Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The blog will be updated again Thursday, September 5.
I had the tremendous pleasure on Friday to receive a review copy of Mindy Johnson's new book Tinker Bell - An Evolution and spent part of my weekend devouring it.

The short review: Run to get this book.  It is full of stunning concept art and contains a large amount of brand new information about Tinker Bell and Disney's version of Peter Pan.

The longer story: Tinker Bell - An Evolution is clearly one of the best Disney History books of 2013. I will have a really hard time this year chosing between the two Floyd Gottfredson books that David Gerstein edited, Sam Gennaway's The Disneyland Story and Mindy's book, to select the best Disney History book of 2013. What I can assure you is that Mindy's book is an extremely strong contender. As you know, I love pre-production art and half of the book is full of never-seen-before storyboard drawings and gorgeous concept art (some that we already knew but a lot that we did not). And the text provides many new facts, including information about abandoned plots and characters. Finally, Mindy has identified all of Tink's real life inspirations, including Ink and Paint artist Ginni Mack and has found, for the first time, a photo of concept artist David Hall.

The book is easy to read and a feast for the eyes. It does contain a few small typos, which I suspect are the responsibility of some over-eager editor, but overall it is perfect in every way.

One would have thought that a book with such a title released by Disney would have been a "puff piece". Not so! Mindy has achieved a rare feat: writing and producing a wonderful history book and art book which will satisfy both Disney historians and the general audience alike.

Hats off.

Do not miss today:

- Cruella as Medusa? by Andreas Deja
- Babbitt Sues Over $1.29 by Jake Friedman
- A Day with Ward Kimball in 1957 by Jim Korkis

Monday, August 26, 2013

Help Needed

Would anyone of you know how to find out what the original French and Italian names of the Oswald cartoons were? This is a very touch question and realize it is a long shot, but I need to at least try.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Not sure what this newly released book is worth and how much it contains about Fishinger's work for Disney but I know that most of you will want to know that it exists.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fun and very unusual postcard just found on ebay. Unfortunately the price went too high for me to pick it up.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This just in from Jim Korkis:

[From Ain't It Cool News: I have never seen this color SOTS behind the scenes shot before....you might want to post it on your site.]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This upcoming book intrigued me and I decided to send its author a few questions.

Didier Ghez: When and why did you decide to write this book?

Mark Arnold: I had the idea for quite awhile because of my frustrations with Leonard Maltin's "The Disney Films" and where it concluded. He kept updating his book, but gave little coverage to anything post-Walt, only going into late 1967. I discovered that there were many other projects that Walt was involved with that were released in 1968 and many even later than that. Also, many projects that Walt had nothing to do with were and are still worthy of the name Disney.
I was born in 1966 on the exact same day and year that Walt Disney died. The Disney of the 1970s and 1980s are what I grew up with. Walt Disney was just a founder, and I didn't identify with what he was doing, except when they reissued older films. I identified with what was currently going on, and I enjoyed most of it, but today this period is dismissed as being bad and unwatchable. Not true.
It was after my two-volume book "If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The History of Cracked Mazagine" that I was searching for another book to write and started writing "Frozen in Ice" even before I had a publishing agreement figuring I would get one in time, and I did.

DG: Could you describe the kind of research you conducted in order to write it?

MA: Of course, the Maltin book, plus many other books released over the years as well as viewing all 75+ films that were released during the period covered in the book. I also read my back issues of "Disney News" and read other books and saw videos containing interviews with the stars of the films as well as obtaining facts from various online sources such as IMDB. I also visited the Walt Disney Family Museum to see if they had any more information.

DG: Did you spend time interviewing some of the people who worked at the Studio and at WED at the time?

MA: I was initially going to do formal interviews like I did with my other books, but found that there were so many interviews and commentaries in existence, most of that work was already done for me. I have met many Disney stars over the years and many times they repeated the same stories I read or heard in other interviews. I didn't think that the living stars would shed any new light on what they've already said elsewhere by me interviewing them again. To most Disney stars, it was a job and as such they have limited memories about working there. Also, many of the stars of the period have now passed away as Disney tended to hire aging actors who couldn't get work elsewhere. It wasn't considered glamorous to be working on a Disney movie to many stars at that time.
The stars that I have met and talked about Disney with include Dick Van Patten, Tim Conway, Don Pedro Colley, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Ernest Borgnine and Jon Provost.
The only interview I really wanted to get was with Ron Miller. I did contact him through the Museum and through his winery, but my requests fell on deaf ears. I get the impression that he didn't want to relive the years that he was in charge very much, since the general opinion is that he helped ruin the studio, which isn't true.

