor of Dearborn for first time.
• April 7, 1947 – Henry Ford dies.
• October 20, 1947 – Dearborn City Council approves purchase of land near Milford, Michigan for what would become Camp Dearborn. First section of camp opens following year.
• October 21, 1947 – Ford Airport officially closes.
• 1950 – First Pleasant Hours senior citizen group formed.
• 1950 – Dearborn Historical Museum formally established.
• January 1953 – Oakwood Hospital formally opened and dedicated.
• April 22, 1958 – Election held to annex part of South Dearborn Township to Dearborn. Proposal fails.
• 1959 – University of Michigan (Dearborn Campus) opens.
• April 6, 1959 – Election held to annex part of North Dearborn Township to Dearborn. Proposal fails.
• 1962 – St. Joseph's retreat closed and razed
• 1962 – New Henry Ford Community College campus dedicated.
• November 9, 1962 – Ford Rotunda burns down
• 1967 – Dearborn Towers in Clearwater, Florida opens.
• March 2, 1976 – Fairlane Town Center opens.
• 1978 – John B. O' Reilly, Sr. becomes mayor of Dearborn
• November 6, 1981 – Cable Television reaches first home in Dearborn, on Abbot Street.
• December 16, 1982 – Orville Hubbard dies.
• 1986 – Michael Guido becomes mayor of Dearborn.
• 1993 – Michael Guido is the first mayor to run unopposed.
• 2006 – Michael Guido dies at the age of 52 during his 6th term, the only mayor to die in office.
• 2006 – John B. O'Reilly, Jr. is to become temporary Mayor. O'Reilly's father was the mayor who had preceded Mayor Guido.
• 2007 – John B. O'Reilly, Jr. is elected mayor of Dearborn winning 93.97% of the vote.
• 2008 – John B. O'Reilly, Sr. dies at the age of 89; he was Mayor of Dearborn (1978–1985) and also served as Chief of Police for 11 years.

See also

• History of the Middle Eastern people in Metro Detroit


1. "City of Dearborn, Michigan". City of Dearborn, Michigan. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
2. "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
3. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
4. Jump up to:a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 16, 2019.
5. "Dearborn". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
6. Population of Michigan Cities, Villages, Townships, and Remainders of Townships.
7. America's Story, Explore the States: Michigan (2006). Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield VillageArchived 2009-10-14 at the Wayback Machine Library of Congress Retrieved on May 2, 2007.
8. State of Michigan: MI Kids (2006).Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village Archived 2010-12-07 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on May 2, 2007.
9. "History" Archived 2007-07-21 at the Wayback Machine, Dearborn Area Living, accessed 15 May 2010
10. Loewen, James W. (2005). Sundown Towns. The New Press. pp. 110–112. ISBN 156584887X.
11. "Arab American National Museum of Arab American History, Culture & Art". Retrieved 2009-04-09.
12. Woeste, Victoria Saker (February 9, 2019). "Why Ford needs to grapple with its founder's anti-Semitism". Washington Post.
13. Eisenstein, Paul A. (February 4, 2019). "Mayor's attempt to censor local article about Henry Ford's anti-Semitism draws national attention". CNBC.
14. Stanton, Jonathon (February 4, 2019). "Dearborn Historical Commission urges mayor to release article on Henry Ford and the Dearborn Independent". Press and Guide.
15. Buttle and Tuttle Ltd (2000–2008). "Wayne County island place names". Archived from the original on May 27, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
16. Heritage Newspapers (2009). "Dearborn Area Living: rivers, creeks, ditches". Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
17. Camp Dearborn Archived 2009-08-06 at the Wayback Machine, Dearborn city website
18. "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
19. "MI Dearborn". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
20. "U.S. Decennial Census". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
21. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
22. "Dearborn (city) QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the originalon 2014-01-04.
23. Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder – Results".
24. Maltese In Detroit, Diane Gale Andreassi, Larry Zahra, Arcadia Publishing, Feb 28, 2011, p. 47
25. Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, Denounces 'Residents Only' Policy at New Dearborn Civic Center as Racist Attempt to Limit Access by African-Americans, PR Newswire, HighBeam Research[dead link]
26. Population and Household Estimates for Southeast Michigan July 2014, SEMCOG, July 2014
27. "Dearborn, Michigan: America's Muslim Capital". Planetizen: The Urban Planning, Design, and Development Network.
28. of Citizenship, University of Michigan[dead link]
29. The Arab Population: Census Bureau, 2000, pp. 7–8, accessed 15 Apr 2008
30. Raz, Guy. "Lebanese-Americans Are Angry and Anxious", National Public Radio. August 8, 2006. Retrieved on March 27, 2013.
31. Michigan statistics – Arab Institute of America Archived 2010-06-01 at the Wayback Machine
32. Pierre M. Atlas. "Living together peacefully in heart of Arab America". Archived from the original on 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
33. "Islamic Center of America - Dearborn, Michigan - Mosques on".
34. Karoub, Jeff. "Oasis of Arab culture sits comfortably in Dearborn, Michigan." Chicago Sun-Times. August 6, 2011. Retrieved on November 20, 2012.
35. "Contact Ford Archived 2009-10-07 at the Wayback Machine." Ford Motor Company. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
36. "City of Dearborn 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (PDF). p. 186.
37. Locations: Detroit (Dearborn) Archived 2012-10-17 at the Wayback Machine, Spring Arbor University, accessed November 8, 2012
38. CMU in Dearborn, Michigan, CMU Global Campus, Central Michigan University, accessed November 8, 2012
39. "Dearborn Public Schools". Dearborn Public Schools. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
40. "Westwood Community Schools." Michigan Department of Information Technology Center for Geographic Information. Retrieved on May 4, 2017.
41. "Zoning Map Archived 2016-12-25 at the Wayback Machine." City of Dearborn. Retrieved on May 4, 2017.
42. "Home." Muslim American Youth Academy. Retrieved on November 1, 2015. The address is "19500 Ford Road, Dearborn, MI 48128, United States"
43. "School History – St. Alphonsus Schools Alumni Dearborn, MI". Archived from the original on 2016-01-02. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
44. Pratt, Chastity, Patricia Montemurri, and Lori Higgins. "PARENTS, KIDS SCRAMBLE AS EDUCATION OPTIONS NARROW." Detroit Free Press. March 17, 2005. A1 News. Retrieved on April 30, 2011. "School closings announced Wednesday by the Archdiocese of Detroit doomed eight high schools in Detroit and neighboring suburbs and will shutter 10 elementary schools, including historic landmarks such as St. Alphonsus Elementary in Dearborn and St. Florian Elementary in Hamtramck."
45. "GEE Academies." Global Educational Excellence. Retrieved on September 1, 2015.
46. "Hours/About Us." (Archive) Dearborn Public Library. Retrieved on November 15, 2013.
47. "A LOOK AT THE Bryant Branch." (Archive) Dearborn Public Library. Retrieved on November 15, 2013.
48. "A LOOK AT THE Henry Ford Centennial Library." (Archive) Dearborn Public Library. Retrieved on November 15, 2013.
49. "A LOOK AT THE Esper Branch." (Archive) Dearborn Public Library. Retrieved on November 15, 2013.
50. "City of Dearborn".
51. "City of Dearborn Council President".
52. Guide, Press and. " - Serving Dearborn and Dearborn Heights since 1918". Press and Guide.
53. "About Us Archived 2013-05-20 at the Wayback Machine." The Arab American News. Retrieved on September 22, 2013.
54. "Michigan's Rima Fakih Wins Miss USA Pageant". CBS News. May 16, 2010.
55. Brayton, Ed (2010-07-22). "Dearborn police accused of violating First Amendment". The Michigan Messenger. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
56. Light, Jonathan (September 25, 2010). "Acts-17 Group Acquitted of Inciting Crowd". Dearborn Free Press. DEARBORN, Michigan. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
57. "Dearborn ordered to apologize for arrests of Christian missionaries at Arab Fest".
58. Jill Lawrence, "Sharron Angle on Sharia Religious Law: It's Already Supplanting the Constitution", Politics Daily, 7 October 2010
59. "Sharron Angle Claims Dearborn, Michigan Ruled by Sharia Law", The Atlantic
60. "Jones Released from Jail After Paying 'Peace Bond'". WJBK. Dearborn. 2011-04-22. Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
61. "Terry Jones Amicus Brief", ACLU Michigan Website, accessed 1 September 2011
62. WDIV. "Crowds Bust Barricades At Pastor's Speech In Dearborn". ClickOnDetroit.
63. "Riot Police Respond as Counter-Protesters Storm Terry Jones' Demonstration". Dearborn, Michigan Patch.
64. "Riot police were called in Friday evening after Gainesville pastor Terry Jones taunted protesters here, prompting the protesters to rush past a police barricade and begin throwing water bottles and shoes". 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
65. "6 Arrested as Mob Rushes Terry Jones on Way to Arab Festival in Dearborn". Dearborn, Michigan Patch.
66. WARIKOO, Niraj (Jun 19, 2011). "Christian missionaries take on Muslims, Catholics at Arab International Festival". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
67. Wattrick, Jeff (November 11, 2011). "Judge vacates 'breach of peace' judgement against Terry Jones". Retrieved November 3, 2012.
68. Warikoo, Niraj (April 7, 2012). "Fla. pastor Terry Jones: Islam's goal is 'world domination'". USA Today.

Further reading

• Barrow, Heather B. (2015). Henry Ford's Plan for the American Suburb: Dearborn and Detroit. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.
• Cantor, George (2005). Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-03092-2.
• Fisher, Dale (2003). Building Michigan: A Tribute to Michigan's Construction Industry. Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing. ISBN 1-891143-24-7.
• Fisher, Dale (2005). Southeast Michigan: Horizons of Growth. Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing. ISBN 1-891143-25-5.
• Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
• Rignall, Karen (graduate student). "Building an Arab-American Community in Dearborn." University of Michigan. Volume 5, Issue 1, Fall 1997.

External links

• City of Dearborn
• Dearborn Chamber of Commerce
• Dearborn, Michigan at Curlie
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:16 am

Hubertus Strughold
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/27/19



Hubertus Strughold
Born June 15, 1898
Westtünnen-im-Hamm, Westphalia, Germany
Died September 25, 1986 (aged 88)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Citizenship German and American (1956)
Alma mater Georg August University of Göttingen; University of Würzburg
Known for Space medicine, Nazi human experimentation
Scientific career
Fields Aviation medicine, space medicine, physiology

Hubertus Strughold (June 15, 1898 – September 25, 1986) was a German-born physiologist and prominent medical researcher. Beginning in 1935 he served as chief of aeromedical research for the Luftwaffe, holding this position throughout World War II. In 1947 he was brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip and held a series of high-ranking medical positions with both the US Air Force and NASA.

For his role in pioneering the study of the physical and psychological effects of manned spaceflight he became known as "The Father of Space Medicine".[1] Following his death, Strughold's activities in Germany during World War II came under greater scrutiny and allegations surrounding his involvement in Nazi-era human experimentation greatly diminished his reputation.


Early life and career

Strughold was born in the town of Westtünnen-im-Hamm in the Prussian province of Westphalia on 15 June 1898. As a young man he studied medicine and the natural sciences at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Georg August University of Göttingen, where he received his doctorate (Dr. med. et phil.) in 1922. He later went on to obtain his medical degree (Dr. med.) from the University of Münster and completed his habilitation (Dr. habil.) at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg in 1927. Strughold also worked as a research assistant to the renowned German-Austrian physiologist Dr. Maximilian von Frey. He remained at Würzburg and pursued a career as a professor of physiology.

During this time Strughold's attention was increasingly drawn to the emerging science of aviation medicine and he collaborated with the famed World War I pilot Robert Ritter von Greim to study the effects of high-altitude flight on human biology. In 1928 Strughold traveled to the United States on a year-long research fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation. He conducted specialized studies into aviation medicine and human physiology at the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He would also visit the medical laboratories at Harvard, Columbia and the Mayo Clinic. Strughold returned to Germany the following year and accepted a teaching position at the Würzburg Physiological Institute, eventually becoming an adjunct professor there in 1933. He would later serve as a professor of physiology at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin.

Work for Nazi Germany

Through his association with von Greim (Adolf Hitler's personal pilot), Strughold became acquainted socially with various high-ranking members of the Nazi regime and in April 1935, he was appointed Director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring's Ministry of Aviation. Under Strughold's leadership, the Institute grew to become Germany's foremost aeromedical research establishment, pioneering the study of the medical effects of high-altitude and supersonic speed flight, along with establishing the altitude chamber concept of "time of useful consciousness".


Though Strughold was ostensibly a civilian researcher, the majority of the studies and projects his Institute undertook were commissioned and financed by the German armed forces (principally the Luftwaffe) as part of the ongoing German re-armament. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Strughold's organization was absorbed into the Luftwaffe itself and was attached its medical service. It was renamed the Air Force Institute for Aviation Medicine, and placed under the command of Luftwaffe Surgeon-General (Generaloberstabsarzt) Erich Hippke. Strughold himself was also commissioned as an officer in the German air force, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel (Oberst).

Human experimentation

In October 1942, Strughold and Hippke attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects. These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result.[2] Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Corps.

Following the German defeat in May 1945, Strughold claimed to Allied authorities that, despite his influential position within the Luftwaffe Medical Service and his attendance at the October 1942 medical conference, he had no knowledge of the atrocities committed at Dachau. He was never subsequently charged with any wrongdoing by the Allies. However, a 1946 memorandum produced by the staff of the Nuremberg Trials listed Strughold as one of thirteen "persons, firms or individuals implicated" in the war crimes committed at Dachau. Also, several of the former Luftwaffe physicians associated with Strughold and the Institute for Aviation Medicine (among them Strughold's former research assistant Hermann Becker-Freyseng) were convicted of crimes against humanity in connection with the Dachau experiments at the 1947 Nuremberg Doctor's Trial. During these proceedings, Strughold contributed several affidavits for the defense on behalf of his accused colleagues.

Work for the United States

In October, 1945 Strughold returned to academia, becoming director of the Physiological Institute at Heidelberg University. He also began working on behalf of the US Army Air Force, becoming Chief Scientist of its Aeromedical Center, located on the campus of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research. In this capacity Strughold edited German Aviation Medicine in World War II, a book-length summary of the knowledge gained by German aviation researchers during the war.

In 1947 Strughold was brought to the United States, along with many other highly valuable German scientists, as part of Operation Paperclip. With another former Luftwaffe physician, Richard Lindenberg, Strughold was assigned to the US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas.[3] It was while at Randolph Field that Strughold began conducting some of the first research into the potential medical challenges posed by space travel, in conjunction with fellow "Paperclip Scientist" Dr. Heinz Haber.[4][5]

"Aero Medical Problems of Space Travel", Journal of Aviation Medicine, December 1949, authored by Henry G. Armstrong, Heinz Haber, and Hubertus Strughold.

Strughold coined the terms "space medicine" and "astrobiology" to describe this area of study in 1948. The following year he was appointed as the first and only Professor of Space Medicine at the US Air Force's newly established School of Aviation Medicine (SAM), one of the first institutions dedicated to conducting research on "astrobiology" and the so-called "human factors" associated with manned spaceflight.

Under Strughold, the School of Aviation Medicine conducted pioneering studies on issues such as atmospheric control, the physical effects of weightlessness and the disruption of normal time cycles.[4][5] In 1951 Strughold revolutionized existing notions concerning spaceflight when he co-authored the influential research paper Where Does Space Begin? in which he proposed that space was present in small gradations that grew as altitude levels increased, rather than existing in remote regions of the atmosphere. Between 1952 and 1954 he would oversee the building of the space cabin simulator, a sealed chamber in which human test subjects were placed for extended periods of time in order to view the potential physical, astrobiological, and psychological effects of extra-atmospheric flight.

Strughold obtained US citizenship in 1956 and was appointed Chief Scientist of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Aerospace Medical Division in 1962. While at NASA, Strughold played a central role in designing the pressure suit and onboard life support systems used by both the Gemini and Apollo astronauts. He also directed the specialized training of the flight surgeons and medical staff of the Apollo program in advance of the planned mission to the Moon. Strughold retired from his position at NASA in 1968.

Evidence of experimentation on Dachau inmates and epileptic children

During his work on behalf of the Air Force and NASA, Strughold was the subject of three separate US government investigations into his suspected involvement in war crimes committed under the Nazis. A 1958 investigation by the Justice Department fully exonerated Strughold, while a second inquiry launched by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1974 was later abandoned due to lack of evidence. In 1983 the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations reopened his case but withdrew from the effort when Strughold died in September 1986.

Following his death, Strughold's alleged connection to the Dachau experiments became more widely known following the release of US Army Intelligence documents from 1945 that listed him among those being sought as war criminals by US authorities.
These revelations did significant damage to Strughold's reputation and resulted in the revocation of various honors that had been bestowed upon him over the course of his career. In 1993, at the request of the World Jewish Congress, his portrait was removed from a mural of prominent physicians displayed at Ohio State University. Following similar protests by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Air Force decided in 1995 to rename the Hubertus Strughold Aeromedical Library at Brooks Air Force Base, which had been named in Strughold's honor in 1977. His portrait, however, still hangs there. Further action by the ADL also led to Strughold's removal from the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico in May 2006.



Further questions about Strughold's activities during World War II emerged in 2004 following an investigation conducted by the Historical Committee of the German Society of Air and Space Medicine. The inquiry uncovered evidence of oxygen deprivation experiments carried out by Strughold's Institute for Aviation Medicine in 1943. According to these findings six epileptic children, between the ages of 11 and 13, were taken from the Nazi's Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre to Strughold's Berlin laboratory where they were placed in vacuum chambers to induce epileptic seizures in an effort to simulate the effects of high-altitude sicknesses, such as hypoxia. While, unlike the Dachau experiments, all the test subjects survived the research process, this revelation led the Society of Air and Space Medicine to abolish a major award bearing Strughold's name. A similar campaign by American scholars prompted the US branch of the Aerospace Medical Association to announce in 2012 that it would also consider rechristening a similar award, also named in Strughold's honor, which it had been bestowing since 1963. The move was met with opposition from defenders of Strughold, citing his massive contributions to the American space program and the lack of any formal proof of his direct involvement in war crimes.[6]

Awards and honors

Known as The Father of Space Medicine[7]

• Theodore C. Lyster Award, Aerospace Medical Association, 1958
• Louis H. Bauer Founders Award, Aerospace Medical Association, 1965

Hubertus Strughold Award

The Hubertus Strughold Award was established by the Space Medicine Branch, known today as the Space Medicine Association, a member organization of the Aerospace Medical Association. In 1962 the Award was established in honor of Dr. Hubertus Strughold, also known as "The Father of Space Medicine".[8] The award was presented every year from 1963 through 2012 to a Space Medicine Branch member for outstanding contributions in applications and research in the field of space-related medical research.



