Thursday, November 30, 2006

Three sites to check out today:

1. The Walt Disney Family Foundation site which has just been updated.

2. This post on CartoonBrew which finally officially reveals the project on which Frank Thomas' son has been working on for the past 2 years. I was aware of the project and have even contributed to it a little. I am happy to know that it is now official.

3. ToonsAtWar for its great new posts.

Here is one more photo from the breathtaking collection of Mark Sonntag.

The obvious mystery is: who is Mary? Walt's secretary at the time was Nadine Missakian (nee Simpson), whose interview will appear in Walt's People - Volume 5.

So the mystery of who is pictured here remains. I would also love to know where this photo was taken. Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This just in from Serbia, thanks to a friend there:

From Mali Zabavnik No. 2.

Here is also the translation of this page, numbers representing the images.

1. - Hi, H.
2. - Oh, Mickey! I need your help.
3. - I want to take a picture, but only to pay half the price. So you'll be my partner, and I'll also be on the picture.
4. - Great! I'm your partner...
5. - Let's hurry to the photographer!
6. - There we are...
7. - Mr. photographer, dont you worry, we'll take the position...
8. - Ha! Good!
9. - You can get two pictures out of one, separate pictures of course.
10. - And for half the price! (The End)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The biography of Walt by Tom Tumbusch that I was mentioning a few days ago will go to the printer on January 3rd.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Thanks to Amid Amidi from Cartoon Modern for having located this one!

I have a good internet connection, so there might be a few posts on the blog after all while I am in London.

Unfortunately the first one this morning is a sad one as I just learned that Luciano Bottaro, one of the Great Masters of Italian Disney comics passed away on November 25, 2006 at the age of 75.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I will be in London until Thursday next week for work, so the blog will be probably be quiet for a few days.

On the set of The Reluctant Dragon: never-published-before photo from the collection of Mark Sonntag. More of those to come next week to our delight!

Just in from Jim Korkis:

[At Christmas, I always think of Dr. Seuss because of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Here are two fun Dr. Seuss anecdotes concerning Disney. They come from the book Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan (DaCapo Press 1996). I have added some information to clarify identifications/connections and to make them self-contained:

The brilliant clown, Bill Irwin, came to visit Ted Geisel at Geisel's house during Irwin's performance engagement at the La Jolla Playhouse nearby. This was shortly before Geisel's death in 1991. He sought Dr. Seuss's permission to pursue the role of the Cat in the Hat for a proposed Disney special. Ted admired Irwin's talent but quite strongly let Irwin know he had absolutely no interest in working for Disney.

While Ted Geisel was at Fort Fox (the army unit in L.A. during World War II where he was working on the animated Private Snafu shorts), Geisel's wife (Helen Palmer Geisel) was writing her own children's books, always in prose for Golden Books and Disney including Donald Duck Sees South America. Ted Geisel said later, "She supported us during the war."]

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Before offering you this week more goodies sent by Jim Korkis, here is a never-published-before photos of Walt with Ub Iwerks during the filming of Martha at Laugh-O-grams, courtesy of Mark Sonntag.

Two good reads this morning:

Walt's So Funny by Wade Sampson and Steve Hulett's memories of Robin Hood (an interview with Steve about his father Ralph Hulett - one of Disney's major background artists - and himself will appear in Walt's People - Volume 6).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I posted the following information last month:

"Ray Pointer from Inkwell Images Ink is about to release this DVD about Walt's famous Laugh-O-grams. I admit that I've already got all of the shorts that are included on this upcoming DVD through another source, but I will still order it, as it will contain an interview of Rudy Ising that I was not aware of."

Ray has now released the DVD and has sent me the following email with which I agree completely:

[While I came across your remark about my new release, I was unable to post my response.

The fact that some of these titles may be available through your web site, or elsewhere is not the issue here. The issue is the manner and quality of their state, which we have spent a great deal of time on in an effort to make them viewable. I am glad that you have chosen to order since what you will receive is technically superior to the horrible versions that have been circulating among collector's circles based on amateurish duplication. Here is what one customer in Norway had to say:

Hi Ray,

I was astonished with the picture quality. I already had the Laugh-O-grams, but the quality on these were poor, and the image was also cropped. When I saw yours, I could finally see the whole image And I also liked the new sound.


This is pure advertising: I still have available a few copies of the new, revised edition of my art-book about Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality.

