Tuesday, July 31, 2012

John Canemaker's new Disney-related book project is now official. John writes on www.johncanemaker.com:

[John Canemaker has just completed the manuscrpt of an exciting new book project to be published by The Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, titled Secrets of Disney Movie Magic (1938 - 1941): Herman Schultheis and his Special Effects Notebooks. The book is expected to be published in late 2014.

Herman Schultheis (1900-1955) was a German-born engineer who worked at the Walt Disney Studios during the its most ambitious period of animated feature production. He worked in the studio's Process Lab, which created the special visual effects for Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi.

An avid photographer, Schultheis meticulously documented the work of the Process Lab in several large-format notebooks, detailing how they accomplished the dazzling effects imagery that still amazes audiences today. His hand-printed commentary and photographs offer a rare look at the state of the art in special effects during this important era at the Disney studio.

Schultheis left Disney in the early 1940s, and his notebooks remained unknown until his widow's death in 1990. They have since been acquired by The Walt Disney Family Museum, located at The Presidio in San Francisco, where the Special Effects notebook is on permanent view in an extraordinary interactive digital display.

In this new book, John Canemaker interweaves the life story of the enigmatic Schultheis with a close analysis of the notebooks' content, and the many people who worked with Schultheis at Disney.]

Monday, July 30, 2012

This just in from Eddie Sotto:

[Hope you are well! This is a trash bag designed by Disney of Harry Oliver, a friend of Walt's and an art director in the business.He designed the Tam O'Shanter Restaurant that Walt liked, and inspired Knott's Berry Farm.  I wonder who drew it?]
I wonder how a caricature of Ward Kimball ended up on this jigsaw puzzle released by Jouets Vera in France in the 1940s.
Do not miss today:

- How Disney Fans Found Carl Barks by Jim Korkis
- The Original Windows of Main Street by Todd James Pierce (outstanding article!)
- OLD TOMORROWLAND MONTH~TWA Moonliner Redux by Paul F. Anderson
- Bob Givens Redux by Amid Amidi

Friday, July 27, 2012

I was planning to review with great new book, but both Michael Sporn and Jerry Beck have already done so and said all I wanted to mention about it.
One more Xmas card by John Hench sent by Julie Svendsen. Brian Sibley just emailed me to let me know that he posted many of Hench's cards on his blog a few years ago. This is therefore the last one I will post on the Disney History blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I will review this book as soon as I get it. For now I just wanted to mention that it exists. It is a Walt Disney World exclusive.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Based on the online reviews this other new book could be a good read. We will see.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not sure what this book is worth but I am certain that some of you will want to know that it exists and that it has finally been released as a physical book instead of just an ebook.
As some of you know, my wife and I currently live in Madrid, Spain. I am glad to say that we will be relocating to Miami by early November. Are any readers of this blog based there? If so, do not hesitate to drop me a line.

Monday, July 23, 2012

If you have been bitten by the True-Life Adventures history bug like I have, you will be glad to know that this book exists since John Ott worked on The Secrets Of Life and Nature's Half Acre and since My Ivory Cellar seems to contain a few pages about those two projects.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thanks to Julie Svendsen, here is one more Xmas card from John Hench. Note the homage to his friend Dali who had passed away in January that year (1989).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

 I think that some of you will enjoy this treasure I picked up on ebay last week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alain Littaye, my co-author on the art book Disneyland Paris - From Sketch to Reality just emailed me to let me know that he located a few additional English copies of the limited edition, which he is selling at the moment. Considering for how long this book has been out of print and how hard it is to find copies, I thought some of you might be interested to know this.

For more details, you should email Alain at neverlandeditions@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An anonymous contributor to the blog was kind enough to point me in the direction of this Finnish site which contains quite a few vintage Disney postcards which I had never seen before. Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Considering that for many years RKO acted as Disney's distributor, I can´t wait to pick up this book which I discovered last week and to check out what it contains about our favorite company. I suspect that some of you will do the same thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Julie Svendsen was kind enough to send me recently this 1987 Christmas card by John Hench.  According to Julie:

[Here's the cast of audience characters:  starting from the left, that's Matisse cutting the paper; Dali; Toulouse Lautrec in the bowler hat; John Hench wearing the Mickey Mouse shirt; one of John's pet cats; Lowry, John's wife; I'm guessing Amedeo Modigliani (pulling the little nude lady toy); Picasso in the striped shirt; Chagall with the white dove.

There's a person peeking out from behind the curtain and I don't know who that is.

