August 11, 1941 – Walt Disney and “El Grupo” Head Off on the Goodwill Trip to South America
“That was the purpose of the goodwill tour: to try and sell the United States to South America.”
On August 11, 1941, Walt Disney, his wife Lillian, and a group of animators (known as El Grupo) set off on a goodwill mission to South America in the onset of World War II. As Nazi influence began to spread across the globe, the United States government was concerned about the relationship between the Americas, and called upon Hollywood to set up goodwill missions between the studios as the South American countries. Walt, and a handful of carefully selected artists traveled through Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, gathering story material for what would become the animated features Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. Saludos Amigos would go on to be the offer of friendship between the Americas. Members of El Grupo included Bill Cottrell, Frank Thomas, and Mary Blair.