Wednesday, June 22, 2022

So, now that "The Origins of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures" is at the printer, some of you may wonder what other Disney history-related projects I am working on at the moment aside from future volumes of "Walt's People."

The list is a long one. 

1. I am preparing three essays for future volumes of the Hyperion Historical Annual: One about Walt Disney and Hans Christian Andersen, the second about Disney and Edgar Bergen (including two shelved projects) and the third about Disney's French projects from the mid-1940s.

2. J.B. Kaufman, Ted Thomas and I have just finished writing a new monograph titled "Walt Disney and El Grupo in Latin America," the first day-by-day account of the famous 1941 trip, complete with close to 240 photographs. The monograph is in layout phase.

3. Libby Spatz and I are currently researching and writing a two-part monograph about "Mickey Mouse on Stage and on Radio in the 1930s." This groundbreaking project will cover the origins of the Mickey Mouse clubs in the US and around the world, the Mickey Mouse stage shows (in the US and abroad), the Mickey Mouse marionette shows, the Mickey Mouse parades costumes and floats (in the US and abroad), Mickey Mouse Christmas window displays, and Mickey Mouse on radio in the US and abroad. As always, 90% of the material we unearthed has never been seen before. 

4. Jim Hollifield and I are working on a monograph about "The Making of Darby O'Gill and the Little People." I have written the first half, which focuses on the research trip and the various versions of the story, and will now start help Jim gather material for him to write the second half, which deals with the actual making of the movie.

5. And next week I will have the opportunity to start conducting research for the sequel to the monograph about "The Origins of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures." That new monograph, "Walt Disney's Adventures in Music, History and Nature," will deal with some overlooked projects from the 1940s and 1950s.

In other words, there is lots on my plate, which is a good thing. 

 

Friday, June 17, 2022


One of the most exciting projects I have been working on over the past three years is the new, hard-cover, fully-illustrated monograph The Origins of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures.

This second instalment in the Hyperion Historical Alliance's monograph series will be released in September this year, at the time of the D23 Expo.

I am very, very proud of this new publication and consider its content to be quite revolutionary. It is the very first time this story is being told; most of the sources I used had never been accessed before (that includes the papers of artist Holling C. Holling, the lost autobiography of Al and Elma Milotte and much more); and most of the illustrations are seen in book form for the very first time.

The first chapter deals with the genesis of the True-Life Adventures: the research trip to Maine in 1938 during the making of "Bambi." (It includes never-seen-before photographs of the trip and a first-person account of it!)

The second chapter focuses on Disney's educational projects during WWII (in a lot more detail that what we knew until now).

The third chapter covers Al and Elma Milotte's one-year-long trip to Alaska and quotes from their correspondence and recently rediscovered autobiography.

The fourth chapter gives information about the roads not taken: the early shelved True-Life Adventures.

Finally, the fifth chapter tells the story of the making of the first of the True-Life Adventures: Seal Island.

Much more to come about this new monograph, very soon. I can't tell you how glad I am to know that it has finally been sent to the printer! 

Thursday, June 16, 2022


A few years back, while researching the fifth volume of the They Drew as They Pleased -- The Hidden Art of Disney book series, I stumbled upon the lost autobiography of Disney artist and musician Danny Alguire.


Over the past three years, jazz historian Hal Smith, myself and Lucas Seastrom (who is a Disney historian, a specialist of the Firehouse Five Plus Two and a jazz historian) have been working on getting the book into print. Lucas served as the principal editor on this project and, thanks to BearManor Media, we are getting very, very close to publication.


More about this very soon.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022


The first two years of the pandemic slowed things down... a lot. But they did not stop Disney research in its tracks. In fact, in 2020 and 2021 I had the opportunity of focusing on many projects that I would not have thought of tackling in normal times (more about these revolutionary projects in a few days).


With companies and other institutions finally reopening, several projects that had been on hold are finally seeing the light of day. I will be sharing a lot of good news over the next few days...


Starting with the fact that the new Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual has just been approved for release and should be available on Amazon by early July.


I have to admit that I am very, very proud of its content. We are covering a lot of new ground in this issue and the level of scholarly research is astounding. All the essays are also very fun to read, of course.


I have a feeling you will really enjoy this new issue of the HHA Annual.

Monday, June 13, 2022


This just in from Jim Korkis about his new book Disneyland Historical Highlights 1954 - 1972:


[The Disneyland Stories You Were Never Told


Take an anecdotal time-travel trip back to the memorable years when Walt Disney and his brother Roy were operating Disneyland.  Those magical years were a time when Walt’s park was not an overpriced reservation vacation but truly the Happiest Place on Earth.


Each chapter in this book is devoted to a specific year in that early history of Disneyland from 1954 to 1972 and are filled with stories that have been forgotten or never told. 


Besides information each year on such things as ticket prices, attendance, the Candlelight Processional narrator, employment numbers, each chapter has several short essays about the events, attraction openings and much more that occurred during that particular year.