The puppet show characters are: Arlequin; Polichinelle; and the other pet cat of John's.]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I still kick myself for having missed to buy this extremely rare Swedish "By authorization of Mickey Mouse Ltd." postcard from the '30s, which was sold recently on ebay. Oh well, let´s hope I will manage to locate the buyer and get a high resolution scan at some point.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This upcoming 52-minute DVD about the "backstage" of Disneyland Paris could be interesting. We will see...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A few spectacular items are being sold by Hakes this week, including a very rare exhibitors book from 1932-1933 from Columbia, which contains this marvelous double-page.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibition opened recently at the Ronald Reagan Library. A catalog has been released. Looks quite exciting and thankfully they ship abroad at a reasonable cost.
Do not miss today:

- Disney Artists with Guns by Jake Friedman (outstanding post)
- Disneyland's First "Major New Ride" by Paul F. Anderson (outstanding post)
- Les Clark, of Disney’s Supreme Court by Jake Friedman
- Ward Kimball Joins the Jennings Gang by Bob McLain
- Disneyland's Last Space Girl by Jim Korkis
- Bedknobs & Broomsticks by Andreas Deja
- The Original Plans for the “Sailing Ship Columbia” by Todd James Pierce
- Happy 4th of July from the Disney History Institute by Paul F. Anderson
- Old Tomorrowland - Walt Disney and the Circarama Preview by Todd James Pierce
- Old Tomorrowland: Animated America Sings by Paul F. Anderson
- AMERICA SINGS OPENING DAY June 29, 1974 by Paul F. Anderson

Friday, July 06, 2012


In the Summer of 1956, Walt did a series of interviews with journalist Pete Martin for articles that would appear in the SATURDAY EVENING POST and later be combined into a book THE STORY OF WALT DISNEY.   Here are Walt’s unedited thoughts about the business behind Disneyland:

PETE MARTIN:  Let's talk a little about Disneyland and how it's so different from other amusement parks.

WALT:  It really takes a person more than a day to see the park without exhausting themselves.  And as I get these new things in, it's going to take more time.  It's one of those things that people who come in here for the first time and everything's there and they sort of make a hog of themselves, you see?  Well, a lot of people come back the third time and just like to sit and listen to the band, see the horses going around.  I like to go down and sit by the river and watch the people.

Chewing gum sticks up things so we don't sell it.  And peanut shells.  We sell the unshelled.  But shelled peanuts, they just crumble them and throw them all over the place.  And nothing with round sticks.  People trip on them.  The ice cream bars got flat sticks and I won't sell any of this spun candy because the kids get it and get it all over everything and people get it on their hands.

No liquor, no beer, nothing.  Because that brings in a rowdy element. That brings people that we don't want and I feel they don't need it.  I feel when I go down to the park I don't need a drink.  I work around that place all day and I don't have one.  After I come out of a heavy day at the studio sometimes I want a drink to relax.

When it comes to Disneyland, I feel I've given the public everything I can give them.  My daughter, Diane, says that I spend too much time around the house talking about how I can give them more for their money when they come to the park.  You've got to build.  You've got to keep it clean.  You don't want to walk in a dirty toilet.  I won't have 'em.  My toilets are spic and span.  And you know another thing, I have to have police so there's no child molesters there. I've got plainclothesmen.  They can leave their kids to run around and I have safety inspectors.  It's run in a high class manner and I have a high class clientele.  The people who go to the park are from all walks of life but they look like solid Americans. That's pretty high class.

(Even in 1956, Walt was getting complaints about the high cost of getting into Disneyland.  An adult ticket cost a dollar--nine cents of which went directly to taxes--and a child admission cost fifty cents.  On top of that, people bought individual tickets for rides.  Walt introduced the concept of ticket books so you got more rides for the money you spent on the book than if you bought each ride individually.)

PETE MARTIN:  One of the things we should cover is to knock off that rumor that Disneyland's expensive to come to.

WALT: Oh, no.  Not at all.  That's an old hat thing.  You hear it from some people because they don't know what else to say.

By the time this article comes out, I'm raising it to two dollars because I'm adding all these new rides.  And to extend my ticket book to take care of the rides, I'm putting this to ten rides for two dollars.  Figure it out.  It averages twenty cents a ride, doesn't it?  It would cost an adult three dollars and a junior two dollars and fifty cents to get in and get ten rides.  If they don't want that, they can pay their buck and pay their fifty cents for their kid and they can come in.  They can sit on the park benches, take up the space, dirty up my toilets, litter up the street. They can do all of that if they pay their dollar-fifty.  They can ride as they want to.  They can sit around and hear my band; they can visit my free shows.  They can do all that and more for their dollar-fifty.

