Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 25: Merry Christmas!

On this day in 1950, Walt Disney's very first television special aired. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, One Hour in Wonderland was viewed by approximately 20 million people - which was amazing considering TV was in its infancy and only 10.5 million TV sets existed in the U.S.!

Happy Holidays!

Click HERE for more December 25 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December 23: Sounds Like Mr. Toad

On this day in 1887, comic actor Eric Blore was born in London, England. Disney fans know him as the voice of Mr. Toad in the animated 1949 feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
First establishing himself in England before coming to America, Blore's long list of movie credits include Winter Wonderland, Easy to Look At, Road to Zanzibar, and The Great Gatsby.

Click HERE for more December 23 Disney history.

Friday, December 5, 2008

December 05: Happy B-Day Mr Disney

On this day in 1901, Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Click HERE for more December 05 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 02: Mills Last Disney Flick

On this day in 1965, That Darn Cat! - a Walt Disney feature film starring Hayley Mills, Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, and Roddy McDowall - was released. Based on the book Undercover Cat (by Gordon and Mildred Gordon) it was the last of 6 films Hayley Mills made for Disney. She had appeared in Pollyana, The Parent Trap, In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, and The Moon-Spinners.
The plot of That Darn Cat! centers around two sisters Patti and Ingrid (Mills & Provine) and their mischievous Siamese cat who gets mixed up with bank robbers (played by Frank Gorshin & Neville Brand). Dean Jones plays FBI agent Zeke Kelso and Roddy McDowall plays Gregory - Ingrid's love interest.
The film's title song was written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Bobby Darin. The film's writers were nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Comedy.
Disney would later remake That Darn Cat! in 1997 - starring Christina Ricci.

Click HERE for more December 02 Disney history.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 01: God and My Country

On this day in 1966, Disney's live-action feature Follow Me, Boys! was released. Based on the book God and My Country by MacKinlay Kantor, the movie starred Fred MacMurray as a road musician who settles down in a small Midwestern town.
MacMurray's character Lemuel "Lem" Siddons takes a job in a general store. Wanting to impress a pretty co-worker named Vida (played by Vera Miles) and instilling values in the local boys, he starts a Scout troop. (It is one of the few movies where Boy Scouts are key to the film.) Eventually the two marry and adopt a young boy named Whitey (played by Kurt Russell). The Scouts take Lem on a lifelong adventure filled with laughter, triumphs and sadness.
Follow Me, Boys! also starred veteran actress Lillian Gish (as Hetty Seibert) and comic actor Charlie Ruggles (as John Everet Hughes).
MacMurray, already a favorite with movie and televison audiences, had appeared in such Disney films as The Absent-Minded Professor, Bon Voyage, and Son of Flubber.
Vera Miles, best known for her performance in the classic films Psycho and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, had also appeared in Disney films prior to Follow Me, Boys!. Miles appeared in the 1964 A Tiger Walks and the 1965 Those Calloways. She would continue to play Disney roles well into the 1970s.
For actor Kurt Russell, Follow Me, Boys! was his Disney film debut and the beginning of a long career at the studio, as he went on to appear in such films as The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive, and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.
Although a bit corny and sentimental, Follow Me, Boys! struck a responsive chord with moviegoers ... to the tune of a $5.5 million box-office take.

Click HERE for more December 01 Disney history.

Friday, November 28, 2008

November 28: The Father of the American Short Story

On this day in 1859, writer, essayist, poet & travel book writer Washington Irving passed away at his home Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York. Best known for his stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, Irving developed a passion for books as a youngster growing up in New York City.
His writing career started in journals and newspapers in the early 1800s. In 1809 his comic history of the Dutch regime in New York - titled A History of New York - was published. Written under the name Dietrich Knickerbocker, the story was an unusual and unique blend of fantasy and history. The satirical tale became part of New York folklore and the made-up name Knickerbocker went on to mean any New Yorker who could trace one's family to Dutch settlers. (Little did Irving know that a certain New York pro basketball team would go on to borrow its name from Knickerbocker.)
Recognizable to most Disney fans is Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (which was contained in a collection titled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent). First published in 1820 it is among the earliest examples of American fiction still read today and a popular Halloween-themed tale. Disney's 1949 animated feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad features an adaptation of Irving's headless horseman story. The story of Ichabod Crane is narrated by Bing Crosby and features the work of veteran animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Milt Kahl, and Ward Kimball.
But Irving's impact on American culture stretches beyond Sleepy Hollow. He popularized the nickname "Gotham" for New York City (as all dedicated Batman fans know). Irving also popularized the phrase "the almighty dollar." But one of his most lasting contributions to our culture is the way we perceive and celebrate Christmas. In a revision to a History of New York, Irving wrote a dream sequence featuring St. Nicholas soaring over treetops in a flying wagon! In fact his good friend & writer Charles Dickens credited Iriving as a strong influence in his own holiday writing - A Christmas Carol.
On the evening of November 28, 1859 - Irving died of a heart attack in his bedroom at the age of 76. Legend has it that his final words were: "Well, I must arrange my pillows for another night. When will this end?"
Today Irving's home Sunnyside still stands (just south of the Tapanzee Bridge) in Tarrytown, New York. It is owned and operated as an historic site.

