My Family Disney Dynasty, Part 2by Edle Bakke, contributing writer
We continue with the story of Edle Bakke's family. Click here to see Part 1 from last week.
It was February 1968 and I was attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, not quite ready to take on a real job, but eager to move beyond the world of academic studies and sports. My parents had a vacation home in Newport Beach close to Disneyland, and because of my family connections I landed a part-time job working as a busboy at the Tomorrowland Cafe on weekends. Grad Night was a special, if tiring, assignment. Food service was the lowliest position at Disneyland, followed by working in the merchandising kiosks. Next in line was sweeper, seemingly insignificant because it was a janitorial position, but actually a few rungs up the ladder.
Soon, I was moved to the newest attraction area at the park, New Orleans Square. The fritters and fake mint juleps we served at the Creole Cafe were crowd pleasers, and everyone went wild for the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride. While on duty one weekend, I noticed a pothole in the recently paved asphalt, notified my supervisor and was advised that Maintenance would fix it. The following week, I received a note in my letterbox backstage instructing me to come in to Personnel to interview for a sweeper position. This was a big reward since I was granted a carte blanche assignment, meaning that I could roam at will throughout the park. As cast members we were groomed to step on stage into the Disney magic once our shifts began and our responsibility was always to be on 100 percent with a smile. It was not a difficult task to fulfill.
I worked part-time at this assignment until October, then it was time to go back to school and hit the books. When summer rolled around I was back at the park as a sweeper. Being a surfer with a beachfront home-away-from-home just a few miles away, it was the perfect set-up. Besides having freedom to move throughout the Park without restrictions I would frequently sweep up E tickets, loose change and the occasional dollar bill. Believe it or not, sweepers were treated with respect by guests because of the high standard of cleanliness and organization at Disneyland, so my encounters with visitors were very positive. Besides, it was a great way to meet pretty girls.
Left to right: Lanny, Tim and Jim Collins. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
After hours, we could get our friends into the park for free, another popular benefit. At that time there was an effort to make Disneyland a bit more contemporary, so rock and roll bands and acts such as the Osmonds would appear on weekends at the new Tomorrowland bandstand and dance floor to attract the teen scene. After the park closed, employees would get to ride backwards on the Matterhorn when the maintenance crews did safety checks, which was great fun. Once, however, I was assigned for an entire week at the it's a small world attraction and the music was so repetitive that it gave me nightmares.
By 1969, I had finished high school and my uncle Bill helped me fill in an application for the Traffic Department at the Studio. Because of my major in business and bookkeeping, however, I was placed in the Contract Analysis department at Buena Vista Distribution. My job was to analyze audience attendance in commercial theaters worldwide for Disney films. I had already set my sights on a possible future in audio-animatronic engineering at WED, but as I crunched numbers for BVD the surf beckoned and I decided that business administration was not my ambition. The following summer, however, my cousin, Lucile Jr. was ready to try her hand at a Studio job.
Lucile Jr.'s Story
It was July 17, 1955, the day before my father Bill's 33rd birthday. I didn't know it then, but I was about to make history by becoming one of the first children to walk through the gates of the Happiest Place on Earth on opening day. In the years that followed, Disneyland became my home-away-from-home. As the child of a Studio employee, I enjoyed the park as a privileged guest, entering though secret gates with unlimited books of tickets in hand. I was even allowed into the Club 33 on many occasions, a rare treat for anyone let alone a child.
It was always exciting to visit my dad on the Lot. I loved being swallowed up by the big brown leather lounge chairs flanking the gigantic animation desk in his office, and I often wandered spellbound through the corridors studying the artwork that lined the walls. On special occasions I would visit the set of whatever film was in production, and would be introduced to the stars.
The annual Christmas party in the Theater was a highly anticipated family ritual. Riding through the streets of Arcadia on Ward Kimball's vintage fire engine and clambering on his train cars brought a bit of Disneyland to backyard get-togethers. The ultimate thrill was saying hello to Uncle Walt in the Coral Room during lunchtime as he dined at his corner table.
Edle Bakke, Lucile Jr. (3 years old) and Lucile Bosche' enjoy the shore of the Rivers of America on Disneyland's opening day. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
In 1970 I earned a Disney college scholarship. I began working at the Studio in the Steno Pool the Monday following my graduation from Providence High School, right across the street. As a steno pool secretary I had the chance to work in almost every department, and I began to understand the ins and outs of the whole Studio.