You can't go in a state park without paying that.  See, you've got to pay something.  You pay so much a head or so much a car to go in a state park. We even have to pay government tax on admission.  So it's really ninety-one cents to get in.  Now that's what it amounts to.  You can't go to the circus for that.  I tell you the complaint about the prices are malicious. Los Angeles is made up of a lot of different characters.  How do I know they might not be more interested in some other thing like Marineland? Or some other type of amusement that is competitive.  We are competitive, too.  Who knows?  But there's no foundation for some of these complaints about price.  When people make that remark to me, it just sounds to me like they heard it somewhere and they don't know what else to say.  How can they compare Disneyland prices with anything else because there is nothing else like it.

Well, you take you children to Disneyland and for a dollar and a half they get in and spend a whole darn 13 hours if they want to.  Now, if you want to go in and buy them expensive toys or you want to buy them bathing suits or your wife happened to go along and sees a wonderful woolen skirt that costs $30.  Well, people come out and spend all that money.  But they don't think twice of going down to Bullocks Wilshire and spending that much on a skirt. If you go into a Broadway Department Store, you can go in and spend $25 or $30.  I'm not insisting people buy things but I want to give them the opportunity.

So I have to keep improving on ideas.  On the jungle ride, I want to get more animation in the animals.  I want to really fix it.  My monkeys have gone to pot.  And I want new monkeys.  I'm going to take them out Monday because I'd rather not have them in there looking like that.

[Jim Korkis is still looking for a permanent job or for freelance writting or speaking assignments. If you need a great Disney historian, writter, speaker, etc. Please keep him in mind and more importantly email him at jkorkis@aol.com to hire him ASAP.]

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Walt Sinks Like a Rock by Jim Korkis

Sometimes during my research I will run across a cute story but it is too short to turn into a long article or even to use as part of an article.  I’ve talked with Didier that in some future volumes of WALT’S PEOPLE, there needs to be a section for these short snapshots of people’s encounters with Walt.

No matter how big and important Walt Disney got, there are countless stories of him taking time to visit with old friends from Marceline or other encounters.

William C. Johnston was just a young boy from Evanston, Illinois when he signed up to be trained as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross during World War I.  It was during training that he met another young boy named Walter Disney.

“I worked for the Chicago Tribune and Walt worked for the Kansas City Star.  We were both paper boys,” recalled Johnson.

Their paths parted ways but they were reunited later on the same ship returning both boys home again.  During that twenty-one day sea voyage, Johnson remembered that Walt usually had a pen or pencil at hand and entertained the others with his cartooning skills.  Johnston says he had wished he had saved some of those cartoons that Walt turned out by the score.

Johnson returned to Evanston where he spent fourteen years as a police officer.  In 1929, while attending a movie, Johnston saw the cartoon “Steamboat Willie” and immediately recognized Walt’s name.  He wrote to his old acquaintance, “Walt, you’ve got something there!”  

Walt replied with a standard fan card from the time of Mickey Mouse walking with his right open hand raised in the air.  Above was a blank speech balloon where Walt had printed “To my old pal, W.C. Johnston”.   Under Mickey’s picture, Walt had signed his name.

The picture hung in the Johnston home and youngsters often asked, “How did you get that picture?  Did you send a quarter somewhere?”

In the Sixties, the Johnstons went to California on a vacation trip.  On a whim, Johnston phoned the Disney Studios and was directed to one of Walt’s personal secretaries.  Johnston told her that Walt had probably forgotten him but he wanted to say “hello”.  Later, the secretary called him back and reassured him that Walt had not forgotten him and wanted the Johnstons to come to studios at their earliest opportunity for a visit.

When they arrived at the Disney Studios, Mrs. Johnston remained in the car with relatives while Johnston went inside to visit with his old acquaintance.  While they talked for quite awhile about their experiences in World War I, Walt decided to come out to the car and greet the waiting ladies and to personally escort them through the studio.  William even got a picture taken of him standing next to a smiling Walt.  Johnston remembers Walt as being a man very easy to talk with when he retold the story.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Walt remembered William Johnston was an incident that happened in World War I.  The two were swimming and Walt, who according to Johnston “swam like a rock”, stepped off a deep spot and was pulled out of the water by Johnston.

[Jim Korkis is still looking for a permanent job or for freelance writting or speaking assignments. If you need a great Disney historian, writter, speaker, etc. Please keep him in mind and more importantly email him at jkorkis@aol.com to hire him ASAP.]

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Didier Ghez does an excellent job documenting Disney related books both in and out of print. (Click on the Disney Books Network link at the right.) However, some Disney related books that are announced never make it to print.