Click HERE for more November 28 Disney history.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

November 27: To Broadway and Beyond!

On this day in 2008, Buzz Lightyear traveled 2.5 miles down the streets of Manhattan in his inaugural Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Disney has taken part in the holiday parade ever since 1934 (with the first Mickey and Minnie balloons).
Also taking part in Macy's 82nd event, was Miley Cyrus (onboard a Bolt float) and the cast of Broadway's Little Mermaid.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE for more November 27 Disney history.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November 26: Monster Crowd Too Much For Mickey

On this day in 1971, the Orlando Evening Star reported on a 30-mile traffic jam of Disney World fans that clogged I-4 in Florida. All of Disney World's 12,000 parking spots for the Magic Kingdom were filled on this Friday after Thanksgiving.

Click HERE for more November 26 Disney history.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 02: Farewell Mr. Frees

On this day in 1986, actor Paul Frees - best known to Disney fans as the Haunted Mansion's Ghost Host - passed away suddenly in Tiburon, California at age 66.
Solomon Hersh Frees was born in Chicago in 1920 and began acting in radio around 1942. His career was cut short when he was drafted into the second world war. Frees took part in D-Day but was wounded and returned to the U.S. After recuperating, he attended the Chouinard Art Institute - but due to his wife's ailing health, Frees dropped out and returned to work in radio. This led to work in movies and later TV where he was often called upon to correct the dialogue of other actors. An example of this was his work in Disney's The Ugly Dachshund in which Frees dubbed the entire role of Eddie (played by Dick Wessel - who had died of a sudden heart attack).
His most memorable Disney credits includes the voice of Professor Ludwig von Drake in eighteen episode of Disney's television anthology series. His theme park credits include the Haunted Mansion (as the Ghost Host), Pirates of the Caribbean, and Adventure Thru Innerspace.
Over his 40-year career Frees was involved in more than 250 films, cartoons, and TV appearances including a live-action role in Disney's 1959 The Shaggy Dog.
If you've ever watched any of the Rankin/Bass TV Christmas specials ... you've also surely heard the voice of Paul Frees!

Click HERE for more November 02 Disney history.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 01: Here Comes Santa Clause ... again

On this day in 2002, The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause (the sequel to the 1994 film The Santa Clause) was released in the U.S. by Buena Vista Pictures.
Nearly ten years have passed since Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen) became "Santa" and he's been one jolly elf. That is until Bernard the Arch-elf (played by David Krumholtz) and fellow elf Curtis (Spencer Breslin) discover there is another clause ... the Mrs. Clause! Scott must get married before Christmas Eve or the clause will be broken and Christmas will die away. Just to make thinks crazier, Scott has to contend with his son Charlie who's misbehaving in order to get his dad's attention. In the end Scott marries his son's principal (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) and ultimately Christmas is saved!
You might find the soundtrack more interesting than the film ... as it includes holiday classics by Eddie Money & Ronnie Spector, Hilary Duff, SheDAISY, Brian Setzer, Louis Armstrong, Brenda Lee, and Steve Tyrell.

Click HERE for more November 01 Disney history.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 26: TV Tower of Terror

On this day in 1997 Tower of Terror, a television film, directed by D. J. MacHale and based on the Florida theme park attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, aired on The Wonderful World of Disney for the first time.
The movie begins with a flashback to Halloween, 1939 … the night the elevator gets struck by lightning as it reaches the eleventh floor. All 5 passengers aboard disappear, only to return as ghosts!

Cutting to the present - the Hollywood Tower Hotel is now believed to be cursed and haunted by the spirits of the elevator riders. No one is able to make sense of it all - except would-be reporter Buzzy Crocker (played by actor Steve Guttenburg), who hopes to write a newspaper article on the story with his teen niece, Anna (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst).

