Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I just received some exciting news coming from my good friend Jim Korkis. His "Wade Sampson" columns (see previous post) have been expanded and collected in book format as The Vault of Walt. The book contains quite a lot of never-released-before material. It is available for sale right now on CreateSpace and will be available on October 3rd on Amazon. I would strongly recommend buying it on CreateSpace as Jim will then receive twice the money he gets through Amazon.

I will release an interview with Jim about the book tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the press release:


The unofficial, unauthorized and uncensored Disney history stories that have never been told will finally be revealed with the release of the new Ayefour book, The Vault of Walt by internationally renowned Disney Historian Jim Korkis.

This unique Disney history companion features a lengthy foreword by Diane Disney Miller, the eldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, who praises the writing as “honest, and well written…so authentic, so true to my dad's spirit, so unprejudiced and non-judgmental that as I read it I could see the twinkle in dad's eye, hear his laugh.”

The book is divided into four sections: stories about Walt Disney’s life, stories about the Disney Films, stories of the Disney Theme Parks and finally stories about out of the ordinary Disney History from the Mickey Mouse radio show of the Thirties to why the FBI was upset with Walt and everything else in between. Each section is composed of chapters that are self contained stories featuring anecdotes, quotes and facts that have never before appeared in print.

Jim Korkis is a well known and respected Disney historian who has been researching and writing about Disney history for over thirty years. He interviewed and created long lasting friendships with Disney Imagineers, animators, entertainers and other Disney cast members, always checking the information with obscure documents he located through painstaking time, effort and expense.

“I became deeply concerned that this unique history was disappearing with the deaths of those people who actually knew Walt and who first shared many of these wonderful stories with me,” stated Korkis. “There is something for everyone in the book from the most knowledgeable Disney fan to the casually curious reader.”

Rough drafts of these essays have appeared on websites during the last few years so that Korkis could solicit corrections and additional information before finally committing the stories to print. The result was that every chapter in the book was extensively rewritten to make it as complete and accurate as possible using a multitude of original sources.

“The book is called The Vault of Walt because these are the ‘lost’ stories that have been locked away for decades and forgotten. Now is the time to open that vault and share them with a wider audience because they provide a fascinating perspective on Disney achievements and events,” said Korkis. “In addition, they are an awful lot of fun.”

Over thirty-six chapters covering over four hundred pages offer new insights and new information about the many worlds of Disney. Walt Disney originally wrote the idea for the live action movie, Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N. on the back of an air sickness bag. A voice actor named Joe Twerp performed the voice of Mickey Mouse for the episodes of the Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air radio series because Walt was too busy completing Snow White. Singer Frank Sinatra told entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. that Walt had developed a new system of making films that would make all other movies obsolete. Try to find those stories in other books about Disney history.

Although not currently a Disney cast member, Korkis has worked for the Disney Company as a performer (Merlin in the Magic Kingdom), animation instructor (including teaching animation history to interns at Disney Feature Animation Florida), writer (for various Disney magazines and special projects), facilitator (for backstage tours, convention groups and corporate clients) and in many other capacities.

“No one knows more hidden nooks and crannies in the vast history of Disney animation than Jim Korkis. I'm delighted that he's gathered his fact-filled columns in this book,” states Disney Authority Leonard Maltin, author of The Disney Films and host and consultant of Disney Treasures DVDs.

The Vault of Walt is both a valuable supplement to any Disney fan’s personal library and also an entertaining introduction to the many worlds of Walt for anybody who loves great storytelling and behind-the-scenes stories about how some legendary milestones were created.


Who is Jim Korkis?

Jim Korkis is a well respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles and done hundreds of presentations about all things Disney for over three decades. His personal research has received international acclaim for documenting the previously unexplored areas of Disney history. His extensive expertise and knowledge has been used many times by the Disney Company itself for special projects. Jim is not currently a Disney cast member. For a period of time, he also wrote Disney history articles under the pseudonym “Wade Sampson”.

Are these really unofficial, unauthorized and uncensored stories?

Yes, but don’t expect to find scandals, rumors, urban legends and fanciful psychological assumptions in these pages. The history of Disney is so rich that despite all the books that have been written about the subject, many great stories have never been told. Sometimes these stories are missing simply because there was no more space in a book to explore these interesting little tangents. Often, they were missing because the author had no clue that these stories even existed or had no access to the necessary research or people involved to tell the story.

Can you give a few examples?

What did Walt Disney really think about religion and prayer? Why did the FBI keep an extensive file of memorandum about the original Mickey Mouse Club? Was Uncle Remus really banned from attending the movie premiere of Song of the South? Were there dozens of feral cats living in Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland? All of these questions and many, many more are answered in the comprehensive research Jim did for this book.

How is this book different from other Disney books?

Each chapter in the book is a self contained story of some different aspect of Disney history so readers can select what they want to enjoy. The book is divided into four sections: Stories about Walt Disney and his life, Behind the scenes stories about the making of Disney animated and live action films, Stories about Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions and events, and finally a collection of Disney stories that are difficult to categorize like Khrushchev being denied a visit Disneyland, tales of the first real Tinker Bells who flew over the Disneyland castle and how Walt’s housekeeper and studio nurse influenced him.

The biggest difference is that many Disney history experts refer to “the Disney stories only Jim Korkis knows” and over three dozen of the best ones are included in this book, the first he has written since 1992.

by Diane Disney Miller, eldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney

Some years ago our son Walt brought to my attention an article on the Mouse Planet website. It was that rare thing; an honest, well written piece that was so authentic, so true to my dad's spirit, so unprejudiced and non-judgmental that as I read it I could see the twinkle in dad's eye, hear his laugh.

