Salvador paints, but Walt Disney! A surreal friendship (and an old joke)

Archives reveal how a successful creative collaboration became a strong long-lasting friendship

Newly released private correspondence has revealed for the first time how the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and film mogul Walt Disney went from being professional collaborators to close friends.

A shared love of fishing was one of the things that brought them together, according to letters unearthed by archivists at Disney Studios and exclusively provided to The Independent on Sunday, which show just how close the artist and the animator became.

The two men met at a party thrown by the Hollywood mogul Jack Warner in 1945 and struck up a rapport that led them to collaborate on a film project called Destino. Writing to his "very, very dear friend", Dali told Disney that he was "encouraged by the route of our common destiny" and how "the night of our meeting I spent almost entirely without sleep".

In another letter to Disney, on 2 June 1946, Dali predicted Destino "will become one of the most brilliant moments of [Dali's] artistic career" and that "we wait with anxiety the miracles of technical realisation which I know you are also as exigent and maniacal about as is Dali himself... Don't forget that in the hours of great artistic adventure, we should also try to develop great friendships".

Disney and his wife Lillian would talk of going fishing with Salvador and Gala Dali, with the Dalis writing to their "very dear friends" how they were "joyfully waiting for you... I would love to see you and Mrs Disney and help catch those fabulous crawfish".

And in a letter written on 11 June 1946, Disney said: "I am happy to know that you are both so thrilled over Destino. We are not going to let the pressure of time stop us from getting something that will be worthy of Dali's talents. If we can find the time, Mrs Disney and I would be happy to visit you again and perhaps take advantage of your invitation to go crayfishing in the Carmel River." He wrote again on 3 July 1946 of how they were "looking forward to our visit... with great pleasure".

And Dali congratulated his friend on the "extraordinary success" of Uncle Remus in 1946's Song of the South as confirming "the triumph of the combination formula – I have not ceased to imagine things for Destino – it must be the 'miraculous fusion' of living action and cartoon".

In the event, rising costs led to Destino being shelved. Not that this got in the way of the friendship, with the Disneys visiting the Dalis at their home in Port Lligat, Spain, years after they had first met.

The original artwork from their collaboration was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered by Disney's nephew Roy, who completed Destino in 2003. The six-minute film features eyeballs in dinner jackets, a wall eroded by the sands of time and a ballerina's head that turns into a baseball. It is released for the first time this month as a bonus feature on a special edition on Blu-ray marking the 70th anniversary of Disney's Fantasia.

Brian Sibley, a Disney expert, said: "There was nothing 'safe' about Dali's ideas at all, and Disney seemed willing to embrace them – he knew that he wasn't going to be doing a Mickey Mouse movie."

He was surprised by the letters. "I had seen them as being professional collaborators. I certainly hadn't realised how close they were. But they were both showmen and I think they just found a common bond. They both had rather severe fathers and quite difficult childhoods. There were certain personal elements that would have given them a kind of kinship."

Asked if such a pairing could happen today, he commented: "I look at John Lasseter [head of Pixar] as being very much a kind of Disney figure, so I could conceive of an idea where he might collaborate with an artist – Damien Hirst or someone like that. I can see the possible arena for him working with somebody and doing something experimental."

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable