1954 August 12

New York Film Censors Okay Birth of a Calf in Disney Nature Movie


The New York State Film Censorship Board on this day approved the inclusion of a scene of a cow giving birth to a calf in the Walt Disney nature film The Vanishing Prairie. The head of the censorship board announced that the decision was a “modification of an ancient precedent.”

This incident was typical of the prudery surrounding the natural human functions of sex, pregnancy, and child birth, and the censorship of any reference to these subjects until the late 1960s in books, magazines, movies, radio and television. For more, see how the CBS network handled the popular series, I Love Lucy: December 8, 1952; January 19, 1953.

See also the earlier censorship controversy on April 11, 1938 involving both the public health film Birth of a Baby and a series of photographs of an actual childbirth from the film.

Learn more about state-level movie censorship: http://moviehistory.us/introduction-to-state-movie-censorship.html

Learn more about the sexual revolution in the movies in the 1960s and 1970s: Robert Hofler, Sexplosion: From Andy Warhold to A Clockwork Orange — How a Generation of Pop Rebels  Brake All the Taboos (2014)

For more on the revolution in standards for television: Elana Levine, Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television (2007)

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