Although I loved working in Wardrobe & Makeup, Fan Mail, Story, Casting, the Commissary gift counter, the executives' offices and all the backlot shops, my favorite assignment by far was filling in for Carol Sheets, the main gate receptionist. Carol's desk sat on a raised platform in the middle of the reception office which was lined with chairs, potted plants and the sliding glass casting office window.
Behind the reception desk were the offices of the security department. It was here I met Johnny Polk, captain of the guards and one of the most well-known and endeared employees of Disney Studios. Johnny knew everyone and everything that went on around the Lot, and he had a fantastic sense of humor. We spent many hours horsing around in the reception office, and when I was on assignment elsewhere I would spend my coffee breaks and lunch hours with Johnny in his office or on one of the guard gates. We are great friends to this day.
After my first year at USC my summer employment became a full-time job in the Feature and TV Production Office working for executive production manager John Bloss. Production secretaries Mercedes Mulhern and Tisha Kojima shared a large outer office, which was outfitted with a long couch, side chairs and big coffee pot.
The Production Office was the hub of all the live-action activity and everyone from directors, producers, department heads and crew members often stopped in for meetings, paperwork or to get the latest gossip. There were no such things as production coordinators or PAs in those days but Merc, Tisha and I cranked out call sheets, production reports, script revisions and shooting schedules at lightning speed, often with three shows in production simultaneously.
It was a fast and demanding pace but I loved it, and I remained happily in my position as production secretary for many years. It was an amazing feeling to be working side-by-side with so many of the people who had shaped the Disney legacy. I was affectionately known as Bosche', a nickname which I accepted proudly and was greeted with by Roy Disney, Ron Miller, Card Walker, Ward Kimball, Woolie Reitherman, Winston Hibler, Frank Thomas and other Studio luminaries.
Seeing my dad's face pop into view with a smile and a wave through the glass doors of the Animation Building's 1C wing always made my day. Like my Aunt Edle before me I spent many lunch hours watching the volleyball action as I sat among extras and leading actors alike with the impromptu melodies of employees-turned-musicians serenading us. Not much was changed since I had strolled as a child with my father down Dopey Drive.
During my first summer in production I met an assistant director named Michael Dmytryk while working on he Boatnicks. We worked together on many Disney features and TV shows throughout the 1970s and we eventually became husband and wife. Although we left Hollywood for a time and tried our hand at farming in the bluegrass of Kentucky, we found ourselves, albeit single again, walking through the sound stages, backlot berms and halls of the Animation Building. We had each come home, but change was in the air and the good old days were about to end.
Returning as a single mom to my old job in production felt reassuring, and the Studio itself remained unaltered, but many of the familiar faces had been replaced. New management, new employees and gradually a new facade created a different atmosphere. The dusty Old Western street and Zorro buildings made way for office trailers, and some of the Studio's charm seemed to fade. But, new management and a new philosophy brought a spark of activity and enthusiasm to the Lot that had not been felt in years. Although my heart was with the old guard it was exciting to be a part of Disney's new era.
Lucile Jr. and Lara Dmytryk visit Edle Bakke on the set of "Tron." Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
It was also a time for personal renewal, and during production of Baby, The Lost Legend I met my future husband, camera assistant Richard Mosier. Suddenly we were taking my daughter, Lara, to the employee Christmas party, revealing to her the inner world of Disneyland, and wandering hand-in-hand with her through the backlot streets as I had once done with my dad. Although we both left the Studio as permanent employees in the late 1980s, Richard continues to this day as an independent for the Studio. I am proud to watch from the sidelines as he continues our Disney family dynasty and together we introduce our grandson, James, to the magic. But, before describing our present-day Disney connections let's go back to Michael.
