Myron “Grim” Natwick
Born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Natwick had his nickname since before high school as a takeoff on his “anything but Grim” personality. He was well known even in high school for his artwork and his poetry. Natwick studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His artistic career started with cover designs for sheet music, initially for a friend who worked at a music publishing company. Natwick found that he was good at this type of work and contacted other publishers in Chicago, eventually illustrating the covers for many song sheets.
Considered by many animation artists to have been the greatest talent in the field, Grim Natwick is best remembered as the creator of Betty Boop. His first job as an animator was at the Max Fleischer Studio where he developed the idea of Betty, whose ultra-feminine physique benefited from Natwick’s extensive academic training in art and thorough knowledge of the human anatomy. While working for the Fleischer studios in 1939, Natwick was in charge of drawing the Prince and the Princess for Gulliver’s Travels.
Natwick worked for a number of American animation studios, including the Ub Iwerks studio, Walt Disney Productions, the Walter Lantz studio, UPA, and the Richard Williams studio.
At Walt Disney Studios, Natwick worked with other animators on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for which he was responsible for animating a total of 84 scenes, including Snow White’s famous gliding run down the long, grand staircase. He also helped to animate Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, Mr. Magoo, Popeye, Felix the Cat and many other 40s and 50s cartoon greats. Three of Grim’s former assistants included Walter Lantz (Hearst), Chuck Jones (Iwerks) and Marc Davis (Disney).
The Betty Boop limited edition lithographs, created by Natwick for Circle Fine Art in 1989, were the only lithographs the artist ever made – completed at the age of 99, one year before his death in 1990. Natwick died in Los Angeles, California of both pneumonia and a heart attack, just after having a 100th birthday party. In 2010, the Wisconsin Historical Society erected a memorial plaque to Grim Natwick in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Since 2010, the Grim Natwick Film Festival has been held annually over three days in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin featuring animators from across the state and beyond in panels and screenings of work.