Friday, March 30, 2007

Here is the last photo I just got from Mark Sonntag showing Walt receiving the French Legion of Honnor.

[Note that the person on the left is not Joe Schenck as previously stated.]
While we wait for JB Kaufman's upcoming book about Walt and El Grupo's trip to Latin America and Ted Thomas' (Frank Thomas' son) movie about the same subject, here is a great article written by Chilean journalist Jaime Huerta about Walt's visit to Chile. Unfortunately it's in Spanish. It does contain a few great visual documents, though, for those of you who do not speak that language.
Another politically incorrect postcard from the '30s found on ebay. This one from France.

A few things to catch up with: read Extra! Extra! Read All About It by Wade Sampson, check the new posts on Toons at War and the updates of The Walt Disney Family Museum site.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I will be in London most of next week and the blog will probably be quiet until Friday. I have one more photo from Mark Sonntag's collection to post. But for now, I would like to share one kindly sent to us by Jim Korkis:
[Since there was such a favorable response to the last photo I contributed, I thought I would share another photographic treasure from my collection. This is one of the last photos ever taken of Walt Disney.

Several months before his death, Walt gathered his entire family together for a cruise up the coast of British Columbia where the family celebrated not only one of his granddaughter’s birthdays but his wedding anniversary. While his sons-in-law would go salmon fishing in a little dinghy, Walt spent quiet time on the deck reading books about city planning in preparation for Epcot and about colleges in preparation for California Institute of the Arts. Ron Miller, Diane Disney’s husband, described Walt as “serene” during the cruise even though it rained during much of the time.

I like this photo because you can see Walt smiling behind that home movie camera and it looks like he is taking great enjoyment in filming whoever is looking at this picture. If you ever get a chance to see his home movies, there are long segments of things like crabs scuttling across the sand. Walt just had a childlike sense of wonder about the most common things and little things gave him great joy.

It gives me great joy to know that Walt had a fun and fulfilling family vacation shortly before he had to suffer such pain in the hospital.]

12 years later, I still exclaim as I used to do in 1995, when I first discovered the web: "I love the internet!"
You remember that photo with Walt and the kangaroo I posted yesterday? JB Kaufman sent me the story that goes with it:
[I can't swear to it, but I'm guessing that the Walt photo you posted was taken at the studio, on the occasion of the wallabies. Do you know about the wallabies? According to a syndicated story that appeared in newspapers in 1934, an Australian admirer sent Walt a gift of two wallabies, a male and a female. By the time they reached the States, they had produced a third. According to this story, the Disney staff promptly named the male wallaby Leapo, the female Hoppo, and the baby Poucho. This of course became an obvious inspiration for the cartoon Mickey's Kangaroo, released the following April. Joe Grant told me in 1988 that the newspaper story was true; he remembered the wallabies being kept in a pen outside the story department. I asked him if the name that appears on the mailing label in the cartoon, Leo Buring, was the name of the real-life person who sent the animals to Walt, and he thought it probably was. - JB]
And if that weren't enough, Hans Perk published on his site this morning the first part of the notes from a Reluctant Dragon story meeting where we learn that Kay Nielsen worked on the dragon's cave. This comes as major news to me. I knew of his work on Fantasia and Little Mermaid, of course, and - thanks to John Canemaker - of his concept paintings for Sleeping Beauty. But The Reluctant Dragon!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One more photo from Mark Sonntag's stunning collection.

Could anyone tell us where this one was taken?

The cover of the Serbian Mika Mis 57. This one does not contain any Disney comics.
Don't miss Wade Sampson latest article on MousePlanet: Walt's Last Gift to Our Children.

This just in from Rob Richards:
[Your blog readers might be interested to know the silent film SNOW WHITE (1916) that so inspired Walt Disney is now readily available on DVD.

It is part of a collection titled Treasures From American Film Archives (DVD, 2005).


50 Preserved Films
For the first time ever, America's film archives are joining forces to release their most exciting, unseen treasures on DVD. Showcasing the variety of American films produced in the United States over the last hundred years, the 50 films in this four-disc set have been meticulously preserved by eighteen of the nation's premier archives, including the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, George Eastman House, UCLA, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

It is available from several sources, including:

DVD Empire $52.46 $51.99 $47.89

I ordered my set from DVD Empire. It arrived very promptly. SNOW WHITE was very interesting. Obvious where many of the Disney ideas came from, yet the Disney version was brimming with original ideas as well. The film has a beautifully presented piano accompaniment.
The set includes a myriad of intriguing films (including Groucho Marx's 1933 home movies!). Of course SNOW WHITE is the film of interest to Disney aficionados.

