HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELDON DEDINI!
Born June 29th, 1921, Eldon Dedini would have been 91 years old today. We are proud to have celebrated his birthday all month on the blog, as our fabulous MLIS practicum student, Caitlin Naber, has worked hard to process his collection. To catch up on some of the glorious finds so far, you can read the other Dedini posts here and here.
For this final Dedini dedication, we thought we would go all out in showing just how personal and expansive an artist’s collection can be. In this post, we’re highlighting some of our favorite pieces from his career, and a few of the actual objects that are contained in the Dedini files- some of which are obviously things that don’t directly correlate to Dedini’s cartooning, but breathe life into the folders and boxes that provide us with the structure of who he was.
For example, we can only assume that we have Dedini’s mother to thank for the items shown in the photo below. Pictured are bits and pieces from Eldon’s infancy to his high school years- just a small representation of the incredibly thorough amount of documentation that was saved throughout his life. Included are Dedini’s adorably pink infancy bonnet (made by a family friend in 1920, as the tag reads), one of his leather… baby…gloves, nearly all of his report cards (and he was apparently quite the star student- though we wonder if only the good ones were saved!), two school pamphlets from 1935 for which Dedini did the illustrations, and a tiny book of photos featuring the rather dashing young man himself.
Below, Dedini’s class photos from Elementary school and High School (with our added detail of him close-up):
One of the very important parts of Eldon’s early career was his time spent working as a staff cartoonist for Disney beginning in 1944, primarily on The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (an adaptation of Wind in the Willows), Mickey and the Beanstalk, and Fun and Fancy Free.
The folders upon folders of Eldon’s collection that contain his work for Disney, full of gorgeous pastels, are absolutely stunning. Some of the most enchanting pieces to look at in particular are his background renderings (featured below). We’ll leave the character sketches out of this for obvious copyright complications, but you can fill in the soul of the landscapes yourself, as we do for Dedini as a whole by piecing together his life through his collection. We hope you’ll spare any judgment of our whimsy-but for a researcher or archivist-sorting through the life-spanning personal pieces of someone’s collection with them no longer alive does feel a bit like peeking into these character-less scenes.
Included in these folders also are Dedini’s identification cards, and an illustrated chapbook guide to the ins-and-outs of working for Disney:
Although Eldon’s most significant work was seen in Esquire and The New Yorker–and his biting humor was what we remember the most–believe it or not there was a time when he tried his hand at political cartooning. Below, a sample of one of the many political Dedini cartoons we have found in his collection, as well as a rejection letter from Esquire explaining lightly that the readers of Esquire do not want to hear about the big issues- they are simply here to entertain.
We hope that on this fine day of Dedini’s birth, and throughout the past month, your Dedini crave has been satiated- or better yet, that we’ve wet your appetite to access our collection and find out even more about Eldon. We’re thrilled to have the paper trail of his life with us here at the Cartoon Library, and are so grateful to have our enthusiastic practicum student here to process it- and to share her fabulous finds with me.