Friday, October 31, 2008

I have just received the transcript of an interview I conducted recently with Carl Bongirno, former head of WED / WDI and that I will release in a future volume of Walt's People. That interview contains quite a few nuggets, but here is the story I consider as the best about Walt, money and creative people. Enjoy.
[Carl Bongirno: I had moved to Imagineering in February of 1965. I actually joined the company in November of 1963. So we were working on bringing these shows to life in Disneyland. Many of them were in Circle Vision.
Walt had asked at one point how we were doing cost wise. I estimated the cost for that Circle Vision show. He had already surmised that based on the plans that were being developed at Disneyland that it was going to be over what we had budgeted for that project. So he wanted a presentation on it. When he showed up I gave him a 10 or 15-minute presentation with the cost to date, estimate cost to complete compared to the budget. We were over as I recall from $200,000 to $300,000. He pounded his fist on the table. He said, "You God damn finance guys. You don't know how to control costs around here." He stood up and he said, "You follow me and I will show you how to control costs." I thought, "Oh, my God he is going to go downstairs and raise holy hell with all the creative guys and then I'm going to have a problem dealing with them in the future." I was trying to establish a relationship with them so that they would have confidence in me and that they would work with me. I was trying to control costs and trying to be sure that we completed the projects on time.
So we went downstairs and the large group of creative people was around a large conference table in one of our main conference rooms. They were all around the table and he usually sat against the wall along with his other non-creative guys who watched the proceedings. They went through project after project laying out the plans and certain creative people stood up and using the storyboards in talking to Walt about what the particular projects would be the makeup of the project and the storyline. Walt got up on a couple occasions using voices of characters and pointing to the storyboards, correcting and suggesting changes. After a couple hours, maybe three hours, he starts to stand up and he puts his sweater back on and he starts to walk to the door. I think, "He forgot about the Circle Vision and the cost problem." He got about half way to the door and he turns around and he say, "Oh, by the way we haven't reviewed that Circle Vision project for quite a while. Why don't we take a look at that real quickly?" He said, "Do you have the plans handy?" We always had the plans handy. So I rolled them out on the table and he said, "Boy you guys have just done a wonderful job here." He said, "Marc, you know this post show area? You know it is just getting too big. When people come out of that theater they are going to be lost in here. If you are going to have an intimate environment we need to bring it down. We need to make it more inviting instead of this big open area. He said, "Let's confine that." And he gave some dimensions. Move this wall in and move this wall in. He said, "You know that Audio- Animatronics figure at the post show? That is so good. That is so wonderful. We don't want to use it here. Let's save that for some other project. It is just too good for this project. I want to use it in some other project where we really need a great show because that what it is." Then he did one or two other things and he turned to Mel and he and myself said, "You finance guys, I don't care how much more this is going to cost. We are going to make these changes because they are the right thing to do." And he walked out of the room. I knew exactly what he had done. He had eliminated $300,000 from the project.]

Do not miss today:
- Toot Art by Michael Sporn
- The Walt Disney Family Museum's site has just been updated
- How sometimes being in the wrong place is the right thing to do by Jim Hill

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still not much time to update the blog today, so here are a few more concept drawings from the same series I posted yesterday.

I will be in Portugal for the day tomorrow (quick series of meetings) and will update the site again on Friday. I should be able to post one of the best stories I ever heard about Walt, money and how to "manage" creative people.

Do not miss today:
- Toot Bd - 1 pt 1 by Michael Sporn
- Toot Bd - 1 pt 2 by Michael Sporn
- Walt and Western Union by Michael Barrier on October 28, 2008
- "Disney Dogs" showcases canine cartoon stars by Jim Hill
- Craig McNair Wilson Remembers the Adventurers Club by Wade Sampson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little time to update the blog today (very busy day) but since we are getting soo close to Halloween, here are two great concept drawings of Nightmare Before Christmas that were being sold recently by Van Eaton Galleries and that I love.

Monday, October 27, 2008

There is a new magazine about Disney in town. Considering how many have folded recently, this is very good news. Considering that the editor-in-chief is Lou Mongello, author of The Walt Disney World Trivia Book and The Walt Disney World Trivia Book, Volume 2 this is even better news. I am showing below the table of content, which makes me want to subscribe, which one can do here.
Do not miss today:

- Walt at the Keyboard by Michael Barrier (October 24, 2008)
- Walt Disney and the Red Cross - part 3 by David Lesjak

Friday, October 24, 2008

David Peake just spotted an upcoming book on Amazon which I found pretty exciting: Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren.

I like the fact that Disney Editions, after having released two books illustated with concept art by Mary Blair (with at least one more to come) is now starting to display great concept art by other key Disney artists.

