Friday, August 29, 2008


Walt Disney World: Then, Now, and Forever is the second book that I received from Disney Editions on Monday and - as you had guessed - this is the one I thoroughly disliked. To be precise and fair, if I had been an 8-year-old kid or a casual visitor of the park looking for a nice souvenir book, it would have done the trick. But as an adult Disney history enthusiast, this book is not worth spending a dime on. The text is extremely light and similar to what you would find in a park leaflet, and all of the photos are basically marketing "key art". There are no unusual shots, no historic photographs, no never-seen-before renderings, no surprises in any way, shape or form.

In summary: I will pass.

That being said we should not despair at all at this missed opportunity as Disney Editions should be releasing very soon an exciting book about Walt Disney World, namely The Art of Walt Disney World by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon. While I have not seen it yet, the interview I conducted with Jeff Kurtti about it is enough to make me want to fly to Florida and try and find it right away (although I would be jumping the gun as it should only be in stores in a few weeks).

Didier Ghez: How, why and when did you start working on that book?

Jeff Kurtti: Based on the success of "The Art of Disneyland" in 2005, it was not a long journey to contemplate an "Art of Walt Disney World." We tossed around suggestions and ideas, including a book on each gate and then a general one including hotel and other attractions, but came back to a single volume that is a companion to "The Art of Disneyland."We began work in early 2007, if my always-fallible memory serves, and delivered the final book in October of 2007.

DG: How did Bruce and yourself split responsabilities?

JK: Bruce was essentially designer, chief critic, and advisor. I selected the art, Bruce edited those selections based on his design, or on his persistently irascible personal taste. I wrote the text and captioning, and argued with Bruce about placement, information, and myriad detial.

DG: What were your criteria for the art you selected and included in the book?

JK: Aesthetic, personality, historic interest. There was no overriding criteria except those general guides. We also wanted to represent a wide range of art, artists, and projects, a much more difficult task that it might seem.

DG: Can we expect any surprises?

JK: A lovely variety of diverse art styles, some things I had never seen before, a lot of wonderful memories. I was especially surprised and impressed with the prolific work of Paul Hartley, and hope that this book brings his art and biography more into the mainstream of the Disney dialogue. Colin Campbell is also well-represented, as is soon-to-be-Disney Legend Dorothea Redmond.

DG: What are the renderings you are the proudest to have unearthed?

JK: I didn't really unearth anything, Disney's collections are meticulously curated, catalogued and preserved. It does a disservice to the Disney archival facilities to even imply that my work constitutes revelation. I am simply assembling and making public a contextualized collection of work. In fact, all the "heavy lifting" for this book in securing images was done by my Imagineering Art Library friends.Many pieces are early art that I remember from childhood—a beautiful painting of the Nautilus, and one of the Osceola steamboat. Bruce and I had selected Herb Ryman's iconic, but recently seldom-seen Cinderella Castle painting as the book's cover, let's see if it survived.In additon, some more recent work for Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom show the strong and continuing legacy of this beautiful and inspirational art, much of which is really never intended for the public.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


This just in from my friend Sasa from Serbia:
[I'm eclosing a cartoon that I have found in a magazine called SAD I NEKAD (Now and Before), from July 1936. The caption reads: "Did she betray me while she was in a health spa"? (at that time in Serbia, there was a popular belief that women who went to health spas would betray their husbands)]


I spoke recently with Michael Broggie (left) who mentioned his work on two upcoming books:

[I am currently researching the history of Walt's various studios--the first definitive study of the physical plants Walt created for his team beginning with the small garage in Kansas City to the international headquarters in Burbank. It will feature recollections of those who work (or worked) there.

I'm also finalizing a booklet based upon Walt's Words of Wisdom. An inspirational work direct towards younger folks, or the young at heart.]

One update following my review of Jeff Kurtti's new book, Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks, that Jeff had not conducted any new interviews for that book. I based myself on the answers that Jeff had given when I interviewed him, but I misunderstood.