They team up with an old lady named Abigail (played by Amzie Strickland) who tells them that if they find a belonging of each person on the elevator they will be free from the hotel.

Dunst went on to be nominated for a Young Artist Award.

Click HERE for more October 26 Disney history.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October 18: The Jungle Is Jumpin'

On this day in 1967, Disney's animated feature The Jungle Book was released. Inspired by an 1894 novel written by Rudyard Kipling, it was the last film produced by Walt Disney (who unfortunately passed away during its production).
The plot centers around man-cub Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman - son of Wolfgang the film's director & one of Walt's Nine Old Men) who is found in a basket as a baby deep in the jungles of India. He is raised by a wolf (along with her cubs) and becomes acquainted with jungle life. The film tells of his ups and downs as he makes his way back to the human village.
Although based on Kipling's story, Disney writers Bill Peet, Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson, and Vance Gerry altered the tale for the big screen. In fact the character of King Louie was created by the Disney staff. The orangutan who kidnaps Mowgli does not appear in Kipling's tale (as orangutans are not native to India).
The all-star voice cast included Phil Harris as Baloo the bear, Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera the panther, George Sanders as Shere Kahn the tiger, Sterling Holloway as Kaa the python, Louis Prima as King Louie, J. Pat O'Malley as Colonel Hathi the Asian elephant, and Clint Howard as Junior - Hathi's son.
All of of the songs were written by the Sherman Brothers except "The Bare Necessities" which was written by Terry Gilkyson. The overall score was written by George Bruns.
Animators who worked on The Jungle Book included Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, and some 20 plus other stylists and layout artists.
The film grossed $73,741,048 in its initial release.

Click HERE for more October 18 Disney history.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17: Birth Of A Legend

On this day in 1925, Disney Legend Jack Wagner - often referred to as the official voice of Disneyland and Disney World - was born in California. He recorded all of the parks announcements up until the early 1990s (vocal cord surgery forced him into retirement).
His association with Disney goes back to 1955 when he was invited to Disneyland's debut. In the early days Wagner did guest announcements and narrations for parades and special programs. It wasn't until 1970 that he came on board full time as Production Consultant.
Probably his most famous Disney World announcement ...
"Please stand clear of the doors; por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas."

Click HERE for more October 17 Disney history.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16: 85 Years Ago Today

On this day in 1923, the Disney Brothers Studio was founded by Walt and his older brother Roy in Hollywood, California. The reason ... the Disney brothers on this day signed a contract with a cartoon distributor for their Alice Comedies.
Within 3 years the company changed its name to the Walt Disney Studio. But on December 16, 1929 the original partnership formed in 1923 was replaced by Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. (plus three other companies - Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Reality and Investment Company - were also formed).
These 3 companies were all merged into Walt Disney Productions in 1938 and in 1940 the studio moved to its present location in Burbank, California.
It wasn't until 1952 that WED Enterprises (later named Walt Disney Imagineering) was formed to design Disneyland.
The following year Retlaw Enterprises was formed to control the rights to "Disney," and Walt Disney Studios Motion pictures to distribute feature films.
In 1957 Walt Disney Productions went public.
But in 1968 Walt Disney Productions was changed to Walt Disney Enterprises. It would stay that way until 1986 when the company's name was changed to The Walt Disney Company.
Today one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world ... it all started as an equal partnership between 2 brothers 85 years ago.

Click HERE for more October 16 Disney history.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15: This Day's LIFE

On this day in 1971, LIFE magazine ran a cover story on the opening of Disney World. The 50-cent issue (dated October 15) featured a color photo of 1,500 Disney employees in front of Cinderella Castle.
The article "Disney Moves East" began on page 44 with a night shot of a crowded Main Street, USA (by photographer Yale Joel). LIFE informed readers: "The new site is Florida, but the air is pure old Disney."

Click HERE for more October 15 Disney history.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October 02: There is a 6th dimension, beyond that which is known to man ...

On this day in 1959, "Where Is Everybody?" the very first episode of The Twilight Zone television series aired.
This episode (written by Rod Serling) tells the story of a man named Mike Ferris (played by actor Earl Holliman) who finds himself alone in a strange and apparently deserted town. Ferris is dressed in an Air Force jumpsuit - but has no recollection of how he came to be in this town. Although he discovers signs of life - food cooking on stoves & cigarettes burning in ashtrays - he can't find any people ... yet feels as if he is being watched. As he grows more unsettling, Ferris collapses at a street crossing and presses a button labeled "WALK." The walk button is actually a panic button and it is revealed that Ferris is an astronaut who has been confined to an "isolation room" for testing! The town is a complete hallucination.
The Twilight Zone eventually became the inspiration for Disney's popular Tower of Terror theme attractions. An inspection sticker outside the Tower's elevators (in Florida) has the number 10259 on it. 10259? October 2 '59 ... perhaps in reference to this very first episode?!

