James Spalding Pompeo Bodrero was, in the words of a brief biography sent soon after his death to Michael Barrier by his daughter Lydia Hoy, “born in Belgium, where his father, a Captain in the Italian Bersaglieri, was his country’s military attaché. His mother was the granddaughter of a Nantucket whaling captain, one of the first Americans to settle in Hawaii before the arrival of the missionaries. His early schooling was in Europe and USA, with summers spent on [his grandparents’] sugar plantation in Hawaii.”

In other words, Jim Bodrero differed considerably from most of the other people who worked at the Disney Studio when he did (1938-1946). He was older—older than Walt Disney himself—and vastly more sophisticated and socially well-connected. He married in 1926; his wife, Eleanor Cole, was, in their daughter’s words, “from a prominent pioneer family and granddaughter of Cornelius Cole, first Senator from California.” (In case that name sounds familiar: Corny Cole, the animator and designer, was Bodrero’s nephew by marriage.) The Bodreros lived in southern California’s loveliest cities—Santa Barbara, San Marino, Pasadena—and their names turned up in the society columns of the Los Angeles Times. […]

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