• 1963 Cpt. Ashton Graybiel, Cpt. M.D., USN
• 1964 Maj. Gen. Otis O. Benson, Jr., USAF, M.C.
• 1965 Hans-Georg Clamann, M.D.
• 1966 Hermann J. Schaefer, Ph.D.
• 1967 Charles Alden Berry, M.D.
• 1968 David G. Simons, M.D.
• 1969 Col. Stanley C. White, M.D., USAF, M.C.


• 1970 RearAdm Frank Burkhart Voris, MC, USN
• 1971 Dr. Donald Davis Flickinger, M.D.
• 1972 Col. Paul A. Campbell, USAF (Ret.)
• 1973 Andres Ingver Karstens, M.D.
• 1974 Cdr. Joseph P. Kerwin, MC, USN
• 1975 Lawrence F. Dietlein, M.D.
• 1976 Harald J. von Beckh
• 1977 William Kennedy Douglas
• 1978 Walton L. Jones, Jr., M.D.
• 1979 Col. John E. Pickering, USAF (Ret.)


• 1980 Rufus R. Hessberg, M.D.
• 1981 Maj. Gen. Heinz S. Fuchs, GAF, MC (Ret.)
• 1982 Sidney D. Leverett, Jr., Ph.D.
• 1983 Sherman Vonograd P., M.D.
• 1984 Arnauld E. Nicogossian, M.D.
• 1985 Philip C. Johnson, Jr., M.D.
• 1986 Carolyn Leach Huntoon, Ph.D.
• 1987 Karl E. Klein, M.D.
• 1988 Anatoly Ivanovich Grigoriev, M.D.
• 1989 Brig. Gen. Eduard C. Burchard, GAF, MC


• 1990 Joan Vernikos-Danellis, M.D.
• 1991 Stanley R. Mohler, M.D.
• 1992 Roberta Lynn Bondar, M.D.
• 1993 George Wyckliffe Hoffler, M.D.
• 1994 Emmett B. Ferguson, M.D.
• 1995 Mary Anne Bassett Frey, Ph.D.
• 1996 Norman E. Thagard, M.D.
• 1997 Shannon Matilda Wells Lucid, Ph.D.
• 1998 Valeri V. Polyakov, M.D.
• 1999 Sam Lee Pool, M.D.


• 2000 Franklin Story Musgrave, M.D.
• 2001 John B. Charles, Ph.D.
• 2002 Earl Howard Wood, M.D., Ph.D.
• 2003 Jonathan Clark (for STS 107 crew)
• 2004 No award
• 2005 William S. Augerson, M.D.
• 2006 Jeffrey R. Davis, M.D.
• 2007 Clarence A. Jernigan, M.D.
• 2008 Richard Jennings, M.D.
• 2009 Jim Vanderploeg, M.D.


• 2010 Irene Duhart Long, M.D.
• 2011 Michael Barratt, M.D.
• 2012 Smith L. Johnston III, M.D.
• 2013 Award retired by the Space Medicine Association

See also

• Aerospace Medical Association
• Human factors and ergonomics
• Nazi human experimentation
• Sigmund Rascher


1. Walker, Andrew (November 21, 2005). "Project Paperclip: Dark side of the Moon". BBC News.
2. Campbell, Mark R.; Mohler, Stanley R.; Harsch, Viktor A.; Baisden, Denise (2007-07-01). "Hubertus Strughold: the "Father of Space Medicine"" (PDF). Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 78 (7): 716–719, discussion 719. ISSN 0095-6562. PMID 17679572. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-12-03.
4. Jump up to:a b Strughold, Hubertus. (1954). Atmospheric space equivalence. Journal of Aviation Medicine. 25(4): 420-424.
5. Jump up to:a b Strughold, H. (1956). The US Air Force experimental sealed cabin. Journal of Aviation Medicine. (27): 50-52.
6. A Scientist's Nazi-Era Past Haunts Prestigious Space Prize, By LUCETTE LAGNADO, Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2012
7. Campbell, M., and Harsch, V. (2013) Hubertus Strughold: Life and Work in the Fields of Space Medicine. Rethra Verlag: Norderstedt, Germany, 235.
8. Campbell, Mark R., et al. (July 2007), "Hubertus Strughold: The 'Father of Space Medicine'", Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine; Vol. 78, No. 7; pp 716–9.


• Musgrave, S (2000). "Hubertus Strughold Award". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 71 (8) (published Aug 2000). p. 874. PMID 10954370
• "Hubertus Strughold Award. Earl H. Wood, M.D., Ph.D". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 73 (9) (published Sep 2002). 2002. pp. 948–9. PMID 12234052

External links

• Additional references and photograph at [1] and [2]
• February 22, 1982, March 8, 1982, March 15, 1982, April 19, 1982, April 27, 1982, Interview with Hubertus Strughold, May 23, 1982, University of Texas at San Antonio: Institute of Texan Cultures: Oral History Collection, UA 15.01, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:01 am

Disney's Atomic Fleet
by Mark Langer
Animation World Magazine
April, 1998



Walt Disney with the Richard Nixon family at the 1959 opening of the atomic submarine ride at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of Mark Langer.

In 1959, the largest "atomic" submarine fleet in the world was owned by Walt Disney. While I'm not proposing that a bad day in the Magic Kingdom might have resulted in nuclear Armageddon, the Disney fleet is an historical fact that stems from the cooperation among Disney's business empire, major American arms manufacturers and the U.S. government.

Disney had long established relationships with the federal government dating back to the early 1940s. In a sense, Walt Disney went to war before America did, producing war shorts on contract for the National Film Board of Canada and military production films for Lockheed Aircraft. Days after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Walt Disney was in Washington meeting with top government officials. The result of these meetings was The New Spirit(1942), an animated film made to encourage citizens to pay "taxes to smash the Axis." This began a close relationship between Disney and the U.S. government in the production of films for propaganda, training, and educational purposes. These films not only served the needs of the government in wartime, they added over two and a half million dollars to the Disney studio's coffers in the first year of the war alone.

Getting Through the Slump

In 1941, Disney was asked to go on a goodwill tour of Latin and South America by the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. The U.S. government was concerned about Axis influence in this part of the world, while Disney and the motion picture industry were interested in developing new markets for their product since the war had cut off traditional export areas in Europe and Asia. Patriotism and good business were intermeshed by the complimentary interests of government and the film industry.

With the end of the war, came a slump in the animation industry. Rising costs of production made animated film, always a marginal enterprise, even more so. Disney sought to strengthen his company's financial position through diversification. Walt Disney Productions already had developed reciprocal ventures with other companies that dated back to the early 1930s, when Disney licensed his characters to corporations like the Lionel Train Company and the Ingersoll Watch Company (now Timex) to produce Mickey Mouse handcars and watches. Mickey Mouse comic strips and a lucrative contract with the Western Printing and Lithographing Company (publishers of the Little Golden Books) were other major sources of income.

Building on this, Disney first moved into live-action films which were more cheaply produced than their animated counterparts. On Christmas Day of 1950, the first Disney television program was aired -- One Hour In Wonderland -- which was a promotion for the upcoming animated theatrical feature Alice In Wonderland (1951). The special reached twenty million viewers, which was a phenomenal number for early television. This not only pleased the sponsor, Coca-Cola, but made a deep impression on Disney executives. At the time, Walt's brother Roy Disney remarked that One Hour In Wonderland "leads us to believe that television can be a most powerful selling aid for us, as well as a source of revenue. It will probably be on this premise that we enter television when we do."

When Disney did enter television, it was part of a move that further diversified Disney's business interests. Disney agreed to produce the "Disneyland" television series for ABC, if the network's parent company would join Disney and Western Publishing as the major investors in the new Disneyland theme park. The television show, amusement park, publishing interests, and movies would all promote each other in a synergistic relationship. By establishing interlocking business relationships with allied companies, Disney was able to create interlocking systems of promotion among different media.

Our Friend The Atom was produced by Disney in cooperation with the U.S. Navy and General Dynamics, builders of the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus. Photo courtesy of Mark Langer.

Atoms for Peace!

The Disneyland amusement park and the "Disneyland" television program were enormously successful, catapulting Disney out of financial difficulty and turning the company into a media giant. This success was noticed by the government in a critical time for American public relations, both internally and internationally. After WWII, the use of atomic energy for defense figured large in the United States government's plans. However, these plans faced growing opposition both from the scientific community and the public in the wake of the American experience in the Korean war and a series of mishaps related to atomic testing.

In order to counter opposition to the military use of atomic weaponry, the Eisenhower administration began a public relations effort called "Atoms for Peace," in which positive propaganda would be developed to promote the use of atomic energy. In a letter to President Eisenhower on December 20, 1955, Acting Director of the United States Information Agency Abbott Washburn reported on his bureau's efforts. Wrote Washburn, "We have also had favorable preliminary conferences with Walt Disney (whose overseas audience surpasses all others) on an `Atoms for Peace' cartoon." (Disney would go on to animate television commercials for Eisenhower's 1957 re-election campaign.)

Our Friend The Atom

Disney was the ideal venue for the government's propaganda effort. Not only did Disney have a long-standing track record of creating government propaganda, but, as Time magazine reported in 1954, almost one billion people worldwide had seen at least one Disney film. After all, Disney was a leader not only in the film industry, but in publishing, television and the amusement park business.

Our Friend The Atom (January 23, 1957), the "Atoms for Peace" cartoon to which Washburn referred, was produced by Disney in cooperation with the U.S. Navy and General Dynamics, builders of the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus. As a "Tomorrowland" segment of the Disneyland television show, Our Friend The Atom relates the history of atomic energy, beginning with a clip from the earlier film 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, which erroneously maintains that author Jules Verne predicted the use of atomic energy. The film then progresses to an animated fairy tale of a fisherman who finds a bronze bottle in his net. Opening the flask, the fisherman is confronted by a genie, who explains that after centuries of confinement, he has resolved to kill whomever opens the bottle. The fisherman feigns surprise that so large a being could fit into the bottle. The genie returns to the vessel to prove that it can be done, and the wily fisherman corks the bottle up. Finally, the genie relents and promises to grant the fisherman his wishes if the bottle is uncorked. Says the narrator, "The story of the atom is like this fable, come true through science. For centuries we have been casting our nets into the sea of the great unknown in search of knowledge. Finally, we found a vessel and, like the one in the fable, it contains the genie."

In a combination of live-action and animation, Our Friend The Atom moves from this fairy tale premise to an international history of atomic energy that culminates in American control of the technology. To soothe public apprehension, atomic energy is explained in terms of common household items. An atomic reactor, the viewer is told, is just like a big furnace. An atomic chain reaction is likened to what happens when a stray ping-pong ball is thrown at a mass of mousetraps with ping-pong balls set on each one. The narrator relates that an atomic explosion might be like the angry genie, but with the nuclear reactor and the magic power to transmute ordinary materials into radioactive tools in science and medicine, "Here lies our chance to make the atomic genie our friend." The film ends with the prediction that "clean" nuclear reactors will replace grimy coal and oil power plants. Radiation will be used to produce better crops and livestock. People will zoom from place to place in atomic cars, trains, boats and planes. "Then, the atom will become truly our friend."

Heinz Haber, narrator of Our Friend the Atom, with the mousetraps that illustrate nuclear fission. Photo courtesy of Mark Langer.

One Step Further

Our Friend The Atom, both as a telefilm and a companion book printed in several languages by Western Publishing, was an enormous success. This was followed by the further cooperation of General Dynamics, the U.S. government, and Disney in the development of a new US $2,500,000 ride at Disneyland, composed of eight air-conditioned "atomic" submarines. The "Tomorrowland" section of Disney's Magic Kingdom now had the largest fleet of "atomic" submarines in the world. On June 14, 1959, in front of millions of ABC television viewers, Vice-President Richard Nixon and family joined Rear Admiral Charles C. Kirkpatrick of the U.S. Navy and Walt Disney in the maiden voyage of the Disney submarine fleet. A highlight of the ride was a cruise past a graveyard of sunken ships.

One indication of how successfully this ride propagandized the American atomic arms program came from a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, who enthused that "all these things were turned, by Disney magic and with Disney color, to sheer fun, as though the real purpose of technological achievement, after all, was human happiness." Although Our Friend The Atom and the "atomic" submarine ride at Disneyland were not to be the only examples of cold-war propaganda carried out by Disney, they were in many ways representative of an ongoing network of connections between sections of Disney's Magic Kingdom, the broadcasting networks, the publishing industry, defense contractors, and the state.

Mark Langer teaches film at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and a programmer of animation retrospectives.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:17 am

A Scientist's Nazi-Era Past Haunts Prestigious Space Prize
by Lucette Lagnado
Wall Street Journal
Updated Dec. 1, 2012 2:46 pm ET



Every year since 1963, the Space Medicine Association has given out the Hubertus Strughold Award to a top scientist or clinician for outstanding work in aviation medicine.

Dr. Hubertus Strughold, dubbed the 'Father of Space Medicine,' in an early chamber designed to simulate the conditions in space. Some scientists want his name removed from a medical prize. LUIS MARDEN/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STOCK

The prestigious 50-year-old prize is named in honor of the man known as the "Father of Space Medicine," revered for his contributions to America's early space program. The German émigré, who made Texas his home after World War II, is credited with work that helped American astronauts walk on the moon.

But it is what he allegedly did during the war that has fueled a bitter controversy.

Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the scientific community is still fractured over the legacy of Nazi science—a conflict underscored by the clash over the Strughold prize.

Dr. Strughold, a former scientist for the Third Reich, was listed as one of 13 "persons, firms or organizations implicated" in some notorious Dachau concentration camp experiments, according to a 1946 memo by the staff of the Nuremberg Trials. The document referenced the infamous hypothermia, or "cold experiments," in which inmates were used, and typically died, as subjects exposed to freezing conditions.

For years, former colleagues and disciples have defended him, saying there was no evidence to conclude he engaged in atrocities. Other space scientists have argued that his involvement in Hitler's war machine should prevent any honors, including the eponymous prize, from being named for him.

He was never tried at Nuremberg. In America, the U.S. Justice Department investigated him at several junctures but never found sufficient grounds for prosecution.

Dr. Strughold headed a major aviation research lab in Nazi Germany before coming to the U.S. where he helped shape the space program. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE/PHOTO RESEARCHERS, INC

During in his lifetime, Dr. Strughold himself repeatedly denied any involvement in the Dachau experiments or other atrocities. He told a Nuremberg investigator that he knew about the cold experiments but disapproved of such tests on nonvolunteers.

"I have always forbidden even the thought of such experiments in my Institute, firstly on moral grounds and secondly on grounds of medical ethics," he is quoted as saying in this Nuremberg report. His immediate family members are deceased.

Dr. Strughold, who died in 1986, became a revered figure in American science. He built an impressive career, helping to develop the first pressurized space craft cabin that made manned space flights possible. Doctors and scientists in the emerging field of space medicine looked to him as a mentor and some affectionately called him by his nickname, "Struggie." They have remained loyal, despite allegations about his past.

To his defenders, Dr. Strughold was a "pure scientist." His legacy, they say, was to ultimately help America beat the Soviets to the moon.

"I certainly didn't have the feeling that he was a great deceiver," says Dr. Charles Berry, 89, a veteran of the U.S. space program who received the Strughold award in 1967. He strenuously backs Dr. Strughold, whom he came to know in the early days of the space program. "He would sit and talk to you and tell you about any of the subjects you were concerned about," says Dr. Berry.

But as more evidence surfaced in recent years about Dr. Strughold's wartime activities—including the disclosure by German scholars that his institute in Berlin had conducted experiments on young children from a psychiatric asylum—the doctors, scientists and astronauts who inhabit the rarefied world of space and aviation medicine have become embroiled in an anguished debate.

At Dachau, an inmate being subjected to high-altitude conditions. MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE

"He was not a war criminal," says Dr. Mark Campbell, a former president of the Space Medicine Association. "We would not have been where we are in space medicine without Strughold," he adds.

Dr. Strughold's critics argue that a scientific organization like SMA has no business awarding a prize that honors a man who held a senior position in the Third Reich and was possibly complicit in some of its crimes.

"I never thought that you could prosecute Strughold, but that doesn't mean you have an award in his name," says Professor Robert Proctor of Stanford University, an authority on Nazi-era medicine.

Dr. Russell Rayman, a former Executive Director of the Aerospace Medical Association—an umbrella group that includes the SMA—has lobbied over the years to have the award stripped of the name. He offers a more stark appraisal. Dr. Strughold, he says, "was part of a big killing machine."

The ravages of World War II left the world trying to grapple with the enormity of the crimes that were committed, and pondering how to punish their perpetrators. The Nuremberg Trials, which took place after the war, were intended to bring to justice the worst offenders, including doctors. Major corporations tried to come clean about their business relationships with Hitler's regime.

While the U.S. Justice Department has shrunk its Nazi-hunting arm in recent years, and prosecutions dwindled as suspected war criminals aged and died, roughly a half-dozen cases remain active. Meanwhile, historians and scholars, including many in Germany, continue to probe relentlessly into the country's dark scientific past.

Prof. Proctor believes that the dispute over the Strughold prize is analogous to a larger debate over what researchers call "eponyms"—conditions named after their discoverers. Several disorders and diseases were first identified by German scientists who worked for the Reich and yet still bear their names.

"What do we do with the legacy of Nazi knowledge? How do you honor or dishonor Nazi achievements and Nazi crimes?" asks Professor Proctor.

He cites the example of Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious Auschwitz physician known as the Angel of Death. Prior to the war, Dr. Mengele had been an avid researcher. "Is it legitimate to say, 'for more on cleft palates, see Mengele, J., 1937'? " he asks.

The Dachau "cold" immersion experiments—whose brutality stood out even in the context of Nazi crimes—have long been a subject of discord in scientific circles. Some have argued the experiments were of no value, so flawed as to be useless. Others have said that despite the horrific means used to obtain the data, the information could still be useful.