Jeff did conduct new interviews for the book, extensive ones with Marty Sklar and Roy E. Disney, as well as Imagineers who worked with those profiled, including Tony Baxter (mentored by Claude Coats) and Tom Morris.

In addition, much of the perspective is derived from the fact that Jeff worked with many of those imagineers during his days at Imagineering and beyond, including Marc Davis, Claude Coats, John Hench, Harriet Burns, Sam McKim, Bill Evans, and the Shermans. Herb Ryman was in the cubicle next to Jeff's during his first six months as an Imagineer back in 1987, and they established a fast friendship that lasted until Herb's passing.
Do not miss today:

- Remembering Ollie Johnston on AWN

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Marc Davis, Al Bertino and Bill Martin in front of Marc's concepts for what would become Country Bear Jamboree.


I received three books from Disney Editions on Monday: Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks, Walt Disney World: Then, Now, and Forever, and Disney's Dogs (not yet officially released). Two out of those three are great, one is underwhelming (to say the least). I will review all three here between this week and next.

Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon's Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks is a pure delight and an essential reference. While Jeff admitely did not conduct new interviews for this book, an analysis of his bibliography reveals that he had access to many never-released-before documents. Since Jeff's books are also consistently well written it is no wonder that both the form and the substance of this book are top-notch.

If you are a serious Disney historian, you will of course have had access to a lot of the information in this book through other sources like The E-Ticket, but Jeff's synthesis is of extreme value as it helps introduce those great artists to the general audience, while providing an easily browsable source of information for Disney history enthusiasts.

I sincerly hope there will soon be a volume 2 available. My only request to Jeff would be to try and include a few more never-seen-before photographs of the artists and their work. But that is just me, of course: I always would like to get a lot more than what is offered.

In summary: Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks lived up to expectations and then some. A "must-have".
This photo of Walt currently being sold on ebay seems to have been taken in Mexicon in 1964.

Do not miss today:

- Walt Disney aka the Gray Seal by Wade Sampson
- Gouache Meets Photoshop by Pete Emslie
- In Praise of Real Paint! by Pete Emslie
and also Patrick Malone's new blog about Disney Shorts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Through a reader of this blog I received the document below that Dave Smith put together a few weeks ago and that refers to the above photograph taken in the Summer of 1932.

We are wondering if anyone reading this blog could identify the remaining artists (click on the photo to enlarge it).
More info about Disney's Lost Chords 2:

[Dear Didier,

I was hoping to have books available by the end of this week, but a delay at the printer has pushed delivery to me until about Sept.15.

Thank you for your immediate and enthusiastic response.

I realize for many people, especially for overseas orders, Paypal is the most convenient way to order. So, yes, we do accept Paypal. Paypal or credit card requests should be made to Laura at pintopony66@yahoo.com.

I will be going to WDW for several days at the beginning of Oct. in order to make a presentation of DISNEY'S LOST CHORDS to the National Fantasy Fan Club convention.
This will be a slightly altered version of a presentation that has been made several times in California, in which we had 4 singers and a piano accompaniast giving the first public performance of about a dozen selections from the book. I narrated, giving background information and showing artwork. The Orlando version will rely on recordings made during the original presentation, along with some of the deleted song sequences on video and my
narration with examples of development art.

I just received an order for Volume 1 from Australia (the first from that region), so I found out the shipping rate is the same as for Europe.

All the best,
Russell]

I am so excited about this book that now that I know how to pay for it I will do so right away.

Speaking of books (good and bad), I have just received three books from Disney Editions, two very good and one pretty bad. I will start reviewing them tomorrow.


Do not miss today:

- Toon Tuesday : A tribute to Ollie Johnston by Todd James Pierce
- When aesthetes competed with athletes at the Olympics by David Colker (thanks to Cartoon Brew for the link)
- Perfect Nightmare: Mike Cachuela on storyboarding Christmas by Jeremie Noyer

Monday, August 25, 2008

Some great news from Russell Schroeder:

[Hi, Didier,

I thought you might like to know that I have a second volume of deleted musical numbers from Disney films at the printers and will be available in September. It is (imaginatively) titled DISNEY'S LOST CHORDS VOLUME 2.

