Sunday, December 04, 2022
Friday, December 02, 2022
Friday, November 25, 2022
Saturday, November 19, 2022
Thursday, November 17, 2022
When I received The Disney Animation Renaissance yesterday, I first read the short biography of the author. I learned that Mary E. Lescher worked as a cameraperson and scene planner for Walt Disney Feature Animation. I also discovered that she passed away back in 2019 and will not be able to see her book released, which I found to be very sad.
Especially because her history of Disney's Floridian studio, based on dozens of first-hand interviews, is a fascinating one and deserves to be kept among the best books about recent Disney history. I can't wait to read it from cover to cover.
This has been a really good year for Disney history.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Sunday, November 13, 2022
Wednesday, November 09, 2022
A few years ago, my good friend Joe Campana and I had the pleasure of locating rare movie footage shot at Disney's Hyperion studio by animator Frenchy de Trémaudan. Along with that outstanding footage (including shots of Walt Disney and his artists studying live penguins while preparing to work on "Peculiar Penguins") we also unearthed biographical notes and a marvelous scrapbook full of caricatures and gag drawings by Frenchy and his many colleagues.
It took close to 5 years and the efforts of Joe Campana, Steve and Virginia Reeser, Lucas Seastrom, Jenna Benton, Mike Vaughn, Jim Hollifield and J.B. Kaufman, to organize all of this material and present it in book form... a massive 300-pages, full-color book.
It is finally available on Amazon.
If you have friends who love Disney history and own everything released on the subject, you could not find a better gift for them this holiday season.
Monday, November 07, 2022
I have been looking forward to the released of Robert Neuman's book From Hollywood to Disneyland for a long time and when I got my copy earlier today I was not disappointed.
From the little I have read until now and based on the quantity and the quality of the endnotes, I am already confirmed that this book is a "must have" and a "must read," especially if you are interested in the early days of Disneyland or in the influence of American movies on the Happiest Place on Earth.
Kuddos to Robert Neuman and his publisher McFarland!
Friday, November 04, 2022
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Leslie Iwerks' new book The Imagineering Story is a masterpiece, which comes as no surprise.
What is astonishing is the fact that this 700+ book is not an art book. This is wonderful and (to me at least until D23 Expo) totally unexpected news. In other words, those 700+ pages are practically pure text. Hurrah!
In addition, Leslie does something that I love: she focuses on the men and women of Imagineering. He book is mostly based on interviews.
This means that, like Leslie's documentary on Disney+, from a historical standpoint, the book becomes stronger and more detailed as it progresses closer to our time period.
I suspect that to understand in detail the full story of Walt Disney Imagineering one will need to read both Leslie Iwerks' massive volume, as well as Tom Morris' upcoming series of 4 monographs about the early days of Imagineering (to be released by the Hyperion Historical Alliance Press).
Between the two of them they are in the process of revolutionizing our understanding of Imagineering history.
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Disney Editions outdid themselves this year. Their Holidays line-up is absolutely spectacular. I just received three new books from them which are all winners in their respective categories. I will review all three here over the next few days.
Let's start with the one that surprised me the most: Poster Art of the Disney Parks -- Second Edition is not just a slightly updated version of the 2012 book. With an additional 100 pages (!!) this is really a brand-new book. More text, more illustrations, more information and way, way more posters, including development artwork for those posters. This is the kind of book I was hoping for in 2012. Better late than never.
In other words: I was blown away by this volume. Definitely a "must-have" and a great gift for the Holidays.
Sunday, October 23, 2022
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Saturday, October 08, 2022
And we have lift-off!!!
The new monograph is now available via Stuart Ng Books at this link.
Please, please support of efforts by getting your copy. I have a feeling you will not regret it!
(No date yet for the distribution in Europe, but I will keep you updated).