Nazi doctors submerged prisoners in freezing water to gauge ways to help downed pilots survive. Dr. Strughold's knowledge of, and possible involvement in, this type of experiment is the subject of intense debate. YAD VASHEM

There is no question, says Professor Robert Pozos, a hypothermia expert at San Diego State University, that the Dachau data seeped into scientific circles after the War, and was referenced in multiple scientific journals.

The conflict over Dr. Strughold began with a single, cryptic remark he made at a conference during the war—a statement that has been studied, analyzed, parsed and dissected by scientists, historians and Nazi hunters for years.

During the war, Dr. Strughold was director of the Aeromedical Research Institute in Berlin, a prominent research facility under the Luftwaffe, the German air force. In that capacity, he attended a 1942 medical conference in Germany. The highlight of the top secret meeting was a presentation on hypothermia or "cold" experiments that were performed on human beings; they were prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp.

The subject was of intense interest to Hitler's war effort. Germany was losing pilots who were shot down in the frigid seas of Northern Europe. Could they be rescued? What would it take to save them?

At Dachau, doctors submerged inmates, some in full pilot gear, in icy water tanks or else forced them to remain naked in frigid temperatures for hours. Their vital signs were monitored and they were observed for how long it took them to die. Some were exposed to scalding temperatures to see if they could be "rewarmed" back to life. Most suffered agonizing pain, and an unknown number perished. The Dachau "cold" experiments became an emblem of the cruelty of Nazi medicine.

In minutes from the "Cold" conference, Dr. Strughold was recorded as saying:

"With regard to the experimental scientific research, but also for the orientation of the Sea Distress service, it is of interest to know what temperatures are to be counted on in the oceans concerned during the various seasons."

Critics of Dr. Strughold and his award argue that his participation at the conference shows, at a minimum, that he was aware of some of the most perverse activities of the Third Reich.

Eli Rosenbaum, a senior human rights prosecutor at the Justice Department who heads its Nazi-hunting program, believes that "Hubertus Strughold encouraged the perpetrators of the now-infamous Dachau concentration camp freezing experiments" or at least signaled "the possible necessity of such repetition," he says. Mr. Rosenbaum is a 30-year veteran of the agency's Nazi-hunting arm.

David Marwell, a former Justice Department historian, recalls investigating Dr. Strughold back in the 1980s for the Nazi-hunting arm and being struck by the significance of his comment at the "Cold" conference.

"We know that he was present when results of the experiments were reported and that he made suggestions that could be interpreted as intended to make the experiments more useful and precise. He didn't stand up and leave or say this is outrageous," says Mr. Marwell, now director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.

After the War, the "Cold" conference minutes were featured prominently in the Nuremberg Trials. General Telford Taylor, the chief prosecutor, cited them in his opening statement, calling the Dachau experiments "sickening crimes."

Dr. Viktor Harsch, a German physician and author of a friendly biography of Dr. Strughold, says that while the scientist may have known about the Dachau experiments, the comment he made at the conference was very "general" and he doesn't believe it was necessarily related to human experiments.

There were a number of topics discussed, he says, and the remark could have been about "meteorological," or weather, conditions. Dr. Strughold never joined the Nazi party, he points out, and "it was not in his nature" to support human experiments.

Other German authorities on Nazi medicine emphatically disagree. "He was sitting in the Luftwaffe ministry, he was the director of the Medical Research Institute—he knew exactly what was going on at Dachau," says Dr. Wolfgang Eckart, a professor at the University of Heidelberg and the author of a new book on Nazi-era medicine.

"A lot of people were not in the Nazi party," Dr. Eckart contends. "What is most important is what they did—what was their work for the Nazis?"

Adds Dr. Yehezkel Caine, a member of the aerospace medical group who wants the award eliminated, declares: "there is no way on this planet that anyone of Strughold's stature could have been where he was without being complicit."

Within the last decade, German scholars found that at least one set of human experiments—involving children—took place inside Dr. Strughold's own institute. The experiments were also confirmed by his biographer.

In 1943, half a dozen children 11 to 13 years old were taken from a nearby psychiatric facility known as Brandenburg-Goerden and brought over to the Institute. Once there, the children, most of whom had epilepsy, were subjected to "hypoxia," or oxygen deprivation experiments. They were placed in an altitude chamber and administered lower levels of oxygen to see if the conditions would trigger seizures.

In a book on Nazi medical practices between 1927-1945, author Hans-Walter Schmuhl, a German scholar, recounted in detail those experiments, explaining how the tests had initially begun on rabbits. He described how Dr. Strughold had several "vacuum chambers" and the children were subjected to experiments that simulated altitudes of nearly 20,000 feet. The children survived the research, which didn't end up triggering seizures—so the undertaking was deemed a scientific failure.

Even so, Dr. Schmuhl wrote that the scientists "knew from the animal experiments that young epileptic rabbits reacted…with violent, often fatal convulsions" and they "expected (and hoped) that the children would react like the rabbits."

Dr. Harsch says it is unclear whether Dr. Strughold authorized the experiments. But he was in charge, he acknowledges, and therefore bore responsibility for what happened. Brandenburg-Goerden was a center for euthanizing mentally ill patients and other so-called undesirables, including children. Their bodies were disposed of in a nearby crematorium.

Dr. Harsch, who heads the history committee at the German Society for Air and Space Medicine, says he informed his colleagues in 2004 about the experiments on children—a revelation that prompted them to eliminate the Strughold award they had given out since the 1970s.

Back in America, one by one, honors that had been heaped upon Dr. Strughold for his contributions to the space program have been discontinued as a cloud descended over his name. Brooks Air Force Base had named a library for him in 1977, but decided to remove Dr. Strughold's name in 1995 after Jewish groups raised objections. At Ohio State University, his image, part of a glass mural of medical luminaries like Marie Curie, was removed.

But the SMA remained loyal. It has continued to hand out the Strughold Award at a special luncheon held every spring.

Responding to pressure from some of its own members over the award, the association launched an investigation into the matter in 2006, says Dr. Campbell, a former president. He and some colleagues examined the allegations against Dr. Strughold and pored through U.S. and German government records.

"Our response was, he was not a Nazi, he was not a war criminal, and no, we're not going to take his name off the award," Dr. Campbell says. That remains the association's position, he says, unless new evidence links him to atrocities.

Professor Eckart vehemently disagrees, saying the experiments on children were evidence of the kind of work performed at Dr. Strughold's institute. The children were "institutionalized patients," says Dr. Eckart, with no way to give consent. "These experiments were clearly criminal—the risk to the children was recklessly disregarded."

Following The Wall Street Journal's inquiries, both the Space Medicine Association and its umbrella organization, the Aerospace Medical Association, say they are now rethinking the Strughold award. The larger group, which is affiliated with the American Medical Association, stresses that the Space Medicine branch operates independently.

"Why defend him?" says Dr. Stephen Véronneau, a member of both groups. "I can't find another example in the world of honoring Dr. Strughold except my own association."

During a meeting on Nov. 14, Dr. Campbell made an appeal to uphold the award; Dr. Rayman countered that Dr. Strughold's known activities on behalf of Hitler's war machine made him unworthy.

The children's experiments were not mentioned. When contacted by the Journal, Jeff Sventek, the aerospace association's executive director, said the information was new to him.

Dr. Campbell, who was aware of the experiments, says that while wrong and inappropriate, they were "fairly benign."

"I don't defend these experiments," he says. "The question is did Strughold know" about the research. "Just because it was in the chamber in his institute doesn't mean he knew about it," he says.

Dr. Campbell is considering one solution: changing the award's name—but only if there is an agreement stating categorically that Dr. Strughold wasn't a Nazi or a war criminal.

That isn't likely to satisfy critics like Professor Proctor. "You can't whitewash history," he says.

Write to Lucette Lagnado at
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:31 am

Heinz Haber
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/27/19



In the mid-1950s Wernher von Braun cohosted and helped produce a series of Disney television shows on space exploration. "Man in Space" and the other Tomorrowland episodes on the topic were enormously popular and fueled public support for an American space program. At the time, von Braun was the U.S. Army's leading rocket scientist. He had served in the same capacity for the German army during World War II. He had been an early and enthusiastic member of the Nazi party, as well as a major in the SS. At least 20,000 slave laborers, many of them Allied prisoners of war, died at Dora-Nordhausen, the factory where von Braun's rockets were built. Less than ten years after the liberation of Dora-Nordhausen, von Braun was giving orders to Disney animators and designing a ride at Disneyland called Rocket to the Moon. Heinz Haber, another key Tomorrowland adviser - and eventually the chief scientific consultant to Walt Disney Productions - spent much of World War II conducting research on high-speed, high-altitude flight for the Luftwaffe Institute for Aviation Medicine. In order to assess the risks faced by German air force pilots, the institute performed experiments on hundreds of inmates at the Dachau concentration camp near Munich. The inmates who survived these experiments were usually killed and then dissected. Haber left Germany after the war and shared his knowledge of aviation medicine with the U.S. Army Air Force. He later cohosted Disney's "Man in Space" with von Braun. When the Eisenhower administration asked Walt Disney to produce a show championing the civilian use of nuclear power, Heinz Haber was given the assignment. He hosted the Disney broadcast called "Our Friend the Atom" and wrote a popular children's book with the same title, both of which made nuclear fission seem fun, instead of terrifying. "Our Friend the Atom" was sponsored by General Dynamics, a manufacturer of nuclear reactors. The company also financed the atomic submarine ride at Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

-- Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal [EXCERPT], by Eric Schlosser

Heinz Haber (left) and Wernher von Braun[1]

Heinz Haber (May 15, 1913 – February 13, 1990) was a German physicist and science writer who primarily became famous for his TV programs and books about physics and environmental subjects. His lucid style of explaining hard science has frequently been imitated by later popular science presenters in Germany.


After studying physics in Leipzig, Heidelberg and Berlin and obtaining his doctorate, Haber served in World War II for the German Luftwaffe as a reconnaissance aviator until 1942. He returned to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik, where he headed a small Potsdam-based division constructing a diffraction spectrograph.[2]

After the end of the war Heinz Haber — as well as several other Germans involved in military research like Wernher von Braun — was targeted by the Operation Paperclip with the aim of denying scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and bringing researchers and scientists to the United States; Ultimately this operation resulted in a considerable contribution to the development of NASA.[3] Haber at first stayed in the American occupied zone of Germany and lectured at Heidelberg. However, in 1946, he emigrated to the United States and joined the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base. Together with fellow German Hubertus Strughold, he and his brother Dr. Fritz Haber (April 3, 1912 – August 21, 1998) made pioneering research into space medicine in the late 1940s.[4][5][6] The brothers proposed parabolic flights for simulating weightlessness.[7]

Through his association with von Greim (Adolf Hitler's personal pilot), Strughold became acquainted socially with various high-ranking members of the Nazi regime and in April 1935, he was appointed Director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring's Ministry of Aviation. Under Strughold's leadership, the Institute grew to become Germany's foremost aeromedical research establishment, pioneering the study of the medical effects of high-altitude and supersonic speed flight, along with establishing the altitude chamber concept of "time of useful consciousness".

Though Strughold was ostensibly a civilian researcher, the majority of the studies and projects his Institute undertook were commissioned and financed by the German armed forces (principally the Luftwaffe) as part of the ongoing German re-armament. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Strughold's organization was absorbed into the Luftwaffe itself and was attached its medical service. It was renamed the Air Force Institute for Aviation Medicine, and placed under the command of Luftwaffe Surgeon-General (Generaloberstabsarzt) Erich Hippke. Strughold himself was also commissioned as an officer in the German air force, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel (Oberst).

In October 1942, Strughold and Hippke attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects. These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result.[2] Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Corps....

a 1946 memorandum produced by the staff of the Nuremberg Trials listed Strughold as one of thirteen "persons, firms or individuals implicated" in the war crimes committed at Dachau. Also, several of the former Luftwaffe physicians associated with Strughold and the Institute for Aviation Medicine (among them Strughold's former research assistant Hermann Becker-Freyseng) were convicted of crimes against humanity in connection with the Dachau experiments at the 1947 Nuremberg Doctor's Trial. During these proceedings, Strughold contributed several affidavits for the defense on behalf of his accused colleagues....

In 1947 Strughold was brought to the United States, along with many other highly valuable German scientists, as part of Operation Paperclip. With another former Luftwaffe physician, Richard Lindenberg, Strughold was assigned to the US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas.[3] It was while at Randolph Field that Strughold began conducting some of the first research into the potential medical challenges posed by space travel, in conjunction with fellow "Paperclip Scientist" Dr. Heinz Haber.[4][5]...

"Aero Medical Problems of Space Travel", Journal of Aviation Medicine, December 1949, authored by Henry G. Armstrong, Heinz Haber, and Hubertus Strughold.

Between 1952 and 1954 he would oversee the building of the space cabin simulator, a sealed chamber in which human test subjects were placed for extended periods of time in order to view the potential physical, astrobiological, and psychological effects of extra-atmospheric flight....

Further questions about Strughold's activities during World War II emerged in 2004 following an investigation conducted by the Historical Committee of the German Society of Air and Space Medicine. The inquiry uncovered evidence of oxygen deprivation experiments carried out by Strughold's Institute for Aviation Medicine in 1943. According to these findings six epileptic children, between the ages of 11 and 13, were taken from the Nazi's Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre to Strughold's Berlin laboratory where they were placed in vacuum chambers to induce epileptic seizures in an effort to simulate the effects of high-altitude sicknesses, such as hypoxia.

-- Hubertus Strughold, by Wikipedia

In 1952, he became associate physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles; in the 1950s, Haber eventually became the chief scientific consultant to Walt Disney productions. He later co-hosted Disney’s Man in Space with von Braun. When the Eisenhower administration asked Disney to produce a show championing the civilian use of nuclear power, Heinz Haber was given the assignment. He hosted the Disney broadcast called Our Friend the Atom and wrote a popular children’s book with the same title, both of which explained nuclear fission and fusion in simple terms. General Dynamics, a manufacturer of nuclear reactors, sponsored Our Friend the Atom and the nuclear submarine ride at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.[8]

In the 1960s and 1970s, he was well known in Germany as a popular science spokesperson and wrote magazine columns and numerous books and presented his own TV programs like Professor Haber experimentiert, Das Mathematische Kabinett, Unser blauer Planet, Stirbt unser blauer Planet?, Professor Haber berichtet, and WAS IST WAS mit Professor Haber. He was founding editor of the German science magazine Bild der Wissenschaft from 1964 to 1990. His memorable experiments included one where the onset of a nuclear chain reaction was simulated with hundreds of mousetraps, each one having been loaded with two ping pong balls.[9]

Heinz Haber had an unparalleled capability for presenting hard scientific facts in a manner and language which was understandable and entertaining for the layman without being sloppy. This won him many accolades, such as the Adolf-Grimme-Preis and the Goldene Kamera.

Heinz Haber had two children, Kai (born 1943) and Cathleen (born 1945), from his first marriage, and a third child, Marc (born 1969), from the second. His first wife Anneliese lives in Tucson, Arizona, his second wife Irmgard in Hamburg, Germany.


1. This image is a detail from a larger photograph, which may be seen at the article on Willy Ley.
2. James, Jeremiah; Steinhauser, Thomas; Hoffmann, Dieter; Bretislav, Friedrich (2011). One hundred years at the intersection of chemistry and physics: the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, 1911-2011. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 117, 127. ISBN 3110239531.
3. Linda Hunt. (May 23, 1987). "NASA's Nazis". Literature of the Holocaust. ... nazis.html. Linda Hunt. Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. (New York: St.Martin's Press, 1991).
4. Buettner, K. J., & Haber, H. (1952). The aeropause. Science. 115: 656-657.
5. Editor. (19 November 1951). Science: The Unfriendly Aeropause. Time. New York.
6. White, C.S. & Benson, O.O. (1952). Physics and medicine of the upper atmosphere: a study of the aeropause. University of New Mexico Press, 1952.
7. Haber, Fritz; Haber, Heinz (1950). "Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Journal of Aviation Medicine. 21 (5). pp. 395–400. PMID 14778792. Summary of the article: Campbell, Mark R. (2009). "Classics in space medicine. Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 80 (12). p. 1077. doi:10.3357/ASEM.26010.2009. PMID 20027862.
8. Eric Schlosser. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) pg. 39.
9. In Walt Disney's film Our Friend the Atom, Haber is the science presenter (see [1]). While explaining a chain reaction, the camera travels over a field of mousetraps, all ready to close and throw two ping pong balls in the process (see a resume in "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-12-28. Retrieved 2009-02-05.).

Further reading

• Linda Hunt (1991), Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, New York: St. Martin's.
• Eric Schlosser (2001), Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
• Manfred Gross (2013), "Sterne, Menschen und Atome - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Heinz Haber" (German), Mannheim. Available at Karl-Friedrich-Gymnasium Mannheim, Stadtarchiv Mannheim - Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Planetarium Mannheim, Freundeskreis Planetarium Mannheim e.V.
External links[edit]
• VERHEXT — a 1960s puzzle game by Heinz Haber based on hexiamonds (Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine)
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:09 am

Inside Hitler’s Plan To Build The “Capital Of The World”
by Daniel Rennie
Published April 21, 2018
Updated June 12, 2019



The city in 'Man In High Castle' may seem like a dystopian nightmare, but Hitler had plans to make it very real.

The Grand Hall, the monstrous centerpiece of the planned Nazi super-city Welthauptstadt Germania.

On Amazon’s alternative history thriller, The Man in the High Castle, viewers are taken into a CGI-world of a new Berlin that has grown in scale and grandeur to reflect its place as the center of a Thousand Year Reich that now covers most of the globe.

But rather than springing from the mind of filmmakers, this Nazi super-city is based on real plans conceived by Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer, the “General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital.” The project was started in 1937. A massive scale model was made, sections of Berlin were cleared, and its construction sites may have even initiated the Holocaust.

Hitler was determined this vision of a Nazi dystopia called Welthauptstadt Germania (World Capital Germania) would be finished by 1950. Speer had impressed Hitler with his work on buildings at Nuremberg, which were deliberate reinterpretations of classical architecture into massive, distinctly austere Nazi architecture designed to intimidate and overwhelm.

