Throughout October I've offered all kinds of Halloween treats—but now that October 31st is actually upon us, it's time for a trick. Cue the flashing lightening and crashing thunder as Tulgey Wood asks the ominous question: Can your heart stand the shocking facts of the true story of...Disneyland Showtime??? Hosted by Kurt Russell and starring the Osmond Brothers and E. J. Peaker ("Who's E. J. Peaker?" asks little Donny Osmond, in his innocence), Disneyland Showtime gets off to an auspicious start when kooky E. J. arrives in a wildly decorated Volkswagen. The boys inform the zanily vivacious performer she's late for the Love Bug parade and she perkily replies she set out for Disneyland “right after lunch.” The parade “was last year,” Kurt gamely responds. “Guess I should have left right after breakfast!” is E. J.'s inevitable and quasi-adorable answer. Naturally, Ms. Peaker and the boys are then compelled to sing on the Omnibus, “walk happy” on the Mark Twain Riverboat (also taking time to visit the newly-unveiled Haunted Mansion, of course) and otherwise vocalize and verbalize their way through Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom, circa 1970.
It All Began with Disneyland
But just like E. J. Peaker herself, we're getting ahead of ourselves. This March 22, 1970 episode of The Wonderful World of Disney was produced to celebrate Disneyland's newest E-ticket attraction the Haunted Mansion, which had opened on August 9, 1969 to record breaking-success. (Some reference books erroneously state this TV episode focuses on the “opening” of the Haunted Mansion.) The Disney TV show (newly rechristened The Wonderful World of Disney for the 1969-1970 season after 8 years as Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color) had not presented a new show focusing on the Park since Disneyland—From Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow in January of 1968. Before that it was Disneyland Around the Seasons in December of 1966 (the first show to be broadcast after Walt died on December 15, 1966). In a way, the model for this show was the 1963 installment Disneyland After Dark. Disney performers (Annette Funicello) mixed with stars not known for a Disney connection (Louis Armstrong, Bobby Rydell) and sang non-Disney songs around the Park. Throw in a dash of Disneyland's 10th Anniversary from 1965 in which Walt introduced forthcoming attractions (including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion itself) and you have the witch's brew that is Disneyland Showcase, which of course has some offbeat elements of its own.
The plot is a wacky search through Disneyland as that madcap Donny just has to head for the Haunted Mansion, meaning the rest of the performers must track down the elfin younger Osmond before it's time for the Big Show. It’s all a good-natured excuse for a lively tour through the Park. Kurt and two of the Osmonds briefly hang out in the Swiss Family Treehouse and use a (now vintage and very collectable) Disneyland souvenir map to try and determine where that little scamp could have gotten to.
The Host Wore Tennis Shoes
Part of the reason for this show's unusual format was the death of Walt Disney in 1966. The great showman had hosted the weekly hour from its inception in 1954, when it premiered under its original title Disneyland. Episodes that had presented behind-the-scenes peeks at Disneyland had naturally been hosted and narrated by Walt himself. The Disney show had already tried one alternate approach to Walt as host—having 1967 Disneyland ambassador Marcia Miner act as guide to Disneyland—From Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow, but perhaps the choice of the largely unknown Ms. Miner was considered too impersonal. At any rate Disneyland Showcase needed a host and as it was decided to give this episode a youthful appeal, what better choice could there have been than Kurt Russell? The teen-age star (the show aired five days after Kurt's 19th birthday) was the Disney Studios superstar of the late 1960s-1970s, and he’s put to perfect use here. The young star does a lot more than flash his friendly smile or show off his famous dimples. His easy, affable nature makes him the perfect host, especially at the end of Act III of the program (before the commercial break) when Kurt (who before this had acted as an informal host, welcoming the other performers to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom with ease and charm) speaks directly to the camera and then (after the commercial, naturally) he narrates the behind-the-scenes footage shot at WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering). For his onstage performance and his talk-to-the-audience introduction, Kurt is wearing some particularly groovy threads (see image above). Well, what would YOU wear if you were going to sing “Sugar, Sugar” in Disneyland?