Wednesday, October 05, 2022
Monday, October 03, 2022
Sunday, October 02, 2022
LOOKING FOR OTTO ENGLANDER'S PAPERS
I just learned that, before she passed away in 2008, Erna Englander, widow of Disney's story artist Otto Englander, sold his Disney papers to a collector. Sadly the name of that collector is unknown.
If you are that collector or if you know who the collector is, could you please email me at email@example.com? Many thanks in advance!
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
J.B. Kaufman and I had a lot of fun this weekend at D23 Expo. All advanced copies of "The Origins of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures" sold out. So did the 40 copies we had of "The Making of Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free."
There are just a few copies left of the first printing of "The Making of Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free" available via Stuart Ng Books. If you want to get it, I would advise you to get it today. We do not know if or when there will be a second printing.
We will receive the bulk of the copies of "The Origins of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures" in early October. I will let you know when that happens. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
This just in from Jim Korkis about his new book:
[Second Star to the Right and Straight on ‘till Morning!
the skies of
For everyone who never wants to grow up even as they grow older, this book shares seventy years of stories of Disney’s version of the Peter Pan story from Walt Disney’s first encounter as a child in 1909 with a memorable theatrical stage production to the upcoming live action movie.
This book thanks to years of intensive original research and interviews with people involved documents information that has never before been in print. Every page features something new that will be unfamiliar to even the most dedicated fan.
Who was brought into the Disney Studio to create a bell “vocabulary” for Tinker Bell? Why is Captain Hook’s deadly hook on the wrong hand? On what other projects did Bobby Driscoll supply the voice of Peter Pan in the 1950s? What is the complete list of Tinker Bell peanut butter commercials and who animated them?
Not only is the classic Disney animated feature covered in extensive detail but there are chapters about Peter Pan merchandise, the Peter Pan presence in the Disney theme parks including Disneyland’s first flying Tinker Bells and attractions, Peter Pan in ice skating shows, Disney comics and more.
devoted to other projects that were inspired by the original film including Return
to Never Land, Pixie Hollow & Tinker Bell Films and Jake
and the Never Land Pirates among others.
Chapters also showcase James M. Barrie’s original work and the 1921
Each chapter is self-contained so there is no necessity to read this book from beginning to end but readers can skip to those chapters that hold the most interest for them.
With a little faith, trust and pixie dust, this book will transport you to a magical land where dreams are born and countless adventures await the young-in-heart.]
Table of Contents
Introduction by Margaret Kerry
Sir James Barrie & Peter Pan
Silent Movie Version (1924)
Walt’s Thoughts on Peter Pan
Making of Disney’s Peter Pan
Disney’s Peter Pan (1953)
Live Action Reference
Character Profile: Peter Pan
Character Profile: Captain Hook
Character Profile: Tinker Bell
Margaret Kerry Interview
Character Profile: The Darling Family & the Lost Boys
Character Profile: Never Land Tribe & Mermaids
Selling Peter Pan
Peter Pan in Comics
Tinker Bell Peanut Butter Commercials (1954)
Peter Pan in the Parks
Back to Never Land (1989)
Peter Pan on Ice
Return to Never Land (2002)
Pixie Hollow & Tinker Bell Films (2008)
Jake and the Never Land Pirates (2011)
The Rest of the Story
Afterword by June Foray
About the Author
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
It is with immense sadness that I learned yesterday that Ralph Eggleston had passed. Ralph was a wonderful individual, an incredibly talented artist and the director of my favorite Pixar short of all time, For The Birds.
This excellent article on CartoonBrew will tell you more about a person we will all miss dearly.
Friday, August 26, 2022
Thursday, August 25, 2022
VOLUNTEER NEEDED AT USC
Are you a student or a member of faculty at USC? If so, could you please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
I am trying to conduct research about Mickey Mouse in the 1930s in the archives of the Japan Times, and one of the few universities that seem to grant access to their online archives is USC.
Many thanks in advance.
