Benny Washam Wants a Raise

Benny Washam wanted to work in animation, and he became an in-betweener for Leon Schlesinger. He started out making $6 a week. Within a month, his salary was raised to $12 a week. In 1936, at the end of his first year, he was making $25 a month. Thereafter, he often went into Mr. Schlesinger’s office to ask for a raise, but Mr. Schlesinger always asked, “Are you better than Ken Harris?” (Mr. Harris was another animator at the studio.) Mr. Washam was forced to answer, “No.” Mr. Schlesinger would then say, “Ken’s always satisfied with what he’s getting.” After a year of asking for raises and getting turned down, Mr. Washam walked into Mr. Schlesinger’s office and said, “I demand a raise for Ken Harris!” By the way, Mr. Harris really loved animation. In the early 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, he even paid $10 a week—a lot of money at the time—so he could work as an animator. After six months of paying $10 a week, Mr. Harris got good news. The studio felt that he could become one of the top animators in the world, and so his boss wanted to give him a raise: Mr. Harris could work for him for nothing—he no longer had to pay him $10 a week!

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