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.