Spring Cleaning: Short Disney Storiesby Jim Korkis, contributing writer
As a writer, I sometimes find myself with odds and ends that don't fit into an article or aren't rich enough to expand into a separate column.
So that these bits and pieces of information don't get "lost," I am gathering some of those stories in this column for you to enjoy and for me to be able to find again for future research. I'll probably do this occasionally as this installment contains less than one-fifth the material I currently have in my overflow folder.
Once again, as MousePlanet readers, you are getting a chance to read some interesting information that you may not find anywhere else.
The Mystery Of Danny The Lamb
What happened to Danny the Lamb from the movie So Dear to My Heart? I wrote about that film before for MousePlanet.
No, he didn't end up as Sunday dinner with mint jelly when the picture finished filming.
Dan Replogle (who graduated from Cromwell High School in Indiana) sent me the following information:
"Danny ended up in Cromwell, Indiana. He was given, I am told, to Harmon Harper. Harmon was a big-time sheep rancher from Cromwell. The deal was that when the movie So Dear to My Heart was playing in the area (and I don't know how big the area was) Harmon would transport Danny and show him in a storefront or movie theater to attract local hype and boost the sales.
"Harmon did not know what he was getting into. Danny was a rascal. He was smart. He could turn on the water in the barn or open the gates and let the other sheep out. He did not like adults but loved children. I saw a photo of Ed Harper, Harmon's son, with Danny in a storefront. Ed was smaller than Danny.
"I would like to know what you can dig up on the topic: What happened to Danny the Lamb after Walt Disney made the movie?"
Any readers have any additional material about Danny? I pretty much wrote everything I knew or could confirm in my article but am always eager to learn more so thanks to Dan for sharing this previously unknown information.
The Mystery Of Goofy's Freeway Phobia
If you have the Complete Goofy Disney DVD Treasures collection, you know that it is not a complete collection since it is missing Freeway Phobia and Goofy's Freeway Trouble, both released in 1965 (years after Disney officially cancelled the Goofy short cartoon series) and both twice as long as a usual Goofy short.
I explain that mystery and include a link where, for $40, you can buy a copy of those two cartoons on DVD as well as Motor Mania (1950) directly and legally from Disney.
However, it has been my experience that the offer may disappear without warning. So, if you are interested, you should consider acting soon. Once these cartoons finally go into the vault, they probably won't be coming back out for a long, long time.
What Would Walt Do About Sexual Harrassment?
I was talking with my good friend, Disney Musicologist Greg Ehrbar about the fact that Walt Disney died before so much controversy erupted in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It is foolish to guess how Walt might have responded to some of those changes, although I believe there is enough existing evidence to show that he would have supported both the Civil Rights movement and the Women's Liberation movement.
Would you like an example on how Walt felt about sexual harassment, a hot button topic in every company's Human Resources department today?
Well, let's go back 75 years. Yes, 75 years ago when women in the workplace were called girls, honey, sweetie, baby, and might even get a slap on their rear end as men discussed their physical attributes or shared a dirty joke.
After all, in the context of the time, that was the way it was and would remain for at least the next two decades as shown in episodes of the AMC television series Mad Men.
However, Walt was different. I have in my files a copy of an interoffice memo to all personnel in the IBT Department (that's in-betweeners, the first rung in the ladder for men in becoming an animator) from Hal Adelquist on January 17, 1939.
This is the entire memo:
"Departmental conduct. Attention has been called to the rather gross language that is being used by some members of the IBT Department in the presence of some of our female employees. It has always been Walt's hope that the Studio could be a place where girls can be employed without fear of embarrassment or humiliation. Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated."
Good Answer, Walt
From the Sunday News newspaper, January 21, 1951, "Ask Anybody!" column:
"Each week The News pays $25 apiece for the three best questions that readers address to specific individuals. Jimmy Jemail, the News Inquiring Fotographer (sp) gets the answers for you."
"What influence have your movies had on American children?" asked Mrs. Al Jivery of Grand Rapids, Michigan (winning the $25 on January 21, 1951) of Walt Disney.
"A good influence, I hope. By laughing at Mickey's antics and Donald's mishaps, youngsters learn to laugh at their own troubles. The period of their lives when they can live in a world peopled by fairy tale characters is all too short. We never 'talk down' to children; rather we strive to combine entertainment with educational and cultural factors. We try to make our stories human, humorous and dramatically beautiful and maybe a bit sad in spots."
The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Mickey Mouse became the first animated star to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in celebration of his 50th birthday.
