Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anatomy of a mid-1940s photo - part 2

This second post in a series examines a mid-1940s photo of Walt Disney that appeared in Look magazine. The montage showcases an amazing collection of Disney artifacts. The first post in this series can be seen here.

The award pictured in the center of the three medals shown in the bottom right side of the photo is the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. This prestigious award was created in December 1933 and is the highest decoration awarded to foreigners by the Mexican government. The medal is given to luminaries as a reward for services to humankind or Mexico.

On August 16, 1943, Mexican President Avila Camacho announced his selection of four American film producers to receive the decoration, "in recognition of their contribution toward the better knowledge of Mexico abroad." Besides Walt Disney, those chosen to receive the Order included Louis B. Mayer, James Fitzpatrick and Francis Alstock.

Walt Disney and Louis B. Mayer left for Mexico City on August 23, 1943. The men received their awards in a ceremony held at the National Palace one week later on August 30. Other Hollywood notables in attendance included Hedy Lamarr, John Loder and Walter Pidgeon.

On the day of the ceremony the Tuscon Daily Herald published an article which reported: "Disney...said he will bring members of his staff from Hollywood to make pictures in collaboration with Mexican artists. The pictures will teach reading and health and sanitation."

The films referred to in the newspaper story were eventually produced as part of a series initiated by the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs for the Latin America market.
Other topics covered in the films included nutrition and infant care.

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