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Floyd Norman

Animator and script writer Floyd Norman was born on June 22, 1935 in Santa Barbara, California. He began producing animated films while he was still in high school. Early in his career, Norman worked with Bill Woggon on the animated comic book series, Archie. In the 1960s, Norman attended the Art Center School in Pasadena, California, majoring in illustration. After only two years of study, Norman was hired at Walt Disney Studios. He started working as an animator on the film, Sleeping Beauty and was promoted to the story department. Under Walt Disney’s personal supervision, Norman worked on the story sequence for scenes in the animated film, The Jungle Book.

Norman met fellow African American animation artist Leo Sullivan right after Sullivan graduated from college and began searching for employment. The two animators realized that they had similar interests and started working with each other on various animated films. Sullivan wrote and directed a short cartoon on the story of Christopher Columbus and later, the two produced an elaborate animated fantasy tale. Norman’s and Sullivan’s films helped Sullivan earn his first professional job in the animation industry. In the mid-1960s, Norman left Walt Disney Studios, and alongside Sullivan, founded Vignette Films, Inc. where they produced six animated films on the subject of black history. In the 1970s, Norman wrote and produced animated segments for Sesame Street, Villa Alegre and dozens of other educational films. In addition, Norman supervised the animation layout at Hanna-Barbera Productions and storyboarded several shows including The Flintstones, The Smurfs and Scooby Doo. In the 1980s, Norman returned to Disney and wrote the syndicated Mickey Mouse comic strip. Norman also worked on feature length animated films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Toy Story 2.

In 1999, Norman and Leo Sullivan created a multicultural internet site, www.Afrokids.com, designed to present a variety of African American images to children. At the Annie Awards in 2003, Norman won the Winsor McKay Lifetime Achievement Award.

Floyd Norman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.321

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2007

Last Name

Norman

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Santa Barbara Senior High School

Santa Barbara Junior High School

Art Center College of Design

Lincoln School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Santa Barbara

HM ID

NOR03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/22/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chili, Cornbread

Short Description

Animator and scriptwriter Floyd Norman (1935 - ) worked for Walt Disney Studios on Sleeping Beauty, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan. He also worked for Hanna-Barbera Productions as an animator on the Scooby Doo and Smurfs programs.

Employment

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Bill Woggon

Pixar Animation Studios

Disney Publishing Worldwide

Sesame Street/PBS

Vignette Films, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Norman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Norman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Norman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Norman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Norman describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Norman describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Norman lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Norman describes his neighborhood in Santa Barbara, California

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Floyd Norman describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Floyd Norman remembers the Lincoln School in Santa Barbara, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Floyd Norman describes his early interest in art

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Floyd Norman describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Floyd Norman describes his family's musical talents

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Floyd Norman remembers Santa Barbara Junior High School in Santa Barbara, California

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Floyd Norman describes his early cartoon art

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Floyd Norman remembers Santa Barbara High School in Santa Barbara, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Norman recalls his mentors at Santa Barbara High School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Norman describes his assistantship with Bill Woggon, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Norman describes his assistantship with Bill Woggon, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Norman describes his role as the cartoonist for his school newspaper

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Norman describes his extracurricular activities during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Norman recalls interviewing at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Norman remembers the Art Center School in Pasadena, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Norman remembers race relations in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Norman describes his apprenticeship at the Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Floyd Norman remembers seeing Walt Disney for the first time, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Norman remembers seeing Walt Disney for the first time, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Norman describes his personal life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Norman describes his transition from animation to storyboarding

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Norman reflects upon the absence of artists of color at Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Norman describes the story department at the Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Norman remembers filming the Watts riots in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Norman recalls the lack of diversity in the media

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Floyd Norman remembers Walt Disney

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Floyd Norman remembers the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Floyd Norman describes his work on 'The Jungle Book'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Norman recall serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Norman remembers Walt Disney's death

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Norman remembers founding Vignette Films, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Norman recalls meeting his first wife

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Norman describes the dissolution of Vignette Films, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Norman describes his work for Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. and 'Sesame Street'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Norman reflects upon the changes in children's television programs

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Floyd Norman recalls being honored by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Floyd Norman describes his return to the Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Norman describes his position as a story artist at Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Norman reflects upon the lack of people of color in animation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Norman describes his work with Pixar Animation Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Norman talks about creating the Afrokids website

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Floyd Norman describes his work on 'Wild Life' and 'Curious George'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Floyd Norman describes his awards

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Floyd Norman reflects upon his career at Walt Disney Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Floyd Norman reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Floyd Norman shares his advice for aspiring animators

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Floyd Norman reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Floyd Norman describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Floyd Norman describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Floyd Norman reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Floyd Norman shows his Disney Legends award