This aligned with Hitler’s vision to make Welthauptstadt Germania the grandest city of them all by taking the best monuments Europe had to offer and to super-size them. Most of these monuments would be placed along a seven-kilometer (4.3 miles) Boulevard of Splendours to create an overall narrative describing Nazi Germany’s superiority to citizens and visitors alike. At the south end of the boulevard, would sit the Triumphal Arch, designed to dwarf Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, which could fit inside Hitler’s planned arch six times. At the north end, the boulevard would open up into a parade ground featuring a colossal Fuhrer’s Palace, the Reich Chancellery, and the ridiculously massive Grand Hall.

The more elegant domed structures of Rome’s Pantheon and St Peter’s Basilica influenced the Grand Hall. But Hitler preferred size to elegance. It would cover 99,000 square meters and would be capped with a colossal dome that was 300 meters high and weighed 200,000 tons. Designed to be a sort of Nazi cult site and city focal point, it would be the largest enclosed space in the world, able to hold 180,000 people inside it. Apparently, the breath from the crowd would have created the building’s own rainfall as it precipitated from the ceiling.

Hitler’s scale-model of Germania. The Boulevard of Splendours connects the Grand Hall, in the distance, to the Triumphal Arch, a gargantuan, inelegant version of the Arc de Triomphe.

Only a handful of buildings were constructed. Hitler’s Reich Chancellery was one, with its Long Hall twice as long as Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, which inspired it. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in 1945. Another building was the stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, built five miles from Berlin’s center. It was the largest in Europe, modeled off the Roman Colosseum, but 200 meters longer. After the game’s success, Hitler decided he needed a more massive arena, which, was it planned, would house every Olympic Games hence. It was only partially built.

The rest of Welthauptstadt Germania would be new ring roads, autobahns, tunnels and living areas. The environment would have been hostile to citizens. Traffic lights and tramways would be a thing of the past, forcing pedestrians underground into a system of tunnels just to cross the roads and negotiate the complex roadways.

The architecture would literally and metaphorically oppress its people.

Areas of residential Berlin were marked for development. Speer and his cronies had 60,000 apartments bulldozed and 100,000 Germans became homeless. The real suffering was once again directed at the Jews. There would be no place for them in this new city, so 25,000 apartments were seized from Jews. Evicted, they were sent to ghettos, then concentration camps, while homeless Germans were crammed into their apartments.

The Jews became the laborers. Speer apparently remarked: “The Yids got used to making bricks while in captivity in Egypt.”

Many believe the “Night of Broken Glass” in Nov. 1938 was the beginning of the Holocaust but it started months earlier with Germania’s construction. Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen concentration camps were built near quarries, while Sachsenhausen was built near a brickworks. Speer signed a contract with the SS to have all bricks shipped to Germania’s construction sites. Sachsenhausen was 35 kilometers from Berlin’s center, so canals ferried the quarried stone to the Welthauptstadt Germania construction sites. These brickworks proved the harshest labor in all camps. Literally, tens of thousands were worked to death.

The Schwerbelastungskoerper, a structure built to see if Berlin’s weak ground could hold the heavy foundation of the planned arch.

The workforce of 130,000 included not only Jews but POWs. Then in June 1938, police started rounding up tramps, gypsies, homosexuals, and beggars off the streets to make up the labor force.

Hitler’s project was not without its critics. Speer’s number two, Hans Stefan drew a series of caricatures which parodied the overbearing nature of the Germania project in secret. Several drawings poke fun at the ridiculous size of the Grand Hall. One depicts Berlin’s largest building, the Reichstag, being accidentally moved by a crane during construction of the impossibly large Grand Hall.

Stefan does not hold back in criticising the changes to Berlin, which he sees as tampering with German history and culture. Hitler had the Victory Column relocated. Stefan’s response was to show the Goddess Victory, unhappy with Hitler’s decision, escaping via parachute from her fixture at the top of the column.

Construction on Welthauptstadt Germania finally ground to a halt as the Second World War progressed. Speer believed that Nazi victory was imminent and remarked that Allied air strikes on Berlin had helped to level the old city to pave way for Germania. They hadn’t.

Though Hitler committed suicide Albert Speer was luckier. At the Nuremberg Trials he charmed the court, and despite his heavy use of concentration camp labor, he denied knowledge of the Holocaust. Spared execution, he spent the next twenty years in Spandau prison.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:46 am

Disney animators' strike
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/27/19



Walt was not an easy man to work for. At night, he would go through employee desks to check their work and count the number of pens. It was studio policy not to pay animators for the time they spent not drawing. They had to punch out whenever they got up to use the bathroom, get a drink of water, or even sharpen a pencil. If that weren't enough, the animators who produced the cartoons never received screen credit.

-- Walt Disney, by

Striking Disney animators at Walt Disney Productions, Burbank, in May 1941
Date May 29, 1941
Location Burbank, California
Methods Striking
Parties to the civil conflict
Screen Cartoonist's Guild
Walt Disney Productions
Lead figures
Herbert Sorrell
(Union leader)
Walt Disney
(Owner of studio)
Labor disputes by sector
Service strikes

The Disney animators' strike was a labor strike by the animators of Walt Disney Productions. The strike began on May 29, 1941, and lasted roughly five weeks. Though it resulted in the studio officially recognizing labor unions, it resulted in many departures and had a permanent psychological impact on the studio and its founder, Walt Disney.


In the 1930s, a rise of labor unions took place in Hollywood in response to the Great Depression and subsequent mistreatment of employees by studios. Among these unions was the Screen Cartoonist's Guild (SCG), which formed in 1938 after the first strike at an animation studio occurred, at Fleischer Studios. By 1941, SCG president Herbert Sorrell had secured contracts with every major cartoon studio except Disney and Leon Schlesinger Productions. Schlesinger gave in to the SCG's requests to sign a contract after his own employees went on strike, but upon signing reportedly asked, "What about Disney?"[1]

Disney's animators had the best pay and working conditions in the industry, but were discontented.[2] Originally, 20% of the profits from short cartoons went toward employee bonuses, but Disney eventually suspended this practice.[3] Disney's 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a financial success, allowing Disney to construct a new, larger studio in Burbank, California.[4] At the Burbank studio, a rigid hierarchy system was enforced where employee benefits such as access to the restaurant, gymnasium, and steam room were limited to the studio's head writers and animators, who also received larger and more comfortable offices. Individual departments were segregated into buildings and heavily policed by administrators.

The box-office failures of Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940 forced Disney to make layoffs, although Disney rarely involved himself in the hiring and firing process with those who were not atop the pay chain. The studio's pay structure was very disorganized, with some high-ranking animators earning as much as $300 a week while others made as little as $12. Many employees, including Art Babbitt, grew dissatisfied and joined the SCG. Babbitt was one of Disney's best-paid animators, though he was sympathetic to low-ranking employees and openly disliked Disney.[4] Disney saw no problem with the structure, believing it was his studio to run and that his employees should be grateful to him for providing the new studio space.[4]

Sorrell, along with Babbitt and Bill Littlejohn,[5] approached Disney and demanded he unionize his studio,[1] but Disney refused. In February 1941, Disney gathered all 1,200 employees in his auditorium for a speech:

"In the 20 years I've spent in this business I've weathered many storms. It's been far from easy sailing. It required a great deal of work, struggle, determination, competence, faith, and above all unselfishness. Some people think we have a class distinction in the place. They wonder why some people get better seats in the theatre than others. They wonder why some men get spaces in the parking lot and others don't. I have always felt, and always will feel that the men that contribute most to the organization should, out of respect alone, enjoy some privileges. My first recommendation to the lot of you is this; put your own house in order, you can't accomplish a damn thing by sitting around and waiting to be told everything. If you're not progressing as you should, instead of grumbling and growling, do something about it."[4]

The assembly was poorly received, and more employees joined the SCG. Tensions between Disney and Babbitt reached a peak when Disney began to see Babbitt as having personally betrayed him by becoming a union leader.[4] Disney fired Babbitt along with 16 other employees who were members of the SCG. The next day on May 29, more than 200 members of the studio staff went on strike, during the production of the 1941 film Dumbo. Other studios' animators, such as those from Schlesinger, offered their support during the strike. Disney retaliated by depicting some of the striking employees in caricature in Dumbo as antagonistic circus clowns, and on one occasion even attacked a picketing Babbitt.[5]

One story, told by Arthur Babbitt, claims that Disney attempted to attack him on the picket line:

“Then I turned to the crowd and shouted, ‘There he is, the man who believes in brotherhood for everybody but himself!’” With that, the crowd broke out into loud, derisive boos. Walt lost all reserve and, red-faced and heaving, pulled up, got out of his car, ripped off his jacket, started after Babbitt, and was immediately restrained by security guards. He did, however, get close enough to warn the artist he was through, not just at Disney but everywhere in the industry. Walt then got back into his car and drove through the gates.

-- Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot (141)

The strike was resolved when the National Labor Relations Board asked Disney to sign a union contract and he agreed. Disney was returning from a goodwill tour of Latin America to produce animated films as part of the Good Neighbor policy, allowing tensions to cool in his absence. Saludos Amigos was released the following year in 1942, while The Three Caballeros was released in 1944.

Aftermath and notable departures

The strike left the studio with only 694 employees.[6] In addition to Babbitt, the studio lost Bill Tytla, Walt Kelly, Tyrus Wong, Virgil Partch, Volus Jones, Phil Duncan, Claude Smith, Bernie Wolf, Joey Lockwood, Alfred Abranz, William Hurtz, T. Hee, Howard Swift, Milt Schaffer, and Frank Fullmer. Stephen Bosustow, David Hilberman and John Hubley left to form United Productions of America. Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson, Preston Blair, Ed Love, Walter Clinton, and Grant Simmons left for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio. Frank Tashlin returned to Warner Bros. Cartoons, and was joined by Hawley Pratt, Bill Meléndez, Emery Hawkins, Basil Davidovich, Maurice Noble, Cornett Wood, Ted Bonnicksen, and Jack Bradbury.

In the years following World War II, Hee, Jones, Duncan, Schaffer, Hawkins, Davidovich, and Bradbury returned to the studio. Disney was forced to rehire Babbitt after he brought an unfair labor practices suit against the studio, though Babbitt eventually left for good.

Disney never forgave the participants and subsequently treated union members with contempt,[5] arguing in a letter that the strike "cleaned house at our studio" and got rid of "the chip-on-the-shoulder boys and the world-owes-me-a-living lads".[7] Testifying to the House Un-American Activities Committee, Disney alleged that communism had played a major role in the strike, and many of the participants were blacklisted.[5]


1. Isbouts, Jean-Pierre (Director) (2001). Walt: The Man Behind the Myth (Television documentary film). ABC/Walt Disney Home Video.
2. Thomas, Bob (1994). WALT DISNEY: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL. Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-6027-8.
3. Barrier, Michael, Hollywood Cartoons (1999), Oxford University Press, UK
4. Grimberg, Sharon (Producer) (2015). American Experience, Walt Disney- Part One (Television documentary film). PBS.
5. Lowry, Sam (Nov 1, 2006). "The Disney cartoonists strike, 1941". Retrieved June 23, 2018.
6. SEP 16 Disney History
7. Garchik, Leah (22 February 2015). "Beauty only skin deep, so women are considering their history". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
• Sito, Tom. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. ISBN 0-8131-2407-7

External links

• The Disney strike, on The Animation Guild's website
• Another look back at the 1941 Disney Studio strike; includes contemporary article from Screen Actor magazine
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:12 am

1941 Disney Strike: Picket Lines in Paradise
by Jake S. Friedman
History Net
Accessed: 9/27/19



(Courtesy Barbara Babbitt)

THE STRIKE WAS in its third week. Picketers had plans to bombard non-striking colleagues at the front gate right at quitting time, 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 1941. But before that confrontation could be joined, the boss led loyalists off the company grounds to a nearby high school, where he held an impromptu meeting. By the time 400 picketers, waving placards and signs, realized what was up and raced to the school, most of the scabs had left. Except for a handful of allies, only the boss himself remained, sitting in his car and tipping his hat at the strikers in the style of President Roosevelt. Out of the crowd rushed the tall, steely-eyed strike leader. Art Babbitt shouted at his boss and former pal, “Walt Disney, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Disney scrambled from the vehicle, fists clenched, calling Babbitt a dirty sonofabitch. The crowd came between them, half booing, half cheering.

Before the 1941 strike at the Walt Disney Studios, Art Babbitt considered Walt Disney his friend. The men owed much to one other. Babbitt was unquestionably one of Disney’s star artists during the Golden Age of animation. And Walt Disney once entrusted Art Babbitt with the brand and the characters he guarded so dearly. Babbitt developed Goofy’s movements and personality. He contributed Oscar-winning animation to The Three Little Pigs and The Country Cousin. Walt had assigned the animator feature characters like the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Geppetto in Pinocchio. Disney and Babbitt shared an ambition to elevate animation to fine art, and to that end Art helped Walt establish an in-house art school. Babbitt could claim to have been among the reasons Disney animation advanced exponentially between 1932 and 1941, Babbitt’s professional heyday. But now these creative titans were at war, and the Disney Studios’ fate was at stake.

Strikes were nothing new. Capitalizing on half a century of labor activism and the desperate years of the Depression, enthusiasm for organizing had unionized the Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors assembly lines and a host of other industries—albeit not without resistance and even violence. At first, unions enlisted assembly line workers and the manual trades, but now more and more creative types, like those in Hollywood, were standing together.

Across Hollywood, crafts had been unionizing through the 1930s. Actors, directors, writers, projectionists, electricians, musicians, background painters, secretaries, film processors—name any job in filmmaking, and it had a union, except for animators. And Disney Studios was the biggest employer of animators in Hollywood.

Walt Disney had grown up hearing all about labor and capital. His father, a naïve socialist, often brought home brochure illustrations of the bloated capitalist and the woebegone worker for his artistic son to copy.

The elder Disney “thought everybody was as honest as he was; he got taken many times because of that,” Walt said in adulthood. “I know the usual union methods. I’ve been brought up through my life with them. My dad was beat up by a bunch of union people one time.”

Walt, who as a volunteer drove an ambulance in France during the First World War, had a strong streak of practicality and drive to succeed. He was still a teenager in Missouri when he formed his first animation company, Laugh-O-Gram, which went bankrupt in 1923. He and brother Roy next built Disney Brothers Studio. In 1927, Walt created the cartoon character Oswald the Rabbit for Universal Pictures and distributor Charles Mintz. By 1928, when Walt traveled to Mintz’s New York office to negotiate a payment increase from $2,250 per short, Mintz had hired away most of Walt’s employees and told Walt he would be getting $1,400 per animation and giving Mintz half the profits. To escape the deal, Walt had to give up Oswald. He found himself with no contract, no character, and a barebones staff. On the train back to Hollywood, Walt sketched the character that became the fabulously popular Mickey Mouse. Enriched by Mickey’s global stardom and remembering Oswald’s sad fate, Walt branded all his studio’s creations with the Disney moniker. Walt was the studio, and the studio was Walt.

Mickey Mouse was as huge a star as Clark Gable, but Clark Gable did not need a team of dozens in order to come alive. At Disney Studios, directors met with storymen and storyboard artists to outline each cartoon short—and later, each full-length animated feature. Like actors making performance choices, supervising animators planned each character’s actions. These artists’ drawings went to assistants who filled in the frames between main poses with additional drawings. Assistant animators handed their work to in-betweeners who completed necessary drawings.

Once an animation passed a camera test for exposure and smoothness of movement, a stack of pencil drawings went to inkers. The inkers traced the drawings onto sheets of transparent celluloid, giving the “cels” to painters for color. Finally, one frame at a time, the production camera department shot a negative at a rate of 12 to 24 drawings per second. Each animation artist had a hand in bringing a cartoon star to the screen, and none belonged to a union.

The first try at organizing the artists at Disney arose because of racketeer Willie Bioff. Bioff, a member of mobster Al Capone’s gang, was also the West Coast head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, in 1937 Hollywood’s biggest, most corrupt union. According to Variety, the show business trade magazine, it was “an open secret” that IATSE regularly made a practice of signing up entire departments at a studio, then threatening a strike there unless the studio’s management greased Bioff’s palm.

Art Babbitt (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives)

Art Babbitt, filled with creative ambition, had nothing against empowering the workingman. Born in 1907, Arthur Babitsky grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, a son of poor Russian immigrants. To help support his family, he went to New York at 16, struggling as a commercial artist until 1929, when he landed an animation job at TerryToons Studio, later famous for Mighty Mouse. Babbitt animated for three years at TerryToons before applying to Disney—the only studio he saw as sharing his vision for animation’s future. A master at self-promotion, Babbitt hand-painted a letter on a sheet of paper 18 feet x 20 feet that he sent special delivery to Walt’s secretary. The gimmick earned him an interview with Disney, who hired Babbitt in July 1932 at $40 a week.

By 1936, Babbitt was making $200 a week as one of Disney’s top artists, and was in the thick of the action. That year the studio was making Snow White, a project so daunting that Walt and Roy went on a hiring spree, muscling up the animation staff from 80-odd to around 1,200.

In late 1937, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs about to premiere, Babbitt read in Time magazine about Bioff’s corrupt influence on the motion picture industry. He wondered how long Disney could fend off IATSE and the mob. Babbitt conferred with Roy Disney, who sent him to Disney’s chief legal counsel, Gunther Lessing. Babbitt and Lessing outlined a “social organization,” the Federation of Screen Cartoonists, that Lessing said would serve their purposes. While Babbitt was arranging meetings and starting to draft a charter, Lessing encouraged him to enroll as many Disney employees as possible in the Federation.

Babbitt did not realize that the Federation was a “house union,” company-led and company-controlled. Babbitt just wanted to keep out Bioff. Lessing wanted to insulate Disney from all independent union activity.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered to ecstatic reviews, boffo box office returns, industry honors, and warm words from Disney. “Dear Art,” Walt wrote, “since the critics have voted Snow White best picture of 1938, I thought you might like to stow away the attached copy of Film Daily with all the other memoirs you may be receiving for your grandchildren.” Another of Babbitt’s keepsakes was a photo of the Snow White animation team.

Pending National Labor Relations Board certification, the Federation had to sit on its hands, frustrating Babbitt until July 22, 1939, when the NLRB declared the Federation the sole union for Disney employees. Babbitt and the rest of the Federation’s negotiating committee scheduled a meeting with Roy Disney in October, hoping to negotiate a contract. Another goal was a small raise for inkers and painters, who at $18 and $16 a week were the lowest-paid in the industry. Roy listened but shook his head, saying he “had no use for unions.” With no contract, the Federation was powerless. The negotiating committee voted to let the hollow union die.