DG: What are the main chapters of the book?

MA: Mainly it is set up like the Maltin book, but with one difference. I have a chapter covering each year. For instance, I'll cover 1968 and talk about everything that happened to Disney in that year including TV, comic books, records, theme parks, etc. and even include what didn't get released. Then I cover in detail as Maltin did, each film that came out that year. So, still using 1968 as an example, that includes "Blackbeard's Ghost", "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band", "Never a Dull Moment", "The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit" and "The Love Bug". For each film I write a detailed synopsis and then write a short review and include comments by the stars or interesting details about the production. Then, I start over again with 1969, going all the way up to 1985.
The reason I stopped at 1985 is that Disney as a company really changed from what it was once Michael Eisner took over in 1984. It was already in flux, but Eisner really dramatically changed it to the direction it is today and laid off the majority of any connections to the past. At this point, there's no going back. Disney is just too big. It is hard to believe there was a time where Disney wasn't doing too well and almost got bought out. I discuss all of this in detail.

DG: What are the key discoveries Disney historians and scholars can expect if they pick up this book?

MA: That the years 1966-1985 weren't as bad as people remember for Disney. They did some memorable stuff like "The Love Bug", "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and "Freaky Friday" and even "Tron".  Sure, they had some doggy films, but they did also when Walt was alive and certainly after Eisner took over. In fact, there's probably more of them since Disney releases so much more stuff nowadays.
The book is 550 pages and has photo images of movie posters, and is designed to be a thorough description of the history of the period from 1966-1985.
After I'm done, I will resume work on my book about DePatie-Freleng (Pink Panther).

Monday, August 19, 2013

This just in from Ed Ovalle from the Walt Disney Archives:

[The picture you recently purchased of Walt and the man who was a member of the Mickey Mouse all-cartoonist band does not appear to be Errol Gray as Mark Sonntag thought.
I believe that it could be James (Jamie) Escalante. We have a picture of the band and Errol Gray is wearing an entirely different uniform and the person sitting next to him wearing the grenadier hat and looks like James (Jamie) Escalante.
I have even seen a website that is maintained by Errol Gray's son who has the same picture and identifies the person as his father, Errol Gray.

The only problem is our personnel card lists James Escalante start date as 1/1939. In any case, I feel confident that the person next to Walt is not Errol Gray.]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Help Needed - Walt's People - Volume 13

Could any of you who already received his or her copy of Walt's People - Volume 13 write a review on Amazon? This would help tremendously.

An individual named "A. Gass" who has clearly never read any of the volumes of the series, let alone Volume 13 (and whom I do not know), is on a personal vendetta against me and has posted a terrible review (based on thin air) for two of my books.

Not much I can do about the review of the French edition of Disneyland Paris - From Sketch to Reality, but it would be great to counterbalance things when it comes to Walt's People.

Overall the two reviews made me smile. The one about the Disneyland Paris book especially. I love the part about "misquotes." Since I only quote from interviews I conducted myself at the time, and since no one but me had access to these interviews until now, that element of the "review" was particularly hilarious.

Anyway, I would love to get your help on this, if at all possible.

The Art of the Disney Golden Books by Charles Solomon is now available on pre-order on Amazon. I can't wait to read that upcoming book!
This just in:


A self-proclaimed cartoonist, Floyd Norman has worked in motion pictures, television, comic books and strips. He’s been doing this longer than most people have been alive.

He wrote the syndicated Mickey Mouse strip and worked as an animator and story artist on at least a dozen feature animated films for both Walt Disney Studio and Pixar Animation Studios. Though retired, Floyd continues to work as a consultant for the Walt Disney Company and is currently producing a series of videos helping promote the Disney legacy. He has also developed video games and toys for Disney Consumer Products simply because he wants to play with them.

Floyd’s latest project takes him outside the Disney Company. He’s writing Cartoon Network’s popular new show, “The Annoying Orange.”

Walt’s Barn is located at 5202 Zoo Dr. in Griffith Park. 
On August 18, 2013 Walt’s Barn will be open 11:00am - 3:00pm.]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This just in from Are Myklebust:

[On this website you will find what supposing is Walt Disney’s Ex Libris (or bookplate):


Is it genuine?
And if so, when did he start to use it?

See also the Ex Libris belonging to Frieda and Remus Harris - the grandson of Joel Chandler Harris!]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weird photo found on the web last week. No idea who the artist is.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Disney Books Network was updated yesterday. Apologies for this huge delay between updates. I had serious issues with internet at home over the last 6 months (those issues will be solved when we move to a new home in Coral Gables around October).
As you probably know by now I am finalizing a book titled Disney's Grand Tour about Walt's trip to Europe in 1935.