While most histories of Disneyland will focus on the fact that 1959 saw the introduction of the first three “E Ticket” attractions (Submarine Voyage, Monorail and Matterhorn bobsleds), this book also details the “Western Weekend” when television cowboy stars appeared for a three day weekend,  the infamous Car Club Day that inspired Ed “Big Daddy” Roth to create his Rat Fink character, Nikita Khruschev’s failed attempt to visit Disneyland, the complete schedule of events for the June 14 dedication ceremonies and more.  


So much was going on at Disneyland every year that all the information was never properly documented and interesting little historical tidbits have slipped through the cracks but are finally recounted in this book.


Every page contains something that might surprise even the most avid Disneyland afficionado drawn from decades of research, personal experience as well as exclusive interviews with the Imagineers and executives who were there during those years.    


Everything from a Yippie Invasion that shut down the park to when Annette dressed as an Indian princess signing autographs in the Indian Village to why the Enchanted Tiki Room did not become a restaurant as originally planned are revealed in this book. 


For those who were there, the book will bring back fond memories and for those who weren’t, it will give some insight into how those early years were so magical and so memorable for so many Disneyland guests.]

Sunday, June 05, 2022

A few interesting books coming up next year!

Thanks to David Peake for the heads up.




 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


This just in from Michael Crawford:

[I hope you are well. I just wanted to let you know that I've started digitizing my collection of documents and ephemera and uploading them to a centralized location at the Internet Archive. My hope is to provide an accessible archive of these things for everyone, especially as they have become harder to find and much more expensive to acquire through eBay and other places.

Everything has been scanned at high resolution and converted to OCR PDFs, so people can search for keywords. Hopefully it'll prove useful or at least interesting to some folks.

It all can be found here]



Tuesday, May 17, 2022


Don't miss this new website! Some marvelous material in there. And, of course, I can't wait for the book to be released.

Thursday, May 12, 2022


 Will I enjoy the movie? Who knows? 

The book The Art of Lightyear for its part is excellent, like everything that Chronicle Books releases. (Needless to say I am biased ;-)

Thursday, May 05, 2022


 Great Disney auction coming up at Heritage Auctions on May 21 and 22.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

 

I am extremely sad to report that one of the foremost Italian Disney historians, Luca Boschi, recently passed away. RIP.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


On June 24, 1935, during his visit to Europe, Walt attended a fundraiser at the Westminster Hospital. 

When I wrote "Disney's Grand Tour," I knew of only one photo of the event which I did include in the book. 

I just found another photo that I had never seen before. It is being sold on eBay at the moment but is way too expensive for me.

Friday, April 15, 2022


 New auction coming up at Van Eaton Galleries.

Friday, April 08, 2022

This just in from my friend Jeremie Noyer. Apparently this book will be released in the Spring this year. Here is the official blurb:

[From the theme parks to the Disney Hotels and shows, the designers of all these experiences are not only architects and engineers, but also artists – painters, illustrators, storyboarders, graphic designers, decorators, and model makers.


With The Art of Disneyland Paris, dive into the heart of the creation and evolution of Europe’s leading tourist destination through more than 300 photos, concepts and preparatory drawings made by Imagineers and artists of the Entertainment Department, over its 30-year history. From the first sketches to the projects to come, discover an art book like no other, both a souvenir album and a portfolio of passionate artists.]



 

Monday, March 21, 2022


 Found in the British newspaper "Nelson Leader" (Lancashire, England) dated October 14 1938.

Monday, March 14, 2022


I just established this weekend, via newly located documents, that the illustrations from the "Wind in the Willows" chapter in the book Walt Disney's Surprise Package were created by Mel Shaw.

So, this is what we know at this stage when it comes to the book's chapters:

1. Through the Picture Frame: Bianca Majolie

2. Brer Rabbit En His Satchel Uv Gold: Unknown

3. The Emperor's New Clothes: James Bodrero

4. The Little Fir Tree: Unknown

5. Lady: Almost certainly Joe Grant and Jack Miller

6. Chicken Little: Unknown

7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: David Hall

8. The Wind in the Willows: Mel Shaw

9. Peter Pan and the Pirates: Jack Miller

10. Peter and the Wolf: Probably Dick Rickard

11. The Square World: Joe Grant

12. Happy Valley: Unknown


 I am looking forward to the release of this new Italian book about Snow White...

Tuesday, March 08, 2022


Drawn to Greatness: Disney's Animation Renaissance by my friend and fellow Disney historian Michael Lyons has just been released.

The book is based on interviews conducted by Michael with many of the producers, directors, animators, art directors, story artists, and executives who contributed to Disney animation's Renaissance. 

An excellent read.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Two books that could be interesting are now available for pre-order on Amazon:

- Mary Lescher, The Disney Animation Renaissance: Behind the Glass at the Florida Studio

Art of Disney published by Chronicle Books
 

Friday, February 25, 2022


Some great news to start the weekend. Walt's People - Volume 26 has just been released today thanks to Skyway Press!!!

This new volume features interviews with Bill Cottrell, Armand Bigle, Pierre Nicolas, Antonio Bertini, Andy Thewlis, Gunnar Mansson, Horst Koblischek, Dan Gonzales, Herb Hughes, Royal “Mickey” Clark, Marvin Davis and Marjorie Davis, Marty Sklar, Jack Lindquist, Craig McNair Wilson, Kym Murphy, and Chris Runco.