The Osmonds on the Omnibus (and Elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom)
This talented brother act, famous during this era for their many appearances on NBC's The Andy Williams Show, were actually discovered at Disneyland itself. On a visit to the Park as regular, E-ticket-carrying guests in 1961, they were signed by Disneyland Entertainment after an impromptu performance on Main Street, USA. Shortly thereafter the Osmonds were featured on Disneyland after Dark. In Disneyland Showtime, the “O” boys (with younger Donny now part of the act) are in their native habitat as they perform throughout Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The brothers rock out atop the Omnibus, singing “Down On the Corner” as Kurt displays his dimples and E. J. performs a go-go dance all the way up Main Street. At the Big Show in Tomorrowland the Osmonds give an electric performance of such hits as Led Zeppelin’s “Golden Rainbow” and a “Hair” medley. All that's missing from this trippy concert is the acid.
The star of Hello, Dolly! (Well, not Barbra Streisand. Or Walter Matthau. Or Michael Crawford. Or Marianne McAndrew. Or...), Edra Jean Peaker was known to audiences as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and she would go on to star in eight episodes of Love, American Style. Here she projects a Barbara Eden-like vivaciousness. Described by author/historian Jeff Kurtti as a “giggly sprite,” E. J. brings her own unknown-planetary-origin appeal to the proceedings. “Mr. Wolf!” she cries in her perky yet raspy voice as she spots the Big Bad Wolf. “I'm looking for a very attractive man with deep set blue eyes, a heavenly smile and flashing white teeth." She's looking for Donny, she could be describing Jay who (since he is with Donny) is now also lost, but she's obviously describing Kurt. No matter, as the BBW thinks she’s talking about him.
Aside from a tearful rendition of “Oh Dear God It Must Be Him” (pointing up the number of non-Disney songs heard in this show), E. J.’s big moment comes with a kicky performance of “Walkin' Happy” all over the Mark Twain. Otherwise throughout the show, the chatty and ever-effervescent Edra Jean is talkin’ happy.
One of the show’s highlights is the sight of Disneyland guests throughout the Park, each enjoying the sights and sounds (and tastes, as in these two tykes who it is be hoped are not candidates for childhood obesity. Couldn't these urchins have been filmed eating healthy snacks, as today's corporate Disneyland would have insisted??) Another highlight is those clean-cut singers Kids in the Kingdom energetically performing a charming, upbeat (naturally) version of "This Land is Your Land" (as in “Disneyland is your land”), shot throughout the Park. This segment provides a fascinating snapshot of Disneyland as it was in 1969-1970. There's the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland, the Pack Mules and the Magic Skyway, but just as importantly there's no Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, no Space Mountain, no Indiana Jones Adventure.
Welcome, Foolish Mortals
As might be expected the real stars of Disneyland Showtime are the Haunted Mansion and the Imagineers who created the spectacular attraction. Kurt narrates a tour of WED where we glimpse Imagineers Yale Gracey (with his ever-present pipe), Harriet Burns and Bill Justice. There’s an explanation of Audio-Animatronics, and we can spot many of the ghostly residents of the world’s most famous haunted house. Then in the tradition established by Walt, the audience is taken on an experience of the attraction, with the Osmonds, Kurt and E. J. The show ends with one of the most effective images ever created about a Disneyland attraction for the TV show: a long shot of the Manse with the group of stars standing outside (with that rascal Donny once again gone)—as above a myriad of ghosts, ghouls and spooks stream toward the Haunted Mansion. It’s a memorable last shot for an unforgettable show. Unforgettable? Of course it is, featuring as it does everything from the perkiness of Ms. Peaker to the Osmonds’ brand of hard rock, from Kurt Russell's dimples to the brand spookin’ new Haunted Mansion—it’s the one-and-only Disneyland Showtime! A special Tulgey Wood thanks to Disneyland Showtime aficionados Kevin Kidney and Ed Squair for their insights into this unique show, and also to Jeff Kurtti for his all-encompassing knowledge of entertainment history.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Here’s a Halloween treat: The Walt Disney Classics Collection presents a sculpture set from The Sword in the Stone. There’s Merlin the wizard, his owl, the wonderfully crotchety Archimedes, Wart (in bird form) and, of course, that malicious mistress of magic, Madam Mim. It’s great to see the old gal back in the spotlight, but watch out. That tricky witch has been known to suddenly disappear. You’d better hunt down this 2007 Gold Circle Dealer release while you can, as it’s a Numbered Limited Edition of 750.
