You’ve wandered into the topsy-turvy world of Tulgey Wood, the blog of writer and historian Jim Fanning. Tulgey Wood celebrates artistry and creativity (and sometimes just plain madness): movies, animation, TV, books, comics—and of course Disney, lots and lots of true-blue, through-and-through Disney, including D23 and Disney twenty-three Magazine, and Sketches Magazine and the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Tulgey Wood is so fun, fascinating and full of frolicsome photos and facts, it’s scary. So wander through the wonder of it all, and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Muppet Month Merriment



It's been Muppets Month all November long here at Tulgey Wood, and to mark the last day, here's the first page of one of the articles I wrote for the latest edition of Disney twenty-three magazine. (Look closely and you can see my byline; click on the image for a larger view.) Does this mean that the Muppet madness is over? Of course not—there will be more Muppety goodness in Tulgey Wood's future, so be sure and check back. In the meantime, be sure and pick up your own copy of the special Muppets issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, on sale now. I was very honored to write an article about the history of the Muppets and especially to author the tribute to one of my heroes, the great Jim Henson.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Welcome To The Muppet Theatre



Tulgey Wood's Muppet Month brings us this wonderful piece of Muppet merchandise. As always, Hallmark created some beautiful products and this elaborate Muppet Show centerpiece is no exception. This three-dimensional table decoration (which stands over a foot tall when assembled) not only wonderfully features many Muppets, but it also showcases the Muppet theatre (stage and back stage) itself —an appropriate theme for this centerpiece, for the theatre is the centerpiece of both The Muppet Show and the new Muppets movie. This 1978 Hallmark gem is a true celebration of Jim Henson's Muppets.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Password Is "Fuzzy"




Back here I mentioned the recreation of the classic 1960s TV game show Password that is occasionally seen on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. So what did Jimmy do when his guests were Martin Short, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on November 16? He had them play Password, of course! Just in time to promote the new Muppet movie—and to be part of Muppets Month here at Tulgey Wood. It was as you can imagine a fun and fantastic game—even though Miss Piggy was not happy when one of the passwords turned out to be "bacon."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miss Piggy: Post-Thanksgiving Shopping Pro


We couldn't have Tulgey Wood's Muppet Month without putting Miss Piggy front and center, and the Divine Miss P would have it no other way. (In fact, she would say, "It's about time!"). Miss Piggy graced the cover of this recent issue of New York magazine to usher in the holiday shopping season, for there is no bigger (or plumper) shopping pro than Piggy. Of course for many shopping is a big part of the post-Thanksgiving fun, but be careful out there—there are shoppers who want to make pigs of themselves.

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Sesame Street Songs


Back here I posted the cover of a Captain Kangaroo record to illustrate that show's Thanksgiving celebration. Did you happen to notice that the credit "Words and Music by Jeffrey Moss"? After composing a number of charming songs for Captain Kangaroo (on which he started as a production assistant), Jeff became one of the leading creative forces on Sesame Street, which debuted in 1969 (a year after the Captain Kangaroo record was released). In addition ti being head writer, Jeff composed many songs for the show, including "I Love Trash" and most famously the Sesame Street standard "Rubber Duckie," which became a mainstream hit (sung by Jim Henson as Ernie). A winner of 14 Emmy Awards for his Sesame Street work, Jeff Ross created many memorable music Muppets moments, including the Oscar-nominated score and songs for The Muppets Take Manhattan. We just couldn't have Muppets Month here at Tulgey Wood without the Sesame Street songs of Jeff Moss.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Poster

Each year there's an artful poster prepared to publicize the "Macy's Day Parade" (as some call it, no doubt to Macy's delight). Here is this year's poster promoting Macy's main event. As compared to the last ten years or so, this year's edition takes the emphasis off the licensed character balloons. As I've pointed out before, when so many properties are displayed, there must be a great many approvals...and maybe Macy's just grew weary of it. The giant balloon versions of the characters were in the parade though, and that's all that counts. Disney was certainly well represented, what with all the properties they now own: besides Mickey Mouse, there was Buzz Lightyear (Pixar), Spider-Man (Marvel) and Kermit the Frog (The Muppets), all owned by Disney. And Tim Burton had a ballon this year, and Tim of course came from/still occasionally makes films for Disney. Anyhow, this year's parade poster has quite a story behind it. It was painted by illustrator Melissa Sweet in the style of 1920s Macy's artist Tony Sarg. Melissa also wrote and illustrated a book Balloons Over Broadway, in the same style...for the book tells the story of Tony Sarg, “the puppeteer of Macy’s Parade.” You can read more about Melissa, her work and the book at the Macy's website and at MelissaSweet.net.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Let Us Give Thanks