Like the previous volume, this one is also hard cover, dust jacketed, and a signed limited edition of 1,000 books. It, too, is priced at $75.00 US.

This new volume is larger, however, with 384 pages and over 300 illustrations.

A few of the films represented are SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, THE ARISTOCATS, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, ALADDIN, POCAHONTAS, and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Additionally, I was able to include 5 of Sammy Fain and Jack Lawrence's original songs for SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Quite a few Academy Award-winning composers are included, such as Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Frank Churchill, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, Henry Mancini, and Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman.

This volume will be available for mail order from:
Voigt Publications
2055 Lower Tuskeegee Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771

Because of the worldwide interest in the first volume I have checked on several international shipping rates. They are as follows:
Europe, Japan, and South Africa: $38.95
Canada: $23.95
United States: $9.80 (optional insurance $2.30)

If there are any questions they may be addressed via e-mail to pintopony66@yahoo.com

All the best,
Russell]

Needless to say, I loved volume 1 so much that I will be the first one to order volume 2.
As mentioned last week, I am working with Greg Ehrbar on the autobiography of Jimmy Johnson, who used to run the Disney Music Company.

Jimmy's son sent us quite a few photos to illustrate the book, but we need some help.

1. Can anyone identify the people that appear in those two photos? The woman in the one at the top is Ann Johnson, Jimmy's wife, but can anyone tell me who the two gentlemen are?
The man on the left in the bottom photo is Jimmy Johnson, but can anyone identify the artist (probably a singer) on his right?

2. Would anyone of you have access to a good photo of Cyril James or Eddie Davis Disney's representatives in the UK for many, many years?


Do not miss today:


- “The People Moving People” by Michael A. Crawford

Friday, August 22, 2008

I keep forgetting to mention that the Disney Books Network was updated this weekend.

And I just noticed a few minutes ago, by checking my Amazon Associates report that Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks is being shipped by Amazon since yesterday.

Behind the Scenes

I have been operating the Disney History blog for two years now and for the first time this week I received a vicious comment about one of my posts. I guess it was long overdue.

The comment was the following:

“You've got a talented illustrator for your covers. People who transcribe the interviews (most of which were given many years before most of us could spell) and ... uh, what do you again besides put your name on the book?”

It came from a mature reader named Anonymous, who else.

Since I have now cooled down, I thought I might take this opportunity to explain what it takes to publish Walt’s People and what other Disney-related projects are in store.
[Update: Just to clarify even more, I am no longer upset and I am not really responding to this comment, I am just taking it as a springboard to explain step by step how WP is put together and the projects I am working on in parrallel.]

As I mentioned in the past, the idea for the WP project came from an exchange of emails with Jim Korkis. After that exchange, I research which solution I could use to release the books and found out about “print-on-demand”, which seemed both very practical and inexpensive.

Once I had decided that this was the solution I would use and that I would be willing to invest the first $1000 dollars that would be needed to start the project (and that I had no hope of seeing ever again), came the task of convincing Disney historians to participate to the project. Sounds easy. You have to remember, however, that those historians had spent years and years collecting material, financing their research from their own pocket, spending hours and hours doing research to prepare the interviews, spending money to meet the interviewees,... and since I knew WP would never make a profit, just break even to allow for the project to finance itself, I would not promise them any money. So easy it was not, but I was lucky enough to have spent the last 20 years of my life researching Disney history and building a good reputation in the community, so the Disney historians I was approaching knew that I was also ready to spend a lot of my time and money to increase Disney history knowledge and that my philosophy had always been: “share as much as possible without expecting anything in return, and hope that the more you share the more others will also want to share.”
But even then, you have to remind the contributors of deadlines in a tactful way, call them over the phone sometimes (remember that I am based in Spain and most of them are in the US), send them emails or physical letters, use some of their friends to act as go-betweens,...
I even planed some of my vacations around cities of residence of key contributors that I really wanted to see coming on board. My vacations in New York were an example of this.
I forgot to mention that some key contributors are sometimes even difficult to locate and you have to become a private eye to find them. That was the case with the widow of Richard Hubler, who was in her ‘90s and blind when I located her. Richard Hubler’s son had run away and could not be found, so I finally managed to get in touch with a son-in-law who was kind enough to help (again, international phone calls, countless letters, hours spent on the internet looking for a potential lead,...)