My first feature assignment at Disney was on the film The Boatniks in 1970. Prior to this I had worked as an assistant director with unit manager John Bloss on shows such as How To Succeed In Business, Petulia, Camp Runamuck and Here Come The Brides, as well as on the cult classics Billy Jack and Harold & Maude. John had worked on various projects for the Wonderful World of Color and eventually took over the position of Executive Production Manager for Features and TV at the Studio. He soon brought me on board, and I continued to work on and off for Disney throughout the 1970s on shows like Run Cougar Run, The World's Greatest Athlete, The Healer, Hog Wild and Return from Witch Mountain. Production was often fraught with mishaps, sometimes dangerous but more often hilarious. On The Boatnicks we stood by helplessly as the picture boat sank before our eyes in Balboa Bay with 9 or 10 special effects guys bobbing around in the water. For the bullfight sequence in Herbie Goes Bananas a special camera platform had been constructed in the middle of the ring to safely capture the action, but the bull managed to repeatedly send crew members scrambling for cover in between takes. There was never a dull moment on a Disney movie set.
Mike Dmytruk (center) directs the second unit filming of Herbie Goes Bananas at the TJ Corrida de Toros. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
In those days the Directors Guild allowed hyphenated work on a single show, so I sometimes performed dual functions as assistant director and unit production manager simultaneously. Preparing for a show was tedious and time-consuming since all work was done manually, including hand-printing color-coded strips for the cumbersome wooden breakdown boards. In spite of the laborious process, we managed to stay on schedule and avoided going over budget most of the time. The traditional studio system in which each department operated independently with all resources coming from within was still in place and production was a well-oiled machine.
Disney shows, whether TV or features, were always loaded with stunts, special effects and process camera work, and were technically challenging to produce. It would not be until some years later that computer technology was introduced into production offices, but we managed to do it the old-fashioned way even as the industry at large was shifting. Many of the crew members were seasoned professionals with years of experience from other studios so the sets ran smoothly, and there was always time, whether on location or on the Lot, to compare stories from other times. I was lucky to form an alliance with guys like Art Vitarelli, Bob Schiffer, John Mansbridge, Danny Delgado, Carl Boles and Wilbur Rusty Russell. Women on the crew were a rarity back then, but gals like LaRue Matheron, Donna Hall and Edle Bakke were regulars. I even managed to introduce new faces into the Disney production family, such as Dorothy Kieffer, the second woman ever admitted into the Directors Guild of America.
Edle Bakke and Michael Dmytryk work on prepping the film "Run Cougar Run." Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
During location shooting in Kentucky on Child of Glass I found a charming farm property, perfect for cattle ranching. After years in the film business I longed to get away and spend my time as a gentleman farmer. I returned to Kentucky with my new wife, Lucile, to purchase our dream home. But first I was to get a chance to direct for Disney on the 2nd unit of Herbie Goes Bananas. Suddenly I was headed for Panama then to Mexico for several weeks of shooting. My last show for Disney before moving back east was an exciting and memorable experience for both of us.
Fate brought me back to Disney a few years later where I managed to squeeze in a couple of TV shows before moving on to other studios. After runs on Partners In Crime, The Twilight Zone and Falcon's Crest I found my niche in Salt Lake City working on Touched By An Angel where I remained until my retirement in 2003. About the time I was finishing up at Disney my sister-in-law, Anne-Marie was just starting out.
It so happens that I am the youngest in the pack. Many of my recollections are echoed in those already told.
The long and greatly anticipated ride from the San Fernando Valley to Disneyland was torturousa lot of restricted backseat toe-tapping and arm-flailing was involved. My big sister, Lucile, and I made a contest of straining to see who could spot the Matterhorn first. She usually won. I still play that game myself, keeping my eye on the prize as I speed by on the I-5. Having our car waved through the Employee Gate behind Main Street made the ride worthwhile. Then, to see Mickey and other characters preparing themselves to enter the Magic Kingdom from backstage made me pie-eyed! We knew it was make-believeI still believed.
Who would think I'd end up working at the Park as concession stand hostess for Prom Nightmidnight to six a.m.? Again I entered through the back door, but this time I was donning a costume. I was too young to step up the ladder to ride operator, so that job lasted only three months.
Anne-Marie Bosche' visits with a character at Disneyland in 1965. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
Like my sister before me, I got a job at the Studio right after graduation from Providence High School. It was the summer of 1976. I was hired to work for Dave Smith in the Disney Archives. My job was to catalogue numerous boxes of Imagineers' plans for Disneyland, including original drawings and hand-written notes. It was a fascinating and daunting project.
