Monday, April 30, 2007
[Here is a hidden treasure from my collection that I have wanted to share for quite some time. However, as happy as visitors to your website will be to see this artwork, there is a very sad story behind it. When the Disney Institute opened in Florida in 1996, I was an animation instructor and one of the things I suggested to the animation team was to get a "guest" book for the celebrities, visiting animators, lecturers etc. that would be dropping by the Institute. We ended up making a huge sketchbook that was three feet high and three feet wide with a nice sturdy brown cover to protect it. We kept it under lock and key in one of the animation rooms.
During the time that the Disney Institute was active at its original site, the book was filled with artwork and kind greetings from everyone from Marc Davis to John Canemaker to John Culhane and many more. Unfortunately, as the Disney Institute went through various transitions that resulted in cutting programs and staff, those of us who guarded this treasure were no longer in a position to do so. Just before the Disney Institute moved off its physical site to be replaced by a Disney Vacation Club, I visited to take one last look at the book and perhaps take some more photos of the artwork. Imagine my horror when I discovered that someone had very carefully with a razor blade removed several pages from the book and apparently the current custodians of the book had no idea when it might have happened.
I mentioned that I was hoping to take more photos of the book. I did have the foresight while I was still working there to photograph several of the pages including the one I am sharing here that was stolen from the book and is in someone's private collection. I have never seen it listed for sale nor have I seen it published anywhere.
Ward Kimball visited the Disney Institute on April 24, 1996 with Michael Broggie and did an onstage interview at the Disney Institute Cinema. Backstage in the green room, we brought out the famous brown book for Ward to do a quick sketch. He was very hesitant to do so but when he saw the contributions of many of his peers, our pleading "puppy dog eyes", and fortunately the charming smile of a twenty year old female animation intern, he reluctantly took some pens and drew an amazing drawing.
The green room was very small and cramped and he had to juggle the huge book on a small sofa and table. The room was also very poorly lit. I guess the belief was that soft lighting would calm a guest before they went on stage. Under these horrible conditions, the eighty-two year old Kimball drew this amazing drawing completely freehand with no warming up. Like everyone else in the room, my jaw dropped when I saw this artwork just flow out of this Disney Legend.]
Friday, April 27, 2007
[Perhaps it was the way I was raised to respect people's privacy but I have always had trouble asking for an autograph from some of those people I admire. It always seems like I am intruding or bothering the person. In fact, when I develop a friendship with that person, it makes it even more difficult because I see so many other people aggressively pursuing an autograph on multiple items at the most awkward times.
One of the first Disney animators I met and interviewed was Jack Hannah. After about three years of knowing Jack, I finally worked up enough courage to ask for an autograph. "It's about time!" laughed Jack. He taught me that some of my heroes were very gracious and very flattered when asked for their autograph if they were asked at the right time (not in the middle of eating a meal, for instance) and if they believed the person asking was sincere and appreciative.
Sometimes, these folks are gracious enough to do a quick sketch in addition to an autograph. I thought I would share with your readers two items from my collection in the hopes they might consider sharing some of their treasures with the rest of us.
In the Seventies I first met Ward Kimball and got to visit the Grizzly Flats Railroad in his backyard. Thinking this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I asked Ward if he might be willing to do a quick sketch and an autograph. Since we had been discussing the importance of quick thumbnail sketches in plotting out a sequence of action or a story point, he literally inked up his thumb and made three impressions and then transformed them into the history of Ward from baby, to classic Ward to old age Ward.
Chris Bailey directed one of my favorite modern Mickey Mouse cartoons, "Runaway Brain". After ten years at the Disney Studio, he left to pursue other projects including a character that he created named Major Damage. I wrote a fan letter to him, mentioning not only how much I was enjoying his Major Damage character but that I enjoyed his work on "Runaway Brain" and I received this wonderful pencil sketch shortly afterwards.]
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
[German filmposter from 1934! only known copy of this version, there are only five known German pre-war Disney Posters known to exist and of each version there is only one known copy (including this one here), lithograph, 42 x 60,7 cm
€ 5.900.- ($ 7,375) ]
I had never seen this clip before.
According to Jim Korkis:
[This is an episode from the hour long Jack Benny show from 1965. It was originally broadcast in living color. The reason the tiger shows up is Walt is also advertising his live action film A Tiger Walks released in 1964.
Walt was filming his introduction for his television show (to air in March 1966) that would show that film. He often filmed hi sintroductions for the entire season one after another, even months before they appeared.
He is also shilling for the forthcoming That Darn Cat (1965) as well as a Tiki Bird for the recently opened attraction at Disneyland. Even the bird saying "He's living in The Wonderful World of Benny" referenced Walt's fairly new NBC show "The Wonderful World of Color".
What a salesman Walt was!
Jack visiting the Disney Studios was filmed on the same set Walt usedfor the introductions to his television programs. There is also a "gritty Italian movie" spoof of Mary Poppins with Elke Sommers and Bob Hope later in the episode. The Jack Benny show was on CBS and Walt was on NBC but Walt's personal contract with the Disney Studios allowed him to make a limited amount of appearances (I believe it was three) on other entertainment projects.
Walt appeared on another CBS show,"What's My Line", in 1956 where he was the "mystery guest". You can tell Walt is having fun and even doing a little ad-libbing like he did in his own television introductions.]