Price: 45 Euros + postage, payable using Paypal. I can, of course autograph and personalize the books. Just use the new "Contact Me" link on the right if you have any interest in this offer :-)

A few things you should really check out this morning: first there is ToonAtWar, as ever, which includes a few new exciting posts, then there is this short article on CartoonBrew about the launch of Oswald's merchandise and finally this new link on that reveals details on a series of DVDs that should become as indispensable as the Disney Treasures.
The photo above shows Walt and Roald Dahl.
The woman at the storyboard with Walt (below) is Mary Blair. She did the full color painting of the Gremlins in the Cosmopolitan story.
Considering the number of "Xmas gifts" I have been receiving recently from Jim Korkis and a few other friends of this blog, one can definitely feel that we are getting closer to December 25th! We are going to be experiencing a fun few weeks on this blog, believe me.

Let's start with some fantastic material that I found in my mail box yesterday morning courtesy once more of Jim Korkis.

Jim is preparing an in-depth article about The Gremlins project that will appear early 2007 in Hogan's Alley number 15. I have read a preview and let's just say that you can imagine this article being a book, not just an article. Saying that it is in-depth is an English understatment of Dahlian (as in Roald Dahl) proportions. It is the most researched article I have ever read on the subject and should become "THE" reference once it is released.

Unfortunately, it is so researched that Hogan's Alley could not find space for all of it. There is one sidebar, especially, that will not make it in the magazine. It is titled WALT DISNEY DISCUSSES GREMLINS. Jim was kind enough to let me publish it on this blog.

[The Air Ministry requested Walt write an article on Gremlins for their R.A.F. Journal. It appeared in November 1942 and may have been ghostwritten or at least tweaked by Disney storyman Ted Sears who was doing research on the gremlins for Walt at this time. The article has never been reprinted and certainly reflects Walt’s feelings at the time.

“As soon as the Air Ministry heard that I was about to do a Gremlin film, they asked me to write a short article expressing my views of Gremlins in general. Now I don’t think this is a fair request. Truthfully, I have no more idea of Gremlins than I have of fighter tactics or high level bombing. I can only go by what I hear. I consider it one of the great misfortunes of my life that not being an air gunner, a pilot, or a navigator, I shall never be able to boast of having seen a Gremlin in person.

“I shall never be able to discuss, as you men do, the deeper and more subtle points of Gremlin-lore, and suggest new methods of training them to behave. Unfortunately, I am not a Gremlinologist. With every other film I’ve made, I’ve been able, in times of discussion, to stand up and shout ‘You’re wrong!’ and then proceed to back up my argument with detailed specifications regarding the size and color of the noses of the Seven Dwarves, the shape of Pinocchio’s hat, or the length of Bambi’s legs.

“But in dealing with your Gremlins, I’ll admit I’m at a loss. I can’t even pretend that I’ve seen one, and I must get all of my information and instruction from the R.A.F. fliers themselves. Numbers of them have passed through here and have come to see me and tried to help me. And from their careful descriptions I have tried to draw the Gremlin as he is actually seen by you in his various phases, on your machines in the air, and as you see him around the airdrome and in the mess.

“No one realizes more than I the importance of these little men and the task I am undertaking. So far I haven’t a clue.

“That’s why I’m depending upon you men for all the gen (sic) I can possibly get about Gremlins. As you can see, I’ve even begun to pick up some of your language. Naturally, I can’t place the entire responsibility upon your shoulders, but I do wish you’d keep me informed of any new tactics and habits the Gremlins develop from time to time.

“Do you suppose it would be possible to find one of the little fellows who could be spared and have him crated and shipped to California? I can assure you that he’ll be treated with the utmost care and consideration at this end. We have a plentiful supply of used postage stamps of all vintages, which I understand is his staple diet, and he would be allowed the freedom of the Studio. Although I wouldn’t be able to see him, I’m sure he’d serve as an excellent Technical Advisor.

“Perhaps this is asking for the impossible, but I do intend to see that when the Gremlins reach the screen, they will be the same Gremlins that you men have flown with and lived with. And if I should put any blacks in this film due to lack of pukka gen, I do hope you won’t tear me off a terrific strip.”]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Three Little Pigs sequence from Cri-Cri el Grillito Cantor

I am certain that all of you remember that my very first post on this blog focused on an animation sequence, titled Los Cochinitos Dormilones, created by X. Atencio and Bill Justice for the Mexican movie Cri-Cri el Grillito Cantor and that none of us outside the US had ever had the chance to enjoy. Thanks to a friend in Mexico and the help of blog reader Bennett Schneir, I am happy to be able to share it with you today.