Although usually referred to as the Witch, the Old Peddler Woman who offers a poisoned apple to Snow White is not actually a witch. But why quibble? The Peddler Woman is the wicked Queen in a supernatural disguise, and the Queen is of course an evil sorceress. Sounds like a witch to me! Anyhow, here’s a page of art from Disney Dossiers, the book by Jeff Kurtti for which I did the image research. The majority of the art is by two of Disney’s most talented and versatile artists: Joe Grant—who designed the Evil Queen and the Peddler Woman for Walt Disney’s animated masterpiece, Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs—and Ken Anderson, who not only worked on Snow White but also designed the Snow White attraction for Disneyland, as seen in the pictured artwork. You can get Disney Dossiers here , but in the meantime contemplate the fearsome Witch, I mean, the Peddler Woman—an outward sign of the Queen’s inner evil.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Hallmark was one of the first major Peanuts merchandisers (they remain a licensee today) and they have done some wonderful cards, ornaments and other items, especially from the mid-1960s through the 70s. In 1968 Hallmark released this artful Linus and Snoopy centerpiece as part of their party goods line, showcasing the Great Pumpkin phenomenon. ABC is broadcasting It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown tonight, October 30, and you can of course rent the DVD from Netflix or your neighborhood video shop, or you can buy it here .
Stop by 2719 Hyperion and discover some fascinating (and frightening?) facts about Walt Disney’s Halloween classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, especially the sensational “Headless Horseman” song, sung and swung by the great Bing Crosby. Jeff Pepper provides the fun and Disney historian Jim Korkis supplies some more insights straight from Sleepy Hollow. The "Headless Horseman" song somehow remains a relatively little-known gem but it's been recorded (and wonderfully so) by the likes of Thurl Ravenscroft (on the pictured 1963 LP) and Kay Starr.
Monday, October 29, 2007
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown premiered over the CBS network on October 27, 1966. Like its predecessors, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown’s All-Stars, The Great Pumpkin was a smash hit, so popular in fact that the special's success in the TV ratings was front page news in the show business trade paper, The Hollywood Reporter. Today, for most viewers, the animated special crystallizes the classic Halloween spirit, and is certainly one of the finest of the TV adaptations of Charles M. Schulz’s classic comic strip.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
As I promised on October 1, I’ll be sharing with you a Halloween-worthy tale of thrills, chills and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. It’s that rarely seen TV classic, 1970’s Disneyland Showtime. A tuneful tour of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom built around (sort of) a visit to the Haunted Mansion and the efforts of the Osmond Brothers and 1970s Disney superstar Kurt Russell to put on a concert, this Wonderful World of Disney episode has to be seen (or read about) to be believed. (Special thanks to Disney artist/writer/authority and Disneyland Showtime aficionado Kevin Kidney for these priceless images, especially the photo of Showtime starlet E.J. Peaker pertly posing in front of one of Mary Blair's Tomorrowland murals.) Be sure and “tune in” here on Wednesday (Halloween, to be specific) for all the horror.
