Grim Natwick

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Grim Natwick
Grim Natwick.jpg
Natwick, 1969
Myron Nordveig[1]

(1890-08-16)August 16, 1890
Died(1990-10-07)October 7, 1990 (aged 100)
EducationAcademy of Fine Arts Vienna
  • Artist
  • animator
  • film director
Grim Natwick signature.svg

Myron "Grim" Natwick ( Nordveig; August 16, 1890 – October 7, 1990)[1] was an American artist, animator, and film director. Natwick is best known for drawing the Fleischer Studios' most popular character, Betty Boop.[2]


Born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Natwick studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and had five brothers and two sisters. Natwick's parents, James and Henrietta (Lyon), owned a furniture store. His grandfather, Ole, was one of the earliest Norwegian immigrants to the United States arriving in Wisconsin in 1847 (Ole was born on April 8, 1826, to Ole Torkjellson Natvig and Anna at Sagi Natvig, Ardal, Sogn, Norway). He had eleven children in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin (now part of Wisconsin Rapids), including James W., Grim's father, and Joseph, who was the father of Mildred Natwick, Grim's first cousin.

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. Although never published, many pages of his poetry were displayed in the summer of 2011 at the South Wood County Historical Museum in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, where there was a permanent exhibit of Natwick's works.[3] His brother Frank was reputedly one of the first Wisconsin athletes to be invited to the Olympics in 1908. He was a high hurdler for the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was president of his class.[4]

After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, he went to the National Academy of Design.[5]


Sheet music cover from 1915, one of Grim Natwick's earliest published efforts

Natwick's 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, usually in no more than two colors. A former school friend convinced him to try animation at William Randolph Hearst Studio, which only animated their comic strip properties. The studio was under the direction of Gregory La Cava. In 1925, after one year at the studio, he took his savings and sailed to the Vienna National Academy, where he mostly drew anatomy of women. Natwick was influenced by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. He graduated in late summer of 1928, moving back to New York. [5] Natwick is best known for drawing the Fleischer Studio's most popular character, Betty Boop, under the direction of Max Fleischer. Although legal ownership of the Betty Boop character remained with the studio (as Natwick was an employee), Grim created the original design of Betty Boop at the request of studio head Max Fleischer, who requested a girlfriend for his successful creation "Bimbo". Natwick worked for a number of American animation studios, including the Ub Iwerks studio, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walter Lantz Productions, UPA, and the Richard Williams studio. At Iwerks, Natwick animated a number Flip the Frog cartoons. At Disney, Natwick was a lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and was instrumental in bringing the titular heroine to life.

While working for the Fleischer studios in 1939, Natwick was in charge of drawing the Prince and the Princess for Gulliver's Travels. He also helped to animate Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, Mr. Magoo, Popeye, Felix the Cat and many other 1940s and 1950s cartoon greats. Three of Natwick's former assistants included Walter Lantz (Hearst), Chuck Jones (Iwerks) and Marc Davis (Disney).[6]

During the 1980s and 1990s, Natwick served on the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute.[7][8]

There is evidence Natwick did some commercial work later in his long life. He appears to have contributed to the early images of Sonny & Gramps, according to then-contemporaries who collaborated with Natwick during his career. Sonny is the "cuckoo" animated mascot of General Mills' Cocoa Puffs.[9]

Natwick died on October 7, 1990 in Los Angeles, California of pneumonia and heart disease, two months after celebrating his 100th birthday, with a party with friends such as Shamus Culhane.[10][11]

In 2010, the Wisconsin Historical Society erected a memorial plaque to Grim Natwick in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The South Wood County Historical Museum in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin is home to an extensive Grim Natwick exhibit.[12]

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.

Recently, Natwick's name is an inspiration to a character in the 2017 video game Cuphead, a run-and-gun game that has a style and tone of 1930s cartoons (mostly influenced by Fleischer Studios). His name was adapted to a dragon character named Grim Matchstick, who has a similar stutter and speech to that of Natwick himself.

Partial filmography (as animator)[edit]

As animators were often uncredited, many of the films featured below do not credit Natwick as animator. Similarly there may be other films on which he worked which have not yet been attributed to him.