Let's hope that Leonard Maltin or someone at the Studio will decide to someday include it as a bonus on a DVD.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I love Steinbeck's novels. In fact, his masterpiece East of Eden has been in my list of favorite top 5 novels of all time since I read it earlier this year. It was therefore with absolute delight that I read the following story a few days ago in an interview with Donn Tatum that will appear at some point in the future in Walt's People:

"The agency for the DuPont company came to us and in effect said, “The DuPont company is a big American company and it has been very prominent in television sponsorship, but for the past several years it has done virtually no television. The DuPont company just don't want to buy anything that comes along.” […]

The agency kept saying to us, “Look there is so much being said today about what's wrong with America… We’re not trying to say that everything is right about it. But, on the other hand, there are a lot of things that are right about America and what we would like to do is find a program—or any number of programs—that could be directed toward the theme that there are a lot of constructive things about the U.S. today. So do you think you would be interested in that?” […]

In subsequent discussions Walt said, “You know, I read a book called Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. To me that was a very interesting book and, of course, it's a device for what DuPont wants here, if what they want to do is do programs about America that are dramatic and entertaining but constructive in terms of what America is and some of the good things about it. It seems to me that traveling around the country as Steinbeck did with that dog makes an interesting approach.” The DuPont had said that they weren’t set on any number of programs. They just wanted to do whatever number was logical.

[…] As a result Walt and Steinbeck spent several hours together in New York discussing this. Steinbeck was generally agreeable. He didn't want to participate personally, he didn't want to write it or anything like that, but he would be interested in participating enough to be entitled to a credit.

Of course by that time the network, and even DuPont and the agency were thrilled to death that they were maybe going to get one or more television programs out of Walt Disney and John Steinbeck. It was at that point that Walt suddenly called up and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about this thing and all I’ve got to do and all that we’re involved in here. I’ve just written Bud Stefan a letter...” The letter said that he just didn't think it was fair to them for him to try to take on anything more because he just didn't see how he could do it justice and he didn't think it was fair to his company for him to try to. So it came to naught."

Worth checking before starting your week: Michael Sporn posted this weekend an old article by Ken Anderson about Robin Hood; Jenny Lerew let us discover "A Mary Blair surprise" and I recently update the Disney Books Network.

Happy reading.

Friday, November 17, 2006

From the Serbian magazine Mikijevo Carstvo number 14 published on April 9, 1939.

Can you believe that, aside from Walt Disney - The Triumph of the American Imagination and Animated Man - A Life of Walt Disney there is one more biography of Walt in the works these days, this one by Tom Tumbush, editor and publisher of Tomart's Disneyana Update?

Here is the information that was released on the subject in the lastest issue of TDU:


"This book focuses on how he did it and the key people who helped him. It is a compilation of facts learned through friendships with people who worked directly with Walt Disney while he was alive, plus interviews with others close to Walt. The public record and many other books written about Walt's life also support the work. Walt Disney has been described as complex, difficult to work with, and a workaholic. This book shows how simple his methods were and how he got so many people to want the same things he did."

$19.99 each plus $7.50 postage. (Pre-publication offer)

A large part of Walt's People - Volume 4 will be dedicated to the life and career at the Disney Studio of artist Dick Huemer. Jim Korkis was kind enough to recently send me material that relates to the career of Huemer after he left the Disney Studio:

"After having been laid-off by Disney's in 1948, Dick Huemer sought other ways to support his family. His projects included Animated Video Films (in partnership with Ace Gamer), a TV show starring Roy Williams (“The Big Mooseketeer” on the original Mickey Mouse Club), and a Western-style comic strip which he initially called Buck Carew.
He drew a few sample strips for his friend Art Lafave, who ran a newspaper feature syndicate in Cleveland. Lafave recommended having the strip drawn by a second party, so Dick selected Paul Murry because of the latter's facility with "wonderful hillbilly characters."
Murry proved adept at Western characters and was the artist on many of the Mickey Mouse Club serials in Walt Disney Comics and Stories.
Buck is less gullible and more resourceful than Al Capp's Li’l Abner. Lafave's one-man operation was not able to distribute Buck as widely as all had hoped. After being rehired by Disney in 1951 (ironically, the year the strip finally got published), Dick gradually lost interest in it. Paul Murry wrote the final episodes himself by the time the strip ended early in 1953."