Here's a heartwarming artwork created by Disney artist Russell Schroeder (author of Disney Lost Chords, which you can purchase here) that was published on the cover of the November 24, 1983 issue of Walt Disney World Eyes & Ears (the cast member newsletter). (Click on the image for a larger view.) Leave it to heartfelt Mickey Mouse—and of course Minnie—to so cozily, so simply, yet so profoundly remind us that Thanksgiving Day is all about counting our blessings. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thanksgiving At The Treasure House

Hospitality and welcoming. These qualities were a big part of Captain Kangaroo, the classic TV series that ran for decades every weekday morning on CBS, and I think this photo is an illustration of some of those attributes, in both setting (the most charming, most "real" version of the Treasure House, seen on the show 1965 through 1971) and cast (both people and puppets). Some associate the Thanksgiving holiday with Captain Kangaroo because from 1959 through 1965, Captain and his friends hosted the Thanksgiving Day parade coverage on CBS. But in what was an annual tradition for a good number of years, Captain would celebrate Thanksgiving within the show broadcast on that particular November Thursday. The conclusion of the Thanksgiving show was particularly powerful: To illustrate that for which we as a country should be grateful on this national day of thanks, Captain would display Norman Rockwell's famed series of paintings, The Four Freedoms. Then, as the Perry Como version of the hymn "Prayer for Thanksgiving (We Gather Together)" played, the Captain, Mr. Green Jeans, Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit and Mister Moose (the very characters seen on this record cover) gathered at a festive Thanksgiving table and reverently bowed their heads in prayer. The hymn ended with Perry and chorus powerfully singing the compelling lyric "Lord, make us free." Silence. Fade to black. There were no closing credits and no closing theme music... just a dramatic reminder of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about: giving thanks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The FIRST Muppet Movie


In celebration of Muppet Month here at Tulgey Wood... and to honor the release of the new Muppets movie to theaters today... here's the LP album for the the first Muppet movie, which was entitled... The Muppet Movie (1979). The charming album-cover artwork was created by master Muppet artist Michael K. Frith. The designer of such characters as Fozzie Bear and Dr. Teeth, Michael was an important creative force for the Muppets, as his ultimate title, Executive Vice President and Creative Director for Jim Henson Productions, indicated. The LP cover art seen here is Frith at his most delightful and Muppet-licious; the album itself won a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children.

Walt's Child Stars


Doesn't So Dear to My Heart just seem like a Thanksgiving kind of a movie? For you to enjoy as you prepare for the big day, here's the poster from the 1949 film's 1964 re-release featuring Bobby Driscoll. To discover more about Bobby and the rest of Walt's child stars, check out the newly posted article, written by me, on the Walt Disney Family Museum blog. You'll read about Hayley Mills, the Mouseketeers and of course Spin and Marty. Be sure and read "Childhood Personified: Walt's Child Stars"by Jim Fanning at the Walt Disney Family Museum's blog. And if you like the article, please leave a comment!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kermit The Frog Flies Again


Since it's Muppets Month all November long here at Tulgey Wood, it seemed like a good time to pint out that the lovable leader of the Muppets will be once again seen as a giant balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kermit first flew in America's favorite Thanksgiving spectacular in 1977. If you want to know more about the Macy's parade as it celebrates its 85th performance this year be sure and check out this great story on the D23 website written by Sarah Smith. And on Thanksgiving evening, there's a special all about the parade on NBC. It's a veritable feast of facts about Macy's annual Turkey Day parade, this year featuring once again everyone's favorite frog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Green And Fuzzy And "Read" All Over?


