HEY GUYS WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT MARGARET WINKLER
Seriously, for this website, she should be hailed as a goddess. If you’ve ever watched some early cartoons, you may have noted the name M.J. Winkler as the distributor. This lady was pretty much instrumental in getting the early animation business off the ground, like you have no idea.
See, because when she was working as the personal secretary for Henry Warner—as in Warner Brothers—she kept telling him “hey, seriously, we really ought to be putting more money into this animation stuff, it’s really going to be big.” Warner shrugged it off, because hey they had cartoons of their own what was the big deal right? Eventually, she bugged him about it so much, he said if she was so into it, why didn’t she just distribute it herself? So she did, and with his approval she started her own production company.
For one, she handled getting Max and Dave Fleischer (Betty Boop, Popeye, basically masters of everything and did it all way before Disney did) into theaters, but most important to her was making sure Pat Sullivan Productions got a contract, because she saw Felix the Cat and knew that shit was going to blow up. They did! All of them had found success on their own, sure, but it was Winkler’s business sense that made them BIG. She knew where to make connections and put money. Her approval and support was vital for success in the early animation industry, okay?
Then she gets to look at this weird little cartoon from some dinky little business in Kansas City, of all places (pretty much all animation was in New York, back then), making shorts called “Laugh-O-Grams.” This specific short was called “Alice’s Wonderland.” It sucked. Wow, it was bad. The animation was cheap, repetitive, obnoxiously long, confusing, and dull. And bad. So bad. Wow.
Margaret, though, somehow, saw a glimmer of potential buried somewhere under the blandness. So she called up the head of the company, some asshole named Walt Disney, and told him that she’d distribute this thing and give him a contract if he went and studied some Felix the Cat and came back with something better.
Yes that’s right. It was her doing. She made it possible. I can’t imagine ANYONE else would have given that dreck more than a glance, but she goddamn knew.
Sidenote: a few years later, though, she got married to a man named Charles Mintz. Maybe if you watched Up, you might remember a guy named Charles Muntz. He was the bad guy. It’s not a coincidence.
ANYWAY what you need to take away from this is that Margaret J. Winkler is a wonderful beautiful person who made everything we love today possible and she was the first big female name in animation and wow what a boss so great