All my best,

Rob Richards]

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Don't miss the posts about Oliver Wallace and Spike Jones this morning on Toons at War.
The Serbian Mika Mis number 56.

Great title card from the Donald short Early to Bed, designed by Phil Klein and coming from the collection of Mark Sonntag.
About Phil Klein: Phil was Izzy Klein's brother. Here is what Izzy mentioned about him in a Cartoonist PROfiles article that I will republish in Walt's People - Volume 6:
[My younger brother, Philip Klein, was an assistant to animators at the Studio at that time. One of his jobs was to work with the cameramen. When they had a vertical, north-south zoom-in, Phil stood somewhere on the back of the camera-stand and operated the down movement of the zoom while the cameraman did the rest of the operation of changing cels and shooting the picture.
Philip Klein got his start in the animation industry at the Van Beuren studio in New York. He came to Disney in Hollywood in 1937 as an assistant in animation. When he left the Studio four years later he was an animator. He took advantage of the educational processes in progress at the Studio. There were classes in every phase of the animation field. The Disney Studio was a college in animation in all its categories. The working population of the Studio in the late 1930s was between a thousand and twelve hundred. I believe that was the peak.
The Disney Studio's system of specialists went into using certain animators for animating Pluto because they were particularly good with that cartoon character. Others were good with Donald Duck. There were "clean-up" men also capable in that particular direction. In fact the Donald Duck clean-up men often kept the character of the Duck from drifting away from his design on the model charts. Phil Klein, for a period of time, was a Donald Duck clean-up artist. He also drew some of the Donald Duck model charts showing the correct way to draw Donald in various poses and angles.]
Phil Klein seems to have been very active in the cartoonist unions and left after the strike. Tom Sito mentions him several times in his new book.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Michael Barrier's new biography of Walt, Animated Man - A Life of Walt Disney, is out! (on Amazon at least) I have ordered my copy and can't wait to read it.

Are there any readers of this blog that would live in Japan? I am trying to locate a copy of the book: Tokyo Disuniirando no shinso (The True Story of Tokyo Disneyland) by Kano Yasuhisa, published in 1986 by Kindaiban geisha. Of course, if I ever get it, I will not be able to read it, but that will be phase 2: trying to contact the publisher, get the rights,...

Let's see first if I can get the book itself. Anyone ready to help?

I promissed more material from the amazing collection of Mark Sonntag this week. Here is to wet your appetite. Mark mentioned:

[This story outline evolved into TOUCHDOWN MICKEY (1932). What I like most is how Walt was still sending out the ideas, not long after Walt's name disappears from these documents.]

Do not miss reading this morning the amazing series of posts on ToonsAtWar about Der Fuehrer’s Face. If you like Disney history, you just can not miss this.
Also important to check are Michael Barrier's new posts which include the animation drafts for Who Killed Cock Robin?

Monday, March 19, 2007

I just discovered Margaret Kerry's site, Tinker Bell Talks, which features an exclusive excerpt of Kerry's upcoming autobiography. Can't wait.

This just in from Nicolas Roudier:

[For two years now, I worked hundreds of hour in the creating a database with a website interface that classifies in an exhaustive way the duck stories of Carl Barks and Keno Don Rosa, and allows for multi-criteria detailed searches. I finished recently and you can see the English version here: There are still one or two sections in development and a few more in preparation.]

And don't you just love those photos of Roy Williams and Ward Kimball also found today on ebay?

Speaking of fun stuff on auction today, I just found this great photo of Clarence Nash taken at the Somerset Hotel on ebay.
Walt's last passport is on auction through Heritage Auction Galleries. Weird.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This unfortunately just in from Jeff Kurtti:

[Eustace Lycett, 91, Designer of Special Effects for Disney Movies, Dies
Published: March 17, 2007

Eustace Lycett, whose work helping to create special effects for major Disney productions — including characters in “Mary Poppins” who walk on smoke, and seemingly empty suits of medieval armor engaged in combat in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” — earned him a share in two Academy Awards, died on Nov. 16 at his home in Fullerton, Calif. He was 91.