As we get closer to Halloween the time just felt right for more monsters. But who wants to spend quality time with monsters who crush, kill and destroy? Instead let’s pay a visit to Sesame Street where you can always find furry, fuzzy and friendly monsters, as seen on this delightful cover for the Monsters LP. This 1975 album features the weirdly loveable Sesame Street creatures singing some of their monster hits, such as “Five Monsters in My Family,” “Games Monsters Play,” “Monsters Lullaby” and “I Want a Monster to Be My Friend.” While we’re on the subject of monsters, be sure and check out this blog in December when I’ll write about a monstrously merry holiday treat: the Sesame Street monsters present 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. (Not even October 31st and I’m already thinking about Christmas? Now that’s monstrous!)
Saturday, October 27, 2007
One of the many colorful treasures broadcast on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh tells the thrilling tale of a spectral strawman (actually a British vicar intriguingly named Dr. Syn) who fought against the unfair taxations of tyrannical King George III. Played by Patrick McGoohan, the star of the TV series Secret Agent and the cult-favorite The Prisoner, the Scarecrow was not a villain. Rather, his frightening disguise and unforgettably maniacal laugh were designed to strike terror into the hearts of those who unjustly exploited the poor, making him a bizarre, night-riding Robin Hood. One of the most vividly remembered World of Color presentations, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (Parts 1-3) would make for a wonderfully haunting Halloween treat. This exciting action adventure with a twist is long overdue for a DVD release (it’s been in the hopper at least once, scheduled however briefly as a Walt Disney Treasures DVD at the time I was working on that line). In the meantime enjoy this spectacular comic book cover, issued in April 1964.
Friday, October 26, 2007
From Rob Richards’s terrific animation background painting blog here are two scary settings: the wasteland near Madam Mim’s cottage and the setting for the Wizards Duel from The Sword in the Stone, and Maleficent's fortress in the Forbidden Mountains where the devoted Good Fairies fly to rescue Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. The Disney background artists were the best in the business so these backgrounds (and the other Disney settings posted on Rob’s blog) are spectacular. But Rob also posts background paintings (painstakingly pieced together from the films themselves) from other great Golden Age cartoons including productions from Fleischer and Warner Bros. Be sure and visit Rob's fascinating blog here. And just in case you’re wondering if Madam Mim will make another appearance here before the month ends, let me put it this way: Beware!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Though Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971, 36 years ago today, October 25, 1971, Roy O. Disney officially dedicated the newly unveiled Vacation Kingdom of the World to his brother. Roy’s words of dedication can be read on this page from one of the first Walt Disney World souvenir programs, an oversized booklet shaped like a D with a die-cut window (the center of the D) through which the reader sees the beautiful photograph of Cinderella Castle pictured here. The next time you hear someone refer to Walt Disney World as “Disney World,” remember how Roy decreed after Walt’s death that the Florida Project was to be officially known as Walt Disney World. “Everybody knows the Ford car, but not everybody knows it was Henry Ford who started it all. It’s going to be WALT Disney World, so people will always know that this was Walt’s dream.” Roy reserved his severest Truman-esque glare for those who dared to call Walt Disney World “Disney World.” So read Roy’s stirring words of dedication (click on the image to enlarge) and recall the man for whom Walt Disney World was officially named.
As reported by Mark Evanier at newsfromME.com, June Foray, the First Lady of Animation Voice Artists, was recently honored with a birthday party last week. Best known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, the legendary Ms. Foray also voiced Witch Hazel in Walt Disney’s classic Halloween cartoon, Trick or Treat (1952). You can read a full report (and see video of June’s gracious speech) at the excellent website of animation historian and writer Harry McCracken, found here. In the meantime enjoy Witch Hazel (and her broom Beelzebub) on the comic book cover by Duck master Carl Barks for Donald Duck No. 26. Of course, that 1952 issue carried Carl’s excellent adaptation of the animated cartoon.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
As you can see from this mirthful cover, there’s spooky, Halloween-type fun to be had in the October 2007 issue of Uncle Scrooge. The cover is by the Italian Disney comics artist Giorgio Cavazzano, who also drew the lead story. I’ve long been an admirer of Mr. Cavazzano’s art—it’s both pleasing and cartoony with a style of its own, without being off-model or too twisted. Both the cover and the 33-page story feature the rarely seen (in the United States, at least) comic book character, Brigitta MacBridge, an overbearing gold-digger who insists she is Scrooge’s girlfriend—and since that threatens the fortune of the world’s richest duck, Brigitta scares Uncle Scrooge more than any ghost or goblin ever could! If you would like to add Uncle Scrooge No. 370 to your stash you can get it here .