And I started receiving interviews in various formats: some in digital format, some on paper, some on tapes.
You would think that the transcripts in digital format would be tremendously easy to manage. Our friend Anonymous has this image of me copying and pasting the files in a master word document and “presto” book ready to send to Xlibris. Have you ever seen a rough transcript of an interview? The amount of work it entails to make it readable is often staggering. It gets even worse when the person interviewed is a senior citizen, who loses his trail of thoughts, does not finish his or her sentences, etc. I still remember having had to spend a complete Sunday working on the interview of Rudy Ising by JB Kaufman to make it readable, instead of enjoying a reunion with my wife’s family. Don’t get me wrong: I loved working on that interview, I loved the feeling of the text being tightened up little by little, and I would do it again. Even after I had done all of this work on the transcript, JB had to work on it quite a bit too, to get to the final version. Multiply this by the number of interviews that appear in each volume (even though to be accurate about 10% of the interviews do reach me already perfectly edited), add the introductions that need to be researched and written for each piece, and you will get an idea of what that first phase of the project means in terms of workload. Most of my summer was spent on this.
What about transcripts that would reach me in paper format? For the first few years of the project, I would scan them myself. Our friend “Anonymous” is now thinking “big deal! With character recognition softwares (CRS) this task is quick and easy.” Unfortunately not so again: CRS do not always recognize properly characters typed on a typewriter and you have to spend hours cleaning the scan. After you clean the scan you go back to the editing process that I described above for the transcripts that reach me in digital format. Thankfully some readers like Ed Mazzilli are now helping with the digitizing part of the process.
Finally there are the interviews that arrive on a tape. Since the tapes are old they often include horrendous background noise. Quite a few readers, like James D. Marks, Jeff Petterson, or Dave De Caro (and others) are now transcribing those for me, thankfully. But once again, this does not eliminate the arduous editing phase that follows.

What comes next? Once the transcriptions are gathered and edited, I send them to Bob Welbaum who checks issues with the spelling, with typos, grammar,... and send me back his corrections that I then spend time integrating into the main document.
The edited interviews are them sent to Percy Willis for another round of edits.
Once I get that document, I then send it to all the contributors to get their feedback on factual errors, inconsistencies, or any issue they can locate. They always locate quite a few, which makes the overall books much better, and which I input one by one in the master.

Then comes the cover-drawings phase, with Pete Emslie creating the caricatures. Even that step is sometimes far from easy. To create the great caricatures he sends me, Pete has to work from video images from the subject, not still photographs, and I at times have to help him find that reference footage. Once the caricatures are ready, they go to a friend called Josh Noah in Paris, who creates the frames around them.

After having typed the table of content and other supporting texts requested by Xlibris, I am now in a position to send the book to Xlibris for publication.

A few weeks later, Xlibris sends me the galleys that I have to print and review. Those always include a large number of formatting mistakes that I have to list in a form provided by Xlibris. Once those are corrected a few weeks later, the book is ready for printing and is officially made available when I approve the writer’s copy.

After this is done, I order the 30 contributor copies (in average) that I will have to send one by one to the different participants.

This is all non-profit and the only goal is to make more Disney history material available to encourage even more sharing and additional research (I have been motivated to interview quite a few additional artists myself in the last few years).

As you see, there is a large number of people helping the Walt’s People project, without whom this project would not exist, but I am happy to say that I do contribute my fair share.

And I love it. Which is why, in addition to volumes 7 (which is ready to go to the printer), 8, 9 and 10 (special Bob Thomas volume) of Walt’s People on which I am working at the moment, I am also tackling three other book projects:

1. I am still at work on Bugs’ Buddies, although the target publication date is now end of 2009 or mid-2010.

2. I am helping Mel Shaw put in publishable shape his autobiography (with the help of Don Peri, JB. Kaufman, David Lesjak, Jim Korkis and Michael Barrier).