Do not miss today:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This just in from Gunnar Andreassen:

[I found the enclosed photo on some time ago: showing Floyd Gottfredson and two others.

Do you or any others know who they are ? Is the photo taken in Hyperion or in Burbank ?]

I would say Hyperion, definitely. But who are the other two on the photo?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This just in from Are Myklebust:
[Hi Didier!

Some of the first cartoons Walt made as a young boy, was copies of the cartoons and comic strips in the American socialist newspaper “Appeal to Reason” that his father, Elias Disney, subscribed to.

You can find some information about this newspaper here.

And further you can find some information about this newspapers main cartoonist, Ryan Walker (1870 – 1932), including examples of his work, here.

And finally you will find an exampel of young Walt’s own early drawings here.]

Do not miss today:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I just discovered this recently-released book thanks to my good friend Alberto Becattini. Once again this is for Italian-speaking Disney comic book fans.

Do not miss today:

- USS Satyr - insignia by David Lesjak
- Donald Duck Scrap Drive newspaper strip by David Lesjak
- "Kay Kowboy Kamen" by David Lesjak
- Floyd Gottfredson employee card by David Lesjak
- Halloween stickers by David Lesjak

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two exciting books have just been announced on Amazon for July next year:
[How can you make dreams come true? Or transform a fantasy into a colorful, exciting world that visitors can move through, touch, and enjoy? Such fabulous work is the daily business of Walt Disney's Imagineers, a core group of creative and highly skilled professional wizards who combine imagination with engineering to create the reality of dreams that are the Disney theme parks.

In this sequel to the bestselling Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real, the Imagineers serve up another dose of magic with an even closer look at who they are, what they do, and how they do it, illuminating their theories and explaining what tools they use, and where and how they use them. Contained within this deluxe tome are rough drawings, conceptual models, and behind-the-scenes stories showcasing Disney's newest attractions and innovations from the inside out. There's also an exclusive peek into the Research and Development Lab to see what new magic will soon be appearing.

The Imagineers will tell their own stories, as well-how they got there, what they do on a daily basis, what they show their friends in the parks, and how you can learn what it takes to become an Imagineer.

Presented in a large, lavish format, this book is sure to be a must-have for every Disney collector.]
Can't wait, needless to say.
More about Up in Arms from Jim Korkis

[I have seen the Disney animated footage for "Up In Arms" and finally found my notes so I could give more information. Scott MacQueen used to travel with a program of Disney film rarieties entitled "Disney's Unseen Treasures" that included things like several minutes of live action reference footage from "Pinocchio" and and "Dumbo" where you actually see an actor dressed up as Jiminy Cricket, "The Talking Dog" with a scratch track and rough footage for a Mickey Mouse cartoon abandoned in the Fifties of Pluto being kidnapped by a medicine man who uses ventriloquism to convince people tha Pluto talks and Mickey's efforts (including battling on top of a moving van) to rescue his pup, and much more including some that has thankfully appeared as DVD extras lately. However, it was Scott who found all this stuff when he was working at Disney including that segment of Walt doing Mickey's voice for "Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip" and put it together in a two hour program.

He also showed the fragment from "Up In Arms". Unfortunately, videotaping wasn't allowed but I did take extensive notes. The live action footage of Kaye doing hand to hand combat with the Japanese soldiers on the side of the mountain has cleaned up animation layered over the top where the little creatures (who look very much like caterpillars with several hands/legs and antenna...could they have been Japanese silk worms?) poke into the picture and literally eat up the screen including a rope hanging down the side of the mountain. When I say they eat up the entire image on the screen, that is exactly the case and we are left with the screen filled with the image of one of these little caterpillars finishing off a final bite and then talking extensively to the audience. Unfortunately, the sound track is lost as well as the fact that Scott couldn't locate the script so there is no way of knowing what the creature is saying although he ends with a huge laugh and you can see the inside of his mouth is painted red. No other color on the creature but it is obviously finished, cleaned up animation...not rough. "Up in Arms" was based on a popular stage play apparently entitled "Nervous Wreck" about a hypochrondriac who is drafted. By the way, Didier, in his presentation Scott showed the clip from "Destino" and mentioned he found documentation that after this aborted project, Walt still kept in touch with Dali and one of the projects he was talking about was having Dali do "Don Quioxte".

I don't know where Scott is today after he left Disney. I remember after the two hour presentation and after I picked up my jar from the ground seeing all these amazing never before seen things I had dinner with Scott and some fellow animation instructors at the Disney Institute SEASONS restaurant where Scott regaled us with even MORE untold stories that fortunately I captured most of them in my notes. I remember Scott being a pretty cool guy and just as excited as we were that he found this stuff.]
The Disney Books Network was updated this weekend.

