Thursday, November 20, 2008

See you all around December 10.
Reviewing the new Alice in Wonderland book illustrated by Mary Blair is a no-brainer. It is obviously too short like the Cinderella book in the same series. One would have hoped for something along the lines of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland book edited by Brian Sibley and illustrated by David Hall.

That being said, aside from this obvious drawback, the book is everything that one could hope for: a beautiful way to discover some beautiful Blair concept paintings (granted: a few had already been featured in Canemaker's book about Blair) and to share them with your kids.

I can't wait to get the Peter Pan volume that should be released next year.
Do not forget to check the new Life Magazine photo archive repository. The photos of Walt it contains are outstanding and the parts about the 1941 to Latin America (which Disney and More will feature in an article later today) are simply unbelievable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I will update the blog tomorrow (with a review of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Mary Blair), but as a heads-up: I will be on vacations starting this Friday and until December 7 (we are going to Rajasthan and if one of you lives in Delhi, please let me know). The blog will probably only be updated again starting on December 10th.
Amazon has just released updated covers for two upcoming books: The Disney Sketchbook 1928 - 2008 and Disney's Neglected Prince: The Art of Disney's Knights in Shining Armor (and Loincloths).
As you can guess, I already own The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom, The Imagineering Field Guide to EPCOT, and The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, so I was quite glad to receive The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland yesterday.

That volume has all the flaws and strengths of its predecessors: the stories it contains are way too short for Disney historians but are also a great springboard for new Disney enthusiasts, giving them the basis to move later to more serious books like The Nickel Tour. This being said, when it comes to the newest attractions the series always contains a few stories that we had never heard.

The same can be said about the artwork: since the books are way, way smaller than art books (after all they are pocket books that are meant to be used during a trip to the parks) the artwork's format is way too small and you are better off getting books like The Art of Disneyland or the upcoming Art of Walt Disney World. But the authors seem to know this and offer us in each volume enough never-seen-before renderings to make the books interesting.

In summary: Great books for beginners, a few gems for historians.
Hake's newest auction opened yesterday. As ever, there are a few nice surprises like those three toothbrush holders by the English S. Maw & Sons.

The item above is currently being sold on ebay. Here is the caption:

[I'm back again with more Disney Studio Documents that came from the collections of Directors, Animators and Publicity Director William Hosey. I am listing just a few tonight but will do more as the week goes on.

What you are looking at is the cover and several interior pages of Dalton S. Reymond's story treatment for Joel Chandler Harris' "UNCLE REMUS" stories that eventually became "SONG OF THE SOUTH"! The entire document consists of 63 pages plus the cover and the back cover. I have scanned the dated title page (May 15, 1944), the first and third pages of the story treatment and the first page of the story outline. If you have a decent computer monitor you should be able to read the pages in the pictures. I reproduced them in a larger format then the cover and first page in the hope that they could be read.

The story treatment consists of 5 pages that explains HOW the stories should be handled, which characters should be included and how they should be handled and how the animation & live action should be integrated together and musical possibilities. There's a lot more to it of course but that's good basic outline. The remaining 57 pages are the story as envisioned by Reymond, which was the basis of the story that became the film.]

Mark Sonntag who sent me the link said "I would if I could. I'd love to read this." Believe me, I agree with that statement.

Do not miss today:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I had the pleasure of receiving yesterday Don Hahn's new book The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age. This book is clearly a very good surprise: it is very readable (Don Hanh's previous book was too), longer and much better illustrated than Hahn's Disney's Animation Magic.

Is this a Disney-historian dream? Frankly it isn't and it isn't meant to be. It is clearly a book aimed at a very general audience. And that goal is reached, with honors. In fact, I believe this book is doing exactly what The Art of Animation by Bob Thomas did in its time: it creates a nice window in the life of current Disney artists and on the world of Disney animation. If I were a kid today, this book would definitely get me excited and make me want to become an animator (if I had any talent that is!) Everything is clearly explained and the book does not talk down to its audience in any way.