I immediately wrote the author Wade Sampson a letter of appreciation. Some weeks later I received a reply and learned that Wade Sampson was actually the pseudonym of Jim Korkis, who worked for the Walt Disney World Company as a Coordinator at the Learning Center and was well known and respected as a Disney Historian. Since that time I looked forward eagerly to "Wade’s” ongoing output, learning some things I didn't know, but always delighted with what he chose to write about and his obvious understanding and even affection for his subject.

Jim does not put my father on a pedestal, but he does like him, and I do not think that disqualifies him from having objectivity in his opinion of him. I find myself in the same position. I am so pleased that many of his articles are now bound together in this book. Dad's personality, character and values are displayed in the selections Jim has offered here.

I have not hesitated to correspond with Jim whenever I think of something that might interest him, or to add some insights into something he has written about. Dad did not hide anything about his life. He loved to talk about it. But he never really talked about religion, and his feelings about prayer, and I learned from Jim's article how deeply these feelings went.

I look forward to his continued exploration of dad's life and times. Something interesting and illuminating always seems to turn up, some little event and angle that adds to the story of his very good life.

Diane Disney Miller
July 2010
Diane is the eldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney and a noted philanthropist. Among many other achievements, she was instrumental in the creation of The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco that opened in 2009.


“Jim’s vast knowledge of Disney has constantly amazed me and he understands how the Disney Studio, Theme Parks, and Disneyana all tie together. Jim is an excellent Disney Heritage writer and speaker, and it’s about time he put together this collection of stories he has gathered over the years.”--Disney Legend (2005) Tom Nabbe who was Disneyland’s original “Tom Sawyer”

“Jim’s story telling has always mesmerized me. Now, some of his Disney tidbits are in a book! Let me put it this way. Chatting with Jim is a delicious nine course meal. Hours with his book will be a mouthwatering feast.”—Author and actress Margaret Kerry, original reference model for “Tinker Bell” in Disney’s Peter Pan

“No one knows more hidden nooks and crannies in the vast history of Disney animation than Jim Korkis. I'm delighted that he's gathered his fact-filled columns in this book.” --Disney Authority Leonard Maltin, author of The Disney Films and host and consultant of Disney Treasures DVDs.

“Disney history is full of unexplored byways, and no one has done a better job of mapping many of them than Jim Korkis. Even the most knowledgeable Disney buffs will be surprised and delighted by what they find in his book.” –Disney history expert Michael Barrier, author of The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney

“Disney stories are insightful as well as fun, and no one tells them better than Jim Korkis. Jim truly loves his material, and so will you. I heartily recommend his new book and I guarantee you’ll love every page.”--Artist and writer Floyd Norman, whose career at Disney spanned from Walt’s era through Eisner’s reign.


Part One: The Walt Stories

The Miniature Worlds of Walt (Walt’s fascination with making miniatures)
Santa Walt (Walt’s feelings about Christmas and a special family gift)
Horsing Around: Walt and Polo
Walt’s School Daze (Walt’s public school education)
Gospel According to Walt (Walt’s feelings about religion)
Walt and DeMolay
Extra! Extra! Read All About It! (Walt’s adventures as a newspaper boy)
Walt’s Return to Marceline 1956
Walt’s 30th Wedding Anniversary (The very first Disneyland party)

Part Two: The Disney Film Stories

Disney’s Ham Actors: The Three Little Pigs (Including the Rarely Seen Spanish cartoon)
Snow White Christmas Premiere (Description of the event at the Carthay Circle in 1937)
Destino (The true story behind Salvador Dali’s collaboration with Walt Disney)
Song of the South Premiere (Description of the event in Atlanta in 1946)
The Alice in Wonderland That Never Was (The Aldous Huxley script never filmed)
Secret Origin of The Aristocats
So Dear To My Heart (The neglected film that inspired many Disney firsts)
Toby Tyler (How Walt recreated the circus of his youth with authentic props)
Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N. (Only film with a story credit for Walt Disney)
Blackbeard’s Ghost (Last live action film made while Walt was alive)

Part Three: The Disney Park Stories

Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel (The complete history of a genuine antique)
Circarama 1955 (The very first 360 degree theater show at Disneyland)
Story of Storybook Land
Liberty Street 1959 (Walt’s planned addition to Disneyland that never was)
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through
Zorro at Disneyland (How Guy Williams and friends entertained in Frontierland)
Tom Sawyer Island
Epcot Fountain (The true meaning behind the popular landmark)
Captain EO (The only complete story in print about Michael Jackson’s 3-D film)
Mickey Mouse Revue (How and why the beloved attraction was created)

Part Four: The Other Worlds of Disney Stories

Khrushchev and Disneyland (Russian leader denied entrance to Disneyland)
A/K/A The Gray Seal (Walt’s favorite pulp mystery hero)
Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air (The unknown radio show from the Thirties)
Golden Oak Ranch (Location where Disney classic live action films were made)
Disney Goes To Macy’s
Tinker Bell Tales (The first Disneyland Tinker Bells and much more)
Mickey Mouse Club: FBI’s Most Wanted (Why Walt got in trouble with J. Edgar Hoover)
Chuck Jones: Four Months at Disney (Pepe Le Pew’s father’s troubles at Disney)
Walt’s Women: Two Forgotten Influences (Walt’s Housekeeper and Studio nurse)]

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