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Margaret Hamilton’s classic portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West is the stuff Halloween dreams are made of—but as seen in this publicity still, the character’s makeup was somewhat different when production first began on October 13, 1938 under director Richard Thorpe. As seen here, the makeup created by artisan Jack Dawn actually made the Witch more closely resemble Ms. Hamilton’s Kansas incarnation, Miss Gulch—in other words, as Margaret Hamilton actually looked. It was only after director Thorpe was let go (his first two weeks of filming were discarded) that the Witch’s facial design was changed, with a sharper chin, a more pronounced profile and her hair pulled back into a bun supporting her oversized pointed hat, the design seen in the finished film. However, for the film’s 1939 release, MGM chose to distribute the still pictured here and several others like it despite the differences from the character’s actual onscreen appearance, and the inaccurate stills have been used ever since. Whatever her appearance in the stray publicity shot, there’s no mistaking the “wicked” perfection of the Witch’s design and Margaret Hamilton’s unforgettable performance—Oz’s threatening ruler of the West is the iconic Halloween witch of every child’s nightmares.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Today, October 22, is the birthday of Disney Legend, Mouseketeer and beach bunny Annette Funicello. Most popular star of The Mickey Mouse Club, a slew of Disney movies from The Shaggy Dog to The Monkey’s Uncle and a bunch of beach movies from American International (made with Mr. Disney’s approval, of course), Annette was also a recording star whose delightful songs—many of them, including “Pineapple Princess,” composed by the amazing Sherman Brothers—were chart-topping hits. Why not celebrate the birthday of a true Disney princess with an upside down pineapple cake? As evidenced by this LP album cover released in 1960 on Disney's prestigious Buena Vista label, lovely Annette embodies authentic Disney charm, innocence, melody, class and talent—a bona fide Disney legend.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Here’s a Halloween-appropriate article from Sketches Magazine detailing the behind-the-scenes story of Chernabog from one of the most powerful animated films ever created, the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Written by me (check out the byline in teeny-tiny type), these pages from the Winter 2007 issue focus on the masterful animation of the demonic Black God by Bill Tytla. The article was produced with the assistance of Tytla expert (and all-around Disney and animation authority) John Canemaker (see his website here) and Bill Tytla’s son, Peter. An artist like his dad, Peter’s website showcases his artwork, be sure and stop by. And remember, Sketches Magazine is only available to Members of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Learn more here.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Madam Mim continued her reign of terror by teaming up with Uncle Scrooge’s archenemies The Beagle Boys in the first issue of the identical bandits’ comic book, issued in August 1964. Though this tricky but wacky witch was a popular character in Disney comics during the 1960s—as evidenced by this comical cover drawn by veteran Disney comics artist Tony Strobl—she never rated her own comic title. Don’t feel too badly for the old gal, though— recently she’s been in the spotlight in a big way. Watch this blog for more details soon!
The Walt Disney Classics Collection is offering sculptures of Mickey and his pals as they appeared on Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club, which debuted on the ABC television network on October 1955. So far there’s quite a cast of characters represented in these fine animation art pieces (available separately), including the rarely portrayed Ranger and Humphrey the Bear. Will more of Mickey’s loyal followers from the famous animated title sequence be joining the jamboree? Stay “tooned” and see!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Forty years ago today, October 18, 1967, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book first swung onto movie screens at an extravagant Hollywood premiere at the classic movie palace, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the last animated feature personally produced by Walt (and which incidentally was released 30 years after his first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), here are a few pages I wrote about the film, including its world premiere on Hollywood Boulevard. I wrote these pages for the online column The 14th Pages of Sketches, which used to be part of the Walt Disney Collectors Society webpage and was designed to be an Internet compliment to Sketches Magazine. You can find out more about the Society here—and be sure and watch for the online return of The 14th Pages of Sketches, coming soon!