Click HERE for more October 02 Disney history.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 01: A Day For Celebrating


On this day in 1971 Walt Disney World opened its doors for the first time. Over the years October 1st became the day for kicking off Disney World anniversary celebrations. The very first Disney World anniversary celebration started on this day in 1981.
On October 1, 1982 EPCOT (Disney World's second theme park) first opened. Even Disney World's Caribbean Beach Resort debuted on this day in 1988.
In 1999 a little website called This Day in Disney History first appeared.
Here's to many more October 1st celebrations!

Click HERE to read more October 01 Disney history.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sep 14: Broadway's Belle #14

On this day in 2004 actress Brooke Tansley first stepped into the role of Belle in Disney's Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast. She became the 14th actress to play the lead role on Broadway (replacing Belle #13 - Christy Carlson Romano).
Originally from Waterbury, Connecticut, Tansley had made her Broadway debut in Hairspray. (She was the first actress from Waterbury to star on Broadway since Rosalind Russell in the 1953 production of Wonderful Town.)
Her Disney connection goes back to childhood, when Brooke and her brother Scott won a trip to Disney World.
Her run as Belle was to last just until January ... but was extended twice into September 2005.
Fans of TV's Law & Order may recognize her from the finale of season 6 - in which she played a character named Belle.

Click HERE for more September 14 Disney history.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sep 13: The Velvet Fog-Disney Connection

On this day in 1925, jazz singer, composer, arranger, actor & drummer Mel Tormé was born in Chicago, Illinois. Nicknamed the Velvet Fog, he is probably best known for co-writing "The Christmas Song" (often referred to as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire").
A child prodigy,
Tormé first sang professionally at age 4 in a Chicago restaurant! Between 1933 and 1941 he acted on radio serials and wrote his first song ... at age 13. While still a teen he sang, arranged, and played drums in a band led by Chico Marx (of the Marx Brothers). In 1943, Tormé made his movie debut in Frank Sinatra's first film Higher and Higher. Tormé went on to write some 250 songs, of which many became jazz standards.
Tormé's connection with Disney goes back to the 1948 live-action So Dear To My Heart, in which his song "County Fair" was used in. During the 1970s Tormé appeared numerous times at the Top of the World - a restaurant/show room once located at the top of Disney World's Contemporary Resort (today known as the California Grill). In 1996, he recorded and released the album "A&E: An Evening With Mel Tormé Live From the Disney Institute." In 2006 his timeless tune "The Christmas Song" was used in Disney's live-action holiday feature The Santa Clause 3.
Although
Mel passed in 1999, the Tormé-Disney connection continues today as his son James (also a respected jazz singer) has performed with his trio at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Click HERE for more September 13 Disney history.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sep 11: Speaking of history ...

I am surprised and somewhat disappointed in the lack of attention Patriot Day received from Disney fan sites this year. I always associate Disney with American pride and Americana. Obviously so did Walt ... think of all the theme park attractions that are based upon American history.
I didn't expect lengthy paragraphs about Patriot Day to be posted on Disney fan sites, but an American flag icon or some such image or reference to Patriot Day would have been nice to see. Sometimes it's so much more than just about vacation photos and personal theme park opinions.
On the other hand the fact that most hop into The Hall of Presidents because of its air conditioning instead of its presentation ... I guess this lack of interest shouldn't really surprise me.
This Day in Disney History isn't about opinions but (hopefully) accurate facts and interesting anecdotes about Walt Disney and his company. I rarely give my personal opinions about events, movies, theme parks, etc. - but today I needed to vent. Today I needed to take my website (which is a hobby that I am passionate about) and my American pride and mesh them together. Thanks for reading.

To see how the events of September 11, 2001 affected Disney click HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 22: Skeletons Night Out

On this day in 1929, Disney’s first Silly Symphony cartoon short The Skeleton Dance was released. Voted #18 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons (in 1994) the short features four human skeletons dancing and making music around an eerie graveyard.
Composer Carl W. Stalling (a pioneer and Disney’s first musical director) supplied the music and actually first
suggested the idea for a series of musical one-shot cartoons to Walt at a gag meeting in 1929. The Skeleton Dance is notable for being the first animated cartoon to use non-post-sync sound.
Although Ub Iwerks is given credit as the short’s animator – he was assisted by Wilfred Jackson and a very young Les Clark (who would go on to become one of Walt’s “Nine Old Men”).