If anyone reading this has access to the final weeks/months of the strip, please contact me, as a friend of mine is interested in getting access to those.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not being an artist myself, I am usually no fan of books teaching the techniques of animation. So why am I looking forward to buying next year Prepare to Board! by Nancy Beiman? First because I admire Nancy, a former Disney artist and one of the best animation teachers in the field.

But also and mostly (from my point of view) because it will contain never-published-before interviews with T. Hee, Ken O'Connor and Ken Anderson. I want to read those!

I was working yesterday on a very very short interview of Herb Ryman by Richard Hubler that contained just two good stories about Walt. Here is one of them:

"Charlie Philippi worked in my unit. On the day of his funeral, Walt called and asked if he could go to the funeral with me. So we sat together at the funeral. Walt drummed his fingers, rubbed his hands, etc... he was emotionally upset. That was one of the last funerals Walt ever went to.
Afterwards, we saw Marc Davis and Milt Kahl, and Walt shouted to them, "OK, let's get the hell back to work." He was covering up his emotions."

This just in from Jim Korkis (who is doing more for the blog these days than I am):

"Here is a photo of James Baskett receiving his honorary Academy Award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus. That is actress Ingrid Bergman and the then president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jean Hersholt. This picture will appear in an article I am currently finishing entitled Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? about the Disney film. Currently, the article is scheduled to appear in the sixteen issue of Hogan's Alley."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Here is one more of the photos of Walt that Jim Korkis sent this weekend.

Speaking of which, I would recommend not to miss Wade Sampson's excellent article on MousePlanet this morning that includes the reprint of an essay by Walt about Mickey (If you missed the transition: Wade is one of Jim's best friends).

I just discovered the book Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers thanks to this morning review on JimHillMedia. Despite the flaws that Jim underlines, I will defintely add it to my library, if only because it will serve as a key complement to one of the interviews that will appear in Walt's People - Volume 4. The interview I am refering to is that of Brian Sibley, who Jim mentions in his article. Brian, author with Richard Holliss of The Disney Studio Story was kind enough to tell me the full story of the planned and never-produced Mary Poppins sequel. Yes, Brian reveals who was considered by the Studio to play Bert's brother, Barney. Be ready for a shock!

Another review worth reading is that of Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman's Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series on CartoonBrew, a book which I have not yet received but that I know for a fact will be one of the three "must-have" of the season (along with Gabler's bio of Walt and Tom Sito's Drawing the Line).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the Serbian magazine Mikijevo Carstvo number 10 published on March 26, 1939.

I was working this weekend on the interview with Winston Hibler by Richard Hubler that will appear in Walt's People - Volume 5 and loved the following story:

"We were casting for Alice in Wonderland and for a long time we had been trying to get Margaret O'Brien. Walt was very high on her but we had real trouble making arrangements. She was either committed or she was somewhere else. Meantime we had been auditioning girls and came up with Kathy Beaumont, who eventually played it, and Walt liked her very much. While we were playing the audition, Hal Adelquist, who was running animation in terms of management at that time, said to Walt, “You know Margaret O'Brien is available right now.” Walt said, “No, she's in England.” Hal said that her agent had called him and that she was back in New York now. Walt is listening to little Kathy, you see, and he looked at Hal and said (with emphasis), “She’s in England, Hal.” So we got the message and we cast Kathy Beaumont."

Jim Korkis just sent a few of his friends this weekend a series of beautiful photos of Walt, some of which I had never seen before and that he allowed me to share with readers of the blog as an early Xmas gift.

Speaking of Jim, one of his good friends, Wade Sampson, released last week on MousePlanet an excellent article about Liberty Street, which I should have listed in my "catch-up reading list" yesterday. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wonderful news to announce this morning: I have received the last corrections on the manuscript for Walt's People - Volume 4, which means that it will go to press this week and should be ready sometime in January.

I am so excited that I can't wait to share with you the proposed Table of Contents of... Volume 5 ;-)!