Conclusion: Not a revolution in terms of Disney history, but wonderful book for your kids and great book for Disney enthusiasts thanks to the artwork selection.

Interesting magazine cover from Argentina found yesterday on ebay.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One more interesting article from the '30s thanks to Gunnar Andreassen.
Do not miss today:

- Disney's Frank Thomas on the dawn of computer animation by David Price

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walt's People - Volume 8

I have just sent the manuscript of Walt's People - Volume 8 to all the contributors to get their comments and corrections. This means that we should be about 5 months from publication.

As a reminder, here is the table of contents for this upcoming volume:

Foreword: Paula Sigman-Lowery
Dave Smith: Ruth Disney Beecher
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston: Les Clark
Richard Hubler: Harry Tytle
Milt Gray: James Bodrero
Robin Allan: Theo Halladay about Sylvia Holland
Robin Allan: Retta Scott
Jim Korkis: Retta Davidson
Floyd Norman : Retta Davidson (TBC)
Steve Hulett: Mark Kirkland about Moe Gollub
Richard Hubler: Ben Sharpsteen
David Tietyen: Lou Debney
David Tietyen: Jim MacDonald
David Tietyen: Charles Wolcott
Richard Hubler: Bill Cottrell
Richard Hubler: Herb Ryman
Richard Hubler: Donn Tatum
Richard Hubler: Card Walker
Richard Hubler: Bob Sherman
Richard Hubler: Dolores Voght
Richard Hubler: Tommie Wilck
Richard Hubler: Welton Becket
John G. West: Bill Anderson
Richard Hubler: Robert Stevenson
Christopher Finch and Linda Rosenkrantz: Don Griffith
Jim Korkis: Floyd Gottfredson
Tony Fischier: Floyd Gottfredson
Jim Korkis: Al Taliaferro
Jim Korkis: Jack Hannah
Jim Fanning: Carl Barks
Scott Wolf: Harriet Burns
Charles Solomon: Roy E. Disney
Göran Broling: Correspondence with Frank Thomas
Didier Ghez: Bud Hester
Didier Ghez: Ken Southworth
Didier Ghez: Dale Baer

Do not miss today:

- The Disneyland expansion plan that never happened by Jim Hill
- Toot Art - 3 by Michael Sporn
- BOOK REVIEW: The Art of Disney’s Bolt by Amid Amidi

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fun article from the '30s thanks to Gunnar again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Animation writer and critic Emru Townsend who had been diagnosed last December with leukemia passed away yesterday evening at the age of 38.

Emru had founded the Frames Per Second Magazine in 1991 and had been a penpal of mine since the launch of Walt's People 4 years ago.

Amid Amidi said about him in February this year: "Emru has for decades been one of animation’s best friends and most intelligent critics."

Let me add that Emru was really an astounding human being. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, he and his sister Tamu started a worldwide campaign to promote bone marrow donations. This campaign was amazingly successful and generated unbelievable amount of TV and press coverage. Emru until his last few days also maintained a mailing list that kept us all informed about what he was going through. Every single one of those emails (including the one where he announced that he would soon die) were full of an infecting sense of humour. I have never - and I mean never - seen anyone stay so positive and full of life right at the gates of heaven.

He is someone who in my eyes will clearly never die.

The upcoming Walt's People - Volume 8 is dedicated to him.
This article from 1937, which I just received from Gunnar Andreassen, is often quoted. I thought you might enjoy it. I must admit that I had a lot of fun with the three illustrations.

Do not miss today:

- Seldom-seen concept art a highlight of "The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland" by Jim Hill
- Adventurers Club Final Farewell: Part Two by Wade Sampson
- LP Lotion: 2008 Disney Legend Ceremony
- A Service in Celebration and Thanksgiving for the Life of Harriet Burns by Doug Marsh

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I can't wait for this book to come out next year! (the cover has just been revealed on Amazon)
Autographed versions of Walt's People - Volumes 6

For those of you who would like to get signed copies of Walt's People - Volume 6, I have two copies available that I could sell directly.