Walt Disney Company, via Associated Press

Eustace Lycett

A spokesman for Walt Disney Studios, Howard Green, said yesterday that company officials had not been notified of his death until this week.

During a 43-year career with Disney, starting in 1937, Mr. Lycett worked on more than 30 films, including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Babes in Toyland,” “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “101 Dalmatians” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

In 1964, along with Peter Ellenshaw and Hamilton Luske, he won an Oscar for special visual effects for “Mary Poppins.” And in 1971, with Alan Maley and Danny Lee, he won another Oscar in the same category for “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

Mr. Lycett was a protégé of Ub Iwerks, a pioneer of animation and special effects who for many years was head of the Disney studio’s process laboratory. They and other technicians worked together in the late 1930s to design a complex version of what was called the multiplane camera, a device that revolutionized animation by bringing depth to what had been a rather flat image. Mr. Iwerks, who died in 1971, had designed a simpler multiplane camera.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Iwerks’s son, Don Iwerks, a former chief of the Disney machine shop, explained that the camera separated a cartoon’s celluloid image into three planes: its background, an intermediate scene and the characters. “The fact that the planes could be moved independent of each other,” Mr. Iwerks said, “made it dimensional, in that objects in the foreground could move faster than the intermediate plane and then the background.”

The more sophisticated multiplane camera led to the production in 1937 of “Snow White,” the first full-length animated feature. Profits from “Snow White” allowed Walt Disney to build the company’s large studio complex in Burbank, Calif.

Eustace Arden Lycett was born in Straffordshire, England, on Dec. 21, 1914, the son of Martha Constance Walley and William Arden Lycett. As a mining engineer, Mr. Lycett’s father regularly moved with the family; they lived in Chile for years, and went to California in the early 1930s.

In 1937 Mr. Lycett earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology. That year, he also married Mary Ethel Goddard, who died in 2004. Mr. Lycett is survived by four sons: Kenneth, of Fullerton; William, of Placentia, Calif.; Roy, of Corona, Calif.; and Victor of Anaheim, Calif.; a sister, Nora Robertson of Carlsbad, N.M.; eight grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

It did not take Mr. Lycett long to find work. He graduated on a Friday and, based on an interview two weeks earlier, started work at Disney the following Monday. Mr. Lycett was named head of Disney’s special photographic effects department in 1958.

His career there was not limited to the big screen. He helped design “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” one of the most popular exhibits at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York, and “Rocket to the Moon,” a major attraction at Disneyland.]

Where The Wild Things Are by Glen Keane and John Lasseter!

Sébastien Durand has stumbled on YouTube on the historical test based on Where the Wild Things Are that was John Lasseter's first foray into computer animation in 1982, when he was still at Disney. The traditional animation is the work of Glen Keane. I never thought I would see this test . To say that I was very excited when I received this link is an understatment.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Serbian Mika Mis number 55.

Note that Monday is a holiday in Spain, so I will be back online on Tuesday. I will then be posting some more stunning documents sent by Mark Sonntag.
A few more politically incorrect cards featuring Mickey, sent by David Lesjak. Those are from the UK and were published by Inter-Art Co.

This 1933 ad for the Three Little Pigs Blue Ribbon book found by Jim Korkis on ebay gives me the chance to let you know that the Disney Book Networks was updated yesterday, the main news being that Prepare to Board!, Nancy Beiman's new book has just been released.
When checking the DBN, it would be great if you could tell me if you have any books in your collection that I have forgotten to include. (The Three Little Pig book above would not make it in the list as the books listed are books about Disney, not by Disney).
One more thing: if you know of any unpublished manuscript of value about Disney history, please do let me know, as I might want to publish it or might be able to help find a publisher. for it

Don't miss Jim Hill's article this morning about the making of Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Serbian Mika Mis issue 54.
This just in from Jim Korkis:

[Even though I have quite a collection of Walt photos including some that are very out of the ordinary, when I saw this photo advertised on eBay, I knew I wanted it even if it meant I had to eat candy bar lunches for a week. As a kid, in order to get extra money to buy comic books on the way home from school, I would only use enough of the lunch money my parents had given me to buy a candy bar to sustain my energy through the day so I could use the rest to buy reading material.