On Thursday nights the FM radio dial lights up like the Great White Way thanks to a spectacularly entertaining and informative radio show called 2 on The Dial with Peter and Miriam. This unique program is celebrating its 10th year of presenting all kinds of Broadway musical treasures. There are of course hits like Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, and Chicago but there are other lesser known shows such as Baker Street, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman, and the movie musical version of Lost Horizon (no, I’m not kidding). Recent rarities have included Ethel Merman’s demos for Hello, Dolly! (the show was written for her though she did not star in its Broadway debut), scrapped Judy Garland recordings and Liberace playing (and reciting the lyrics of) The Impossible Dream. Recently, the fun and knowledgeable hosts Peter and Miriam offered an evening of TV musicals, such as the Wonderful Town presentation from the 1950s and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, created expressly for television by the acclaimed composers. There are wild instrumentals, classy choral arrangements, My Fair Lady in Dutch, and on one recent broadcast, everything from Mary Poppins (the film version, mind you) to Blansky’s Beauties from 1970s TV. (2 On The Dial is not billed as “Broadway Their Way” for nothing!) The last hour of the broadcast is Curtain Up, in which the hosts play an entire Broadway score, including West Side Story, Gypsy, The Drowsy Chaperone, and just last week, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. If you live in Southern California tune in KCSN 88.5 FM at 9:00 pm-Midnight every Thursday, or you can listen wherever you are on the Internet at kcsn.org at 9:00 pm Pacific Time (sadly the show is not archived for future listening). Find out more about the show here, but by all means tune in and let 2 On The Dial entertain you.
On October 10, Dick Huemer was posthumously named a Disney Legend. Aside from major contributions to the art of animation in general and Disney animation in particular, Dick wrote the newspaper comic panel Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures from 1955 until his retirement in 1973. Like the Oscar-winning series of nature documentaries that inspired it, this daily panel mined the world of nature for factoids both dramatic and humorous, or more accurately “Huemer-ous” as Dick brought his flair for Disney storytelling and showmanship to over 4,000 panels. Dick’s expert research and writing were matched by the skilful art of George Wheeler, as in this example from 1964.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The delightful 1967 Rankin-Bass feature Mad Monster Party is one of those films with a reputation built entirely on local TV airings. The stop-motion animated (“It’s Sheer Animagic!”) film had a limited theatrical release and was then syndicated for local broadcast in the 1970s. Even though this creepily charming film never had the benefit of annual network broadcasts such as the Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mad Monster Party is a cult favorite, especially at Halloween. (If you haven’t yet enjoyed this Halloween-time treat, the film is now on DVD). Rankin-Bass expert Rick Goldschmidt tells the whole scary-but-silly story at TVParty.com. The poster (above) is available at Rick’s official Rankin-Bass website.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular nasties in the rogue’s gallery of Disney villains, so as indicated by this issue of Sketches Magazine (Spring 2007), Ursula was the Walt Disney Collectors Society's selection for the annual Disney Villains series sculpture. The article by Stephen Matzke reveals this Members-Only sculpture of the vile villainess is actually a set of two sculptures: Ursula and her undersea vanity, featuring an actual mirror. This wicked woman...er, octopus...make that witch is available exclusively to Members of the Walt Disney Collectors Society and is only available through the somehow significant date of October 31, 2007. As that's only a few days away, active Society Members may want to quickly “make a deal” with the duplicitous she-devil. Anyone who is interested in becoming a Society Member (and also get a subscription to Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society) can call 1.800.932.5749 (go here for more details) and should also tell the customer service representative they wish to obtain Ursula before this devilish diva swims away for good on Halloween.