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
[Just so you know, this Richard Hack book that you wrote today about seems to have a couple of different titles. More importantly, a couple of different publication dates. Take -- for example -- the version that I just found (and ordered) over at eCampus.com. It goes by this name:
Michael Eisner's Tragic Kingdom: The Man Behind the Mouse
edition: Author(s): Hack, Richard
ISBN: 1893224961 / Hardcover / Jul 01, 2004
Price of single item: $20.68 Could the "Rise and Fall of Michael Eisner" been a proposed-never-published redo of "Tragic Kingdom" that was looking to capitalize on Michael's early exit from the Walt Disney Company and Iger's rise? I mean, it doesn't seem all that likely that this guy would write two books about Uncle Michael within the span of 26 months ... Does it?]
Michael Eisner seems to have stopped the distribution of the book Jim Hill mention above after a lawsuit in 2005.
Jim Korkis explains:
[This photo has appeared in several places but the gentleman standing over Walt usually never gets identified.
Walt had been a member of the Hollywood Athletic Club. One of the staff members was an ex-Olympic wrestler named Carl Johnson and Walt worked out regularly with him. When Carl heard that Walt was building a new studio, he suggested a gym so that the employees could keep in shape. Unfortunately, the plans had already been approved and the main building was already well under construction.
Something like that never stopped Walt so he decided to add a penthouse with a gym, locker room, steam room, barber shop and kitchen. For seven dollars a month, employees could use all the facilities, sun bathe and get private workouts from Carl Johnson. Carl's favorite workout used the old medicine ball. Carl developed arthritis and left the studio in 1949 and passed away in 1952. The penthouse became less of a gym and more a place to play ping-pong and poker. ]
Monday, April 23, 2007
[By the way, on location in Arizona, Uncle Remus’ rocking chair was also used as Walt Disney’s “director’s chair." Across the back of the chair was written “Uncle Walt." Two great storytellers sharing the same chair. Just as President John F. Kennedy used a rocking chair for relief for his bad back so did Walt on location.
Here is another photo of Walt in the rocking chair from the great www.songofthesouth.net website. This is the earliest reference I know of Walt being called "Uncle Walt". Most folks believe it developed during his television years.]
All this being said, when I read the bibliography of the Disney et la France book, I stumbled on a book called The Rise and Fall of Michael Eisner by Richard Hack. Would anyone of you know if that book has been released or when it will be released?
Here are the things you should not miss this morning:
- The stunning 101 Dalmatians Color Keys by Walt Peregoy posted by Amid Amidi on CartoonModern.
- The Wind in the Willows storyboards posted by Michael Sporn.
- The animator drafts of The Flying Mouse posted by Hans Perk.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Here is the first half of the 1945 Disney Annual Report that was kindly sent to me by Sébastien Durand. I will post the second part tomorrow. The resolution is just high enough to be able to read the text. I wish I could post something in higher resolution, but I have to care about Blogger's limited available space.
And sometimes I hate ebay: when I am unable to buy them, not because my bid is not high enough but because I am not allowed by the system to even bid as the seller has restricted the access to the auction to people based in the US.
Friday, April 13, 2007
This just in:
[A.J. Carothers, 75, writer
A.J. Carothers, best-known for writing the 1987 Michael J. Fox movie "The Secret of My Succe$s" and Fred MacMurray's 1968 film "The Happiest Millionaire," died of cancer April 9 in Los Angeles. He was 75.
A Los Angeles memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. April 29 at Westwood Presbyterian Church.
He wrote more than 100 other motion pictures, television shows and stage plays during his 40-year career.
Born in Houston, Carothers was only 9 when he wrote his first story -- a murder mystery -- and sold it to a classmate for 15 cents.
He began his professional career as a story editor for the CBS-TV show "Studio One," and then as associate producer of "Playhouse 90" and "GE Theater."
Carothers worked closely with Walt Disney for seven years and delivered a eulogy at Disney's funeral.
While under contract with Disney, Carothers wrote "Miracle of the White Stallions" and "Emil and the Detectives."
Carothers went on to write "Never a Dull Moment" starring Dick Van Dyke and "Hero at Large" with John Ritter.
He penned episodes of many popular television shows, including "My Three Sons," "The Dupont Show with June Allyson," and a musical special for Bing Crosby. He created the ABC television series "Nanny and the Professor, starring Juliet Mills, and the CBS series, "Goodnight, Beantown," with Bill Bixby and Mariette Hartley, for which he also served as executive producer. His motion pictures for television include "The Thief of Bagdad," "Forever," "Goldilocks," and "Topper Returns."
In later years. Carothers wrote the book for the 1996 stage musical "Busker Alley," which starred Tommy Tune and toured the nation.
He also wrote speeches for figures including Nancy Reagan, and wrote the scripts for the Music Center Spotlight Awards since its inception in 1988.
Carothers is survived by his wife of 47 years, Caryl; three sons, Andrew; Cameron and Christopher, an actor; brother; a sister and four grandchildren.]
[From the techniques materials and wear to the item I would guessthat it is contemporary to the style of Mickey Mouse that appears onit which i would guess is 1935-1937.]
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Don't miss the article Farewell Carol Svendsen by Wade Sampson.
On a personal note: I got the chance to know Carol by email just a few days before she passed away, through her daughter Julie. She was an extremely kind, witty and lively person. I was supposed to interview her a few days after this first encounter by email but this never happened.
In the few days during which we exchanged emails Carol helped me locate one key manuscript related to Disney history, however. I will give you more details about this once the project in which that manuscript is involved gets on track.