The cost is $20 per volume (includimg postage), payable through a gift certificate on

Just email me at

This just in from Ross Anderson:
[My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Europe that combined some work, but more touring. In Belarus I was surprised and amused to see this sign using a mash-up of the Chip 'n' Dale characters for the city's beaver symbol. It was the only similar representation I saw of the beaver. I found an old Disney comic cover that shows Chip and Dale for comparison. Interestingly, it also shows a beaver.]

This just in:

[My name is Julie Thomas. I've been loving your blog and your book series for months now. I'm a Carolwood Pacific Historical Society Member and wonder if you could do us a favor.

Don Peri will be appearing at Walt's Barn on November 16th. The Barn is open every third Sunday from 11AM - 3PM. Please post a mention of Don's appearance on your blog. The CPHS website for the link is On that site you will find information on Walt's Barn and directions to it.]

This is definitely an event I would love to attend.

Do not miss today:

- Walt at Paramount by Mark Sonntag
- The Charlie Downs Interview by Steve Hulett
- Eric Goldberg, Part Two by Clay Kaytis
- Toon Tuesday: Looking Back on Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" -- Part Un by Jim Hill

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gunnar Andreassen has kindly sent me various articles from the '30s from the New York Times. I will post a few of them during the next few days for your enjoyment.The first one is an interview of Walt conducted by artist S. J. Woolf.

Gunnar sent us the following background about Samuel Johnson Woolf (1880 - 1948):

[One of America's greatest twentieth century portraitists, Samuel Johnson Woolf was equally accomplished as a painter, lithographer and illustrator. He studied art in New York at both the Art Students League and at the National Academy of Design, under Cox and Brush. Early in the twentieth century he established himself as a great portrait painter and his work was frequently exhibited at such major institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the University of Michigan, the Carnegie Institute, the Corcoran Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design.

During the First World War, Samuel Johnson Woolf was appointed a special correspondent with the American Expeditionary Force and painted the portraits of Joffre, Pershing and other commanders. Both his lithographs and paintings received many awards during his distinguished career. Some of these are the Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design (1904), the St. Louis Exposition (1904), the Appalachian Exposition (1910) and the Paris Salon Medal, Paris, France (1937).]

Friday, November 07, 2008

I have a few problems on my PC that prevent me from updating the blog properly today. More on Monday.

Do not miss today:
- Mickey Ville , The Toon Town that never was by Alain Littaye
- Toot Art - 2 by Michael Sporn

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This question just in from Gunnar:

[I have a question for you: Do you know of any color photos of the Hyperion Studio ? I have never seen any of the studio buildings, except one of the neon sign.

Enclosed you will find my amateurish attempt of coloring a photo of the Studio by night (Maybe it was the night that Walt told the story about Snow White ?)]

I had the pleasure of receiving a few days ago an email from composer John Debney, son of the late Disney artist Lou Debney. John is trying to gather as much information about his father's career as possible. Would anyone of you be able and willing to help?

Lou Debney was featured in Walt's People - Volume 4 and will also appear in Walt's People - Volume 8. Here is the introduction I wrote about him for Volume 4:

[Lou Debney virtually spent his whole life working at Disney.
Born on January 3, 1916, he joined the Studio in 1934 at the age of 17. His career started in the Cutting Department, but soon became assistant director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, working on most of the sequences directed by Ben Sharpsteen. From 1939 to 1943, he teamed up with with Jack Kinney working on all of the Goofy shorts released during that period, and later tackled projects like Peter Pan and Perri.
His claim to fame, however, comes from his key roles on the Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro, as he acted as producer of about 100 episodes of the first series and virtually all episodes of the second.
In the ‘60s he became production coordinator on The Wonderful World of Color and seems to have remained active at the Studio till his death on April 8, 1986.
Lou Debney’s son, John, is a famous composer who created the music of several Disney TV shows and movies, including The Disney Family Album series and Chicken Little.]