Here you go:

Volume 5
Michael Barrier: Hugh Harman
Dave Smith: Nadine Missakian
Richard Shale: Ward Kimball
Dave Smith and Richard Shale: Erwin Verity
Richard Hubler: James Algar
Richard Hubler: Winston Hibler
Richard Hubler: Bill Anderson
Richard Hubler: Bill Walsh
Christopher Finch and Linda Rosenkrantz: Bill Walsh
Richard Hubler: George Bruns
John Burlingame: Buddy Baker
Jérémie Noyer: Buddy Baker
Mike Barrier: Fess Parker
Christian Renaut: Walt Stanchfield
Richard Hubler: Marc Davis
Dave Oneil: Alice Davis
Richard Hubler: T. Hee
Harry McCraken: Maurice Noble
Christopher Finch and Linda Rosenkrantz: Al Dempster
Bob Miller: Walt Peregoy
Floyd Norman: Windwagon Smith
Floyd Norman: The Making of The Jungle Book
Jim Korkis: Bill Evans
Alberto Becattini: Jack Bradbury
Alberto Becattini: Lynn Karp
Didier Ghez: Dave Michener
John Musker: In Memory of Vance Gerry
Charles Solomon : Vance Gerry
Christian Renaut: Vance Gerry
Clay Kaytis: Ron Clements and John Musker
Pete Emslie: Cover Art
One other place I checked out this morning is the online catalog of Bonhams' new auction that includes among other pieces this concept painting by Mary Blair for the abandoned Don Quixote project and this beautiful character study by Tim Burton for The Black Cauldron.

Start with lot 1320 to see the animation art items offered in the catalog. (Thanks to Emmanuel Bourmalo for this link).

I am back and catching up with my reading, which includes two excellent articles on JimHillMedia: one by Floyd Norman about Retta Davidson, the other by Jim himself about Disney's long, long journey to Oz, as well as a long series of fascinating new posts on Toons At War.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I have mentioned in several posts within the last few weeks the series of 3 articles Kaya Özkaracalar has prepared for the magazine Tomart's Disneyana Update, as part of my column on vintage European Disneyana, focusing on pre-WWII Disney comics in Turkey.

For those interested, the first of those 3 articles has just been released this week in Tomart's Disneyana Update issue 64.

Quite a few interesting vintage French postcards on sale on ebay these days that I was not aware of when I wrote this article for Tomart's Disneyana Update quite a few years ago. Which reminds me that I will be travelling to Paris most of next week leaving the blog dead... I mean quiet... for while.

This morning I would recomend reading Tom Sito's post about Neal Gabler's new biography of Walt. Tom, author of the "must-read" book Drawing the Line, focuses of Gabler's chapter about the strike.

If you read French, I would also check out Jeremie Noyer's new interview of Don Hahn. If you do not, then try and pay your monthly visit to the site of the Walt Disney Family Foundation which focuses on Treasure Island.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Soaky Toys Commercial - Donald Duck and Porky Pig!

Donald and Porky in the same commercial? Can any reader of the blog explain what happened here?
Song of the South American Motors Commercial

One of most exciting aspects of Disney history, is that, although the Walt Disney Company is "only" 83 years old, you can study it for 20 years and still uncover elements that you knew little about. I only became fully aware of Disney's advertising productions through Jim Korkis' excellent article The Secret Walt Disney Commercials that I mentioned a while back and through a few pages in Amid Amidi's newly released masterpiece Cartoon Modern.

I recently started interviewing Paul Carslon on the same subject and as soon as I start receiving his answers I will publish excerpts on the blog before releasing the full interview in Walt's People.

For now, enjoy the ad above, courtesy of and discovered thanks to CartoonBrew.
Jim Korkis knew I would have to mention the Toons at War blog once again this morning as it contains some great new posts that shouldn't be missed, and he therefore decided to send me an image that is not featured on David Lesjak's blog to add some value to the post. So here is the picture that he found in the June 1948 edition of Who's Who in Hollywood.

As Jim mentions: "This is an oddly sexually suggestive drawing when you look at where the barrel is located in relation to Mickey's anatomy. Just goes to show that as an artist you have to be aware of composition especially in this day and age."
To start the day in the best possible mood, do not miss those two articles: A special Thursday edition of Why For by Jim Hill dealing with the proposed USSR pavillion for EPCOT and a splendid article about a forgotten and little known Disney artist: The Mystery of the Female Disney Animator by Wade Sampson.