Lillian Friedman Astor
animator, inker, in-betweener
April 12th, 1912 - July 9th, 1989

Lillian Friedman Astor was the first American female studio animator, working at for the Fleischer Brothers’ studio, inking and eventually animating various Betty Boop cartoons, as well as one Popeye, some Color Classics, and several Hunky and Spunky cartoons, although she received screen credit on only six cartoons in her lifetime.

The youngest of six children, Lillian started drawing at age 12 and later studied commercial art at Washington Irving High School. Reportedly, Friedman had applied to work at Disney, only to be told that the work is performed entirely by young men. In July, 1930, she and a classmate, Lillian Oremland, got work at a small animation studio doing inking, coloring and inbetweening on a pilot film for a series (’a lovely little fantasy to the music of Mendelssohn’s ‘Spring Song’’). She and Oremland then became inbetweeners at Frank Goldman’s Audio Cinema, and through Goldman’s friendship with Max Fleischer, were hired as inbetweeners by Fleischer’s in July, 1931. 

After a few months, Shamus Culhane, ‘a very fussy animator,’ liked her work so much that he made her his assistant in February 1932. ‘This required,’ she recalls, ‘some very strong persuasion, or as he put it, yelling and screaming. Culhane taught me a great deal about animation, but his greatest contribution was that he encouraged me for the first time to aspire to become an animator.’ In April, Culhane’s idea of having assistant animators was abandoned and she went back to inbetweening. However, he continued to encourage Lillian’s aspirations to become an animator. 

In 1933, Nellie Sanborn, head of the Timing Department, gave her a chance to redo a scene in a Betty Boop short, showed it to Max and Dave Fleischer ‘without telling them at first that it was done by a girl inbetweener,’ and, as a result, in July, Friedman was signed to a three-year contract as an animator. After a brief stint with Seymour Kneitel’s unit, she joined a new unit led by Myron Waldman. ‘This was a much happier group for me because they were all younger and newer animators and they accepted me as one of them, whereas in Kneitel’s group they were all hardbitten and they would make these sarcastic remarks about the girl animator.’ Friedman was paid $40 per week for the same work done by her male counterparts who received $125. 

Although Culhane was her initial mentor as an animator, it is apparent in talking to her that Lillian Friedman was and is very much a Waldman protege. Like other animators in the 1937 Fleischer, strike she crossed the picket line; however, her open stand for the Union nevertheless caused her to suffer ‘all sorts of abuse directly or indirectly at the hands of the company, from catcalls from hooligans to being told I could expect no increase in salary as long as I chose to belong to the Union.’ 

After she failed to find another job after the Studio decided to move to Miami to break the Union, she stayed on only until her husband found work. Thus, in February 1939, she quit to become ‘a housewife and mommy,’ and moved to Troy, New York.

In 1988, she was honored by ASIFA, receiving recognition for her work as a pioneering woman animator.”

Click on the gifs to see which film they’re from. 


A complete list of Friedman’s animated work can be found here.


6 Things Seaworld Can Do Instead of Hold Sea Animals in Captivity

Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock is fully knowledgeable of the Blackfish effect that the documentary has had on SeaWorld. Since the documentary told the story of an orca whale named Tilikum, who was stolen from his mother in their home of the wild when it was just a wee tot, consumers have become well aware of the cruelty that had been hidden by the ocean captivity conglomerate.

Campaigns all over the world have been urging SeaWorld and other aquatic parks to #EmptyTheTanks, but if it did so, that would mean shutting down the company, and it is big business after all. We also understand that by closing down the SeaWorld franchise, people would lose their jobs. By liquidating the brand, yes the captive oceanic animals would benefit, but the humans wouldn’t, and that is why SeaWorld won’t release their slaves.

What if we had an idea that would be in everyone’s favor? What if there was a solution that would not only rescue the cooped up cetaceans, but also create more jobs, opportunity and profits for SeaWorld, while turning them into a true organization for animal lovers?

The cetacean prison can truly turn itself around by retiring and/or releasing the animals and using its facilities for other things. Here are some ideas that SeaWorld can capitalize on:

1. SeaWorld can host and teach marine biology classes and other ocean-life themed programs. They can even turn the tanks into stadium-style seating to utilize the SeaWorld experience. There are many colleges and universities that are successful with such programs, and the programs prove to be profitable and in demand, as many students want to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants.