Deploying profits from Snow White and a loan from Bank of America, Walt spared no expense constructing a campus-style studio in Burbank, over the hills from Hollywood. Intended to streamline the animation process, the new production house was rife with status symbols. Top artists enjoyed wall-to-wall carpeting; lesser animators got bare linoleum. Only those paid $100 a week or more could join the in-house exercise facility, “The Penthouse Club.” Babbitt would not use the gym. Walt asked why.

“As soon as you make it open to everybody,” said Babbitt, “I’d be delighted to join.”

Animators elsewhere were forming or joining real unions. The Screen Cartoon—later “Cartoonists”—Guild was organizing animation artists around Hollywood. By December 1940, the Guild had a contract with MGM, maker of the hit “Tom & Jerry” cartoons. MGM artists, especially the inkers, painters, in-betweeners, and assistants who occupied the lowest rungs of the production process, received raises. One by one, the Guild was signing up workers at all the animation studios, circling the biggest fish—Disney.

On December 11, 1940, Walt and Lessing summoned Babbitt and the other four men who had been the moribund Federation’s original negotiating committee. Walt showed the artists a letter from the Guild claiming that the union represented a majority of Disney artists, and demanding that Walt sign a contract. He called on the five to reanimate the Federation, subvert the Guild, and “stop this thing.”

“You know how I am, boys,” Babbitt quoted Walt as saying. “If someone tells me to do something, I will do just the opposite, and if necessary I will close the studio.”

Babbitt saw the request to revive the Federation as hypocritical. If the point was to empower employees, why block a bona fide union? Lessing talked vaguely about a contract, but revealed nothing concrete. The Federation had been demanding a contract for a year and half without any result. The negotiating committee members got together a week later to determine their next steps.

“I would have liked to have said to Walt, ‘Well, you’re the boss—whatever you say goes,’ and then I’d be a good boy,” Babbitt said at the Federation meeting. “But still at the same time, I feel I owe an obligation to all the people that have been foolish enough to follow me into this thing, and I can’t feel that it’s right.”

During that meeting, Babbitt expressed empathy for the man who had made him a prince of Hollywood animation. “As swell as Walt has been in the past, he’s never taken the trouble to see the other side,” Babbitt told his colleagues. “He’s firmly convinced that all unions are stevedores and gangsters. It has never occurred to him that he might find a decent person to deal with. If Walt had taken the trouble to find out what we were doing and why we were doing it, the contract would have been signed long ago.”

Babbitt quit the Federation and began attending Guild meetings. By March, he was chairing the Disney unit of the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, Local 852. This infuriated Walt and Lessing. Lessing reactivated the Federation with replacement committee members and renewed force.

Disney had come off Snow White’s success to produce Pinocchio and Fantasia, both released in 1940. Each lost about $1 million because in September 1939, Europe went to war, slamming shut the international market.

To make his loan payments, Disney, now more than $3 million in debt, had to go public. When Walt and Roy asked Bank of America for more credit, the bank and Disney stockholders urgently suggested the company lay off personnel. Walt instead bore down on producing shorts, accelerating production and monitoring employee efficiency, which added to worker stress.

“In desperation I tried to keep these people employed by increasing their output,” Walt, on the verge of tears, recounted the following year. “I felt a responsibility to all these people. It was my mistake. I didn’t know it.” Some Disney employees empathized with the studio, others saw management as incompetent and top-heavy.

Walt doubted the company could survive the higher salaries that unionization would impose on Disney. On February 10 and 11, 1941, he addressed his entire staff in the studio theater. “There are certain individuals who would like to blame the executives of this company for not foreseeing this calamity that was caused by the war in Europe,” Walt said, referring obliquely to Babbitt. “I think that is unfair…how the hell can anyone hold us responsible?”

Walt closed by declaring that the studio wouldn’t have to resort to drastic measures “if every one of you would dig in and do his individual and collective damnedest to roll out production of the highest quality with the most economy.” The speech left the staff more polarized and drove many abstainers to sign with either the Guild or the Federation. Whichever collected a majority of Disney artists’ signatures would be the union at Disney, and the rival sides inundated the campus with fliers and petitions. In the halls, people were buttonholing one another to sign up. More than once, management demanded Babbitt shut down Guild recruitment at the studio.

“People on both sides are guilty,” Babbitt responded. “Everyone who is not on my side is bound to criticize me!”

Walt cornered Babbitt in a hallway.

“You don’t know what is going on in the rest of the studio,” Walt said, according to Babbitt in 1942 testimony. “If you don’t stop organizing my employees, I’m going to throw you right the hell out of the front gate!”

The simmer came to a boil May 16, when Disney laid off 24 Guild members, several of them committee chairmen. The Guild demanded Walt sit down with the union or face a strike. Walt refused. On Tuesday, May 27, 1941, the company abruptly fired Babbitt. Armed guards escorted him off the lot. That night the Guild unit voted to strike, and in the morning, more than 300 Disney artists were marching at the gates demanding that Disney recognize the Guild.

The strikers picketed 24 hours a day, carrying signs illustrated with Disney characters. Across from the studio, an outdoor cafeteria sponsored by sympathizers served three meals daily. Striking artists drew sketches distributed to the press. Teams of pickets rushed any theater screening a Disney picture. Other unions, including the Screen Actors Guild, lent support. Developers at Technicolor refused to process Disney film. Newspapers withheld Disney comic strips. RKO, which distributed Disney films, announced it would stall all Disney releases until the strike was settled. Union animators at Warner Bros., after ending shifts animating Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters, built parade floats and effigies they displayed in step with the Disney strikers. Dances, magic shows, fairs, and other benefits filled Buena Vista Street at night. Trade papers like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, as well as publications across the spectrum, covered the strike in detail.

“We represent a majority of the cartoonists in the studio,” Babbitt told the Daily Worker. “We demand recognition of our field and a closed-shop contract. We demand wage adjustments and the betterment of working conditions. We want all bonuses previously promised but not paid; we want to get the company men off our necks every time we turn around.”

Walt Disney doubted the Guild actually had the enrollment that the union claimed. He met regularly with Guild members, trying to determine the true numbers. The Guild wanted to crosscheck union enrollment against Disney’s payroll. Walt refused, saying he would accept only the results of a secret-ballot vote deciding which union would represent his people. Both sides accused the other of coercion. The Guild had enough support among unions to make a credible threat to place Disney and all its productions on a “do not patronize” list unless Walt agreed to a crosscheck.

“I have never been a coward,” Walt replied. “When it comes to a compromise of this sort, to me it isn’t a compromise. It’s just laying down. To me it’s one of the most un-American things that can be done.” As the stalemate ground into a ninth week, strikers were edging closer to poverty. Nonetheless, violence never intruded.

On July 28, two NLRB mediators finally arrived from Washington, DC. The mediators’ August 2 ruling found in favor of the strikers. The studio would sign a closed-shop union contract with the Guild; wages would rise 25 percent to the industry’s peak; should the company propose layoffs, an independent joint committee would review them; each striker would get 100 hours in back pay.

The artists returned to work, but the studio was never the same. Walt, who valued loyalty above all, withdrew from the family unit he had created. Disney’s own involvement with his studio would be increasingly managerial, and never again would he experiment with animation the way he once had. The Golden Age of Disney animation had ended.

Back at the studio, Babbitt found himself short of assignments. On November 24, the company laid off its former star animator, ostensibly for lack of work. He and the union sued Walt Disney, and in October 1942, Babbitt appeared in court, offering testimony that clashed with representations by Walt, Gunther Lessing, and every director the animator ever worked with at Walt Disney Studios. The proceedings lasted seven days; Babbitt and the Guild won.

Though he was reinstated in his job, Babbitt immediately enlisted in the Marines. He served three years in intelligence in the Pacific, mustering out in October 1945 as a master technical sergeant. At Disney, which had grudgingly held his position for him, Babbitt was persona non grata. No non-striker, other than directors, dared to talk with him or even look his way.

On January 16, 1947, Babbitt quit. He went on to success at United Productions of America with Mr. Magoo and other UPA cartoons, and won dozens of awards for commercials. Still, nothing in post-strike, post-war life matched what Art Babbitt had achieved in his heyday at Disney. He was directing ads for Hanna Barbera in 1973 when Canadian animator Richard Williams rediscovered him. Williams, a connoisseur of classic animation, hired Babbitt to teach at his production house in London. Babbitt’s years of direct influence inspired Williams’s hand in Robert Zemeckis’s 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a masterful blend of live action and animation that helped propel the big-screen renaissance in animation that continues today.

In 2007, 15 years after Babbitt died, Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, inducted Babbitt into the company’s creative pantheon by honoring him as a Disney Legend. Roy noted that right up until his death, Babbitt kept the photo of the Snow White animation team, carefully labeling each person.

By his own face, Babbitt had written “the Troublemaker.”
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:31 am

Disney and the Mob: Willie Bioff
by Jake Friedman
BabbittBlog: The Official Blog of an Animation Legend
Posted on October 9, 2016




Let’s talk about the mob for a minute.

There was a man named Willie Bioff. He was a member of Al Capone’s gang, as was his partner, George Browne. They were both top men of the Hollywood stagehands’ union, the IATSE (International Alliance for Theatrical Stage Employees). Browne, a tall Irishman, was the national head; Bioff, a stocky Russian man, was the head of the southern California branch. In the 1930’s, Bioff’s name became synonymous with Hollywood labor corruption. In the eyes of the Disney company, this man had the potential of being both villain and hero.

04 Nov 1955, Phoenix, Arizona, USA --- Original caption: Phoenix, Arizona: This is a copy photo of Willie Bioff, famous Chicago mobster of the Al Capone school. He was blown to bits today in Phoenix, Arizona, when he stepped on the starter of his truck and the vehicle exploded. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

So who was Willie Bioff?

Born in Odessa around 1900,...

Odessa is a city in western Texas.


Downtown, Jack Ben Rabbit is an 8-foot-tall statue of a jackrabbit. Another 37 Jamboree Jackrabbits dot the city. The Presidential Archives and Leadership Library exhibits presidential memorabilia.


The University of Texas of the Permian Basin's Stonehenge is a replica of the famous English site. To the southwest, meteorite fragments are on display at the Odessa Meteor Crater.

-- About Odessa, by

... young Willie Bioff moved with his family to the outskirts of Chicago. In 1922, he was charged with pandering – i.e. running a speakeasy/brothel – for mobster Jack Zuta,...


John U. "Jack" Zuta (February 15, 1888[1] – August 1, 1930) was an accountant and political "fixer" for the Chicago Outfit.

Zuta (also spelled as "Zoota") was born on February 18, 1888, in Russia to a peasant family of Jewish descent. He immigrated to the United States around 1913. Living in Chicago, Zuta worked as a junk dealer on the West Side before becoming involved in prostitution. He eventually operated several brothels on west Madison Street. However he was put out of business by competition from Mike "The Pike" Heitler and the Guzik Brothers, Harry and Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik.

Zuta began working for Al Capone in the mid-1920s. He helped contribute $50,000 of Capone's money to Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson's reelection campaign in 1927. However, Zuta defected to Bugs Moran's North Side Gang during the gang war between Capone and Moran.

In June 1930, Zuta supposedly ordered the death of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle after Lingle tried to extort money from Moran's gambling operations. After the murder (for which Leo Vincent Brothers was convicted), Zuta was questioned by police. He was released the next day. While being given a police escort the police cruiser was fired on by several unidentified gunmen. The attackers killed two bystanders before being driven off by police. Zuta fled Chicago, moving to Upper Nemahbin Lake, west of Milwaukee, living the last month of his life under the name "J. H. Goodman". Zuta was shot to death on August 1, 1930, in a roadhouse in Delafield, Wisconsin. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery located in Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Zuta's death resulted in the uncovering of a large amount of corruption in Illinois. Zuta, a meticulous record keeper, had much information later found in various safe deposit boxes. This information lead to the capture of a large whiskey shipment to Moran and to information about police raids on several breweries, as well as detailing Mafia payoffs to state and city officials.

Some of the officials implicated were:

• Chicago Alderman Dorsey Crowe
• Board of Education executive Nate DeLue
• Judge Joseph W. Schulman
• ex-Judge Emanuel Eller
• Chicago Police sergeant Martin C. Mulvihill
• Evanston Police Chief William O. Freeman
• Illinois Senator Harry W. Starr

All denied involvement, however, particularly Crowe and Starr, who claimed the money was part of campaign contributions. The name, "Zuta", later became slang for revenge. In 1931, after a $50,000 bounty was placed on him, Capone said, "Nobody's gonna' 'Zuta' me."

-- Jack Zuta, by Wikipedia

... but he never served his jail time. In early 1933 he was arranging to limit the poultry market in Chicago (i.e. making sure some chicken vendors didn’t sell their wares, and getting a cut of those who did). Then he met George Browne. In 1933 Browne was a card-carrying member of the IATSE. They figured out if they could get enough projectionists from a local movie theater chain to threaten a strike, the owner would pay them off. To their reasoning, it would cost the theater more to endure a strike than to grease their palms. A lot more. Tens of thousands more.



July, 1934


New President of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada

At the recent convention of the I.A.T.S.E. & M.P.M.O. of the United States and Canada, George E. Browne, for many years business representative of Stage Hands Local No. 2, Chicago, was unanimously elected President of the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. to succeed William Elliott.

Mr. Browne was formerly First Vice-President of the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. during the administration of Former President Canavan. He resigned from that office at the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. Convention, which met in Los Angeles several years ago, in order to give all his time to the affairs of his own Local.

Too much cannot be said in praise of the new President. He is a thorough Union man and is a master of the principles of Unionism. He particularly understand the problems of the great organization of which he had the honor to be the head and those who know him will say that he not only understand the problems, but that he has the courage, ability and vision to solve them.

He is firm. He is absolutely trustworthy. He is loyal to the body over which he presides and he demands loyalty in return. President Browne, though a man of decision and firm in his judgments, is nevertheless a diplomat and his reputation for fair dealing has done much to bring him the great popularity he enjoys.

Moreover, the new executive is a man of action and of ideas and he does not wait for anybody to take the initiative. In brief, he goes and he gets. The latch-string at 659 and at the International Photographer, President Browne, will always be hanging out if ever you come to our fair city. And – we hope you’ll be a long time President.

One of Al Capone’s top wiseguys, Frank Rio, got wind of this and enlisted them to the gang, kinda by force: It was either join Capone and get protection and a percentage, or drop it all together and get squat. So Bioff and Browne stayed on. In 1934, Rio helped Browne get elected as the national head of IATSE, and Browne hired Bioff as his West Coast representative.

Now Bioff and Browne did what they were doing before – threatening strikes for stagehands and projectionists unless theater owners and studio heads paid up – except on a much grander scale. In 1935, RKO and Leow’s paid Bioff and Browne $150k. In 1936, Bioff moved to Los Angeles, where he ran a Studio Basic Agreement meeting. It was there that representatives from every movie studio committed to paying him a total of $500k over two years. In 1937 RKO and Leow’s paid him $100k. By the end of 1937, IATSE local 37, the Hollywood branch of IATSE run by Bioff, had spent two years taking $200k from mere members in dues alone.

Whether this was blackmail (Bioff did this against studios’ wishes) or bribery (Bioff cooperated with studios to disenfranchise union members) is still a debate. In either case, Bioff had built up a reputation around Hollywood as the leader of both the absolute largest, and most corrupt, Hollywood union.

The way Babbitt tells it in 1942 is like this: It was in November 1937. His friend and colleague (and fellow liberal) Dave Hilberman showed him an article in Time magazine about Bioff increasing his hold on Hollywood unions. At the time Hilberman was an animation assistant under Babbitt’s best friend, Bill Tytla. Babbitt wanted to stop Bioff and the IATSE from signing up anyone in the Disney studio. At the behest of Bill Garity, the production control manager, Babbitt went to the top of the top: the business head and Walt’s brother, Roy O. Disney.

Roy pointed Babbitt to Gunther Lessing, the studio’s head legal council, board member, and future vice president of the company. Together Lessing and Babbitt formed a group called the FEDERATION OF SCREEN CARTOONISTS. For Lessing, this was an attempt for an informal social organization just to block the Bioff. For Babbitt, this was a chance to create a union to represent the Disney employees.

Blocking Bioff seemed like a great idea: renown columnist Westbrook Pegler published an exposé on Bioff in November 1939 that solidified his villainy in the public eye. This exposé, in part, led to Bioff’s and Browne’s federal indictment on May 23rd, 1941.

For Disney unionists, things went to shit in 1941.

The FEDERATION’s true position – keeping the management’s best interests at heart – became abundantly clear by early 1941. And a bona fide independent union, the SCREEN CARTOONISTS GUILD demanded union representation for the Disney employees.

And then the Disney strike hit on Wednesday, May 28, 1941.

According to many strikers, the energy of the first month of the strike was light. There were hopes for a quick outcome, and there was trust in the company. After a month, though, there was a serious shift.

Bioff was granted a delay of his trial in Washington, as well as permission to return to Los Angeles temporarily. Why?

In a twist befitting a scripted soap opera, the GUILD went into a negotiation meeting the evening of July 1 with Roy Disney, Gunther Lessing, and sitting between them was… Willie Bioff. Roy and Bioff had drafted a settlement deal at Bioff’s ranch earlier that day (some report the previous day), with hope that the strikers would sign.



1. THE NATIONAL AFL BOYCOTT IS STILL ON AND IS SPREADING. Disney film will have a dwindling market in the U.S. or Canada, even though it may be edited and developed. With a restricted market on Disney film, where will your future paychecks come from?

2. THE GUILD HAS NOT SPLIT INTO TWO FACTIONS. The membership of the Guild has never been stronger, and no Guild member is going to work in the studio until the strike is over.

3. THE GUILD HAS NO INTENTION OF JOINING THE C.I.O. The Guild is receiving full moral and financial support from the AFL and has no need to apply elsewhere for assistance. All branches of the Guild and all sympathizers are still aiding the strike in every way and will continue to do so.



