Willie Ito was a wide-eyed little boy when he first saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in technicolor at his neighborhood movie theater in San Francisco.

That’s the moment he realized he wanted to be an animator.

But Willie’s dreams were interrupted in 1942, when his family was sent to a Japanese American internment camp in Topaz, Utah. He was eight years old at the time.

At 85, Willie came to StoryCorps with his son, Vince, to remember.

Top photo: Willie Ito at his home studio in Los Angeles, CA in the late ‘70s. Courtesy of Willie Ito.
Middle photo: Willie Ito holding a toy Dopey bank. His father bought it for him at a five and dime store when he was a child, before his family was interned in Topaz, UT from 1942 to 1945. Photo by Rochelle Hoi-Yiu Kwan for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Vince Ito and Willie Ito at their StoryCorps interview in Los Angeles, CA in September 2019. Photo by Rochelle Hoi-Yiu Kwan for StoryCorps.

Originally aired October 4th, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.