From Steve Worth, a producer at John Kricfalusi's Spumco
studio: I just saw your interview with Art
Babbitt. Great stuff. Art didn't particularly mellow in his
last few years. He could still get his dander up for Jules Engel
claiming the Mushroom Dance [in Fantasia]! But the interesting
thing about Art was that he was principled. He didn't hold irrational
grudges like so many other people I've met in animation. His passion
was very logical and focused. Someone at the Afternoon of Remembrance
held after he died described him as being so principled that he
was the sort of person who would go to the mat over a ten-cent overcharge
on his electric bill. That was the perfect description of Art.
The flip side to that was that as soon as the wrong was corrected
to Art's satisfaction, he let it go. Roy's letter to him came completely
out of the blue. Art kept it in his briefcase and took it with him
everywhere, showing it to anyone who asked him about Walt. To him,
it was the proof of the recognition that he had been cheated out
of for so many years of Disney "corporate history." I
got a chance to talk with Art a lot at FilmFair. He was perfectly
willing to call Walt a bastard for the way he let Lessing handle
the strike, but he also praised him for the way he made films. His
grudge was all about what he believed was right and wrong. It wasn't
a personal thing.
One interesting example of Art's ability to be honest about his
own personal grudges was when I asked him about Country Cousin.
He mentioned that "Walt's boy" animated some of the scenes
that he didn't have time to get to. He was referring to Les Clark,
"Walt's Finisher." I asked him whether the scenes were
inferior to his own. Art scowled for a moment... He really
wanted to say something bad, but he knew that it wouldn't be true.
He finally said, "No. Les Clark did a fine job. I couldn't
have done any better." I learned a lot about Art as a person
by hanging out with him. He wasn't different inside than he was
on the surface, but the reasons he was the way he was just weren't
always apparent to others.