Back here I asked what else is green and fuzzy besides Kermit the Frog? Now it's time to reveal the answer: it's the new Winter 2011 issue of Disney twenty-three Magazine! It's true that the cover and many articles therein feature Kermit and his puppet pals... but thats not the reason I had in mind. You see (or feel), the back cover of each issue is covered with green and fuzzy felt, as are the words "twenty-three" on the front cover. That fun touch of green fuzz is just the beginning, as there is Muppets madness a-plenty between the covers, including two Muppet articles written by me. This warm and fuzzy issue hits the stands today— so if you aren't a D23 Member be sure and get your copy at select Barnes & Noble bookstores, DisneyShopping.com or at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kermit Goes To The Head(s) Of The D23 Expo


Muppet Month continues here at Tulgey Wood! Kermit the Frog not only turned heads at the D23 Expo in August 2011, he topped heads. That's right, this Kermit the Frog "crown" was given out by Muppet licensee Mighty Fine, utilizing the simple yet dynamic design of Kermit's happy face (a design from Muppet founder and creator Jim Henson that's right up there with Mickey Mouse in terms of uncomplicated but enormous appeal). This happy headwear was given out free and many D23-ers must have felt it was easy to be green after all because a good number of the Expo attendees must have decided it's pretty easy being green after all because a good number were proudly wearing the Frog above their foreheads. Be sure and check back here at Tulgey Wood all month for more Muppet madness.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

At Precisely 10:04 p.m....


...the Hill Valley clock tower was struck by lightening on November 12, 1955, in Back to the Future. To celebrate that day (and by the way, check out the time of this post), here's a glimpse of the Hot Wheels Back to the Future DeLorean that was made exclusively for the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con in a limited edition of 500. The model DeLorean was cased in a plutonium container fashioned after the one Doc Brown has in the film, also contains a diorama of Hill Valley town square, complete with courthouse and clock tower. More Back to the Future to come, so be sure and check back...in the future.

Happy November 12 (1955)


As every Back to the Future fan knows, November 12, 1955, is the day on which the clock tower was struck by lightning in Hill Valley, California—and Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) used that (for him) future knowledge to harness the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to send Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) back to, well, back to the future. Here for your enjoyment is the flyer from the film, which reproduced the historic Hill Valley Telegraph front page story about the lightning strike on...on what date? I don't know if you can tell from the flyer, but the filmmakers decided not to put a date on the newspaper (even though another use of the newspaper in the film clearly shows the paper prints the date on the front page). Why did the filmmakers decide to replace the date with the words "Published Daily"? My best guess is that this edition wouldn't have published until Monday, November 14 (even if the paper was published on Sunday November 13, the clock tower incident probably happened too late for the story to make a Sunday morning edition) and the filmmakers didn't want to confuse the audience by featuring a date other than November 12...as that's the date the viewer needs to keep in their heads in order to follow the film's story. So Happy November 12...which by the way, in 1955 was also a Saturday, as here in 2011.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kermit Went Green Before Going Green Was Cool


Muppet month practically demands a salute to the color green in honor of the fuzzy green guy himself. But what else besides Kermit the Frog is green and fuzzy? Stop by later this month and find out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We'll Never Forget The Triple-R


Did you know that the Walt Disney Family Museum has a blog? It's entitled Storyboard and it's free and accessible to everyone. All sorts of fascinating articles have been posted by such Disney historians as Jeff Kurtti, Paula Sigman Lowery, Jim Korkis and others. Now I have the great honor of having an article I wrote posted on the Walt Disney Family Museum blog. It's all about one of my favorite Walt Disney productions, "The Adventures of Spin and Marty" from Mickey Mouse Club. In the article I mention the excellent comic book published in conjunction with the TV serial about the dude ranch duo, so I thought I would include one of the nicely done, specially photographed covers here, featuring Tim Considine (Spin) and David Stollery (Marty) from Issue 6 published in 1958 (also pictured on the Storyboard blog). Check out the new Spin and Marty article, "Spin and Marty…and Walt: Nice Guys Finish First," written by JIm Fanning... and while you are there, be sure and check out the many fine articles also posted there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Muppets Month...



...here at Tulgey Wood. In celebration of the new Muppet movie being released at Thanksgiving, and all the accompanying Muppet frenzy, I'll be posting some Muppet fun that I hope you will enjoy. To get things started here are the front and back covers to the program for The Muppets Take Manhattan. Released in 1984, this third Muppet movie was directed (and co-written) by master Muppet-teer Frank Oz. Part of the appeal of this film was the introduction of the Muppet Babies, so it makes sense that these fuzzy toddlers were featured on the movie program's back cover. (Click on either image for a larger view.)