Do not miss today:

- Walt and the "Girls" and Speaking of The Reluctant Dragon... by Michael Barrier on October 18, 2008
- Walt Stanchfield by Hans Bacher
- Burny and Walt by Floyd Norman

Friday, October 17, 2008

If are a true fan of Disney comics the name of the Italian Carlo Chendi will ring a bell as he has been for the last few decades the best Italian Disney comics script writer. I was glad to discover recently that a small book of interviews with him by Sergio Badino had been released in September 2006. I just thought a few of you who can read Italian would care.
A great weekend to you all.

Do not miss today:

- Disney's Nils Holgersson, 1946 by Joakim Gunnarsson
- More on Disney and Holgersson by Joakim Gunnarsson
- Of Cabbages and Kleins, Cont'd by Michael Barrier on October 16, 2008
- Walt Disney and the Red Cross - part 2 by David Lesjak

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I will be in Barcelona tomorrow. The blog will be updated again on Friday.
I have been collecting Disneyana and researching Disney history for at least 20 years. One of the biggest joys is to browse through your collection and stumble upon an item that did not make much sense at the time you bought it but becomes priceless today.

An example? Last week I was gathering all the items I have in my collection about Disney and Iberia (Spain and Portugal) to help edit and illustrate the book I was mentioning on this blog recently. A magazine I bought when I was still a student (living in Madrid) about 14 years ago is the Spanish Filmes Selectos from April 22, 1933. I bought it because I saw a large Disney article "written" by Walt Disney and I would buy almost any old magazine that would contain good articles by or about Walt. I did not recognize the co-author at the time. The name Bill Garity did not ring a bell. It does now in a big way as Jeremie Noyer and I are both researching his career and the articles he wrote. Believe me, I was jumping up and down when I saw that name on Saturday.

I have a feeling that this article from 1933 might exist somehwhere in English. If that is the case, it would be great to get a copy. For now, here it goes for our Spanish speaking readers.

This just in from Ted Thomas about the movie Walt Disney & El Grupo:

[Just back from the Festival do Rio, which was fabulous. The film had a warm reception, even thought the weather stayed cool and rainy the entire time!

Now we're off to Rome for the Festival Internazionale di Film de Roma. We'll be screening in the L'Altro Cinema section on October 25 at 20:00, and 26 at 09:00. ]

Do not miss today:

- The Day Walt Disney Lost His Luck by Wade Sampson
- "Creating Magic" reveals how the modern Magic Kingdom really operates by Jim Hill
- Creating Magic with Lee Cockerell by MouseStation Crew
- Book Review: Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell by Mark Goldhaber
- A Novel That's a Good Deal Less Than Perfect by Michael Barrier (October 14, 2008)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Regarding Mark Sonntag's question yesterday about the planned animated section from the movie Up in Arms, Jeff Peterson writes:
[I found some notes listed on the Turner Classic Movies Web site ( for this film: "Although a September 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item announces that Disney would prepare an animated sequence for the film's climax, there is no such sequence in the final film." The date of this news item matches the dates of the letters and memos that Mark has acquired.

A Web site on "Hollywood Renegades" has a footnote referring to Charles Solomon's "The Disney That Never Was" (pages 76-77) and says, "The 'Up in Arms' animation, which was believed to have been destroyed, resurfaced in a film print uncovered by the Disney company in the late 1990s." I do remember reading this text, but, unfortunately, I no longer own this book (along with the rest of my library) so I can't check it out.

Here is an excerpt from this "Hollywood Renegades" text:

Goldwyn prepared his latest release Up in Arms (1944) as a showcase for his recent discovery, comedian Danny Kaye. Hoping that Kaye would become a valuable asset for Goldwyn’s independent company, the producer spent $2 million on a lavish Technicolor musical to serve as the comedian’s film debut. The producer even requisitioned the Walt Disney Studio to create an animated finale for the film’s climax. (After great expense, the Disney animation was cut out of Up in Arms by Goldwyn, who was accustomed to making last minute—and usually very costly—changes in production while searching for the most suitable final product.)

