Birth/Death: approximately 1896/ Died June 1990
Occupation/Title: Owner of Winkler Productions
Bio Summary: Margaret Winkler was born in Hungary in about 1896. She came to the United States at a young age. She married Charles Mintz in 1924 and gave birth to Katherine - Kiki Mintz in 1925 and to William - Bill Mintz in 1929. She was the first woman to produce and distribute animation. She used her initials, M.J. Winkler to avoid the sexism of business at this time.
Early Life/Family: She came to the United States on a boat to Ellis Island when she was a child, with her brothers, step-mother and father.
Education/Training: It is not clear if she completed high school. She did not attend college.
Career Outline: Winkler worked as a secretary to movie mogul Harry Warner. Her job involved traveling through out the U.S.A. and she did parts of the distribution process with Warner. Warner encouraged her to start her own company, observing her strong work ethic and potential. He gave her the opportunity to manage “Out of the Ink Well” and “Felix the Cat”. She used her skills developed with Warner to start her own business, Winkler Productions. She was in her early or mid twenties when she went out on her own and took Felix with her. She started having conflicts with Pat Sullivan the creator of Felix. Winkler turned to a new animator, Walt Disney and gave him a chance with his “Alice’s Wonderland” series. She gave him a six film contract. Winkler personally edited each Alice film. It was her idea to add the character Julius, a cat who looked suspiciously similar to Felix, as Alice’s companion. She acted as a mentor to Walt, encouraging him to improve his films and nurturing his young career despite the opposing view of her husband. Her career lasted maybe 12 years ending when she turned over the business to her husband, Charles Mintz.
Comments On Style:
Personality: strong-willed, private, having a great sense of humor, fun-loving, smart, no-nonsense, with a blunt communication style.
Anecdotes: A few anecdotes from Winkler’s granddaughter, Jeannie Mintz, “my grandmother was Jewish and liked to use Yiddish words to communicate things she was passionate about. By all accounts, she was not well-suited for motherhood. Her scrapbooks reveal a woman who loved her work-life and was very proud of her accomplishments. Nevertheless, she didn't talk with her children or grandchildren about her professional life; it was probably too painful a subject for her. I wish she could have found a way to stay as a producer and distributor of animation instead of relinquishing her role in the filed of animation at about age 30. My mother tells me that at one time my grandmother had a really active social life, going to the hottest spots in the NY and LA areas, listening to live jazz performances, and having fun with people who were either wealthy, famous, or both. She never talked with me about any of this. My father used to have player pianos in our house. I remember on occasion her dancing to piano rolls while smiling and having a devilish look in her eye.”
Miscellaneous: People that were close to Winkler called her Peggy.
“Out of the Inkwell”,
“Felix the Cat”,
Alpine Antics (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice in the Big League (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice the Beach Nut (short) (producer)-1927
Alice the Whaler (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Medicine Show (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice in the Klondike (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Channel Swim (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Picnic (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Knaughty Knight (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Three Bad Eggs (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Circus Daze (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice's Auto Race (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice in the Alps (short) (producer)- 1927
Alice the Collegiate (short) (producer)- 1926
Alice's Spanish Guitar (short) (producer)- 1926
Alice in the Wooly West (short) (producer)- 1926
Alice's Mysterious Mystery (short) (producer)- 1925
Alice in the Jungle (short) (producer)- 1925
Alice Picks the Champ (short) (producer)- 1925
The New Champ (short) (producer)- 1925
Alice's Egg Plant (short) (producer)-1924
Alice Gets in Dutch (short) (producer)- 1924
Alice the Peacemaker (short) (producer)- 1924
Alice's Wild West Show (short) (producer)- 1924
Bibliographic References: Crafton, Donald. Before Mickey: The Animated Film 1898-1928. Cambridge; The MIT Press, 1982. Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York; Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
Contributors To This Listing: Nicole Hillman, Jeannie Mintz
Animators Hall of Fame