On Monday March 7, 1929, just six months after the official release of Steamboat Willie, a short article appeared in them magazine Film Daily, which read:
Negotiations are under way for site for a Powers Cinephone studio at Los Angeles. William N. Garity, chief engineer, leaves New York for Los Angeles March 15 to supervise installation of recording apparatus and to act as technical advisor to Walt Disney who will install a Powers Cinephone recorder in his animated cartoon studio under a license signed last week.
Walt didn’t know it, but his best “acquisition” that month wasn’t so much the Cinephone but Bill Garity himself, who ended up joining The Walt Disney Studios on April 6, 1929.
In page after page Garity’s diary shows how he was actually trying to achieve the impossible for Walt. In the following essay I have selected excerpts which focus on the less technical sides of the daily reports and that help us gain perspective on some key historical events, among which include Disney’s first forays into television, the early days of Fantasia (1940), the origins of the Disney studio strike, and the building of the Burbank studio.
While reading this essay, it is important to remember that one man’s perspective is by definition subjective and incomplete. I provided some context to make each entry more readable, but by its very nature the diary only provides us with a historical “snapshot” – a very vivid snapshot, to be sure, but one which nevertheless has to be understood as part of our ongoing Disney investigations.