[That 1952 "Mohawk Tommy" commercial, animated by Bill Justice and Blaine Gibson (who designed the statue of Mickey and Walt sited in the Disney parks' central Hub), has multiple links to Disney.
The head of Hurrell Productions, photographer George Hurrell (seen here in a self-portrait), attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, as Walt once did.
From 1943-1954, Hurrell was married to Phyllis Bounds (Detiege), Lillian Disney's niece, and one-time head of Ink & Paint at the studio. Phyllis later worked at Disney as a TV commercial coordinator, so she may have helped produce the Mohawk Tommy ad.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly: from the late 1930s into the 1950s George Hurrell shot scores of portraits of Walt Disney (also Mary Blair, seen here posed in a wicker chair). Hurrell's photos of Walt were used for promotional purposes, and many of them are familiar to Disney aficionados.
An exhibition of more than 50 specimens of Hurrell's portrait photography drawn from the Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive will open on February 3, 2015 at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. The show will run through July 13th. Alas, precious few pics of Walt and none of Mary Blair will (apparently) be on display in the show.
Pancho Barnes, incidentally, was a pioneering aviatrix and quite a character. She was played by Kim Stanley in The Right Stuff, the 1983 motion picture based on the Tom Wolfe book. If you saw the film you'll recall that Barnes ran the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a dude ranch and restaurant in the Mojave Desert frequented by rowdy military test pilots like Chuck Yeager.]
I hope this letter finds you well. I've lately been working extensively with my local New York friend Tom Stathes, an animation scholar I know I've discussed with you before. He's a younger, twentysomething guy with an extremely impressive collection of silent cartoons on 16mm and 35mm - and here are a few of his websites - http://www.tommyjose.com http://brayanimation.weebly.com/
Right now Tom and I are busy helping a British film scholar, Andrew Smith, with a potential documentary on silent animation, in which Tom's library would play an integral part. It's a Kickstarter project that hasn't built up quite the head of steam that we hoped: http://tinyurl.com/cartooncarnival
We're only two days away from the end of this campaign, but about $2000 down on the goal. If you could circulate the http://tinyurl.com/cartooncarnival address as far as it could possibly go - and hopefully get some healthy support from people outside my own New York scene, I'd be really thrilled. Note that this isn't a Disney-related project... but any fans or scholars of early Disney films should look forward to what we hope to do here!
I just received a few days ago the latest Theme Park Press newsletter, which officializes some great news. One of the volumes they will release next years is
[The memoirs of Pinto Colvig, the voice of Goofy (and so much else). This book was written by Colvig in the early 1940s, making it perhaps the first book ever about the Disney Studio written by someone who worked there.]
The document was unearthed by my good friend and fellow Disney historian Todd James Pierce who is also serving as editor on the project. No better way to end the year than with news like this one.
English artist and self-promoting entrepreneur Damien Hirst is best known for his 17-foot-long shark floating in formaldehyde — exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007-2010 — a work that will long live in esthetic infamy. The chi-chi Paris-based créateur de mode Marc Jacobs is currently marketing a "limited edition" Mickey Mouse tee-shirt designed by Hirst.
The image emblazoned on the shirt was created originally at the behest of the Disney Company in the form of a six-foot-high painting on canvas using ordinary household gloss out of a can. The picture was sold at auction in February by Christie's for more than $1.5 million. A portion of that sum was donated to the British inner-city charity Kids Company.
Hirst's Mouse is an abstract, geometric distillation of a silkscreen design by Andy Warhol from 1981, itself a re-working of a 1933 United Artists poster presenting Mickey in one of his early iconic poses. Though surely not to everyone's taste, the pricey Hirst/Jacobs threads might make a nice holiday gift or stocking stuffer for that special Disney fan in your life who won't mind seeing Walt Disney's graphic alter ego deconstructed and dumbed down into a dozen circular daubs of color.
The shirts are sold in kids' sizes at $58 a pop, on white fabric only. The adult model comes in black only ($98), which is strange — if not an outright gaffe — since Mickey's ebony ears against the black background are virtually illegible. (Did Disney Brand Management actually sign off on that?) Also: unlike its two prototypes, Hirst's Mickey has no tail. Ouch.
"100% of the proceeds" from all sales are earmarked for the Kids Company charity, according to the Marc Jacobs website. That may cushion the pain in your purse if you shell out $98 (plus tax and shipping) for one of the tees.
Anyway ... here, for the stout of heart, is a link to the kids' model.]
[Each of Pixar Animation Studios’ films begins with the artists in the story department throwing ideas around to see what works best. This fun, collaborative process often results in hilarious scenarios, inside jokes, and illustrated gags, some of which will never make it to the final cut of the film. The Art of Funny features inspired gags from the creation of all of Pixar’s films to date, from Toy Story to Monsters University, bringing together never-before-published illustrations and doodles from the depths of Pixar’s archives.]
We are still working on a comprehensive index of the Walt's People book series, but in the meantime, if you are wondering which volume contains which interview, wonder no more: Harald Nast has integrated all that information in his excellent Disney Resource Index.
Once again, not really Disney-history related, but those who read French will want to know that the third volume in Sebastien Roffat's astounding series about the history of French animation has just been released and is available on Amazon.fr.
This has become a tradition. Here is the list of what I feel are the best Disney history books of 2014, in no particular order. As always, I have refrained from including the latest two volumes of Walt's People (volumes 14 and 15).
A few years ago I wrote a series of articles for the magazine Tomart's Disneyana Update which discussed the history of Disney magazines all around the world before 1947, including those from Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Sweden and even Palestine.
I realized yesterday, when I discovered the above photo, that I had overlooked one of them, the Polish magazine Gazetka Miki, which released 22 issues in 1939.
I would love to understand much more about its history. Do we have any Polish readers here? Could you help me extract the relevant information from the article which can be found at this link?
Granted, this is not directly Disney-related, but I stumbled a few weeks ago on this in-depth thesis about Paul Terry and I know that some of you will want to read it since it contains a lot of information I had never-seen-before about the early days of US animation.
Not sure when that shot was taken (mid-'60s obviously, but that's about it) or what Walt was doing. The only thing we know is that he was paying a visit to Saint Joseph Hospital to check some of their equipment.