Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crazy day today. Do not expect too many posts.

However, here is the fourth part of Jim Korkis' series about Walt and polo.

"Walt Disney captained the "Mickey Mouse Team" when it came to polo matches. However, many Disneyphiles may be unaware there was also a "Donald Duck Team".

Disney producer Harry Tytle was quite a polo player in college but in the depths of the Depression there were few slots for polo players. However, he did get to play with Will Rogers in August 1935 (which turned out to be Rogers' last game).

He also knew Harold Helvenston who was a professor of Dramatics working at the Disney Studio at the time. One night at dinner, through the kindness of Helvenston, Tytle met some Disney employees including George Drake and Perce Pearce and found himself hired at the Disney Studio in the traffic department.

Once at the studio, Tytle was introduced to Walt as a polo player and found himself invited to play with Walt at the Victor McLaughlin Arena. Walt must have liked the competitive spirit of the young man because Tytle also found himself playing with Walt at the Riviera Country Club against Spencer Tracy and his family.

Tytle, who didn't have the artistic skill to compete with other aspiring animators at the studio, found himself pinch hitting in many different departments at the Disney Studio.

However, he still had time to teach polo to a group of editors and cutters from other studios, played polo for the Junior Chamber of Commerce and formed the "Donald Duck Team". The "Donald Duck Team" (including people like Mel Shaw and Larry Lansburgh) played a wide area as far off as Arizona. They once took the group down to Mexico City in 1938 and won their match.

Tytle thinks the team won because they were constantly being underestimated because they had a portrait of Donald Duck emblazoned on their shirts. "A clever touch suggested by Walt," remembered Tytle in his autobiography.

What do Shirley Temple, Cock Robin, Charles Laughton, Clarabelle Cow and Jack Holt have to do with Disney and polo?

The story concludes tomorrow....."

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