Saved from Embarrassment

Posted: May 25, 2009 in Animation, Disney
Tags: , , ,

I have been going through the Time magazine website to see if there are any interesting articles. The website has articles dating back in their archive at least to the 1930s, so you can find all sorts of good stuff there, even letters to the editor.

 “Letters, Jan. 23, 1939

Monday, Jan. 23, 1939

Saved from Embarrassment

 Sirs:

You may be glad to know that a recent article in TIME proved timely indeed to the Walt Disney Studio and saved us from considerable embarrassment.

The article (TIME, Dec. 12) described a Brooklyn divorce trial where the most important testimony concerned a gesture made by raising the hands to the forehead, extending the fingers like horns, and making an ugly face.

I was horrified to learn that this gesture, called cornuto, is a well-known symbol for cuckoldry in Latin countries—horrified because I had in my ignorance and innocence used the identical gesture as a gag in a forthcoming Donald Duck picture, The Hockey Champ.

I planned a scene where Donald emerges from a snowbank with icicles sticking on his head like horns. His three little nephews mock his appearance by making the “horns” gesture at him.

This gag got by every one in the Studio, who apparently knew as little about cornuto as I did, and would have appeared in our finished picture but for your illuminating article. Needless to say, if this had happened, the film would have got loud, unwanted laughs in Mexico, South America and Italy and would have aroused the censors. We passed the information along to the Hays office, incidentally, and they were very glad to have it.

I enclose a sketch of Donald’s nephews as they very nearly appeared on the screen.

HARRY REEVES Story Department Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. Hollywood, Calif.”

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