For instance, before I moved to Florida sixteen years ago, I wrote a book entitled HOOKED:  PETER PAN ON STAGE AND SCREEN covering the history of the iconic character from his beginnings to Spielberg’s film “Hook” with three chapters devoted to the Disney version of the character.   The publisher disappeared with the manuscript (this was in the day of typewritten documents) and all the one-of-a-kind photos that I had foolishly sent.

Recently I found in a storage box, my original notes for the book including the foreword written by voice artist June Foray (who this month won her first but long deserved Emmy award) in July 1992:

“Even in my pre-adolescence, I was an omnivorous reader, loving Homer, Dickens, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Hawthorne, Balzac, Rostrand.  But, ah!  Then there was James M. Barrie.

“What kid, young or old, doesn’t yearn to fly over the rooftops of reality and live in a halcyon world of escapism, the Never Never Land of Peter Pan?

“Thus, my exhilaration is almost ineffable to describe when I received a call from the Disney Studios to create the voices of two mermaids and the Indian squaw in their animated feature PETER PAN.  Childhood revisited:  My ecstasy was completely consummated a few weeks later when the casting director engaged me to be rotoscoped as one of the mermaids.  Forget the sore muscles and bruises from slithering up one side of a pile of lumber and down the other to emulate the half-human, half-marine creature.  A mermaid in PETER PAN resembled me!

“And now, to my joy, Jim Korkis has written the denouement, the definitive book concerning anything you ever wanted to know about the conception, creation, and production of all those many PETER PANs.  The reading of this book will find the reveries of childhood peopled by Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook and assorted fictional charmers affording a reprieve from our oft times prosaic existence.  Jim Korkis lets your fantasies fly again with the perennially young Peter Pan.  Your coming back to earth will be considerably more rewarding.”

And how many of you have a copy of the Spring 1991 catalog from Publishers Group West which was distributed that year at the American Booksellers Association and announced THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE ANIMATED FEATURE FILMS OF DISNEY by Jim Korkis and John Cawley? There was even an ISBN number for this 250 page trade paperback which would be "a complete guide to all of the animated features from the Walt Disney Company. Covers the entire behind-the-scenes story for each film, including exclusive interviews and rare illustrations." However, the publisher was, to put it politely, an outright crook and when John and I finally wised up to that fact, we cancelled that project although I notice it still gets listed as "published but out-of-print." I think I still have the notes and sample chapters for that book somewhere in a box in my storage unit.

However, just like in a Disney film, there is a happy ending because I do have a Disney related book in print, THE VAULT OF WALT, that because of its short, self-contained chapters should make fun summer reading. (Click on link at the right)

[Jim Korkis is still looking for a permanent job or for freelance writting or speaking assignments. If you need a great Disney historian, writter, speaker, etc. Please keep him in mind and more importantly email him at jkorkis@aol.com to hire him ASAP.]

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Bill “Sully” Sullivan joined Disneyland as a nineteen year old on July 27, 1955 as a ticket taker on the Jungle Cruise attraction.   He soon became a ride operator and then supervisor.   Like many long time Disney cast members, he was involved in many different areas including management roles at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic Games, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Disney film premieres, Vice President of the Magic Kingdom, in charge of PICO (Project Installation and Coordination Office) for Epcot’s opening and many other accomplishments.  He was made a Disney Legend in 2005.

On Saturday, June 16, the Florida World Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club held a special brunch in Sully’s honor called a “Sully-bration” at the Bohemian (formerly Celebration) Hotel.   Sully talked for over an hour about some of his adventures and I had the opportunity to also talk with him before and after the presentation as well.  Here are are few excerpts: 

Jim Korkis:  Let’s talk about “The Yippie (Youth International Party) invasion” of Disneyland on August 6, 1970.  They “captured” Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island, raising a Viet Cong flag and smoking pot.  About three hundred of them made a nuisance of themselves on Main Street singing about sex and drugs, running between the Disneyland marching band, trying to raise a flag in Town Square and more.

Sully:  I remember that day.  Flyers had been distributed so we were prepared.  The police were there as well to keep things running smoothly.  Dick Nunis was running the park and Roy O. Disney had told him, “Don’t let them shut us down”.
During the disturbance, Dick grabbed one by the hair and yanked him backstage and his wig came off!  He was a Secret Service agent in disguise who was there to keep an eye on things.  Another time, Dick grabbed one in a headlock and pushed him toward one of the big heavy doors leading off stage.  He smashed the guy’s head on the door to open it because he was so angry.   Some guy tried to pull down the American flag on Main Street and Dick punched him right in the face.