1. Do you remember when Walt said employees could join any organization of their own choosing?

2. Did Walt have your consent and approval when he signed contracts placing you under Bioff’s jurisdiction?

3. Have you read the constitution and by-laws of your new union?

4. Will you be able to vote Bioff out of office?

5. Are you so sure of your job with Disney that you know you will work there forever? Remember all the other studios have signed closed shop contracts with the Guild you are now fighting.

Screen Cartoon Guild
1441 N. McCadden Pl.
Hollywood, Calif.

Babbitt remembered, probably on June 30, being “asked” to get in a car and being driven to Bioff’s ranch. There was Roy, Lessing, Bill Garity, and Bioff himself. Bioff made him a generous offer individually: a hefty payout to just disappear – to take a permanent camping trip, and continue to receive paychecks. Babbitt refused. “I already have more money than I know what to do with,” he said.

Besides Babbitt, the Guild negotiation committee included Dave Hilberman and Herb Sorrell. Sorrell was the business representative of the Guild’s parent union, the Moving Picture Painters Local 644, as well as the Disney Strike’s business manager.




For seven weeks Disney Artists on Strike have tried to get Disney to sit down and negotiate with them.

Instead Disney negotiated a deal with Bioff dominated Unions representing less than ten per cent (10%) of his employees in an effort to break the Strike of his Artists representing more than fifty per cent (50%) of his employees.





Screen Cartoonists Guild
Local 852
1441 McCadden Place
Hollywood, Calif.



Do you know the deal that was about to be perpetrated on the Disney employees – Guild and non-Guild alike!

Do you know at whose ranch-house Walt Disney spent last Sunday!

Do you know the proposals that the Disney unit was asked to countenance at its meeting Tuesday!

Do you know the agreement that Walt Disney was willing to enter into to save his face – but not yours!

Do you know about the “negotiation” meeting for which Walt and his new “chum” waited in vain last night!

Do you know WHO this chum of Walt’s is?

Let us tell you!

He is none other than Mr. Willie Bioff, convicted panderer, ex-convict who is at present out on $50,000 bail on a charge of extortion.


The meeting began with discussions about back pay, and re-hire discrimination, although there were “many inquiries as to why Bioff was in the picture.” Bioff attempted to dictate the terms of the final contract, and also demanded that Hilberman leave the negotiating committee. The Guild left the meeting understanding that an agreement would be further negotiated in the Roosevelt Hotel, a frequent meeting spot for the Strike. Then the company reps returned to advise the Guild that the meeting would not continue in the hotel – but at Bioff’s ranch.

Sorrell called a halt – and addressed the strikers en masse in a huge meeting, to a “thunderous ovation.” They voted unanimously to take no part in any negotiations that included Willie Bioff.



Last night the studio signed a blanket agreement with Willie Bioff!

In doing so the studio handed the whole personnel over to the most vicious racketeer in the history of the motion picture labor movement.

A man who has just finished a six months sentence for pandering. A man who is under Federal indictment for income tax evasion and extorting $550,000 from major film companies.

Walt promised to take care of you people inside.

Is this the way?

Last week Bioff told two of us that either we string along with him, OR he would “take over” our union and the WHOLE STUDIO.

In defiance of this threat, feeling that we were fighting for something more than a contract, feeling that we could not hand over the animated cartoon industry to this Chicago hoodlum, we turned down this or ANY deal that Willie was a party to.

We did this after five weeks of being on strike.

Then we tried to negotiate directly with the studio – and were turned down!

Yesterday Bioff made good half his threat.

He “took over” the studio.


We are fighting now! Harder than ever! We’ll stick out on this line – if it takes all summer – before we see this gangster rule the artists in the motion picture industry like he rules the technicians.

We’d like you to help us fight him.

The danger to you is as great as the danger to us.



The disappointment: discovery that the contract was a behind-the-scenes deal engineered with Walt Disney by William Bioff, a labor man who is being prosecuted by the government for alleged union racketeering, and that the Cartoonists negotiators were to accept it and sign it, but not to question any detail.

All strikers were called together in an emergency meeting to consider the proposed deal. Even the 24-hour picketlines were withdrawn from the Disney studio so that every striker might hear the terms offered. The strikers boood the intervention of Bioff and repudiated the undercover attempt to put over a contract without its democratic submission to the strikers.

The next day an ad appeared in the daily industry trade paper, Variety:


Walt Disney,
Burbank, Calif.

Dear Walt:

Willie Bioff is not our leader.

Present your terms to our elected leaders, so that they may be submitted to us and there should be no difficulty in quickly settling our differences.

Your Striking Employes.

On July 3, Roy Disney was left with no alternative but to contact Washington DC. At the end of his rope, he requested a federal arbitrator to settle the Strike once and for all.




Seven weeks ago, 472 members of the Screen Cartoonists, local 852, went on strike for:

1. Recognition of their union

2. Reinstatement of 19 Guild members fired for union activity.

3. A fair, honorable contract.


The studio has consistently refused to meet with its striking artists.

Last week Roy Disney and Gunther Lessing, studio vice-presidents, met with Willie Bioff, ex-convict now under Federal indictment for extorting $550,000. Through Bioff an offer was made to the Guild for the settlement of the strike.

That offer constituted then, and does now, a fair basis for negotiations. No honest, American trade union, however, could accept the conditions for acceptance that Bioff placed upon the Guild.

First, Willie attempted to dictate the terms of the contract.

Secondly, he demanded the right to hand-pick the members of the Guild negotiating committee.

Failure to accept these provisions, Bioff warned, would result in the withdrawal of IATSE support of the strike.

When the Bioff Deal was disclosed to the membership of the Guild, they voted unanimously, “NOT TO ENTER ANY AGREEMENT TO WHICH BIOFF WAS A PARTY.”


The Painters proved in their 1937 strike that workers united in an honest determination to win their legal rights could gain a victory – even in the motion picture business.

We intend to prove again that the workers in this industry CAN obtain their rights without the intervention of Willie Bioff.

We want to make it clear however, that our fight is primarily with Walt Disney. Willie is only secondary.

Walt can settle this strike tomorrow if he will bargain collectively with his employees as the Wagner Act requires him to do.


The fight of the Screen Cartoonists is the fight of every man and woman in the motion picture industry.

If Walt breaks this strike, the cause of militant trade unionism will be set back ten years. If contracts in Hollywood can be won only through the intercession of Willie Bioff – the day of honest unionism is done.

Bioff is not the voice of the IATSE nor of the organized labor movement in Hollywood.


It must and will be won!


Your donations are urgently needed by the 472 artists and their families on strike. Send them with your name and local to the SCREEN CARTOON GUILD headquarters, 1441 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood, Cal.

Arbitrators arrived at the Disney lot. The final agreement between Walt Disney Productions and the Disney Strikers was signed on July 30, 1941, with no help from Bioff. On September 16, work at the Disney company resumed.

So yes, the Walt Disney company briefly had dealings with an indicted felon – the very felon they were trying to defend against. Bioff and Browne were convicted for extortion on November 6 and sentenced to ten and eight years behind bars, respectively.

The Disney studio was able to eventually bounce back, as did Bioff, for a time. In 1942 he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators to lessen his sentence, and he was released in 1944. He joined the witness protection program, and moved with his wife to Phoenix under the surname “Wilson.”

Then on the morning of November 4, 1955 Bioff turned the ignition of his car in the driveway and blew up. The mob had finally caught up with him.

[For more on Bioff, check out Shadow of the Racketeer by David Witwer.]


Jake Friedman is an author and artist. He studied animation at NYU’s Tisch school of the Arts, and was an artist for animated television shows on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, as well as Saturday Night Live, the independent film Sita Sings the Blues and the 2013 feature from Blue Sky Studios, Epic. He has been the east coast correspondent for Animation Magazine, and has contributed over 60 articles for publications like the Huffington Post, the Philadelphia Daily News, Animation and Animation World Network. He currently splits his time between writing and teaching art in the college classroom.

In 2011 he was authorized by the estate of Art Babbitt to be Babbitt’s official biographer. His first book on animation will be on the shelves in 2014. His biography on Art Babbitt will be his second book.

(He is also the result of a “picket romance” between two striking school teachers)
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:59 am

Part 1 of 2

RKO Pictures
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/28/19



RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Former type
Industry Motion pictures
Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation
Film Booking Offices of America
Founded October 23, 1928; 90 years ago (as RKO Productions Inc., subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp.)
Founder David Sarnoff
Defunct 7 March 1959; 60 years ago (de facto)
Headquarters 1270 Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan, New York City, US
Radio Corporation of America (Technicolor SA)
Atlas Corporation
General Tire and Rubber Company (ARH)
TimberForest Pictures, Inc. (15%)
Website Edit this on Wikidata

RKO Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO)[1] it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) theater chain and Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) studio were brought together under the control of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October 1928.[a] RCA chief David Sarnoff engineered the merger to create a market for the company's sound-on-film technology, RCA Photophone. By the mid-1940s, the studio was under the control of investor Floyd Odlum.

RKO has long been renowned for its cycle of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the mid- to late 1930s. Actors Katharine Hepburn and, later, Robert Mitchum had their first major successes at the studio. Cary Grant was a mainstay for years. The work of producer Val Lewton's low-budget horror unit and RKO's many ventures into the field now known as film noir have been acclaimed, largely after the fact, by film critics and historians. The studio produced two of the most famous films in motion picture history: King Kong and Citizen Kane. RKO was also responsible for notable co-productions such as It's a Wonderful Life and Notorious, and it also distributed many celebrated films by animation producer Walt Disney (from 1937 to the mid-50s) and leading independent producer Samuel Goldwyn.

Maverick industrialist Howard Hughes took over RKO in 1948. After years of disarray and decline under his control, the studio was acquired by the General Tire and Rubber Company in 1955. The original RKO Pictures ceased production in 1957 and was effectively dissolved two years later. In 1981, broadcaster RKO General, the corporate heir, revived the studio as a production subsidiary, RKO Pictures Inc. In 1989, this business, with its remaining assets, including the trademarks and remake rights to many classic RKO films, was sold to new owners, who now operate the small independent company RKO Pictures LLC.

Origin of company

In October 1927, Warner Bros. released The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length talking picture. Its success prompted Hollywood to convert from silent to sound film production en masse. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) controlled an advanced optical sound-on-film system, Photophone, recently developed by General Electric, RCA's parent company. However, its hopes of joining in the anticipated boom in sound movies faced a major hurdle: Warner Bros. and Fox, Hollywood's other vanguard sound studio, were already financially and technologically aligned with ERPI, a subsidiary of AT&T's Western Electric division. The industry's two largest companies, Paramount and Loew's/MGM, with two other major studios, Universal and First National, were poised to contract with ERPI for sound conversion as well.[2]

Early Radio-Keith-Orpheum logo

Seeking a customer for Photophone, in late 1927 David Sarnoff, then general manager of RCA, approached Joseph P. Kennedy about using the system for Kennedy's modest-sized studio, Film Booking Offices of America (FBO). Negotiations resulted in General Electric acquiring a substantial interest in FBO—Sarnoff had apparently already conceived of a plan for the company to attain a central position in the film industry, maximizing Photophone revenue. Next on the agenda was securing a string of exhibition venues like those the leading Hollywood production companies owned. Kennedy began investigating the possibility of such a purchase. Around that time, the large Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) circuit of theaters, built around the then-fading medium of live vaudeville, was attempting a transition to the movie business. In mid-1927, the filmmaking operations of Pathé (U.S.) and Cecil B. De Mille had united under KAO's control. Early in 1928, KAO general manager John J. Murdock, who had assumed the presidency of Pathé, turned to Kennedy as an adviser in consolidating the studio with De Mille's company, Producers Distributing Corporation (PDC). This was the relationship Sarnoff and Kennedy sought.[3][4]

After an aborted attempt by Kennedy to bring yet another studio that had turned to him for help, First National, into the Photophone fold, RCA was ready to step back in: the company acquired Kennedy's stock in both FBO and the KAO theater business. On October 23, 1928, RCA announced the creation of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp. holding company, with Sarnoff as chairman of the board. Kennedy, who withdrew from his executive positions in the merged companies, kept Pathé separate from RKO and under his personal control.[3][5] RCA owned the governing stock interest in RKO, 22 percent (in the early 1930s, its share would rise as high as 60 percent).[6] On January 25, 1929, the new company's production arm, presided over by former FBO vice-president Joseph I. Schnitzer, was unveiled as RKO Productions Inc.[7] A week later, it filed for the trademark "Radio Pictures".[8] Looking to get out of the film business the following year, Kennedy arranged in late 1930 for RKO to purchase Pathé from him. On January 29, 1931, Pathé, with its contract players, well-regarded newsreel operation, and Culver City studio and backlot, was merged into RKO as Kennedy sold off the last of his stock in the company he had been instrumental in creating.[9]

[b]Golden Age studio

Early years

Rio Rita (1929), first smash hit for RKO (then releasing films under the "Radio Pictures" banner)

RKO began production at the small facility FBO shared with Pathé in New York City while the main FBO studio in Hollywood was technologically refitted.[10] In charge of production was William LeBaron, who had held the same position at FBO. The new company's two initial releases were musicals: The melodramatic Syncopation, which actually completed shooting before FBO was reincorporated as RKO, premiered on March 29, 1929.[11] The comedic Street Girl debuted July 30. This was billed as RKO's first "official" production and its first to be shot in Hollywood.[12][c] A few nonsinging pictures followed, but the studio's first major hit was again a musical. RKO spent heavily on the lavish Rio Rita, including a number of Technicolor sequences. Opening in September to rave reviews, it was named one of the ten best pictures of the year by Film Daily.[13] Cinema historian Richard Barrios credits it with initiating the "first age of the filmed Broadway musical".[14] By the end of the year, RKO was making use of an additional production facility—five hundred acres had been acquired near Encino in the San Fernando Valley as a movie ranch for exteriors and large-scale standing sets,[15], AKA; RKO Encino Movie Ranch.

RKO released a limited slate of twelve features in its first year; in 1930, that figure more than doubled to twenty-nine.[16] Initially organized as the distinct business entities RKO Productions Inc. and RKO Distributing Corp., by July the studio was making a transition into the new, unified RKO Radio Pictures Inc.[17] Encouraged by Rio Rita's success, RKO produced several costly musicals incorporating Technicolor sequences, among them Dixiana and Hit the Deck, both scripted and directed, like Rio Rita, by Luther Reed.[18] Following the example of the other major studios, RKO had planned to create its own musical revue, Radio Revels. Promoted as the studio's most extravagant production to date, it was to be photographed entirely in Technicolor.[19] The project was abandoned, however, as the public's taste for musicals temporarily subsided. From a total of more than sixty Hollywood musicals in 1929 and over eighty the following year, the number dropped to eleven in 1931.[20] RKO was left in a bind: it still had a contract with Technicolor to produce two more features with its system. Complicating matters, audiences had come to associate color with the momentarily out-of-favor musical genre due to a glut of such productions from the major Hollywood studios. Fulfilling its obligations, RKO produced two all-Technicolor pictures, The Runaround and Fanny Foley Herself (both 1931), containing no musical sequences. Neither was a success.[21]

Even as the U.S. economy foundered, RKO had gone on a spending spree, buying up theater after theater to add to its exhibition chain. In October 1930, the company purchased a 50 percent stake in the New York Van Beuren studio, which specialized in cartoons and live shorts.[22] RKO's production schedule soon surpassed forty features a year, released under the names "Radio Pictures" and, for a short time after the 1931 merger, "RKO Pathé". Cimarron (1931), produced by LeBaron himself, would become the only RKO production to win the Academy Award for Best Picture; nonetheless, having cost a profligate $1.4 million to make, it was a money-loser on original domestic release.[23][d] The most popular RKO star of this pre-Code era was Irene Dunne, who made her debut as the lead in the 1930 musical Leathernecking and was a headliner at the studio for the entire decade.[24] Other major performers included Joel McCrea, Ricardo Cortez, Dolores del Río, and Mary Astor. Richard Dix, Oscar-nominated for his lead performance in Cimarron, would serve as RKO's standby B-movie star until the early 1940s.[25] The comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, often wrangling over ingenue Dorothy Lee, was a bankable mainstay for years.[26] Constance Bennett, Ann Harding, and Helen Twelvetrees came over with Pathé.[27] The Pathé acquisition, though a defensible investment in the long term for its physical facilities, was yet another major expense borne by the fledgling RKO, particularly as Pathé's stock price had been artificially inflated by some prepurchase finagling.[28] After little more than a year of semiautonomous operation within RKO, Pathé was dissolved as a feature production unit.[29]

Success under Selznick

King Kong (1933), one of Hollywood's great spectacles

Exceptions like Cimarron and Rio Rita aside, RKO's product was largely regarded as mediocre, so in October 1931 Sarnoff hired twenty-nine-year-old David O. Selznick to replace LeBaron as production chief.[30] In addition to implementing rigorous cost-control measures, Selznick championed the unit production system, which gave the producers of individual movies much greater independence than they had under the prevailing central producer system. "Under the factory system of production you rob the director of his individualism", said Selznick, "and this being a creative industry that is harmful to the quality of the product made."[31] Instituting unit production, he predicted, would also result in cost savings of 30–40 percent.[31] To make films under the new system, Selznick recruited prize behind-the-camera personnel, such as director George Cukor and producer/director Merian C. Cooper, and gave producer Pandro S. Berman, aged twenty-six, increasingly important projects.[32] Selznick discovered and signed a young actress who would quickly be counted as one of the studio's big stars, Katharine Hepburn. John Barrymore was also enlisted for a few memorable performances.[33] From September 1932 on, print advertising for the company's features displayed the revised name "RKO Radio Pictures"; the Pathé name was used only for newsreels and documentaries.[e] That year, the New York City–based corporate headquarters moved into the new RKO Building, an Art Deco skyscraper that was one of the first Rockefeller Center structures to open.[34]

Selznick spent a mere fifteen months as RKO production chief, resigning over a dispute with new corporate president Merlin Aylesworth concerning creative control.[35] One of his last acts at RKO was to approve a screen test for a thirty-three-year-old, balding Broadway song-and-dance man named Fred Astaire.[36] In a memo, Selznick wrote, "I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is ... tremendous".[37] Selznick's tenure was widely considered masterful: In 1931, before he arrived, the studio had produced forty-two features for $16 million in total budgets. In 1932, under Selznick, forty-one features were made for $10.2 million, with clear improvement in quality and popularity.[38] He backed several major successes, including A Bill of Divorcement (1932), with Cukor directing Hepburn's debut, and the monumental King Kong (1933)—largely Merian Cooper's brainchild, brought to life by the astonishing special effects work of Willis O'Brien.[39] Still, the shaky finances and excesses that marked the company's pre-Selznick days had not left RKO in shape to withstand the Depression; in early 1933, the studio sank into receivership, from which it did not emerge until 1940.[40]

Cooper at the helm

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the only performers ever to make the annual list of top box office stars while with RKO.[41] Top Hat (1935) was the third of the eight films in which they costarred between 1934 and 1939.