Finally, an article by Jim Korkis about Ub Iwerks on from September 2003 briefly mentions that Iwerks worked on the animation for this deleted sequence from "Up in Arms," but it has no other information. Of course, Ub Iwerks was copied on the 9/14/43 memo, and within the coming year he would develop the process for combining live-action and animation as used in "The Three Caballeros."]
Jim Korkis adds:
[Disney produced about a minute and half of animation directed (and according to some sources animated) by the legendary Ub Iwerks for the film “Up in Arms”. It was a bunch of weird creatures called the “Weavie-weavies” who literally ate up the screen image when Kaye’s character was in a desperate situation at a cave, I believe. The actual animation still exists in black and white in the Disney vaults although it is doubtful it was ever incorporated into the final film. Interesting, this arrangement originally came out of a proposal where Disney was going to do a co-production with Goldwyn on a film about Hans Christian Andersen where a live performer playing the writer but animated sequences showcasing the Andersen stories. (Goldwyn later released a live action film on the life of Andersen with Danny Kaye about twelve years after the discussions with Disney on a co-production.)]
Here is the direct link to buy Walt's People - Volume 7 right away (if you live in the US).
Walt Disney--What's My Line

Thanks to Don Brockway for spotting that one and to CartoonBrew for posting it.

S/R Labs' new auction catalog is now online. Frankly I found the selection a bit poor this time around, save for those beautiful storyboard drawings from Mickey's Parrot. That's just my own very subjective taste, of course.

Do not miss today:

- Victory Beer by David Lesjak
- The Elephant in the Room -- Part 2 by Floyd Norman
- Revised Melody Bd - Pt 1 by Michael Sporn
- Melody Art - 2 by Michael Sporn

Monday, October 13, 2008

I have approved today the publication of Walt's People - Volume 7, so it should be available between tomorrow and Wednesday through Xlibris and in about 6 weeks on Amazon. I am particularly excited about this volume, which contains some extremely solid, never-released-before interviews.

One small frustration: I did not spot a text in very small characters at the beginning of the book, inserted by Xlibris, stating that "this book is a work of fiction"! Oh well, I doubt that anyone will believe this, thankfully.

Here is the table of contents, as a reminder:

Foreword by Hans Perk
David Lesjak: William Rast
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston: Wilfred Jackson
Richard Hubler: Wilfred Jackson
Wilfred Jackson: The New Spirit
Grim Natwick: The Goldfish Caper
Grim Natwick: Bill Tytla
Grim Natwick: The Three-Fingered Hand
Grim Natwick: Analysis
Grim Natwick: Soundtracks
Grim Natwick: Hobbies
Brian Sibley: Adriana Caselotti
Milt Gray: Clarence Nash
Milt Gray and Michael Barrier: Billy Bletcher
Milt Gray: Jim Macdonald
Richard Hubler: Jim Macdonald
David Tietyen: Paul Smith and Hazel George
Christian Renaut: Carl Fallberg
Dave Smith: George Goepper
Rick Shale: Harry Tytle
Richard Hubler: Milt Kahl
Darrell Van Citters: Milt Kahl
Darrell Van Citters: Ollie Johnston
Richard Hubler: Ward Kimball
Richard Hubler: Frank Thomas and Ken Anderson
Christopher Finch and Linda Rosenkrantz: Grace Turner
Jérémie Noyer: X. Atencio
Scott Weitz: X. Atencio
Didier Ghez: Bob Kurtz
Richard Hubler: John Hench
Jim Korkis: Marc Davis
Charles Solomon: Marc Davis and Andreas Deja
Alberto Becattini: Tom McKimson
Alberto Becattini: John Carey
Didier Ghez: John Ewing
Pete Docter: Art Stevens
Two questions today:

Jeremie Noyer asks:

[Do you know if the Disney photographs by Annie Leibowitz have been collected in a book or any other printed document?]

Mark Sonntag asks if anyone would have any information about a fascinating "Disney" project from 1944. (see post below)

Do not miss today:

- Once Upon A Dream: Burny Mattinson on Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent by Jeremie Noyer
- Once Upon A Dream: Sara Duran-Singer on Sleeping Beauty’s Restoration by Jeremie Noyer
- USS Pelias AS-14 - insignia part 2 by David Lesjak
- NON DISNEY, DISNEY PROJECT by Mark Sonntag. Question: would any reader of the blog know anything more about this project?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I will be travelling to London tomorrow and Friday. The blog will be updated again on Monday.

I was browsing yesterday and stumbled about this exciting upcoming book. Not much information yet, save for that publicity text:

[Wally Boag delighted audiences the world over for six decades. Although most of his fans associate his comic career with “The Golden Horseshoe” at Disneyland, his story really begins much earlier than this wonderful relationship with the Disney organization. This delightful book recounts the saga of a farm boy from Portland Oregon “making it big” in the world of vaudeville as a “hoofer” and a comic rolled into one. His early days were those of the quintessential artist struggling to find his niche in a world of talented artists all competing for the same spot. He, like all successful entertainers, stood out early and he soon found his way onto the “circuit.” He would eventually entertain kings and presidents, American troops at home and abroad, thousands of vaudeville and nightclub patrons on three continents, and millions of Disneyland guests.