3. Along with Greg Ehrbar, author of Mouse Tracks, I am helping Grey Johnson put in publishable shape the autobiography of his father Jimmy Johnson, who headed the Disney Music Company for more than 30 years.

Needless to say, with so few projects on my plate I had a lot of free time this summer. Did I already mention that I adore researching Disney history?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Those three pieces of concept art from The Nightmare Before Xmas were offered for sale on Van Eaton Galleries a few months ago. I have always loved that movie (especially the art direction and the music) and find those drawings marvelous. Not sure who drew them, but I would like to find out. I just thought you might enjoy seeing them.



Chek out those two interviews today:
- Richard Sherman interviewed by Lou Mongello
- Burny Mattinson interviewed by Ed Liu

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This just in from Jim Korkis:

[Here is a photo of Walt picking up trash from the book “When Hollywood Was Fun” by Gene Lester. Gene was one of the many “celebrity” photographers working for magazines like LIFE. At one time, he actually had a Disney movieola that was used for the early Mickey Mouse cartoons and Snow White. Anyway, here at two great candid shots. The only shot of Walt wearing a Mouseketeer hat and a picture of Walt picking up trash at Disneyland.

These were not posed but captured by “happy accident”.

For more of the story go to the website Outside the Berm.]


Matt Crandall, the most famous collector of Alice in Wonderland items, launched his blog about 4 months. I just discovered it and thought you might enjoy it as much as I do.

Do not miss today:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I have some excellent news. Pete Emslie has just sent me the caricatures for the cover of Walt's People - Volume 7, which means that I should be able to release that volume in about 2 months.
I will try and update you this week on a few other projects I am currently working on in parrallel (it has been a very busy summer)

This just in through Are Myklebust:

[Here is a link to Ann Jillian (b. 1950) childhood memories from working on the Disney feature film "Babes in Toyland" (1961).]
Do not miss today:

- Monday Mouse Watch : Mickey, Minnie ... and Michael ?! by Jim Hill
- Toon Tuesday : Here's to the real survivors by Floyd Norman
- Mickey and Johnny by Joakim Gunnarsson
- Tony Bancroft balances the yin and the yang in directing Mulan by Jeremie Noyer

Monday, August 18, 2008


I have received from Disney Editions today the following information about Don Hahn's upcoming book, The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age.
I have highlighted two sentences which I find particularly interesting.


[Publication Date: October 7, 2008

"It’s been almost seven years since I wrote my first animation book, Animation Magic, and what I really wanted to do this time, was write a book about the making of animated films in the modern age, for a slightly older audience. I think this book is for everybody…people who love animation, people who are intrigued by the process, but most of all, people who just love movies.” say Don. “We were fortunate to be able to pack it with amazing, never-before-seen art from Disney and Pixar films through the ages, including a few sneak peeks at art from upcoming projects such as “Bolt” and “The Princess and the Frog!”

ABOUT THE ALCHEMY OF ANIMATION

The swift stroke of a pencil, the delicate positioning of a puppet, and the intricate process of building a 3D-render: these are but a few of the magical elements presented by Academy Award nominated producer Don Hahn in his book The Alchemy of Animation. This overview of the animation process across three mediums—hand-drawn, stop-motion and computer-generated—provides an entertaining and informed look at the sorcery behind the creation of such diverse Disney classics as Dumbo, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story, among others. Fans will appreciate the rarely seen artwork ranging from Snow White to the upcoming Bolt, and students of animation will relish the insider’s look at the many steps involved in making such masterpieces.

ABOUT DON HAHN

One of the most successful producers working in Hollywood today, Don Hahn has been working creatively as a filmmaker at The Walt Disney Studios for over 30 years.
Hahn produced the classic "Beauty and the Beast," which became the first animated film to receive a Best Picture nomination from the Motion Picture Academy. His next film, "The Lion King," broke box-office records all over the world to become the top-grossing traditionally animated film in Disney history and a long-running blockbuster Broadway musical. Hahn also served as associate producer on the landmark motion picture "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." His other films include "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," and the 2006 short "The Little Matchgirl" which earned Hahn his second Oscar nomination.