There is still one possible treasure trove which I am trying to access (a document in German on microfilm stored in Tennessee!) but aside from this I am just researching a few small details which will be mentioned in the endnotes.

This post focuses on one of those small details.

Around the time when Walt was in the UK, music producer John Watt organized a series of programs for the BBC featuring music inspired by the Disney shorts.

What I just found out this weekend is that a series of recordings were released at the time by Decca Records. I believe there were 6 discs in the series, titled Songs Fom the Films - Walt Disney Impressions:

Number 1: Three Little Pigs - F5312
Number 2: Grasshopper and the Ants - F5462
Number 3 or Number 4: Meet Mickey Mouse - F5647
Number 5: Lullaby Land - F5703
Number 6: Old King Cole - F5655

As you can see I am still missing one title. Could anyone help?

By the way, this page contains some great information about Disney & The Vinyl Record.

Gunnar Andreassen notes that the "mysterious" woman on the photo of Walt in London which I posted last week is most certainly Majorie Sewell Bowers, Walt's niece.

[The caption of this Getty Image from the same trip reads: "1952: American cartoonist and filmmaker, Walt Disney (1901 - 1966) with his wife and two daughters, Sharon and Diane and Karin Bergstrom, on board a ship." (It looks like Diane Disney and Karin Bergstrom were "classmates":  University of Southern California - see El Rodeo Yearbook 1952, link here http://www.e-yearbook.com/yearbooks/usc/1952/Page_200.html) And in The Cute Walt Story That Never Was by Jim Korkis, we read: "In 1952, Walt took five women to Europe—Mrs. Disney, the daughters, a niece and a friend of Diane’s. On this trip he taught them to reach for what they wanted."]

Monday, August 12, 2013

If you own the book It's Kind of a Cute Story (and I am convinced that most of you do, by now), you will probably want to pick up the CD titled More Cute Stories, with even more memorries by Rolly Crump. I just did.

Friday, August 09, 2013

 This just in from Gunnar Andreassen.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Pure gold on Cartoon Brew this morning with never-released-before photos of the Three Caballeros wrap party!

Todd Pierce and I just picked up this great photo on ebay. I have to admit that it threw me off. Walt is wearing a French grenadier's "shako" and the young man on his right seems to be wearing either the uniform of Napoleon's French grenadiers or, more likely, the uniform of the Italian Granateri di Sardegna (basically some Italian grenadiers). So I thought Walt might have been in a fun fair or in Europe.

In reality, both Becky Cline and David Lesjak confirmed that this photo was taken during an RKO convention which took place at the Studio in 1936.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Walt's People - Volume 13 released!

I have the pleasure to announce that Walt's People - Volume 13 has been released!

Once again this is a huge volume (594 pages). It looks as if I am still suffering from the "JK Rowling syndrom" :-)

Quite a few elements are new this time around: I have a new, extremely professional publisher, Theme Park Press, run by Bob McLain. Working with Bob is such a pleasure that I am hoping to release a lot of my upcoming books (not just the Walt's People book series) through Theme Park Press. (The Theme Park Press website will launch a bit later this month). 

Walt's People - Volume 13 also features a newly formatted interior, an improved cover design, stringent editing thanks to Bob.

And better still, the cover price is lower ($19.95, before Amazon's discount).

The Kindle and other digital versions will be available by next week.

[Note: If you are one of the contributors of this new volume, you should receive your copy of the book at some point in September.]

I just love those Japanese matchbox covers from the '30s! They are so ugly that they appear to be beautiful :-)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Interesting photo of Walt, found on the site of the English Science & Society Picture Library. According to the caption it was shot on July 7, 1952 at a hotel in London by photographer A. Tanner. The woman on the left is supposed to be Walt's secretary. Is this Dolores Voght? Of course the other women on the photo (from left to right) are Diane, Sharon and Lillian.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Seen on ebay recently. Not sure what the story is when it comes to this student magazine cover, but I love it.

Friday, August 02, 2013

This photo just in from Julie Svendsen:

[My mom is the woman shown wearing the scarf and the faux fur coat on the right.  I don't know who the other women are but I'm guessing that one of them is Hyacinth (Hycie as she was known to those familiar to her), the longtime flight attendant on the Gulfstream.  Maybe you know the pilot's name and the name of the other lady?]

I don't know who the other lady is, but I should know the name of the pilot. I forgot though, but I am sure one of you will remind us.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The more I hear about The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney's Dream the more exciting it sounds. Let's hope it does not disappoint.