Friday, August 19, 2022
Before its official release at D23 Expo this year, I thought you would enjoy a preview. Here is how the first chapter starts:
Let’s start with legend. This is how, in February 1955, "Reader’s Digest" explained the birth of the True-Life Adventures, through the voice of cinematographer Al Milotte:
"When I had a store in Alaska, Walt Disney walked in and said, 'How would you like to make some pictures for me up there?' I said, 'What kind of pictures?' He said vaguely, 'I don’t know—just pictures. Movies. You know—mining, fishing, building roads, the development of Alaska. I guess it will be a documentary or something—you know.'
I didn’t, but we went out and shot everything that moved and sent it to him. After a while he wired, 'Too many mines. Too many roads. More animals. More Eskimos.'
I wired, 'How about fur seals?'… Walt wired, 'Shoot fur seals,' and off we went."
This is a great story, and a wonderful tall tale. More compelling than this legend is the real account of the origins of Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures, a series, which, in the late 1940s, revolutionized the art of nature cinematography as Ken Burns would reinvent the art of historical documentaries half a century later. To understand how and why the first of the True-Life Adventures, "Seal Island," was shot, produced, and released, we have to travel not only to Alaska but also to Arizona and to Maine. We have to unearth some of the abandoned True-Life Adventures, from "The Story of the Nile" to "Wild Horse Story." And we have to go back in time, to the year 1943, when Walt was starting to plan for the creative rebirth of The Walt Disney Studios after WWII.
In fact, our story begins even earlier, in the woods of Maine, in the Summer of 1938. Ten years before the completion of "Seal Island," our tale already features a team of naturalists armed with a camera.
Monday, August 15, 2022
Friday, August 12, 2022
D23 EXPO ANNOUNCEMENT
Tuesday, August 02, 2022
Two interesting books coming up in 2023 have just been announced on Amazon:
Sunday, July 17, 2022
This just in from Jim Korkis about his latest book:
[In the five previous volumes of this Secret Stories series of books, hundreds of tales have been shared about the storytelling elements at the Walt Disney World theme parks, the WDW resort hotels, the water parks, the shopping areas and much more.
This book is
designed to help Disney guests understand what they are seeing and why it is
there. This volume concludes the first
fifty years of the
As WDW enters
its next fifty years, extreme changes are happening so quickly that it is more
than challenging to try to document them. In the blink of an eye, the Confectionery on
Epcot has begun
its massive transformation into four “neighborhoods”: World Showcase,
World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. Not only has the
Magic Band been upgraded and made no longer complimentary for resort guests,
So it seemed an appropriate time to conclude the Secret Stories series of books with this volume and let others document the next fifty years. As with previous volumes, this book shares the rarely told stories of WDW including:
the Little Mermaid at the
The detailing in the Art of Animation resort includes subtle references to the Disney-Pixar animated feature Cars, how pin trading began at WDW, the back stories of some of the locations at Disney Springs, Grand Floridian fun facts and much more fill the following pages.
that were advertised but never built like Dick Tracy’s
The exciting thing about Walt Disney World is that it is a living entity and constantly growing so there is always something new to discover and this book will help remember many of the things before they are changed yet again.]
Monday, July 11, 2022
Awesome news: The 2021/2022 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual has now been officially released. You can order it at this link.
As an added bonus, to thank you all for the long wait, we have decided to offer a 76% discount for a limited time only. The HHA Annual is priced at $3.58 instead of $14.99 right now.
I have a feeling you will really love the essays it contains. The one I wrote about Walt Kelly at Disney includes an interesting surprise about the Disney roots of the comic strip Pogo!!!
Thursday, July 07, 2022
I read the book in manuscript form and here is what I thought at the time:
"The Disney Revolt--the first in-depth day-by-day history of the seminal 1941 Disney strike--is a meticulously researched book, and a page-turner. Jake Friedman provides enlightening context, offers a balanced account of the traumatic events, and brings all the actors of this colorful drama to life. It feels like taking a time machine and actually being there in person."
Run to get your copy!
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
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]