Monday, February 21, 2022


I have been waiting for the book "Women of Walt Disney Imagineering" to be released for almost two years and finally got a review copy last week.

It was worth the wait. I absolutely love this volume. It is not an art book, although it does contain a section with color illustrations (including photos and pieces of concept art). It is first and foremost a book that allows 12 friends, who also happen to be some of the most talented of Disney's female Imagineers, to tell the story of their lives and careers.

I learned a lot and consider this book a page-turner. We are only in February, but I already know it will become part of my "best books of 2022" list.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

 

I just received a copy of the book The Art of Turning Red (a movie that I am looking forward to watching when it released on Disney+ on March 11).

As always, Chronicle Books did a great job with that one. More than the character designs, what I really loved in this volume are the concept pieces.

I have to admit that I am really looking forward to discovering, some day, more artwork by some of the artists featured in the book, like Bill Cone, Rona Liu, Simon Baek, Rebecca Shieh, Tatsuro Kiuchi, and Tadahiro Uesugi, among others.

Monday, February 14, 2022

This weekend, while researching the origins of the Mickey Mouse clubs in Australia, I stumbled upon something totally unexpected.

Between April 12, 1930 and December 27, 1930, some Australian newspapers ran a locally-produced Mickey Mouse comic strip, two examples of which are shown here. 

While the strip was non-authorized, it was nevertheless syndicated throughout Australia. 39 stories were released in total. 

Two months after the demise of the Australian strip, in March 1931 another newspaper started running the official / authorized Mickey Mouse strip.

There are always new things to discover when it comes to Disney history!!!


 

Thursday, February 10, 2022


Four exciting books are now available for pre-order on Amazon (thanks to David Peake for the heads up):

Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece by Andreas Deja

The Imagineering Story: A History of Disney's Theme Parks as Told by the Designers by Leslie Iwerks

Walt's Apprentice: Keeping the Disney Dream Alive by Dick Nunis

100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime: Magical Experiences From Around the World by Marcy Smothers

Tuesday, February 08, 2022


From a historical standpoint, one of the most important items that was sold by Heritage Auctions over the past few days is this complete set of 81 storyboard drawings from the abandoned short The Little Wax Gaucho.

If you are reading this and are the person who bought those drawings, could you please, please email me at didier.ghez@gmail.com? Ideally those drawings need to be scanned and preserved for future generations of Disney historians. Many thanks in advance.

Monday, January 31, 2022


Jim Cora's autobiography has just been released. 

If you are interested in the history of the Disney parks and Imagineering and have not picked it up yet, you really should. 

This is one of the most important Disney history books released over the past few years. A "must-have" if there is one.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Looking forward to the new auction at Heritage.
 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

I just received the below email from my friend Jim Hollifield about the exhibition catalog "Where Art Might Happen: The Early Years of CalArts." Jim mentions:

[It's a thick publication, an exhibition catalog about the institution's history. There's a substantial chapter about the founding of Cal Arts and the Disney family's connection. See this image in the Amazon previews. Much of the publication focuses on artwork created by alumni and students; however, this particular chapter was worth the purchase.]

I just ordered a copy. 


 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A few years ago, I had had the pleasure of picking up Volume 1 of Edward Bergen's publication, The Pictorial Story of Walt Disney's First Superstar: Mickey Mouse and loved it. In it, Edward presents treasures of his collection of Mickey Mouse memorabilia from the 1930s with some good amount of context. And his collection is truly outstanding.

I was excited to discover this weekend that both Volume 2 and Volume 3 had just been released. I got them yesterday and can confirm that they are even better than the first volume.



 

Monday, January 24, 2022

This weekend, I had the pleasure of receiving three Disney-related books by author Mike Fox: "The Hidden Secrets & Stories of Disneyland," "The Hidden Secrets & Stories of Walt Disney World," and "Disneyland In-Depth." 


I was delighted by all three books, which are full of details about the Disney parks that I was not aware of. About half of the information contained in the books was new to me.


Mike shared that he had interviewed several Imagineers for "Disneyland In-Depth." He made very good use of the information he collected. Way to go Mike!



 

Thursday, January 13, 2022


I am very sad to report that historian Dana Gabbard, editor and publisher of The Duckburg Times, just passed away. It is a dark day for Disney history.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

I just ordered this new book.
 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

 Looking forward to Heritage's next Disney auction!

Monday, January 10, 2022


I was interviewed recently on the Ink and Paint podcast about the making of the They Drew as They Pleased -- The Hidden Art of Disney book series. The interview has just been released.

Friday, January 07, 2022


A new edition of the Poster Art of the Disney Parks book is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It contains an additional 100 posters. (Thanks to David Peake for the heads up about this.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2022


The Art of Turning Red is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

A new Disney artbook has been announced on Amazon: "Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara: The Stories. The Influence. The Legacy." by Emily Zemler. Could be interesting.

(Note: The above illustration is linked to the lost Disney Aida project and is just here to catch your attention.)