He is currently developing the stop-motion animated feature "Frankenweenie" with director Tim Burton, and directing and producing several documentary projects. Hahn has also authored three books on the art of animation, including the upcoming The Alchemy of Animation, which provides the definitive account of how animated films are created in the modern age.]

Hake's has just launch its new auction. Quite a few great items in this one, but the document I would most love to get a copy of is the following. If the highest bidder on this lot is among the readers of this blog, I beg you to email me after you get this letter and the article!
[An incredibly interesting lot giving insight into the life of Carolyn Kay Shafer who served as Walt Disney's confidential secretary as noted in two of the items included in this lot (also see her Studio Christmas card #1672). First and foremost is a two-page typed letter to a close friend dated Feb. 5, 1932. Pair of 8.5x11" stationery sheets, first sheet has Disney Studio address of 2719 Hyperion, Hollywood; second sheet has "Mickey Mouse Sound Cartoons" on bottom margin. First sheet also includes Mickey image. Body of the letter details her career including her move to Los Angeles where she "Started Working Temporarily For The Studio, But The Work Developed Into Such A Nice Position That I Stayed On. I Direct The Publicity For Mickey Mouse And Silly Symphony Cartoons And In Addition To That Act As Mr. Walt Disney's Confidential Secretary." Further text delves into her love life mentioning several engagements as well as interest in a "Very Interesting Young Musician Here At The Studio." This turned out to be the man she married and the wedding invitation is included in this lot. Letter is signed in ink "Carolyn." Lightly aged as folded but both sheets still clean and VF. Included is the original Disney Studio mailing envelope although this is aged, has margin wear and 1x2" clip from front top right corner. Good. The invitation is 4.5x6.5" and comes with original envelope. For wedding of June 10, 1933 of Carolyn to Frank Edwin Churchill. Lightly aged, VF. Final item is a one-page article from Feb. 1934 issue of American Magazine. Great photo of Carolyn with a Mickey Mouse book and doll plus brief text dealing with her career and noting that she personally answered Mr. Mickey Mouse's mail with receipt of up to 30,000 letters a month. Also notes she married Frank Churchill "Walt Disney's Musical Supervisor, The Young Man Who Recently Made The Big Bad Wolf And The Three Little Pigs Famous." This sheet is Exc. All would mat and frame to an impressive display. (J - $700 to $1000)]

This photo is being sold on ebay at the moment. Any idea who this artist might be?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomorrow is a holiday in Spain. The blog will be updated again on Monday.
This just in from the collection of Bob Cowan. Bob mentions:

[The survey used after the screening of a reel of Snow White.

Frankly, I think this is one of the more valuable items in the collection. Probably because of my business... I liked the idea that they were using an early form of Focus Group that went beyond the animators sitting around. These surveys were completed by any employee that saw the reel (except in this case when Ingeborg Willy kept her survey). Based on some of the fundamental questions asked, it would seem logical that what they saw was a fairly rough version -- if a lot of time had gone into the production, then there would not have been much willingness to ask questions about issues that could not be changed.]

Do not miss today:

- Victorville A.A.F. - insignia by David Lesjak
- Windows to the Past: Pinocchio's Pal 1941 by Jeff Pepper

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



I am currently working on an interview with Ken O'Connor by Mark Langer that will be released in Walt's People - Volume 9. In the notes, Langer mentions a lecture titled Designing Fantasia that Ken O'Connnor gave at Chouinard Art School, on December 4, 1959.

Would anyone of you have access to the text of this lecture?

For that matter, would anyone have access to any lecture given at Chouinard or CalArts by Disney artists?

If that is the case, please email me.

This concept painting from Peter Pan by David Hall is pure delight. It was a sold a few years ago by Howard Lowery and is currently being offered for sale by Van Eaton Galleries.