Do not miss today:

- Colony Theatre 9/24/27 by Jerry Beck
- Art Stevens by Floyd Norman
- Woolie’s wing by Floyd Norman

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This just in from Celbi Pegoraro:

[Hi Didier,

I really liked the Carousel of Progress/Carl Bongirno history and the american election posts. Let´s hope we can have a world a little better from now.

I would like to share with you a really nice picture of Walt Disney visiting Portela Samba School in Rio de Janeiro (1941). You know the original plan was to Walt visit Portela to see the Samba dancing presentation for only a few moments but he liked so much that spent hours there. As you know the Brazilian government at that time didn´t like the idea to show the so called "african inspired" samba to the Disney crew. In the end this was one of the highlights for the touring group. This picture shows Walt watching a little girl dancing Samba.

I hope to share more pictures from my research - Disney in Brazil book in the near future.]

Three additional notes about the Wally Boag book:

It is being pre-sold on the following web site.

Carlene Thie from Ape Pen Publishing has a lot of articles related to Wally Boag for sale.

Finally, please do let me know if you are aware of other independently published books about Disney that you may be aware of.

Do not miss today:

- Discover Hani El Masri, wonderful Designer, Illustrator, and former WDI Imagineer by Alain Littaye
- The Monorail Myth: The Rest of the Story by Wade Sampson
- Toot Bd - 2 by Michael Sporn

Just one last off-topic note to thank the US readers of this blog for choosing the right candidate yesterday, for giving us hope again, for putting an end to an 8-year nightmare and for allowing us all foreigners to recognize again the country we love so much.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gene Sands recently, one of the co-authors of the upcoming book about Wally Boag, which, simply put, sounds fascinating.

Didier Ghez: Who are the authors of the book?

Gene Sands: I co-authored the book with Wally.

DG: When will it be released?

GS: It will likely be released after the first of the year. And, we'll formally announce that as the date grows nearer.

DG: How did you get involved in the project?

GS: Wally and I are long time friends. I met him in 1957 when I was a 13 year old working at Disneyland selling balloons and like a lot of people was entranced with him and his act. I started hanging out at his dressing room and over time, he would give me gags that I used in school assemblies. He paid me to haul his follow-spot light and props around to the various gigs he booked outside of Disneyland and in 1961 I appeared in "Vaudeville Re-Visited." After college, I began a 20 year career as an Air Force officer. All during that time we stayed in touch and I would go visit with him and Ellen for a few days every year. During those visits they told me all these wonderful stories about where they’d been and what they’ done and realized that many people didn’t know about Wally’s career before he did The Golden Horseshoe Revue. In 2001 we decided to shoot some videotape of him talking about his life and career so his heirs would know what he had done. When we looked at the tape, we saw the potential for a book . We talked about doing it for a year or so and then began writing it. It was a fascinating process for the both of us. When we started going through all his scrap books and photos (plus photos in the Disney archives), it was even more evident that his life would make for some very interesting reading.
We discussed this off and on with Marty Sklar and at one point we said needed someone to do the design work on the book. He suggested Imagineer Bruce Gordon. We called Bruce and he was interested so we were off. We had three goals for the book. It had to be an accurate account of Wally's career, it had to be interesting, and it had to be fun (any book about Wally would have to include whimsy). When we were kicking around various names for the book, Bruce said that Richard Sherman had a real talent for coming up with book titles and suggested we consult with him. We did, and, true to his reputation, he came up with our title.

DG: What are the main chapters of the book?

GS: The chapters are: “Growing Up: “Going on the Road”; “Disneyland” and “After Disneyland”.

DG: Is it heavily illustrated and how long is it?

GS: It's about 180 pages and yes, it's heavily illustrated. Each page contains a number of photographs or design elements and Bruce did a wonderful job of pulling it all together.

DG: What were the main discoveries you made while writting this book?