I think most people will look at this photo and see Walt standing on the uncompleted hill of the Storybook Land boat attraction at Disneyland. However, when I look at the photo, especially the way it has been cropped, I see the huge word "Story" that is larger even than Walt himself. Walt is standing up for the importance of story in the overall picture. Notice that the only area that is completed is the section where Walt is standing. Walt is also gazing off past the horizon, his eyes wrapped in thought about the next step as well as the final vision. All the other elements in the picture from the background to the foreground are minimized and gray. Once the Story is completed and strong, it will bring those other elements into better focus. I knew I wanted this by my computer when I churned out articles to remind me about Walt and his belief in the importance of storytelling. I make no apologies for being a sentimental Disney Geek who still gets a kick out of things like this picture.]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Do you love Pinocchio like I do? You must be having a ball these days! Hans Perk is posting the animation drafts to the film, Mark Mayerson is creating a Mosaic detailing who the animators are for the entire film and today Michael Sporn started posting the photostats of the storyboards.
The Serbian magazine Mika Mis number 53.
Two requests for help today:

- Would anyone have access to the article Why I Did Peter Pan by Walt Disney published in the magazine Brief? (A friend of mine is looking for a copy of it).

- Would anyone know how to contact the wife of the late Jack Speirs or one of his heirs?

Cartoonbrew mentioned two days ago an exhibition that is currently taking place at Disneyland featuring Disney Western Publishing book illustrators from the 1950s and 60s, including John Hench, Al Dempster, Retta Scott Worcester, Campbell Grant, Al White, Dick Kelsey, and several others.
I have heard recently that a book might be in preparation on that very subject. Is there any truth to that rumor? Would any of you know?
Two beautiful pieces of artwork being sold at the moment by Van Eaton Galleries: a fantastic watercolor Storyboard Panel from the "Lake Titicaca" sequence of Saludos Amigos and a Mary Blair concept paiting from the "Two Silhouettes" sequence of Make Mine Music. I love to start my day discovering two pieces like this.
Don't miss today Just the Disney Facts, Ma'am by Wade Sampson and the new posts by David Lesjak on ToonsAtWar.
An other politically very incorrect postcard from Belgium found today on ebay.

Speaking of ebay, Mark Sonntag just told me that there is a copy of the Alice in Cartoonland flyer I posted a few days ago that is currently for sale on ebay (search for item number 300091208703).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

David Lesjak just sent me this photo with the following caption: "Circa 1956, William and Louise Rast visit with Walt Disney at the Studio in Burbank."

William Rast was one of Walt's childhood friends. David also sent me an interview he conducted with him and his wide 15 years ago that will be included in a following volume of Walt's People. Here is a preview:

"I was staying in California once. Walt picked me up at the hotel. We ate dinner together then went up to his house. Lillian wasn’t there. She was out with some of her friends. He asked if I wanted to go swimming. I said sure. He couldn’t find any swim suits. Lillian had squirreled them away somewhere. He said we could jump in with the lights off. We jumped into the pool naked and swam around. All of a sudden the lights went on – Lillian and some of her friends had returned. I remember Walt introducing me to them, pointing his finger at each one. Luckily, we were in the water well enough to be protected."
I was glad to receive yesterday more great Serbian Disney magazines including this one, Mika Mis 51 which contains one instalment of the locally produced story Mickey and Donald on Travel.

Just found this morning on ebay this politically very incorrect postcard produced in Belgium in 1935 (non-authorized by Disney) and showing Mickey during his visit to the Belgian Congo (currently known as Democratic Republic of Congo).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Russell Merritt's and J.B. Kaufman's Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies book is a pure delight. The only slight disapointment are the illustrations. I would have loved to see concept art of more unusual documents related to the Silly Symphonies. There are a few visual documents, though that match the stunning quality of the text and the research. One of those is a photo of the Russian Three Little Pigs poster.

The shorts The Three Little Pigs, Peculiar Penguins and The Band Concert were shown in the mid-'30s at Moscow's Art Film Theatre. The Three Little Pigs even received a special award at the Moscow Film Festival in 1935.

While Russell and JB show the poster, I believe what I am displaying here is the full program was given to people attending the Moscow Film Festival. Or is it? Can one of the visitors of this site speak Russian and give me more information about this extremely rare document that has been part of my collection for years?