Fini Rudiger was born Josefine Vogelbaum in Vienna, Austria, on Novem- ber 25, 1914. Trained as a commercial artist, she had become a successful theater actress in the early ’30s, under the name Josephine Rudiger, and acted in the 1934 movie Masquerade in Vienna. Being Jewish, however, she realized that her career prospects in Austria were extremely limited and decided to immigrate to the United States in August 1937, at the age of 22. She spent her first two years in New York and Los Angeles creating pub- licity artwork as well as background paintings for department stores and illustrated a small children’s book, The Story of Li-Lo. While in California, a friend brought her portfolio to the attention of the Disney Studio. She was hired on May 15, 1939, becoming the second female member of Joe Grant’s Character Model Department (the sculptor Shirley Soderstrom being the first). Despite being part of Joe Grant’s department from Day One, due to lack of space at the main Hyperion studio, she was temporarily located on Vine Street. She moved to Hyperion on June 22. At the main studio, Fini was finally close to the other members of the Character Model Department and was immediately put to work on creating incidental characters for Pinocchio. Before leaving the Studio on May 18, 1940, she would end up contributing to at least four more Disney projects: Dumbo, The Reluctant Dragon, and early versions of Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp (when the project was still known simply as Lady) Her cute, “beautiful, and unique style” is easily recognizable and a pure delight.

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