GS: We weren’t sure how much material we would actually be able to find to put together for the book. But, once we got started, we found that there was both ample material and photography available. Every time Wally looked at a news clip, photo, etc. it suggested a story. And, every time he recounted a story, he remembered 2 or 3 more stories. It was like peeling an onion because there were layers upon layers of stories depicting his career. However, we couldn’t have done all of this without his wife, Ellen’s, assistance. She remembered all the details of when, where, how and why. Plus, she was such a major figure in the story that this was her story as well. While writing the book, it became clear that not only were we talking about Wally's career, we were also talking about Disneyland's early days. Since he was there from the first day, he had a treasure trove of memories about the Park, Walt, opening day, and, of course, The Golden Horseshoe Revue (to name only a few). One of the things readers will find interesting is Wally's career before he came to The Horseshoe. At 34, he was already a seasoned performer having played all the major hotels and clubs in this country, plus those in England, Scotland, South America and Australia. Plus he had appeared in a Command Performance before the King and Queen of England (as he says, “I can still remember the command…it was Stop!”). When he auditioned for Walt in late June of 1955, he was bringing all this talent and experience together in an act that Walt knew instantly was perfect for The Golden Horseshoe Revue.

Here are a few more information that Gene added afterwards:

[What readers would find in the book:
- Wally as a young boy growing up in Portland, OR.
- Wally and his early dance partners when he was around 8.
- Wally and his Wallce Boag School of Dance when he was 16.
- Early days when Wally first went on the road. One of performers he worked with taught him how to make balloon animal.
- In New York in the early 1940's appearing in night clubs like the Blue Angel and at Radio City Music Hall. This is where he met Ellen and they were married.
- On tour in England, Scotland, France, South America and Australia.
- The first performance of The Golden Horseshoe Revue Hosting ABC's daily radio show "Your Happy Holiday" which emanated from Disneyland. Working with Betty Taylor, Fulton Burley and the boys in the band.
- On tour for Disney promoting new Disney movies.
- Motion picture roles and television appearances.
- Editing Disneyland's cast magazine "Backstage Disneyland".
- Filming "The 10,000th Show of The Golden Horseshoe Revue" for Walt's weekly television program.
- Voicing Jose' in The Tiki Room.
- Appearing on "The Muppet Show".]

Monday, November 03, 2008

My sincere apologies for this off-topic post. I will redeem myself tomorrow by sharing some exciting info about the upcoming Wally Boag book.
For now, I would just like to ask all US readers of this blog to go and vote tomorrow if you have not already done so.

Who I would vote for if I were a US citizen is pretty obvious from the illustration of this post, but regardless of whether you support Obama or not, please, please go and vote. This election is way too important for the fate of the world at large to ignore. But you all already know that, of course.
Jorge Fonte, author of the upcoming book about Disney and Iberia sent me a few days ago one of the very last interviews of Walt conducted by Warwick Charlton and published in a Spanish newspaper. Nothing really surprising in the interview (nothing at all in fact), save for this short story about the making of Bambi:

"I saw so many movies and documentaries about wild animals that I started having dreams with bears, lions and crocodiles. My wife was amused and would ask every morning: 'Did that tiger eat you again?'
This just in from Jim Korkis about Scott MacQueen that we mentioned last week and that unearthed so many treasures in the Disney vaults when he was still working for the Mouse:

[Scott Macqueen is at Kodak/PRO-TEK

Restoration Management

Our Restoration Management division is unique in the imaging community, offering you the finest hands-on supervision with the advantage of a "virtual laboratory" with access to a multitude of specialty service providers.

PRO-TEK Restoration Management was founded in 2003 to provide all branches of the moving picture industry with the talent and expertise to assist the process of managing the restoration and preservation of library product. Overseeing this new service is Scott MacQueen, a well-known authority and practitioner in the field of picture and sound restoration. His technical experience, historical expertise and aesthetic judgment offer the client a collaborative hand in making informed decisions with regard to element evaluation, photographic and digital picture solutions, audio restoration and reconstruction, and the video mastering of assets for new markets. This management service operates as a "virtual laboratory", providing you access to a large pool of skilled facilities and specialty vendors in the media community, while retaining overall project management.

Your valuable asset is carefully identified and inventoried through our Meta Data Capture – Labels – Bar Coding system, and inventory reports are available to you upon request.]