Monday, October 15, 2007
October has quite a few important dates of historical Disney significance, and one of the most important is the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on October 1, 1971. To commemorate that momentous October day, here’s a festive Little Golden Book cover from Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary by the wonderful Disney Publishing artist Scott Tilley. This Special Collectable Edition (a mail-order premium not sold in stores) features Mickey Mouse in a familiar role as the leader of the parade. Written by Cathy Hapka, the story finds Minnie helping Mickey search Walt Disney World for his brand-new drum major's hat. Along the way they meet Daisy Duck at It's a Small World and enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean with Huey, Dewey and Louie in a Magic Kingdom adventure harkening back to such classic Golden Books as Donald Duck in Disneyland.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The annual Disney Legends induction ceremony was held on October 10 and among those honored was David R. Smith, founder and chief archivist of the Walt Disney Archives. As the great animation historian and Disney authority John Canemaker says in the program notes (written by another great Disney historian and writer, Jeff Kurtti), “I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with Dave Smith for nearly 35 years and to me, he has always been legendary.” Every Disney historian and writer—indeed, everyone who values Walt Disney and his legacy—owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Dave. Without Dave and the Archives he established and has professionally and consistently nurtured ever since, our knowledge of all the other Disney Legends and their work would be much poorer. And since yesterday, October 13, was Dave’s birthday, I’d like to say Happy Birthday, Dave, and congratulations.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
In one of the most memorable sequences of Walt Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Madam Mim challenges Merlin to a Wizard's Duel. That fast-paced sequence—a superb example of the art of animation—was adapted into a charming 1963 Little Golden Book with expressive art by Al White and Hawley Pratt. Here's a page of the story (written by Carl Memling) showing the witch and the wizard about to start their spectacular duel, as Merlin's irritable owl Archimedes looks on. Come back to Tulgey Wood for more Mad Madam Mim throughout October. After all, what's Halloween without the madness of Mim?
Halloween seems tailor made for a trickster like Bugs Bunny, and that Oscar-winning wabbit headlined several issues of a Giant "Trick n Treat" comic, each with spectacularly spooky-yet-silly cover art. This example from the fourth edition of Bugs Bunny's Halloween Fun has particularly winning artwork with Bugs mischievously giving the business to straight man (make that straight ham) Porky Pig. Published in 1956, this Trick or Treat bag of comic book candy hit the stands the same year the Halloween-themed Looney Tune Broomstick Bunny was released to theaters, co-starring the "ugliest one of all," Witch Hazel.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Disneyland Park’s Haunted Mansion materialized on the cover of the fourth issue of The Wonderful World of Disney magazine. Published in 1970 and given away by Gulf service stations (Gulf Oil sponsored the Wonderful World of Disney TV series at the time), the cover story was a fascinating exploration of real American houses (including the White House) that are believed to be haunted—all to promote the Haunted Mansion, the Disneyland attraction that had recently opened on August 9, 1969. Looking at the ghoulish guy (who also appeared on other promotional material for the new attraction) on this Halloween-worthy illustration makes one wonder—could he be the “one more” that the 999 ghosts of the Haunted Mansion are always ready to make room for?
If you will be in the Southern California area this Saturday, October 13, you may want to visit Disneyland as the Walt Disney Classics Collection presents a Pirates of the Caribbean Sculpture Release and Signing. At the Disneyana Shop, Main Street, U.S.A. from 10 AM -Noon, artist and sculptor Ruben Procopio will be making a special appearance as the Pirate on the Archway Bridge sculpture makes its debut. The fifth release in this series, this new Pirates piece was sculpted by Ruben and captures all the fun and excitement of the famed Disney theme park attraction. For more information on these sculptures and other sculptures in the series, please click here. And check back here in Tulgey Wood soon for more news about the Pirates sculptures, Ruben and the Walt Disney Classics Collection.