It was a simple enough beginning. “It started in 1972,” June recalls. “I said, ‘I think we should give animation awards. Everybody else has awards but animation doesn’t. Max Fleischer had just died, and of course he was such a founder of animation, creating Betty Boop and Olive Oyl and Popeye and so forth, and he invented rotoscoping. And so I thought it was a splendid idea to honor him and Dave Fleischer, his brother, who directed so many of the films.”
With the blessings of ASIFA-Hollywood president Nick Bosustow, June proceeded to organize the event. First off, the event needed a name. For this she did not search long. “My husband said,” June recollects, “As long as it’s an animation award, why not call it the Annie?” Thus, Hobart Donavan, June’s husband created the award’s famous title.
The Annies now had a name but no place to go. “So,” June says, “I called the Sportsmen’s Lodge, because it was in the Valley and most of us at that time lived there.” She rented the Lodge’s banquet room, but then began to feel a little nervous about the fledgling ceremony. “We didn’t know how many people would come — you’re always apprehensive about things like that. But then all of the cards started coming in. “Yes, I will be there,” and a couple of checks started coming in, and over 400 people showed up…With people in animation you think, ‘Oh my, they’re not going to come to a dinner.’ But for $8.50, it was not an impossible dream,” she concludes with a laugh.
The Abaton Calendar is a resource created for and by voice talent, to help create meaningful connections and forge and maintain professional and personal relationships. (And hopefully, have a hell of a lot of fun in the process).