The first stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame were installed in the spring of 1956 and now include almost 2,500 stars embedded in the 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Other Disney stars honored with a star include:
- Walt Disney – 7021 Hollywood Boulevard (February 8, 1960, star for Movies)
- Walt Disney – 6747 Hollywood Boulevard (February 8, 1960, star for Television)
- Mickey Mouse – 6925 Hollywood Boulevard (November 13, 1978)
- Snow White – 6910 Hollywood Boulevard (June 28, 1987)
- Roy O. Disney – 6833 Hollywood Boulevard (July 24, 1998)
- Donald Duck – 6840 Hollywood Boulevard (August 9, 2004)
- Disneyland – 6874 Hollywood Boulevard (July 14, 2005, star for Special Achievement for 50 Years of Magical Entertainment)
- Winnie the Pooh – 6834 Hollywood Boulevard (April 11, 2006)
- Tinker Bell – 6834 Hollywood Boulevard (Sept. 21, 2010)
I don't believe any website has taken pictures of all of these stars, but one of the things I used to do when I lived in Los Angeles was take friends on a "Disney" walking tour of Hollywood Boulevard. I would point out these places, as well as some other historical locations including one of Walt's first animation studios that became a copy shop with a small plaque on the wall acknowledging its history.
Just The Facts, Mr. Disney
The late actor-writer-producer-director Jack Webb is perhaps best remembered as the tough, no-nonsense cop Joe Friday on the long running and popular television series Dragnet.
Amazingly, in his youth, he wanted to be a cartoonist. "I was convinced that Walt Disney was combing the country for a fellow like me," Webb said."I made up a portfolio, took it to the Disney Studios and sat back to wait for the big offer."
All of this took place in the mid-1930s when Disney did a big advertising campaign in magazines to get animators for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but that big offer never came, so Webb found other work.
Later, Webb became a friend of Walt and even shot some Dragnet episodes on the Disney backlot, until the noise of Walt building things for Disneyland drove the production company to other locations. Roy E. Disney's first professional film work was working as an assistant film editor on Dragnet in 1951.
Friend and fellow Disney Historian Jeff Kurtti wrote to me that "Stage 2 at the Disney Studio in Burbank was built and financed as a joint agreement between Walt Disney and Webb, who used the stage for the filming of the first Dragnet television series from 1949 to 1954. The 1953 Rosalind Russell feature Never Wave at a WAC was also shot on the stage and used the Disney Studio facilities."
Why Walt Re-Released Disney Animated Films
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs received a wide theatrical release in 1938 and was re-released in 1944, followed by additional re-releases in 1952 and 1958, setting a basic pattern of about seven years for each re-release.
While visiting children in a Beverly Hills hospital in 1952, Walt caught the attention of a young boy named Blaine Warner who later sent Walt a letter through his doctor, Dr. Barnard, asking why Walt was re-releasing an old film rather than just making more new ones.
Here is Walt's reply. Notice how he is never condescending to a child but treats the question with thoughtfulness and respect:
"May 14, 1952.
"Dear Blaine &endash; Through the kindness of Dr. Barnard, I have received your note and will try to answer your questions. Snow White was completed in 1937 and, at that time, it took us three years to make the picture, which cost $1,700,000 to produce. Since Snow White was first released in 1937-38, we found from statistics that over 25,000,000 children had been born since it was first shown and that these children were now of an age where they would appreciate seeing Snow White.
"So that is the reason it was re-issued this year and all indications are that this re-issue will be very successful. We are now finishing Peter Pan and I am sure this is a picture you will be interested in seeing.
"Just to show you how costs have increased since we made Snow White, Pan will cost over $3,000,000 to produce, but I feel it is going to be a very good picture and it should return this investment to us.
"Many thanks for your interest in our work and I hope I have the opportunity of seeing you again.
"Sincerely, (Signed, 'Walt Disney')
"Blaine Warner c/o Harold D. Barnard, M.D., 9730 Wilshire Blvd., Rm. 216, Beverly Hills, Calif."
Roger Rabbit Toon Justice
For those like me who were disturbed by the death of the happy shoe by the Dip in the Disney animated feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the actual shooting script was even more graphic.
In the third draft of the screenplay, it is an actual cartoon animal, a gopher, who bumps into Judge Doom, soiling his cloak. The meek little gopher pulls out a clothes brush and tries to clean off the Judge who proclaims, "You've defiled a symbol of justice!"
Before he puts the gopher into the Dip, the frantic animal pleads, "Hey, don't I have any rights?"
