November 13, 1917 – Disney Legend and European Managing Director of Merchandise Armand Bigle is Born
“Of all [Disney’s] many merchandising success stories around the world, none surpasses Armand Bigle’s success in France.” – Jimmy Johnson, Disney Legend
On November 13, 1917, Armand Bigle was born in Paris, France. After graduating with a degree in law from the University of Paris, he worked for Opera Mundi as a war correspondent during WWII, reporting on Belgium and Holland. After interviewing Walt Disney for an article in 1946, Disney soon after contacted him about a possible job opportunity. His first work for the company was forming his own company, Screpta Brussels, which served as the marketing middleman for Walt Disney Productions; he also created the Mickey Mouse Magazine, which reached a record 60,000 issues a week in sales. In 1949, Bigle was tapped by Roy O. Disney to consider accepting a job in commission sales, as there was no market in Europe at the time for Disney merchandise, and there was no salary offered. Bigle accepted, and opened the door to several countries, ranging from Russia, Greece, Indonesia, and the Middle East. His challenge was convincing these countries that were still recuperating from the war that the sale of Disney merchandise would improve their sales. At one point, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs reached the top of the box-office in France, outgrossing the latest James Bond feature, thanks to Bigle’s efforts. Bigle spent over forty years at the Disney Studios before retiring in 1988, and was honored as a Disney Legend in 1997. He passed away in 2007.