JK:  On the Jungle Cruise, one of the famous stories was that Walt got on it and it turned out to be a three and a half minute ride and it was supposed to be seven minutes.

Sully:  Yeah, Walt chewed out Dick (Nunis) about that.  So Dick had to retrain the whole crew and weeks later Walt came back and got on a boat and it was seven minutes.  He got off and got on another and it was seven minutes.  He did that about three or four times so he could be sure that Dick hadn’t “stacked the deck” with the best person.  What people don’t know about that story is that when Walt got that three and a half minute ride, the captain was Tex and it was his last day so he was rushing things through so he could leave.

JK:  Rolly Crump mentioned that when the Swan Boat ride was closed at the Magic Kingdom, he proposed a Fantasia Gardens attraction to replace it with boats going through scenes from the Disney animated feature, FANTASIA.  He said the two things that killed the thing were difficulty in getting a sponsor and Sully Sullivan.

Sully: (laughs) Randy Bright was in on that thing as well.  It would have been a beautiful ride.  Just beautiful.  They set up this demonstration for all these big wigs and I said, “That’s fine.  I just want ten minutes with Michael Eisner.  That’s all.”  So the pitch and the demonstration went well.  I followed Eisner to the bathroom and we were talking and I said, “This is no good to me.  I need something with high volume and when it rains, this ride shuts down and I can’t use it to handle capacity in the park.  I need a bigger bang for my buck.”  So Eisner comes out and tells Bright, “We need to think through a few more things.”

JK:  I think Roy O. Disney is very underrated.

Sully:  I agree completely.  He was a great guy.  I remember one time as the sun was setting, it was quiet and work had started to clear the land to begin construction of the Magic Kingdom and we were standing out there looking at the land and he was taking a leisurely puff from his cigar and he just looked off into the distance and said quietly, “My brother left me a pile of shit.”

JK:  How did COORS beer that was only available on the West Coast end up at Walt Disney World during construction?

Sully:  PICO trucks!  A fellow named Dennis Robinson collected money from us and then arranged to have the beer put in crates marked “Small tools and equipment” for PETER PAN’S FLIGHT.  It was trucked across country to Orlando.  He almost got fired over it for misuse of company property but since so many managers enjoyed the fruits of that questionable act….

The complete interview with my additional questions will appear in an upcoming volume of WALT’S PEOPLE

The Disneyana Fan Club has posted video of the event by Luke Piacente on YouTube at these links:   

Sullybration with Disney Legend, William "Sully" Sullivan Part 1 of 3

Sullybration with Disney Legend, William "Sully" Sullivan Part 2 of 3

Sullybration with Disney Legend, William "Sully" Sullivan Part 3 of 3

[Jim Korkis is still looking for a permanent job or for freelance writting or speaking assignments. If you need a great Disney historian, writter, speaker, etc. Please keep him in mind and more importantly email him at jkorkis@aol.com to hire him ASAP.]

Monday, July 02, 2012


“Walt [Disney] never knew that I patterned Merlin the magician (in the animated feature Sword in the Stone) after him when I wrote the script," remembered Disney storyman Bill Peet.

At Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, in front of Cinderella Carousel, from 1993-2006, Merlin came to life to perform the “Sword in the Stone Ceremony” several times a day where he sought out a new temporary royal ruler of Fantasyland while good King Arthur took a brief vacation.   An adult was unable to draw the mighty sword from the anvil but up to six times a day, a young child with a little magic from Merlin always accomplished the feat.

Since Merlin is a real person and there is only one Merlin, a Disney entertainment performer is not Merlin but might be a “friend of” Merlin or “assist in the portrayal of” Merlin.  Over the years, Merlin has had many friends at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

I had just completed performing as a “friend” of Prospector Pat in Frontierland as Summer ended and in September 1995, I found myself “assisting in the portrayal” of Merlin several days a week.   In early 1996, I became part of the Opening Team for the Disney Institute as a salaried animation instructor and bid a sad farewell to my old friend.

In the Fall of 1995, my parents visited me several times and took photos and video of the performance.  I even arranged for my dad (who passed away a few years ago) to actually pull out the sword and receive the special medallion and certificate that he displayed proudly over his desk at home for many years.

I haven’t seen a lot of photos of Merlin so here are a few that mom and dad took, except for the one that has both of them standing next to their son and wondering why they paid all that money for a good college education for him.

[Jim Korkis is still looking for a permanent job or for freelance writting or speaking assignments. If you need a great Disney historian, writter, speaker, etc. Please keep him in mind and more importantly email him at jkorkis@aol.com to hire him ASAP.]