by J.B. Kaufman

I asked J.B. Kaufman, who is right this very minute standing next to me (and says “Saludos”), to help celebrate Walt’s Birthday by contributing something from South of the Border With Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program 1941-1948 (we are still interested in any questions you might have for his interview: see here). While here, we have been comparing our research notes. J.B. happened across an item of interest in my South American files. The above caricature by Joaquin Gonzalez (Mexico City 1942) showing Walt as a Mexican Charro. Caricatures of Walt and other artistic tributes were plentiful during the Good Neighbor mission.

I asked J.B. to share with us what he considers to be a powerful illustration of what Walt was doing during the 1941 South American Trip. He responded with a wonderful passage from his book: “Vincent de Pascal, the Buenos Aires stringer for Hollywood Reporter, took a special interest in the Disney visit and reported at length on Walt’s phenomenal acceptance by the Argentine press and public:

The newspapers devoted columns, some of them half pages, to Disney. All agreed he is one swell egg. At the reception for the press, he simply leaned against a wall, talking to the group gathered around him. Amiable and not easy to ruffle, Disney’s manner convinced even the most hard-boiled that he is the best good-will builder to come down here so far. For he hasn’t come to get anything out of the country, hasn’t even come ostensibly to bring Argentine good-will back with him. That he has already bagged without having said he wanted it. He made it plain that he is not on any official mission, that he is here just to ‘work and study.’ And Argentines will be mighty proud if the creator of Mickey Mouse brings back something of themselves which will be immortalized by his studio.”

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