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Paul Murry
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Paul Murry "The Near-Sighted Robin" 1940´s

Illustration
1940
Mixed Media
Colored Pencils over delicate inks
28 x 23 cm (11,02 x 9,06 in.)
Cm
Print of the same motive by another artist

Inscriptions

Right lower corner

Comment

Fantastic good girl art from the 1940´s by the "Mouse Man" Paul Murry in ink and coloured pencils...the way Murry managed to capture her facial expressions is a wonder to behold!!! He did this in the early 1940´s when he was still at the Disney studios...


Murry disscussed this piece extensively in an interview from the 1970´s...see also Wade Sampson's long piece about this drawing here: http://www.mouseplanet.com/9262/World_War_II_Disney

...All of this information is to preface the story of “The Near-Sighted Robin” that was painted on the side of a B-24. While not sexual in nature, the Paul Murry artwork does feature a totally naked young woman in the style of the cheesecake pin-ups that he and Fred Moore did while working at the Disney Studios. The image is blurry but definitely not safe for viewing at work. We realize that some mature MousePlanet readers may be curious to see it but also know that others would find it offensive so we are providing the link but with this warning.

At the site, Navigator Robert Pacholski wrote: “One of the crew members of Avery's crew, told me that the nose art of "The Robin" was so unusual that the Crown Prince of Sweden came to see it!! J. C. Smith (our Pilot) got smashed at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. A few days later, he runs across the cartoon in the paper. It was of a comely young lady, falling off a ladder. A cross-eyed robin is "biting" her ... instead of a cherry! Hence, the name, The Near-Sighted Robin. The drawing was signed by Walt Disney. To this day, we do not know if he (or someone else pulling Smithy's leg) signed the drawing! Makes for a good story though.”

First, the drawing is not by Walt Disney because, among other things, by this time Walt wasn’t doing any drawing, except for an occasional sketch of Mickey Mouse for people he encountered while he was on vacation. Second, Walt had no great interest in this type of cheesecake artwork even though artists at the Disney Studio including Fred Moore, Bill Justice and others did such sketches on a frequent basis, sometimes as an offshoot of life drawing classes. Walt was not a prude but he never in his life showed any interest in anything of prurience.

However, the infamous drawing was done by a Disney artist and that is a pretty interesting story and there is an official Disney connection that might have led to the confusion that Walt drew the picture.

During the war, Admiral “Bull” Halsey, who was the commander of the United States Third Fleet during the Pacific War against Japan, came to the Disney Studios with a special request concerning a piece of “Disney” artwork that he loved so much that he posted it on his cabin door. He wanted to meet the artist but the Disney Studios didn’t allow him to do so.

Here’s the story from the artist, Paul Murry, from an interview he did in the early 1970s with Don Ault, that was painstakingly transcribed by Murry scholar Germund von Wowern.

Murry remembered, “He wanted to meet me but they wouldn’t let him. I drew the picture he had on his cabin door and I had signed it. The name of it was ‘The Near-Sighted Robin’, a little on the risqué side. [laughter] The robin is nearsighted and in a cherry tree, and we have a young lady picking cherries. The robin was intending to pick a cherry, but not seeing the right thing. He grabbed her over her bare breast and thought he had a whole load of cherries. [laughter] I don’t know why anybody would think that was that funny. I didn’t think that was funny, but oh boy, it’s hard to understand what people would find humorous if you’d call it that.”

Besides working at the Disney Studio as an animator (check out my previous article on him at this link), Murry did a lot of gag cartoons for magazines. In fact, Germund who has an amazing 600 examples of Murry’s gag cartoons, does not have a copy of “The Near-Sighted Robin,” but did write that over the years Murry drew “similar gags, such as the one where a guy gets a slap in the face when he's grabbed a girl's breast instead of an apple in a 1960s Humorama cartoon.”

Murry recalled, of The Near-Sighted Robin: “I originally drew it for a woman, who was a … what do you call it? A seer. She did palm reading in Beverly Hills. Like a fortuneteller. I don’t know her name, I can’t remember her name. She was a quite nice lady, but I didn’t believe in what she did. Well, she had a son in the navy and … I drew that for her son who was over in the South Pacific somewhere. That’s how it got in the hands of Halsey. I don’t know whether the son was playing politics or Halsey saw it or what the connection was. I don’t know whether her son was just an ordinary seaman or what, but that’s how Halsey got hold of it.

“But Disney, you see, they wanted credit for this. You know what they did?. They wouldn’t let Halsey contact me. They wanted me to make another drawing for the other side of his cabin door. They actually made a painting of it, ran it through the inking department, on celluloid. I mean, a real fancy picture. They did that! That’s why they wouldn’t let Halsey meet me. But they insisted they wanted their name on it, so they ran it through the ink and paint department, put it in their color, and on celluloid. That’s exactly what they did. Of course, I couldn’t have cared less, really, but it seemed just a little bit … a little odd.”

But how did a drawing for the Navy end up on B-24 bomber? Well, there is a clue in the Murry interview when he revealed, “My wife was in the hospital, having one of the children, Peggy (born in 1944). The woman in the bed next to her pulled out one of my pictures and it was ‘The Near-Sighted Robin’. She didn’t know there was any connection to me. Somebody at Lockheed Aircraft was making copies and selling little ones at 25 cents a piece … all about that high … when the original was about like this. It was a direct copy of what I had drawn!”

To me, the biggest unsolved mystery is that, if this cartoon was so well known and reproduced so liberally, then why are there no posted copies of it other than that blurry picture on the fuselage of that B-24? Others supposedly thought it was the work of Walt Disney and, yet, the picture has never popped up on any of the numerous unofficial Disney websites...

About Paul Murry

Paul Murry drew for the Disney comic books and was mainly responsible for the adventurous 'Mickey Mouse' stories of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The charming style of the Mickey Mouse characters was already formed in the 1930s and 1940s in Floyd Gottfredson's daily comic strips, and Murry did much to further develop these characters. Murry drew thousands of pages of comics during his career and was one of the few Disney artists who was successful in drawing all the characters.

2 comments
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flober75 Great art and what a story!
Apr 11, 2017 10:06 AM
JD It is a delightful mystery for a superb drawing. Thank you for sharing !
Apr 5, 2017 8:05 PM