  • 1993 The Thief and the Cobbler
  • 1977 Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure
  • 1963 The Mighty Hercules (TV series) (directing animator - 3 episodes; Double Trouble, Guarding of the Olympic Torch, & Medusa's Sceptre)
  • 1960 Felix the Cat (TV series)
  • 1959 "Terror Faces Magoo" (short)
  • 1954 "Spare the Child" (short)
  • 1951 "Georgie and the Dragon" (short)
  • 1951 "Rooty Toot Toot" (short)
  • 1950 "Bungled Bungalow" (short)
  • 1950 "The Popcorn Story" (short)
  • 1950 "Trouble Indemnity" (short)
  • 1947 "The Bandmaster" (short)
  • 1947 "Solid Ivory" (short)
  • 1947 "Well Oiled" (short)
  • 1947 "The Coo Coo Bird" (short)
  • 1947 "Smoked Hams" (short)
  • 1946 "The Wacky Weed" (short)
  • 1946 "Fair Weather Fiends" (short)
  • 1946 "The Reckless Driver" (short)
  • 1946 "Bathing Buddies" (short)
  • 1946 "Who's Cookin' Who?" (short)
  • 1945 "The Dippy Diplomat" (short)
  • 1945 "Chew-Chew Baby" (short)
  • 1945 "Pied Piper of Basin Street" (short)
  • 1945 "Enemy Bacteria" (short)
  • 1944 "Ski for Two" (short)
  • 1944 "Abou Ben Boogie" (short)
  • 1943 "Take Heed Mr. Tojo" (short)
  • 1940 "Popeye Presents Eugene, the Jeep" (short)
  • 1940 "The Fulla Bluff Man" (short)
  • 1939 Gulliver's Travels (animation director)
  • 1938 "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" (short)
  • 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • 1936 "Little Boy Blue" (short)
  • 1936 "Alpine Climbers" (short)
  • 1936 "Dick Whittington's Cat" (short)
  • 1936 "Ali Baba" (short)
  • 1936 "Mickey's Polo Team" (short)
  • 1935 "Broken Toys" (short)
  • 1935 "Simple Simon" (short)
  • 1935 "The Three Bears" (short)
  • 1935 "Mickey's Fire Brigade" (short)
  • 1935 "Sinbad the Sailor" (short)
  • 1935 "Summertime" (short)
  • 1935 "The Cookie Carnival" (short)
  • 1935 "Old Mother Hubbard" (short)
  • 1934 "The King's Tailor" (short)
  • 1934 "Viva Willie" (short)
  • 1934 "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp" (short)
  • 1934 "Jungle Jitters" (short)
  • 1934 "Cave Man" (short)
  • 1934 "Reducing Creme" (short)
  • 1934 "Insultin' the Sultan" (short)
  • 1934 "Robin Hood, Jr." (short)
  • 1933 "Jack and the Beanstalk" (short)
  • 1933 "Soda Squirt" (short)
  • 1932 "The Music Lesson"(short)
  • 1932 "Phoney Express" (short)
  • 1932 "The Goal Rush" (short)
  • 1932 "Stormy Seas" (short)
  • 1932 "Room Runners" (short)
  • 1932 "The Office Boy" (short)
  • 1932 "The Milkman" (short)
  • 1931 "Africa Squeaks" (short)
  • 1931 "Jail Birds" (short)
  • 1931 "The New Car" (short)
  • 1931 "Bimbo's Initiation" (short)
  • 1931 "Silly Scandals" (short)
  • 1931 "Ragtime Romeo" (short)
  • 1931 "The Male Man" (short)
  • 1931 "The Bum Bandit" (short)
  • 1931 "Teacher's Pest" (short)
  • 1931 "Tree Saps" (short)
  • 1931 "Please Go 'Way and Let Me Sleep" (short)
  • 1930 "Mysterious Mose" (short)
  • 1930 "Accordion Joe" (short)
  • 1930 "Mariutch" (short)
  • 1930 "Swing You Sinners!" (short)
  • 1930 "Barnacle Bill" (short)
  • 1930 "Dizzy Dishes" (short)
  • 1930 "Wise Flies" (short)
  • 1930 "Fire Bugs" (short)
  • 1930 "Hot Dog" (short)
  • 1922 "A Joy Ride" (short)
  • 1920 "Yes Dear" (short)
  • 1919 "Breath of a Nation" (short)


  1. ^ a b Williams, Richard (2009). The Animator's Survival Kit: Expanded Edition. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-86547-897-8.
  2. ^ Myron "Grim" Natwick (Hollywood Cartoon Hall of Fame) Archived May 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ South Wood County Historical Museum
  4. ^ The 1910 badger, Volume XXIV (Madison, WI: Junior Class of the University of Wisconsin. 1910)}
  5. ^ a b Comment Magazine: Jan-Feb 1975 p. 58
  6. ^ Natwick, Myron "Grim" (Animation Archive) Archived May 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Editor (June 10, 1994). National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. pp. 10–11.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "DESIGN: Grim Natwick Post-UPA Commercials « ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive". May 7, 2012. Archived from the original on May 7, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2018.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ Myron Grim Natwick, Original Creator of Betty Boop (
  11. ^ Myron Natwick, 100; Animated Betty Boop (The New York Times. October 10, 1990)
  12. ^ Wisconsin Rapids native Myron "Grim" Natwick (Wisconsin Historical Society)

External links[edit]