Cooper took over as production head after Selznick's departure and oversaw two hits starring Hepburn: Morning Glory (1933), for which she won her first Oscar, and Little Women (1933), director Cukor's second collaboration with the actress.[42] Among the studio's in-house productions, the latter was the biggest box-office success of the decade.[43] Ginger Rogers had already made several minor films for RKO when Cooper signed her to a seven-year contract and cast her in the big-budget musical Flying Down to Rio (1933).[44] Rogers was paired with Fred Astaire, making his movie debut. Billed fourth and fifth respectively, the picture turned them into stars.[45] Hermes Pan, assistant to the film's dance director, would become one of Hollywood's leading choreographers through his subsequent work with Astaire.[46][47]

Along with Columbia Pictures, RKO became one of the primary homes of the screwball comedy. As film historian James Harvey describes, compared to their richer competition, the two studios were "more receptive to experiment, more tolerant of chaos on the set. It was at these two lesser 'majors'...that nearly all the preeminent screwball directors did their important films—[Howard] Hawks and [Gregory] La Cava and [Leo] McCarey and [George] Stevens."[48] The relatively unheralded William A. Seiter directed the studio's first significant contribution to the genre, The Richest Girl in the World (1934).[49] The drama Of Human Bondage (1934), directed by John Cromwell, was Bette Davis's first great success.[50] Stevens's Alice Adams and director John Ford's The Informer were each nominated for the 1935 Best Picture Oscar—the Best Director statuette won by Ford was the only one ever given for an RKO production.[51] The Informer's star, Victor McLaglen, also took home an Academy Award; he would appear in a dozen movies for the studio over a span of two decades.[52]

Lacking the financial resources of industry leaders MGM, Paramount, and Fox, RKO turned out many pictures during the era that made up for it with high style in an Art Deco mode, exemplified by such Astaire–Rogers musicals as The Gay Divorcee (1934), their first pairing as leads, and Top Hat (1935).[53] One of the figures most responsible for that style was another Selznick recruit: Van Nest Polglase, chief of RKO's highly regarded design department for almost a decade.[54][55] Film historian James Naremore has described RKO as "chiefly a designer's studio. It never had a stable of important actors, writers, or directors, but ... it was rich in artists and special-effects technicians. As a result, its most distinctive pictures contained a strong element of fantasy—not so much the fantasy of horror, which during the thirties was the province of Universal, but the fantasy of the marvelous and adventurous."[56]

As a group, the studio's craft divisions were among the strongest in the industry.[54][57] Costumer Walter Plunkett, who worked with the company from the close of the FBO era through the end of 1939, was known as the top period wardrobist in the business.[58] Sidney Saunders, innovative head of the studio's paint department, was responsible for significant progress in rear projection quality.[59] On June 13, 1935, RKO premiered the first feature film shot entirely in advanced three-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp. The movie was coproduced with Pioneer Pictures, founded by Cooper—who departed RKO after two years helming production—and John Hay "Jock" Whitney, who brought in his cousin Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney; Cooper had successfully encouraged the Whitneys to purchase a major share of the Technicolor business as well.[60] Although judged by critics a failure as drama, Becky Sharp was widely lauded for its visual brilliance and technical expertise.[61] RKO also employed some of the industry's leading artists and craftsmen whose work was never seen. From the studio's earliest days through late 1935, Max Steiner, regarded by many historians as the most influential composer of the early years of sound cinema, made music for over 100 RKO films.[47][62] Murray Spivak, head of the studio's audio special effects department, made important advances in the use of rerecording technology first heard in King Kong.[63]

Briskin and Berman

In October 1935 the ownership team expanded, with financier Floyd Odlum leading a syndicate that bought 50 percent of RCA's stake in the company; the Rockefeller brothers, also major stockholders, increasingly became involved in the business.[64] While RKO kept missing the mark in building Hepburn's career, major stars Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyck joined the studio's roster—though Stanwyck would have little success during her few years there. Grant was a trendsetter, one of the first leading men of the sound era to work extensively as a freelancer, under nonexclusive studio deals, while his star was still on the rise.[65][f] Ann Sothern starred in seven RKO films between 1935 and 1937, paired five times with Gene Raymond.[66]

Katharine Hepburn's last film for RKO was a bomb. Today, Bringing Up Baby (1938) is regarded as one of the finest screwball comedies.[67]

Soon after the appointment of a new production chief, Samuel Briskin, in late 1935, RKO entered into an important distribution deal with animator Walt Disney (Van Beuren consequently folded its cartoon operations).[68] From 1936 to 1954, RKO distributed features and shorts from Walt Disney, and the studio he founded, before it, itself, became a distributor, with the creation of the Buena Vista Pictures Distribution division of Walt Disney Productions. In its initial release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disney's first feature, was the highest-grossing movie in the period between The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Gone with the Wind (1939).[69]

Following the change in print branding a few years earlier, the opening and closing logos on RKO movies, other than the Pathé nonfiction line, were changed from "Radio Pictures" to "RKO Radio Pictures" in 1936. In February 1937, Selznick, now a leading independent producer, took over RKO's Culver City studio and Forty Acres, as the backlot was known, under a long-term lease. Gone with the Wind, his coproduction with MGM, was largely shot there.[70][g] In addition to its central Hollywood studio, RKO production now revolved around its Encino ranch. While the Disney association was beneficial, RKO's own product was widely seen as declining in quality and Briskin was gone by the end of the year.[71][72]

Pandro Berman—who had filled in on three previous occasions—accepted the position of production chief on a noninterim basis. As it turned out, he would leave the job before the decade's turn, but his brief tenure resulted in some of the most notable films in studio history, including Gunga Din, with Grant and McLaglen; Love Affair, starring Dunne and Charles Boyer; and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (all 1939).[73] Charles Laughton, who gave a now fabled performance as Quasimodo in the latter, returned periodically to the studio, headlining six more RKO features.[74] For Maureen O'Hara, who made her American screen debut in the film, it was the first of ten pictures she would make for RKO through 1952.[75] After costarring with Ginger Rogers for the eighth time in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Fred Astaire departed the studio.[76]

The studio's B Western star of the period was George O'Brien, who made eighteen RKO pictures, sixteen between 1938 and 1940. The Saint in New York (1938) successfully launched a B detective series featuring the character Simon Templar that would run through 1943.[77] The Wheeler and Woolsey comedy series ended in 1937 when Woolsey became ill (he died the following year). RKO filled the void by releasing independently produced features such as the Dr. Christian series and the Laurel and Hardy comedy The Flying Deuces (1939).[78] The studio soon had its own new B comedy star in Lupe Vélez: The Girl from Mexico (1939) was followed by seven frantic installments of the Mexican Spitfire series, all featuring Leon Errol, between 1940 and 1943.[77] The studio's technical departments maintained their reputation as industry leaders; Vernon Walker's special effects unit became famous for its sophisticated use of the optical printer and lifelike matte work, an art that would reach its apex with 1941's Citizen Kane.[79]

Kane and Schaefer's troubles

Orson Welles in the title role of Citizen Kane (1941), often cited as the greatest film of all time.[80]

Pan Berman had received his first screen credit in 1925 as a nineteen-year-old assistant director on FBO's Midnight Molly.[81] He departed RKO in December 1939 after policy clashes with studio president George J. Schaefer, handpicked the previous year by the Rockefellers and backed by Sarnoff.[82] With Berman gone, Schaefer became in effect production chief, though other men—including the former head of the industry censorship board, Joseph I. Breen—nominally filled the role.[83] Schaefer, announcing his philosophy with a new studio slogan, "Quality Pictures at a Premium Price", was keen on signing up independent producers whose films RKO would distribute.[84] In 1941, the studio landed one of the most prestigious independents in Hollywood when it arranged to handle Samuel Goldwyn's productions. The first two Goldwyn pictures released by the studio were highly successful: The Little Foxes, directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, garnered four Oscar nominations,[85] while the Howard Hawks–directed Ball of Fire at last brought Barbara Stanwyck a hit under the RKO banner. However, Schaefer agreed to terms so favorable to Goldwyn that it was next to impossible for the studio to make money off his films.[86] David O. Selznick loaned out his leading contracted director for two RKO pictures in 1941: Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a modest success and Suspicion a more substantial one, with an Oscar-winning turn by Joan Fontaine.[h]

That May, having granted twenty-five-year-old star and director Orson Welles virtually complete creative control over the film, RKO released Citizen Kane.[ i] While it opened to strong reviews and would go on to be hailed as one of the greatest movies ever made, it lost money at the time and brought down the wrath of the Hearst newspaper chain on RKO.[87] The next year saw the commercial failure of Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons—like Kane, critically lauded and overbudget—and the expensive embarrassment of his aborted documentary It's All True.[88] The three Welles productions combined to drain $2 million from the RKO coffers, major money for a corporation that had reported an overall deficit of $1 million in 1940 and a nominal profit of a bit more than $500,000 in 1941.[j] Many of RKO's other artistically ambitious pictures were also dying at the box office and it was losing its last exclusive deal with a major star as well. Rogers, after winning an Oscar in 1941 for her performance in the previous year's Kitty Foyle, held out for a freelance contract like Grant's; after 1943, she would appear in just one more RKO production, thirteen years later.[89] On June 17, 1942, Schaefer tendered his resignation.[90] He departed a weakened and troubled studio, but RKO was about to turn the corner. Propelled by the box-office boom of World War II and guided by new management, RKO would make a strong comeback over the next half-decade.[91]

Rebound under Koerner

By the end of June 1942, Floyd Odlum had taken over a controlling interest in the company via his Atlas Corporation, edging aside the Rockefellers and Sarnoff. Charles Koerner, former head of the RKO theater chain and allied with Odlum, had assumed the title of production chief some time prior to Schaefer's departure.[92] With Schaefer gone, Koerner could actually do the job. Announcing a new corporate motto, "Showmanship in Place of Genius: A New Deal at RKO", a snipe at Schaefer's artistic ambitions in general and his sponsorship of Welles in particular,[93] Koerner brought the studio much-needed stability until his death in February 1946.[94] The change in RKO's fortunes was virtually immediate: corporate profits rose from $736,241 in 1942 (the theatrical division compensating for the studio's $2.34 million deficit) to $6.96 million the following year.[95] The Rockefellers sold off their stock and, early in 1943, RCA dispensed with the last of its holdings in the company as well, cutting David Sarnoff's ties to the studio that was largely his conception.[96] In June 1944, RKO created a television production subsidiary, RKO Television Corporation, to provide content for the new medium. RKO became the first major studio to produce for television with Talk Fast, Mister, a one-hour drama filmed at RKO-Pathé studios in New York and broadcast by the DuMont network's New York station, WABD, on December 18, 1944. In collaboration with Mexican businessman Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, RKO established Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City in 1945.[97]

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946). RKO made over $1 million profit on the coproduction with David O. Selznick's Vanguard Films.[98]

With RKO on increasingly secure ground, Koerner sought to increase its output of handsomely budgeted, star-driven features. However, the studio's only remaining major stars under anything like extended contracts were Grant, whose services were shared with Columbia Pictures, and O'Hara, shared with Twentieth Century-Fox.[99][100] Lacking in-house stars, Koerner and his successors under Odlum arranged with the other studios to loan out their biggest names or signed one of the growing number of freelance performers to short-term, "pay or play" deals. Thus RKO pictures of the mid- and late forties offered Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, and others who were out of the studio's price range for extended contracts.[101] John Wayne appeared in 1943's A Lady Takes a Chance while on loan from Republic Pictures; he was soon working regularly with RKO, making nine more movies for the studio.[102] Gary Cooper appeared in RKO releases produced by Goldwyn and, later, the startup International Pictures,[103] and Claudette Colbert starred in a number of RKO coproductions.[104] Ingrid Bergman, on loan out from Selznick, starred opposite Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), a coproduction with director Leo McCarey. The top box-office film of the year, it turned a $3.7 million profit for RKO, the most in the company's history.[105] Bergman returned in the coproductions Notorious (1946) and Stromboli (1950), and in the independently produced Joan of Arc (1948).[106] Freelancing Randolph Scott appeared in one major RKO release annually from 1943 through 1948.[107]

In similar fashion, many leading directors made one or more films for RKO during this era, including Alfred Hitchcock once more, with Notorious, and Jean Renoir, with This Land Is Mine (1943), reuniting Laughton and O'Hara, and The Woman on the Beach (1947).[108] RKO and Orson Welles had an arm's-length reunion via The Stranger (1946), an independent production he starred in as well as directed. Welles would subsequently call it his worst film, but it was the only one he ever made that turned a profit in its first run.[109] In December 1946, the studio released Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life; while it would ultimately be recognized as one of the greatest films of Hollywood's Golden Age, at the time it lost more than half a million dollars for RKO.[110] John Ford's The Fugitive (1947) and Fort Apache (1948), which appeared right before studio ownership changed hands again, were followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Wagon Master (1950); all four were coproductions between RKO and Argosy, the company run by Ford and RKO alumnus Merian C. Cooper.[111] Of the directors under long-term contract to RKO in the 1940s, the best known was Edward Dmytryk, who first came to notice with the remarkably profitable Hitler's Children (1943). Shot on a $205,000 budget, placing it in the bottom quartile of Big Five studio productions, it was one of the ten biggest Hollywood hits of the year.[112][k] Another low-cost war-themed film directed by Dmytryk, Behind the Rising Sun, released a few months later, was similarly profitable.[43][113]

Focus on B movies

Film art at low budget: I Walked with a Zombie (1943), produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur

Much more than the other Big Five studios, RKO relied on B pictures to fill up its schedule. Of the thirty-one features released by RKO in 1944, for instance, ten were budgeted below $200,000, twelve were in the $200,000 to $500,000 range, and only nine cost more. In contrast, a clear majority of the features put out by the other top four studios were budgeted at over half a million dollars.[114] A focus on B pictures limited the studio's financial risk; while it also limited the potential for reward (Dmytryk's extraordinary coups aside), RKO had a history of making better profits with its run-of-the-mill and low-cost product than with its A movies.[6] The studio's low-budget films offered training opportunities for new directors, as well, among them Mark Robson, Robert Wise, and Anthony Mann.[115][116] Robson and Wise received their first directing assignments with producer Val Lewton, whose specialized B horror unit also included the more experienced director Jacques Tourneur. The Lewton unit's moody, atmospheric work—represented by films such as Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and The Body Snatcher (1945)—is now highly regarded.[115][117] Richard Dix concluded his lengthy RKO career with the 1943 Lewton production The Ghost Ship.[118] Tim Holt was RKO's cowboy star of the era, appearing in forty-six B Westerns and more than fifty movies altogether for the studio.[119] In 1940, Chester Lauck and Norris Goff brought their famous comic characters Lum and Abner from radio to RKO for a six-film run.[120] The Falcon detective series began in 1941; the Saint and the Falcon were so similar that Saint creator Leslie Charteris sued RKO.[121] The Falcon was first played by George Sanders, who had appeared five times as the Saint. He bowed out after four Falcon films and was replaced by his brother, Tom Conway. Conway had a nine-film run in the part before the series ended in 1946. Johnny Weissmuller starred in six Tarzan pictures for RKO between 1943 and 1948 before being replaced by Lex Barker.[66]

Film noir, to which lower budgets lent themselves, became something of a house style at the studio, indeed, the RKO B Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) is widely seen as initiating noir's classic period.[122] Its cinematographer, Nicholas Musuraca, who began at FBO in the 1920s and stayed with RKO through 1954, is a central figure in creating the look of classic noir.[123] Design chief Albert D'Agostino—another long-termer, who succeeded Van Nest Polglase in 1941—and art director Walter Keller, along with others in the department, such as art directors Carroll Clark and Jack Okey and set decorator Darrell Silvera, are similarly credited.[124] The studio's 1940s list of contract players was filled with noir regulars: Robert Mitchum (who graduated to major star status) and Robert Ryan each made no fewer than ten film noirs for RKO.[125] Gloria Grahame, Jane Greer, and Lawrence Tierney were also notable studio players in the field.[126] Freelancer George Raft starred in two noir hits: Johnny Angel (1945) and Nocturne (1946).[127] Tourneur, Musuraca, Mitchum, and Greer, along with D'Agostino's design group, joined to make the A-budgeted Out of the Past (1947), now considered one of the greatest of all film noirs.[128] Nicholas Ray began his directing career with the noir They Live by Night (1948), the first of a number of well-received films he made for RKO.[129]

HUAC and Howard Hughes

Crossfire (1947) was a hit, but no American studio would hire blacklisted director Edward Dmytryk again until he named names to HUAC in 1951.[130] Producer Adrian Scott wouldn't get another screen credit for two decades. He died before he could see it.[131]

RKO, and the movie industry as a whole, had its most profitable year ever in 1946. A Goldwyn production released by RKO, The Best Years of Our Lives, was the most successful Hollywood film of the decade and won that year's Academy Award for Best Picture.[132] But the legal status of the industry's reigning business model was increasingly being called into doubt: the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bigelow v. RKO that the company was liable for damages under antitrust statutes for having denied an independent movie house access to first run films—a common practice among all of the Big Five.[133] With profits at a high point, Floyd Odlum cashed in by selling off about 40 percent of his shares in the company to a group of investment firms.[134] After Koerner's death, Radio-Keith-Orpheum president N. Peter Rathvon and RKO Radio Pictures president Ned Depinet had exchanged positions, with Depinet moving to the corporate offices in New York and Rathvon relocating to Hollywood and doubling as production chief while a permanent replacement was sought for Koerner. On the first day of 1947, producer and Oscar-winning screenwriter Dore Schary, who had been working at the studio on loan from Selznick, took over the role.[135]