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
Floyd Norman describes his assistantship with Bill Woggon, pt. 1
Floyd Norman recalls the lack of diversity in the media
Transcript
Now during the, your high school years, there's a name that comes up, Bill Woggon.$$Bill Woggon, right.$$Tell us about that experience. Now you're in--still in high school [Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara, California] when this association with him begins?$$This ties into high school very much. My biology teacher, Jacob Turner [ph.], played golf out at the Montecito Country Club [Santa Barbara, California] every Wednesday with a gentleman named Bill Woggon. And Bill Woggon, as it turns out, was a cartoonist. Lived out in Mission Canyon [California], and had a ranch that he named Woggon Wheels Ranch (laughter). That's a wacky name. And Mr. Turner said, "You know what? There's a kid in my science class who's never paying attention to his studies. He's always drawing cartoons." And Bill Woggon said, "Well, you know, you ought to send him out to see me. I can, perhaps I can use him as an assistant." So that was my introduction to Bill Woggon, it came through my, my science teacher in high school. So, one afternoon I drove out to Mission Canyon to the Woggon Wheels Ranch to meet this gentlemen, Bill Woggon. And sure enough, he gave me a job while still in high school as his assistant.$$What grade would you have been in at this point?$$Probably the eleventh grade, probably a junior in high school.$$Now, what is Bill Woggon known for?$$Bill Woggon worked for Archie Comics [Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]. Back, back in the 1950s, Archie Comics was very big. They did 'Wilbur' ['Wilbur Comics'] and as well as the 'Archie Comics,' and they had a few other titles, I just can't remember now. But one title they published was 'Katy Keene,' "Katy Keene, the fashion queen," and that was a comic book that was drawn and written by Bill Woggon. And one of the things that was unique about 'Katy Keene' was it was interactive. You know, for its day, it was an interactive comic book. That is, Bill allowed his readers to participate. He let the girls send in fashion designs for Katy's wardrobe. And then Bill and his artists would take those designs drawn by the children and incorporate those designs into the comic stories and give the kids credit. The boys were not left out. The boys could design cars, airplanes, whatever, you know. And so the boys had a chance to jump in and do their thing as well, and then they would get a credit in the comic book. Well, it just thrilled them. Because imagine as a kid designing something, and then seeing your name in print and knowing that kids all over the U.S., you know, have seen your design and your name in, in a comic book.$$Now, let's re-visit your science teacher. Do you think teachers had a knack back in the day of realizing, okay, maybe he won't be a chemist.$$(Laughter) Right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) But I do see that he has--do you think that was a trend that happened during those times, where they could see--$$Oh, very much so. I think that the teachers when I was going to high school were much more involved in their individual students, number one, because the classes were smaller. So, each student would get more personal attention. So therefore my science teacher, Mr. Turner, certainly recognized that even though I might not be a science wiz, (laughter) I apparently had some talent in another area. And then he brought that to the attention of Bill. So, you know, that's just the way things worked in those days.$Are you starting to feel or see anything different at Disney [Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, California] when you're going there? Or are you seeing that they're out of touch? What are you seeing now? Because they're asking you what's going on (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah, well--$$Are they starting to see things a little bit different now?$$Well, Disney, because they did exist in their own little world--and they were not all that different from the rest of the Hollywood studios. Keep in mind, this is Hollywood in the 1960s. The way things were at Disney was pretty much the way things were at Warner Brothers [Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.], or 20th Century Fox [Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation], or at MGM [Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc.; Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc.]. They were simply--you didn't have that diversity in the media. I mean, how many African Americans did you see on television in the 1960s? Or Latinos? Or Asians? You just didn't see them. For some reason, diversity was not a priority in America in the 1960s, until they were kind of like hit in the face with it when the cities began to catch fire. And people began to look up and say, "What's happening? And why is this happening?" They didn't have a clue; they didn't have a clue. And I said, "Well, there're certain people, certain segments of your society who feels like they're cut out. Feels like they're not getting their piece of the pie, and they're getting upset about it." They're getting so upset, I watched them light a Molotov cocktail and throw it through a shop window. Now that rage, you can't justify it, because I don't justify anybody burning down somebody's property, but that rage came from someplace. It came from a lot of angry people, a lot of people who felt they were shut out of the American dream. Now, I was lucky. I was kind of like living the American dream out there at the Walt Disney Studio. But a lot of people wasn't, you know, they weren't as fortunate as I was.$$Now, where were you living in Los Angeles [California] at that point?$$I was living in Los Angeles. I was living on 28th Street in the Adams district [West Adams] of Los Angeles. And we were largely untouched by the riots, although they were only blocks away, you know, they weren't that far away. I mean if you wanted to, you could probably walk down the street to Western Avenue a few blocks south and you might be in the thick of it. So, they weren't that far away. They were getting close, and the people in L.A. were getting nervous. They were getting nervous; they didn't know where this thing was going to end.