Do not miss today:

- A Farewell to the Adventurer’s Club by Wade Sampson
- The Alchemy of Animation by Jerry Beck
- Comic-Book Idols Rally to Aid a Holocaust Artist by GEORGE GENE GUSTINES (about Art Babbitt's widow)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Julie Svendsen, longtime Imagineer and daughter of famous Disney artist Julius Svendsen and Disney employee Carol Svendsen, was kind enough to grant me an interview recently for Walt's People. She also conducted for Walt's People a long interview with Walt Peregoy. And she was kind enough to send me these two photos.

The one at the bottom features her mother with Disney artist Dave Davidovich; the one at the top features: second from the left Dave Davidovich; fourth from left Don Griffith; sixth from left (his head breaks the frame of the painting) her dad, Sven; first from the right is Ollie Johnston and seated next to him is John Lounsbery. Could anyone tell us who the others are?

[Update: I thought I had seen this photo before. And I did. It was posted on May 22, 2007 on The Animation Guild blog by Steve Hulett. Here is the complete caption:

"From left to right: Dale Oliver, Dave Davidovich, Don Duckwall, Don Griffith, Bill Berg, Julius Svendsen, Eric Cleworth, Hal King, Ted Berman, John Lounsbery, and Ollie Johnston.
Still more photographs from the Youngquist bye-bye party.

Dale Oliver (with the mustache) was an assistant animator at Disney who ended his career as an animator on The Fox and the Hound. (Dale served as a glider pilot landing troops in Normandy on D-Day. The odds of glider pilots surviving at Normandy were minimal, and I once asked him: "What did you do after landing?" He replied: "Not too much, just kind of stood around until they shipped me back to England." Relaxed attitude, no? Probably helped during that June morning of 1944. Dale retired from Disney after a bad car accident)...

David Davidovich was a background and layout artist who started in the biz at Warners in the mid-1930s. Don Duckwall was a long-time production manager in the animation department, with just the right name to work at Disney's. Don Griffith was a veteran layout artist who worked at the studio through the '80s.

Bill Berg was a long-time Disney story artist (mainly on shorts) who was working for Les Clark at this time. (You click on Bill's link, you're going to think that Bill later became an assistant animator and character lead on Lion King and other epics. That's a different Bill Berg, IMDb to the contrary.) Julius Svendsen was a veteran Disney animator and story artist. Sven's career was cut short when he died in a boating accident.

Eric Cleworth was an animator and story artist in Woolie Reitherman's unit. Eric had been at the studio since '39; a few years after this photo was taken, he retired with his Disney stock options and had a long and comfortable retirement in Morro Bay. Hal King was a pillar of the Disney animation department, having been an animator and directing animator for decades. Ted Berman was a story artist who ended his career as a director on The Black Cauldron. John Lounsbery, one of the "nine old men," was at this time a directing animator. At the time of his death (six years after this picture), he was a director on The Rescuers. At the far right is Ollie Johnston, directing animator and the last survivor of the Walt-designated "Big Nine"."]


This just in from Alain Littaye:
[HARRISON ELLENSHAW has been asked to make some special appearances this summer, including this weekend at the California State Fair in Sacramento at the GOING HOLLYWOOD exhibit.

Harrison will be the featured guest on the first weekend of the fair (August 16th and 17th.)
A very special feature of the exhibit will be the rare public display of a private collection of artifacts from the Ellenshaw family including the Academy Award® that Peter Ellenshaw received for 1964's MARY POPPINS.

The exhibit which runs from August 15th through September 1st will feature an interactive sound stage complete with green screen technology, special visual effects demonstrations and Q & A sessions. In addition, the Herbie (THE LOVE BUG) car will be part of the display. Interestingly, three Ellenshaws worked on three different HERBIE movies: Peter worked on the original THE LOVE BUG, Harrison worked on HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO and Lynda worked on HERBIE: FULLY LOADED.]