RKO appeared in good shape to build on its recent successes, but the year brought a number of unpleasant harbingers for all of Hollywood. The British government imposed a 75 percent tax on films produced abroad; along with similarly confiscatory taxes and quota laws enacted by other countries, this led to a sharp decline in foreign revenues.[136][137] The postwar attendance boom peaked sooner than expected and television emerged as a competitor for audience interest. Across the board, profits fell—a 27 percent drop for the Hollywood studios from 1946 to 1947.[138] The phenomenon that would become known as McCarthyism was building strength, and in October, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began hearings into Communism in the motion picture industry. Two of RKO's top talents, Dmytryk and producer Adrian Scott, refused to cooperate. As a consequence, they were fired by RKO per the terms of the Waldorf Statement, the major studios' pledge to "eliminate any subversives". Scott, Dmytryk, and eight others who also defied HUAC—dubbed the Hollywood Ten—were blacklisted across the industry.[139] Ironically, the studio's major success of the year was Crossfire, a Scott–Dmytryk film.[140] Odlum concluded it was time to exit the film business, and he put his remaining RKO shares—approximately 25 percent of the outstanding stock—on the market.[141] Before the turn of the year, the Pathé-branded newsreel was sold to Warner Bros.[137] For her performance in The Farmer's Daughter (1947), a coproduction with Selznick's Vanguard Films, Loretta Young won the Best Actress Oscar the following March. It would turn out to be the last major Academy Award for an RKO picture.[142]

In May 1948, eccentric aviation tycoon and occasional movie producer Howard Hughes gained control of the company, beating out British film magnate J. Arthur Rank as the buyer of Odlum's interest.[143] Hughes bought Atlas Corporation's 929,000 shares for $8,825,000. Hughes promptly fired 700 employees, and RKO production, which had averaged 30 pictures per year, dwindled to 9 the first year Hughes took over.[144] During Hughes's tenure, RKO suffered its worst years since the early 1930s, as his capricious management style took a heavy toll. Production chief Schary quit almost immediately due to his new boss's interference and Rathvon soon followed.[145] Within weeks of taking over, Hughes had dismissed three-fourths of the work force; production was virtually shut down for six months as the conservative Hughes shelved or canceled several of the "message pictures" that Schary had backed. Once shooting picked up again, Hughes quickly became notorious for meddling in minute production matters, particularly the presentation of actresses he favored.[146] All of the Big Five saw their profits dwindle in 1948—from Fox, down 11 percent, to Loew's/MGM, down 62 percent—but at RKO they virtually vanished: from $5.1 million in 1947 to $0.5 million, a drop of 90 percent.[147] The production-distribution end of the RKO business, now deep in the red, would never make a profit again.[148]

Offscreen, Robert Mitchum's arrest and conviction for marijuana possession—he would serve two months in jail—was widely assumed to mean career death for RKO's most promising young star, but Hughes surprised the industry by announcing that his contract was not endangered.[149] Of much broader significance, Hughes decided to get the jump on his Big Five competitors by being the first to settle the federal government's antitrust suit against the major studios, which had won a crucial Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. Under the consent decree he signed, Hughes agreed to dissolve the old parent company, Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp., and split RKO's production-distribution business and its exhibition chain into two entirely separate corporations—RKO Pictures Corp. and RKO Theatres Corp.—with the obligation to promptly sell off one or the other. While Hughes delayed the divorcement procedure until December 1950 and didn't actually sell his stock in the theater company for another three years, his decision to acquiesce was one of the crucial steps in the collapse of classical Hollywood's studio system.[150]

Turmoil under Hughes

Robert Mitchum, RKO's most prolific lead of the late 1940s and early 1950s,[99] costarred in Macao (1952) with Jane Russell, who was personally contracted to Howard Hughes.[151] Director Josef von Sternberg's work was combined with scenes shot by Nicholas Ray and Mel Ferrer.[152]

While Hughes's time at RKO was marked by dwindling production and a slew of expensive flops, the studio continued to turn out some well-received films under production chiefs Sid Rogell and Sam Bischoff, though both became fed up with Hughes's meddling and quit after less than two years. (Bischoff would be the last man to hold the job under Hughes.)[153] There were B noirs such as The Window (1949), which turned into a hit,[154] and The Set-Up (1949), directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Ryan, which won the Critic's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.[155] The Thing from Another World (1951), a science-fiction drama coproduced with Howard Hawks's Winchester Pictures, is seen as a classic of the genre.[156] In 1952, RKO put out two films directed by Fritz Lang, Rancho Notorious and Clash by Night. The latter was a project of the renowned Jerry Wald–Norman Krasna production team, lured by Hughes from Warner Bros. with great fanfare in August 1950.[157]

The company also began a close working relationship with Ida Lupino. She starred in two suspense films with Robert Ryan—Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1952, though shooting had been completed two years earlier) and Beware, My Lovely (1952), a coproduction between RKO and Lupino's company, The Filmakers.[158] Of more historic note, Lupino was Hollywood's only female director during the period; of the five pictures The Filmakers made with RKO, Lupino directed three, including her now celebrated The Hitch-Hiker (1953).[159] Exposing many moviegoers to Asian cinema for the first time, RKO distributed Akira Kurosawa's epochal Rashomon in the United States, sixteen months after its original 1950 Japanese release.[160] The only smash hits released by RKO in the 1950s came out during this period, but neither was an in-house production: Goldwyn's Hans Christian Andersen (1952) was followed by Disney's Peter Pan (1953).[43][161]

In early 1952, Hughes fought off a lawsuit by screenwriter Paul Jarrico, who had been caught up in the latest round of HUAC hearings—Hughes had fired him and removed his name from the credits of The Las Vegas Story, then a recently released film noir starring one of his leading ladies at the studio, Jane Russell. The studio owner subsequently ordered 100 RKO employees on "leave of absence" while he established a "security office" to oversee an ideological vetting system. "We are going to screen everyone in a creative or executive capacity", he declared. "The work of Communist sympathizers will not be used."[162] As more credits were expunged, some in the industry began to question whether Hughes's hunt for subversives served primarily as a convenient rationale for further curtailing production and trimming expenses.[163]

In September, Hughes and his corporate president, Ned E. Depinet, sold their RKO studio stock to a Chicago-based syndicate with no experience in the movie business; the syndicate's chaotic reign lasted until February 1953, when the stock and control were reacquired by Hughes.[164] The studio's net loss in 1952 was over $10 million, and shooting had taken place for just a single in-house production over the last five months of the year.[165] During the turmoil, Samuel Goldwyn ended his 11-year-long distribution deal with RKO. Wald and Krasna escaped their contracts and the studio as well. The deal that brought the team to RKO had called for them to produce sixty features over five years; in just shy of half that time, they succeeded in making four.[166] The Encino ranch shut down permanently in 1953 and the property was sold off.[167] In November, Hughes finally fulfilled his obligations under the 1948 consent decree, divesting RKO Theatres; Albert A. List purchased the controlling interest in the business and renamed it List Industries.[168] Hughes soon found himself the target of no fewer than five separate lawsuits filed by minority shareholders in RKO, accusing him of malfeasance in his dealings with the Chicago group and a wide array of acts of mismanagement. "RKO's contract list is down to three actors and 127 lawyers", quipped Dick Powell.[169]

Looking to forestall the impending legal imbroglio, in early 1954 Hughes offered to buy out all of RKO's other stockholders.

Convinced that the studio was sinking, and after a dispute with Hughes over the distribution of his nature documentary series True-Life Adventures,[170] Walt Disney ended his arrangement with RKO and created his own distribution firm, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., as a wholly owned subsidiary.[171]

By the end of the year, at a cost of $23.5 million, Hughes had gained near-total control of RKO Pictures, becoming the first virtual (but not actual) sole owner of a studio since Hollywood's pioneer days. However, Floyd Odlum reemerged to block Hughes from acquiring the 95 percent ownership of RKO stock he needed to write off the company's losses against his earnings elsewhere. Hughes had reneged on his promise to give Odlum first option on buying the RKO theater chain when he divested it, and was now paying the price.[172] With negotiations between the two at a stalemate, in July 1955, Hughes turned around and sold RKO Pictures to the General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million.[173] For Hughes, this was the effective end of a quarter-century's involvement in the movie business. Historian Betty Lasky describes Hughes's relationship with RKO as a "systematic seven-year rape."[174]

General Tire and studio's demise

Jet Pilot, a Hughes pet production launched in 1949. Shooting wrapped in May 1951, but it was not released until 1957 due to his interminable tinkering. RKO was by then out of the distribution business. The movie was released by Universal-International.[175]

In taking control of the studio, General Tire restored RKO's links to broadcasting. General Tire had bought the Yankee Network, a New England regional radio network, in 1943.[176] In 1950, it purchased the West Coast regional Don Lee Broadcasting System,[177] and two years later, the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, owner of the WOR TV and radio stations in New York City.[178] The latter acquisition gave General Tire majority control of the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of America's leading radio networks.[179] General Tire then merged its broadcasting interests into a new division, General Teleradio.[180]

Thomas O'Neil, son of General Tire's founder William O'Neil and chairman of the broadcasting group, saw that the company's new television stations, indeed all TV outlets, were in need of programming. With the purchase of RKO, the studio's library was his, and rights to the 742 films to which RKO retained clear title were quickly put up for sale. C&C Television Corp., a subsidiary of beverage maker Cantrell & Cochrane, won the bidding in December 1955. It was soon offering the films to independent stations in a package called "MovieTime USA".[181][182] RKO Teleradio Pictures—the new company created from the merger of General Teleradio and the RKO studio—retained the broadcast rights for the cities where it owned TV stations. By 1956, RKO's classic movies were playing widely on television, allowing many to see such films as Citizen Kane for the first time. The $15.2 million RKO made on the deal convinced the other major studios that their libraries held profit potential—a turning point in the way Hollywood did business.[181][183]

The new owners of RKO made an initial effort to revive the studio, hiring veteran producer William Dozier to head production.[184][185] In the first half of 1956, the production facilities were as busy as they had been in a half-decade.[184][186] RKO Teleradio Pictures released Fritz Lang's final two American films, While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (both 1956), but years of mismanagement had driven away many directors, producers, and stars.[123] The studio was also saddled with the last of the inflated B movies such as Pearl of the South Pacific (1955) and The Conqueror (1956) that enchanted Hughes.[187] The latter, starring John Wayne, was the biggest hit produced at the studio during the decade, but its $4.5 million in North American rentals did not come close to covering its $6 million cost.[43]

On January 22, 1957, RKO announced that it was closing its domestic distribution exchanges from February 1 with distribution to be taken over by Universal-International but it planned to retain foreign distribution and move production to its Pathe lot in Culver City.[188] After a year and a half without a notable success, General Tire shut down production at RKO for good at the end of January 1957. The Hollywood and Culver City facilities were sold later that year for $6.15 million to Desilu Productions, owned by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who had been an RKO contract player from 1935 to 1942.[189] Desilu would be acquired by Gulf and Western Industries in 1967 and merged into G+W's other production company, Paramount Pictures; the former RKO Hollywood studio became home to Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios), which it remains to this day. The renovated Culver City studio is now owned and operated as an independent production facility.[190] Forty Acres, the Culver City backlot, was razed in the mid-1970s.[191] List Industries, the former RKO Theatres Corp., was acquired by Glen Alden Corp. in 1959. After Glen Alden's 1967 acquisition of the Stanley Warner theater group, the two chains were merged into RKO–Stanley Warner Theatres. Cinerama purchased the exhibition circuit from Glen Alden in 1971.[192]

The final RKO film, Verboten!, a coproduction with director Samuel Fuller's Globe Enterprises, was released by Columbia Pictures in March 1959.[193] That same year, "Pictures" was stripped from the corporate identity; the holding company for General Tire's broadcasting operation and the few remaining motion picture assets was renamed RKO General.[194][l] In the words of scholar Richard B. Jewell, "The supreme irony of RKO's existence is that the studio earned a position of lasting importance in cinema history largely because of its extraordinarily unstable history. Since it was the weakling of Hollywood's 'majors,' RKO welcomed a diverse group of individualistic creators and provided them...with an extraordinary degree of freedom to express their artistic idiosyncrasies.... [I]t never became predictable and it never became a factory."[195] By July 5, 1957, RKO Japan, Ltd. was sold to Walt Disney Productions and British Commonwealth Film Corporation. In allocating the foreign film licenses to RKO Japan, Disney would use 5 and Commonwealth 8.[196]

RKO General

Main article: RKO General

One of North America's major radio and television broadcasters from the 1950s through the late 1980s, RKO General traces its roots to the 1943 purchase of the Yankee Network by General Tire. In 1952, the company united its newly expanded broadcasting interests into a division dubbed General Teleradio. With the tire manufacturer's acquisition of the RKO film studio in 1955, its media businesses were brought together under the rubric of RKO Teleradio Pictures. In 1959, following the breakup of the movie studio, the media division was given the name it would operate under for the next three decades, RKO General. In addition to its broadcasting activities, RKO General was also the holding company for many of General Tire's (and, after its parent company's reorganization, GenCorp's) other noncore businesses, including soft-drink bottling, hotel enterprises, and, for seventeen years, the original Frontier Airlines.[197]

The RKO General radio lineup included some of the highest rated, most influential popular music stations in North America. In May 1965, KHJ (AM) in Los Angeles introduced the Boss Radio variation of the top 40 format. The restrictive programming style was soon adopted by many of RKO's other stations and imitated by non-RKO broadcasters around the country.[198] RKO's FM station in New York pioneered numerous formats under a variety of call letters, including WOR and WXLO ("99X"); in 1983, as WRKS ("98.7 Kiss FM"), it became one of the first major stations to regularly program rap music.[199] In 1979, RKO General created the RKO Radio Network, reportedly the first broadcasting web linked via satellite.[200]

The company's television stations, for the most part non–network affiliated, were known for showing classic films (both RKO productions and many others) under the banner of Million Dollar Movie, launched by New York's WOR-TV in 1954.[201] In June 1962, RKO General and Zenith Electronics initiated what became the first extended venture into subscription television service: through early 1969, Hartford, Connecticut's WHCT-TV aired movies, sports, classical and pop music concerts, and other live performances without commercials, generating income from descrambler installation and weekly rental fees as well as individual program charges.[202] However, RKO General's most notable legacy is what may be the longest licensing dispute in television history. It began in 1965, when General Tire was accused of obliging vendors to buy advertising with one of its stations if they wanted to keep their contracts. More than two decades' worth of legal actions ensued, eventually forcing GenCorp (the parent company since 1983 of both General Tire and RKO General) to sell off its broadcast holdings under FCC pressure. RKO General exited the media business permanently in 1991.[197][203]

Later incarnations

Beginning with 1981's Carbon Copy, RKO General became involved in the coproduction of a number of feature films and TV projects through a subsidiary created three years earlier, RKO Pictures Inc.[204] In collaboration with Universal Studios, RKO put out five films over the next three years. Although the studio frequently worked with major names—including Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Jack Nicholson in The Border, and Nastassja Kinski in Cat People (all 1982)—it met with little success. Starting with the Meryl Streep vehicle Plenty (1985), RKO took on more projects as sole studio backer. Films such as the erotic thriller Half Moon Street (1986) and the Vietnam War drama Hamburger Hill (1987) followed, but production ended as GenCorp underwent a massive reorganization following an attempted hostile takeover.[197] With RKO General dismantling its broadcast business, RKO Pictures Inc., along with the original RKO studio's trademark, remake rights, and other remaining assets, was spun off and put up for sale. After a bid by RKO Pictures' own management team failed, the managers made a deal with Wesray Capital Corporation—under the control of former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon and Ray Chambers—to buy RKO through Entertainment Acquisition Co., a newly created purchasing entity.[205] The sale was completed in late 1987, and Wesray linked RKO with its Six Flags amusement parks to form RKO/Six Flags Entertainment Inc.[206]

RKO Pictures LLC
Limited liability company (LLC)
Industry Motion pictures
Founded 1989; 30 years ago
Headquarters L.A. Office: 9200 W. Sunset Blvd. Suite 600, West Hollywood, CA 90069
N.Y. Office: 750 Lexington Ave. Suite 2200, New York, NY 10022
Key people
Ted Hartley (Chairman and CEO)
Dina Merrill (Vice Chairman)
Vanessa Coifman (Executive Vice President of Production and Development)
Divisions Roseblood Movie Co.
RKO Distribution
Website Edit this on Wikidata

In 1989, RKO Pictures, which had produced no films while under Wesray control, was spun off yet again. Actress and Post Cereals heiress Dina Merrill and her husband, producer Ted Hartley, acquired a majority interest and merged the company with their Pavilion Communications. After a brief period as RKO/Pavilion, the business was reorganized as RKO Pictures LLC.[207][208][209] With the inaugural RKO production under Hartley and Merrill's ownership, False Identity (1990), the company also stepped into the distribution business. In 1992, it handled the well-regarded independent production Laws of Gravity, directed by Nick Gomez.[210] RKO's next significant production came in 1998 with Mighty Joe Young, a remake of 1949 RKO movie. The film was distributed by Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and released under the "Walt Disney Pictures" trademark.[211] In the early 2000s, the company was involved as a coproducer on TV movies and modestly budgeted features at the rate of about one annually. In 2003, RKO coproduced a Broadway stage version of the 1936 Astaire–Rogers vehicle Swing Time, under the title Never Gonna Dance.[212]

That same year, RKO Pictures entered into a legal battle with Wall Street Financial Associates (WSFA). Hartley and Merrill claimed that the owners of WSFA fraudulently induced them into signing an acquisition agreement by concealing their "cynical and rapacious" plans to purchase RKO, with the intention only of dismantling it. WSFA sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting RKO's majority owners from selling their interests in the company to any third parties.[213] The WSFA motion was denied in July 2003, freeing RKO to deal with another potential purchaser, In 2004, that planned sale fell through when apparently folded.[214] The company's minimal involvement in new film production continued to focus on its remake rights: Are We Done Yet?, based on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), was released in April 2007 to dismal reviews.[215] In 2009, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, a remake of a 1956 RKO film directed by Fritz Lang, fared even worse critically, receiving a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[216] Two years before, RKO had announced the launching of a horror division, Roseblood Movie Company. By early 2010, Roseblood's mission had expanded, according to the RKO website, to encompass the "popular horror/thriller genre ... youth-oriented feature-length motion pictures that are edgy, sensuous, scary and commercial"[217] A stage version of Top Hat toured Great Britain in the second half of 2011.[218] The most recent RKO film coproductions are the well-received A Late Quartet (2012) and the 2015 flop Barely Lethal.
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