Some days, during my lunch break, I walked through the basement vault. Studying the partial bodies of audio-animatronic figures was a little creepy! Other days I strolled the grounds, automat sandwich in hand. On still other occasions, I made my way through the Animation Building to see what my dad was up to. He was usually busy sketching or composing dialog on his big manual storyboard typewriter. Now and then I managed to pry him away from his drawing board and we would push through the commissary line for the lunch being served by Jean-Batiste, the Studio's colorful Basque chef. During those forays we'd sit outside and chat, watching the famous and not-so-famous pass before us. It was an unforgettable summer.
A year later, I was back at the Studio. This time, though, it was for a different reason. I began taking singing lessons from a talented woman Studio employee named Margot Quon, who had access to one of the recording stages at lunchtime. The experience of filling the empty stage with my burgeoning voice was amazing. Who knows what other voices had filled that stagemaybe stars like Annette Funicello, Louie Prima, Paul Frees, Sterling Holloway or Julie Andrews. Perhaps even my mother had sung there since she had (in addition to her work as an inker) done background vocals on Cinderella and Alice In Wonderland. When I left home to move into the dorms at Cal Arts as a music student, that initial vocal training paid off as did my subsequent studies, for I later worked as a background singer and voiceover recordist. Fortunately, I'm still singing and get paid for it, too!
In 1981 my sister Lucile's second husband, Richard Mosier, signed on at Disney, making him the last to arrive and the only member of our Disney family dynasty still working on the lot. He recently returned from a three-month location shoot on the Disney football feature Invincible, but he should describe his story in his own words.
My career in the film business began when I was just a kid. My dad, Wilbur Mosier, was an assistant director at MGM and he would work me into the background for scenes in Dr. Kildare, The 11th Hour, and Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Soon I had an agent and got to take time out from regular school to work on shows like Robin and the 7 Hoods, The Great Race and Combat. During junior high and high school my parents made sure that academics were my first priority, but once I got into college I picked up my film career working as an extra and stunt double on shows like Rich Man, Poor Man, The Nude Bomb, Bionic Woman, and The 6 Million Dollar Man.
While studying at California State University, Northridge, I took an interest in cameras and worked part-time servicing equipment in the film department. That training proved invaluable because shortly thereafter I landed a job at Heartland, Universal's visual effects company. There I met DP and department manager Peter Anderson, who helped me get my foot in the door of the camera local.
After spending over a year at Heartland and several months working for a camera machine shop, I got a call from Peter to come to Disney. By now he was in charge of the visual effects department there. I got right to work on several EPCOT projects, as well as the feature Something Wicked This Way Comes. Working with Harrison Ellenshaw, Bob Broughton, Bill Kildoff and Phil Meador was a real education in visual effects photography and a great supplement to what I had learned at Heartland.
Richard Mosier visits Mission Control at Cape Kennedy during the filming of "Armageddon." Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
Soon I was doing double duty in visual effects and live-action camera work on shows like My Science Project, Baby The Lost Legend and Outrageous Fortune. When the new Disney Sunday Movie was introduced I found myself doing more and more live-action and post-production visual effects work. I met Lucile while preparing to travel to the Ivory Coast on Baby and soon we were spending all our free time together. She had moved into a newly formed post production department and we were suddenly working on projects together. Although we were logging extensive hours at the Studio the work was rewarding and being together was great fun.
Richard Mosier (bottom right) kneels beside a camera during the filming of a scene for "Pearl Harbor." This set is a mock-up of the USS Oklahoma at the Foxploration Studio at Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
By the end of the 1980s, Disney had evolved into one of the busiest feature and TV studios in Hollywood. The international theme parks, Disney Channel, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Buena Vista International and growing consumer products divisions provided a tremendous volume of work for the ever-expanding Disney empire under the leadership of Michael Eisner. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to begin expanding my professional horizons beyond Disney at this time and lucky as well to be called back many times over the years for shows such as Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Rookie and most recently Invincible. It was there that nearly 20 years ago I joined my wife's fascinating clan and their Disney family dynasty, and who knows where it will end.
Edle Bakke pauses during filming of a segment of the Disneyland TV series with the Sailing Ship Columbia in the background. Photo courtesy of Lucile Bosche' Mosier.
Each of us was privileged to have worked at the Studio, and we have all cherished our time there as a wonderful experience. We have spent countless hours reminiscing about the glory days, reciting tales of adventure and sharing a bond of familiarity and affection unique in the motion picture industry. That seems only fitting for it was, after all, Walt's Magic Kingdom.
Los Angeles, CA