Saturday, January 31, 2009
Before the first month of 2009 ends, I wanted to mention another Disney TV anniversary in January, and that’s the debut of the syndicated series The Mouse Factory on January 26, 1972. Produced and directed by Ward Kimball, the most iconoclastic member of Walt’s Nine Old Men (or of any other group of people Ward happened to be in), this program is perhaps best described as a Disney version of Laugh-In, using “wild” comedy and oftentimes quick clips of animation, as well as presenting entire shorts and featurettes. Each weekly episode was guest-hosted by a live-action actor or comedian (always billed as “Mickey’s Friend”), including Don Knotts, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, and Disney favorites Annette Funicello and Dexter Riley himself, Kurt Russell. A scattering of merchandise was issued to celebrate the show, including this LP record album, using art that mirrored the opening animated titles of the show. The use of the vintage “pie-eyed” Mickey and his appearance on a pocket watch echoed the nostalgia craze of the 1970s, which seemed to have started at least to some degree with the sudden popularity of the 1930s Mickey Mouse watch, beginning in about 1968. The show itself was named after the old-time nickname for the Disney Studios. Please check back as I plan on posting one or two more Mouse Factory artifacts soon.