© Lockheed Martin
A notable day during Women's History Month, is the day which honors the women who entered the workforce during World War II to keep the countries factories moving. Stepping out of the home-front and into the factories, women of this generation forever changed the face of the workplace. Wielding heavy equipment, wearing dungarees, and working long hours, women built ships, airplanes and kept the war-efforts going locally, while the men were fighting overseas.
© Lockheed Martin
Within animation, studios scrambled to keep their doors open, while doing their part for the war effort! Women artists had moved into animation a few years earlier, but as in other industries, women moved wider and deeper into various types of industries than ever before during wartime. All across the animation industry, women put down their brushes and picked up pencils to keep the animation industry moving.
Rae Medby reviews a sequence of Victory Through Air Power (1943) with storyboard artist Dick Kelsey. © Disney
The animation Industry contributed to the war effort with training films for all branches of the military. Various animated shorts continued to keep spirits light. Audiences were kept entertained and informed during the war through animation and women artists wielding pencils heeded the call! Many of the top inkers and painters underwent training to step into every role within animation. Retta Davidson, Rae Medby, Virginia Fleener, Jeri Beaumont (inset photo on left), Mary Schuster, Xenia De Mattia, Phyllis Mooney and many other ladies moved from Ink & Paint into inbetweening, clean-up and assistant animation at Disney. The Woods sisters – Marilyn and Madelyne, Jean Blanchard and Enid Denbo animated at Schlesingers and many others, stepped up to animate within the various other studios and animation houses throughout the industry at that time.
As we honor Rosie The Riveter today, let's remember the remarkable ladies with pencils, who kept animation moving at a time when it was needed most!