Doom's response is "Yes, you do… to a swift and speedy trial."
One of the weasels retrieves a briefcase from the sedan, puts it on the hood and snaps it open. Twelve toon kangaroos pop up, arranged in a jury box for a Kangaroo Court. They deliver the verdict instantly.
Twelve little kangaroos pop out of their mother's pouches holding small cards each with an individual letter spelling "Y-O-U-A-R-E-G-U-I-L-T-Y." The gopher is put in the Dip to dissolve as Eddie and the police watch helplessly.
Castro And Fantasia
In the late 1970s, a California trade delegation visited Cuba. Cuban Premier Fidel Castro said he was especially interested in seeing American children's films. His first choice was Disney's Pete's Dragon (1977).
In a letter, Disney Productions President Card Walker huffed that the Cuban government had not paid royalties for Fantasia since 1959, though the film "had been screened frequently" in that country.
Walker did not reveal how he knew how often the Cubans were viewing a by-now-pretty-beat-up print of Fantasia, but added, "I just feel it's best for our company not to get involved in a most universally unpopular political situation."
One of the things I miss about not living near the West Coast is 31 Royal Street in Disneyland Park's New Orleans Square.
That's the home to the Blue Bayou restaurant that, even on the brightest, hottest day of the year transports guests to a cool, outdoor restaurant at night housed inside a building that was designed to look larger than it actually was with its high ceiling.
The musical chirp of unseen crickets and the faint glow of fireflies against the background of an indigo sky dotted with stars and slowly wafting clouds while flat boats leisurely drift by is truly a unique and pleasurable experience.
The always innovative Walt Disney conceived of a quiet, upscale restaurant that was actually inside an attraction. It was an idea that had never been done before and it was an instant hit.
There were discussions of including live entertainment in this restful environment, but after a dress rehearsal, during a trial dinner, Walt Disney reportedly said, "In this restaurant, the food is going to be the show, along with the atmosphere."
On the Rivers of America at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, that small waterfront cabin in Alligator Swamp is the home to Beacon Joe, who keeps an eye on this part of the river and helps out passing travelers. That cabin was designed by famed Imagineer Marc Davis but not for Florida.
It appears at Disneyland Park with dark spooky lighting in the Blue Bayou just before guests sail past it into a pirate adventure.
There was not going to be a similar scene in the Florida attraction, so it was borrowed for the Rivers of America and years later was also included in Tokyo Disneyland's Rivers of America.
Actually, I really miss being able to order a really terrrific Monte Cristo Sandwich that has always been on the menu since the Blue Bayou restaurant opening March 18, 1967. It has been estimated that a minimum of 200 of these sandwiches are served each day to eager Disneyland guests.
Here is the official recipe printed on a card that was given to guests who wish to try to re-create the famous sandwich at home:
Blue Bayou Monte Cristo Sandwich
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 slices egg bread (challah works well), sliced 1/2-inch thick
8 thin slices ham
8 thin slices turkey
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
3 cups canola oil
- Line a cookie sheet with paper towels; set aside.
- Whisk the egg and water together in a mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and whisk thoroughly for 2-3 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.
- On one slice of bread, arrange two slices of ham, turkey, and cheese, covering the bread evenly. Place another slice of bread on top and slice each sandwich in half diagonally.
- Heat oil to between 365 degrees F and 375 degrees F in a 10-inch pan. Do not let the oil reach a higher temperature than this; if the oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down. Dip half of the sandwich into the batter, allowing excess to drain, and very carefully place into the oil.
- Repeat with the other sandwich half. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place the cooked sandwich on the prepared cookie sheet in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat with the other three sandwiches. Cook one at a time, and allow the oil to reach the desired temperature between each.
- Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve with blackberry preserves on the side.
Meet Jim Korkis
I will be doing a lot of different events this spring and summer to promote my two recently published books from Theme Park Press, Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? and The Revised Vault of Walt.
Besides several appearances in the Orlando area, I will be at the Dayton, Ohio, "Plane Crazy" chapter of Disneyana Fan Club Show and Sale on June 29 and 30. It's open to the general public and in addition to speaking, I will be selling and signing copies of my book.
Then the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club has me at the Redford Theater movie palace on July 12 and 13. I will be doing a half-hour presentation before a screening of the Disney live-action feature Mary Poppins about the secrets behind the film, and then a question-and-answer session afterward where again I will be selling and signing my books.
As always, if you spot me somewhere, just come up and say "hi." I am always happy to meet folks who read my stuff.