2. SeaWorld can use its facilities for rehabilitation and release only. They can use the tanks and equipment to only rescue hurt or orphaned animals and prepare them for life back in the sea. They can still charge people to watch their veterinarian care, rescue and releases, and they can even make big events out of setting the animals free and back into the ocean. Many animal lovers and activists would take part in this and feel good about the fact that their admission money is going towards helping the animals. Getting a brief up-close glimpse at the animals that are rehabbing would just be a bonus.

3. SeaWorld can host aquatic-themed birthday parties and screen sea-themed movies like Jaws or Titanic. I would rather sit in an empty tank that is turned into a movie-viewing experience than know that a huge whale is living a pathetic life in that tank rather than in the ocean. By hosting these events, SeaWorld can still make money, entertainment is happening but in a much kinder way, and the whales can be swimming freely in the sea, where they belong.

4. SeaWorld can use modern technology to hologram the animals in at the park. Think of all of the money that will be saved rather than used on food, care and services for the whales and other animals. It will be a true 3D experience and a way to view the animals in a magnificent and unique light. It worked well for Tupac Shakur at Coachella and for Michael Jackson at the Billboard Music Awards. In fact, people were even fooled by how real the holograms seemed. SeaWorld can still have animals do tricks, except the entertainment will be performed by electronic remotes rather than abused animals.

5. SeaWorld can host charity events and concerts with partial proceeds benefitting wildlife conservation. Big names that once boycotted SeaWorld, like musicians such as Joan Jett or Bare Naked Ladies, might decide to work with them again by letting them use their music or by performing. If SeaWorld were to release the captive animals, I bet that celebrities would likely jump at the chance to be a part of this new and animal-loving organization.

6. SeaWorld can replace the animals with amusement park rides, a water park, laser tag and arcades. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I would rather run around shooting lasers than watch sad, enslaved animals behind a thick piece of glass. Heck, most adults would rather do that! Point is, there are so many other forms of entertainment that can be sea-themed, and all of them do not include the captivity and enslavement of tormented animals that really do belong in the wild.

Basically, SeaWorld can offer big fun at their parks while keeping the animals out of them. This would also prevent injuries to humans by these animals. These ocean natives do not belong on land in a tank filled with just a tiny percent of the water that they can experience in their natural habitat, which is practically endless and boundless. The possibilities of transforming SeaWorld into a place of good rather than a place of abuse are endless, too!

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In the wild, dolphin populations are comprised of females and calves. Adult and sub-adult male dolphins form separate groups and form strong bonds in pairs or trios lasting up to ten years.

In captivity these social organizations are restricted or nonexistent, as family members are traded and sold to other aquariums. In some cases calves have been removed from their mothers when they were only 6 months of age. When calves are separated from their mothers, it ensures that the normal social structure will never be developed. 


“The most remarkable thing about Orcas is their families. [Trainer] interaction is meant to illustrate the loving bond between a trainer and his/her captive charge. Marine theme parks refer to trainers and the whales as family. This isn’t family.

This is family. This is a mom, her sons and daughters. Her mother. Her brothers and sisters. The tall straight dorsal fins are males, and they travel with their mothers. Orca society is matriarchal where females are the dominant sex even though males are significantly larger. Even more remarkable, is that females actually go through menopause. Menopause evolves in species with close knit families where older females have value. Recent discovery has determined that males with living mothers live longer…Male Orcas are 6 ton mama’s boys, but they don’t mate with their mothers or sisters…Captivity destroys all of that. Some captive orcas are held alone; others are groups of orcas with different families, different cultures, entirely different oceans. they would never even meet, let alone live together in the wild. They grow up without knowing proper social etiquette. Males without any post menopausal females to train them can be violent with mating. Dominant females can assert their dominance with unnatural violence. It’s not just females either.”- Dr Naomi Rose, Scientist


MYTH: Marine parks help to conserve orcas and dolphins through breeding programs.

The marine mammals most commonly bred in captivity are not threatened or endangered species, so continued breeding in captivity exists to produce the next generation of park entertainers and to ensure continued profits. Aquariums have no intention of returning captive-bred animals to the wild. In fact they claim that the success of such an endeavor would be unlikely and vehemently oppose release efforts.

Real conservation efforts focus on protecting habitat and the animals’ place in that habitat.