The Disney organization appreciated Wally so much that it engaged his talents in a gamut of enterprises ranging from performing on its television shows and in its films, to script writing and show development. In these pages one can follow the adventures of a gifted man and see how he shared his laughs with the world. This is a must read not just for all of those interested in the Disney Legend, but in the path taken by a trail blazer in the world of Vaudeville and one man’s voyage through the labyrinth of the entertainment world of the twentieth century.]

I have requested more information from the publisher and will post it as soon as I get it.

Do not miss today:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I have received on Monday one of the latest drafts of a manuscript for a book that I have been awaiting for the last 4 years. Written by Spanish journalist Jorge Fonte and comissioned by The Walt Disney Company Spain, it covers the history of Disney in Spain and Portugal since the '30s until the early part of the XXIst century. From what I have already read and from the very early draft layout I have seen, this book will be a key reference for serious Disney historians and Disneyana collectors alike.

I believe it will be released at the end of 2009. The only major drawback for readers of this blog is that it is written in Spanish.

I can't tell you how excited I am by the fact that serious research is finally appearing about Disney outside of the US. The first key book on the subject was Wie Micky unter die Nazi Fiel by Carsten Laqua (Sachbuch, 1992) which covered the history of Disney and Germany. The second one will be Jorge Fonte's. Two good friends of this blog (and of mine) are researching in-depth the history of Disney in Brazil. I hope someone will soon tackle the UK and France.

As for me, I am trying to save at least one manuscript, which would have critical historical value when it comes to Disney and France. We will see if I succeed.

The illustration for this post, by the way, is a very rare Almanac launched in 1935 in Spain. The 1936 one is much more common. This one is a true rarity.

Monday, October 06, 2008

This just in from Are Myklebust:

[Hi Didier!

You will find an interview with Dave Smith here.]
The above caricature was created by Jeff Pidgeon. See here for more.
Do not miss today:

- The Perfect American as Opera by Michael Barrier (on October 2, 2008)
- Of Cabbages and Kleins by Michael Barrier (on October 6, 2008)
- The Elephant in the Room -- Part I by Floyd Norman
- Melody Art by Michael Sporn

Friday, October 03, 2008

This just in from Gunnar Andreassen:
[It's not very often that a painting av WD is up for sale, but some weeks ago, Aug 7, 2008, a portrait of him was sold by Heritage Auctions for$ 7.170.


Paul Wenzel - Walt Disney Portrait Painting Original Art (undated). Walt Disney is joined by his famous characters, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, for this glorious group portrait. This piece was created by Paul Wenzel whose illustrations have included poster artwork for the Academy Award winner Mary Poppins. He also painted the famous portrait of Walt Disney that appeared on a 1968 US stamp. This strectched canvas painting measures 17.5" x 21.5", and the art is in Excellent condition. Paul Wenzel signed the piece in the lower left.]
Do not miss today:

- Are You Gonna Go WEDway? by Michael A. Crawford
- What Do We Have To Do To Put You In A New Monorail Today? by Michael A. Crawford
- Swiftboat Willie by Jerry Beck

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This just in through Jim Korkis:

[One of the favorite Disney books in my collection is Walt Disney’s TREASURE CHEST that feature stories for unmade or forthcoming Disney animated features. The cover is by Mary Blair. Imagine my surprise as I was browsing the internet to discover there was a later edition with an entirely different cover…also by Mary Blair. I have never seen this edition before and ran across it by accident at this link.]
The links to the auction catalog I posted yesterday are now fixed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Michael Barrier mentioned a few days ago on his site the monograph about Sharpsteen which can be bought at the Sharpsteen museum in Calistoga. Here is more about its content.
Published in 1990 this monograph includes:
- A great article by Dave Smith titled "Ben Sharpsteen... 33 Years with Disney." This is a reprint of an article originally published in the magazine Millimeter in April 1975. If you have not yet seen this article, this is what gives its true value to the monograph.
- A short text about the Sharpsteen museum in Calistoga
- An obituary of Ben Sharpsteen
- An obituary of Sharpsteen's wife
- A text by Ben Sharpsteen about the creation of the museum

I mentioned an animation art auction that will happen this month in France. Here is the full catalog:

Do not miss today:
- The site of the Walt Disney Family Foundation has been updated
- Disney 1970s Summer Film Festivals by Jerry Beck
- Let's Make Them Move... by Hans Perk
- The Secret Origin of Pleasure Island by Wade Sampson