Do not miss today:

- William E. Garity, Inventor by Hans Perk
- Windows to the Past: February 2, 1967 by Jeff Pepper

Monday, August 11, 2008

Astonishing document being sold at the moment on ebay with the caption:

[In April of 1931, the Walt Disney studio changed its distribution of its cartoons from Columbia pictures to united artists with a better contact which meant not only more money for production, but also more security for its artists and employees. To celebrate the occasion, a special party was held for the employees and offered here is a rare copy of that 1931 invitation. It comes folded and measures 6 1/2"x 8 1/4" and printed on quality stock.]



Do not miss today:

Friday, August 08, 2008

Amazon has just revealed the covers of two books that will be released next year and that I am eagerly awaiting: Disney's Neglected Prince: The Art of Disney's Knights in Shining Armor (and Loincloths) and Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation

Thanks to Are Myklebust for having spotted this photo of Walt and the former president of Mexico Miguel Aleman (1900 - 1983), apparently taken in the '50s during a trip to Guadalajara to receive a special award given by the president.
Two beautiful Eyvind Earle concept paintings being sold by Van Eaton Galleries at the moment.


Do not miss today:

- The Adventurers Club that we almost got by Jim Hill
- 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion - insignia by David Lesjak

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I have just been informed by Disney Editions that the books Walt Disney World: Then, Now, and Forever and The Art of Walt Disney World (both by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon) will be parks exclusive and therefore not available through Amazon.

No news about the release date.
Mark Sonntag just spotted this unusual shot of Walt on ebay.

Here is the caption:

[Before it became the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, a dear friend of ours named Jack Baker used to own the Pike Forest Fossil Beds, located in Florissant, Colorado. Walt Disney visited Jack's tourist trap on July 11th, 1956, and bought a petrified stump for Disneyland. Jack was quite the promoter, and took this picture of Walt next to these petrified trees. Jack plastered that image on brochures, souvenir plates, and everything else he could think of.]


Do not iss today:

- DISNEY - 1934 part 1 by Mark Sonntag
- DISNEY - 1934 part2 by Mark Sonntag
- This page about Walt and TV (thanks to Cartoon Brew)
- Gary Mooney 1930-2008 by Jerry Beck
- In Glorious Multiplane - 1 by Hans Perk
- In Glorious Multiplane - 2 by Hans Perk
- In Glorious Multiplane - 3 by Hans Perk

Wednesday, August 06, 2008



Manuscript reminder

I have been very busy these last few days working on the unpublished manuscript of Mel Shaw's autobiography Animator on Horseback, which partly explains why the blog has been so slow.

Just a reminder: if you know of any unpublished manuscript related to Disney history or of key historical documents linked to Disney history, please do contact me. I am always trying to help get those documents released in one way or another and will do anything I can to help. The best part: I am not interested in making any money out of it. I just want the information to be available.

I will remind this request from time to time.

This just in through Jim Korkis:

[C. Thomas Wilck, a public affairs consultant for Walt Disney and the Irvine Co. who also worked in the Nixon administration, has died of kidney cancer in Irvine. He was 75. Wilck represented some of Southern California's leading businesses and was involved in many community organizations, from the Boy Scouts to the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. He died July 24. Wilck worked as Walt Disney's personal public relations consultant throughout the 1960s. His most noted work included helping Disney open Walt Disney World and the California Institute of the Arts. Wilck married Walt Disney's personal secretary, Tommie, in 1962. "The man gave away his secretary as Tom's bride, so I'd say they were very close," said Jim Stewart, the former vice president of corporate relations for Walt Disney Productions. "Walt was basically the father of the bride; he gave Tommie away at the wedding." Bill Long worked as Disneyland's marketing director during the 1970s and would often seek Wilck's advice. "He would always do his homework on an issue with class and dignity. He epitomized what a PR executive could be," Long said. ]
This just in:

[Floyd Norman's blog is working again after some issues last week (due to a hard drive crash).]


Do not miss today:

- 1948 School Textbook about Disney Studio by Jerry Beck
- Forgotten Disney Heroines: The Disney Secretaries by Wade Sampson
- Zip Your Lip by David Lesjak
- Eric Goldberg, Part One by Clay Kaytis