Click HERE for more August 22 Disney history.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

August 21: A Bear's Beginning

On this day in 1921, an 18" high Alpha Farnell teddy bear from Harrod's in London, England was given to Christopher Robin Milne on his first birthday. Christopher was the son of writer A. A. Milne. The bear was first named Edward Bear before being commonly known as Winnie-the-Pooh. (This is the exact bear that in 1987 was put on display at The New York Public Library.)
The manufacturer of this now famous teddy can be traced back to 1840 in Notting Hill and John Kirby Farnell – who made small textile goods such as tea cosies, pin cushions and pen wipers. But it was Agnus Farnell (John's daughter) who began making soft toys in 1870 with the backing of her father and Henry her brother.
After their father’s death in 1887 Agnus and Henry moved the company to
Acton and leased an 18th century house "The Elms" where they set up a soft toy business - originally using rabbit skins to make the toys! The company is believed to have produced its first Teddy Bear in 1908. In 1921, J. K. Farnell became a private limited company. That same year Agnus set up the Alpha works next to the existing Farnell factory and produced bears designed by Sybill Kemp.
Alpha Farnell bears were sold in most major stores, including Harrods in
London.

Click HERE for more August 21 Disney history.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 24: Brains, Brawn and Beyond

On this day in 2005,

Walt Disney Pictures’ Sky High - directed by Mike Mitchell and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, & Mark McCorkle - had its premiere at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California.

The story of fourteen-year-old Will Stronghold (played by Michael Angarano), the son of two famous superheroes - Steve and Josie Stronghold (Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston), Sky High received generally favorable reviews and earned just under $64 million in the U.S. alone.

The plot surrounds Will who attends a school in the sky for superheroes called Sky High, despite the fact that he has no superpowers … and is hiding this fact from his parents.

Sky High Original Soundtrack was released two days later on July 26. It featured covers of songs from the 1980s performed by modern day acts.

Click HERE for more July 24 Disney history.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22: A Dimension Of Sound - A Dimension Of Sight

On this day in 1994 the Disney World attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened at Disney-MGM Studios (today called Disney's Hollywood Studios).
Commonly referred to as simply Tower of Terror, the attraction is a simulated free-fall thrill ride based on a television series created by Rod Serling. It is themed to resemble a fictional inn called Hollywood Tower Hotel which was "struck by lightning" on October 31, 1939. The story of the hotel is adapted by elements of the original Twilight Zone anthology series (which first aired in 1959).
At 199 feet tall, the Tower of Terror is the second tallest attraction on Disney World property (Expedition Everest is taller by a half-a-foot).

Click HERE for more July 22 Disney history.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 02: Debuted Today

On this day in 1964, Disney's live-action feature The Moon-Spinners premiered. (It was generally released on July 8.)
Based on a suspense novel by English novelist Mary Stewart, the film starred Hayley Mills, Eli Wallach, Peter McEnerey, Pola Negri, Joan Greenwood, and Irene Papas. Negri (who portrayed Madame Habib) - retired at the time, was convinced by Walt himself to return to the screen for one last time.
The film centers around Nikky Ferris (played by Mills) and her Aunt Francis (played by Greenwood) who take a trip to the Greek island of Crete. The two vacationers get mixed up with a jewel thief (played by Wallach), romance, and murder!

Click HERE for more July 02 Disney history.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 01: Main Street Fixture

On this day in 1911, Charles David "Bub" Thomas was born in Lewistown, Montana. A singer, entertainer, nightclub owner, and painter/sketch artist, Bub was one of the original Dapper Dans of Walt Disney World.
Bub and his fellow harmonizers, Jerry Siggins, Bob Mathis, and Dick Kneeland first began entertaining at the Florida resort while it was still under construction. The Dapper Dans were present on October 1, 1971 along with composer Meredith Wilson, the grand marshall of the opening day parade, for the Magic Kingdom's debut.
Bub was a fixture on Main Street for 25 years (during which time many of the members of the barbershop quartet changed). Sadly Bub was killed in a car accident in Orlando on January 28, 1997.

Click HERE for more July 01 Disney history.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22: Passing of a Legend

On this day in 2008, Grammy Award-winning comedian, actor, and author George Carlin passed away at age 71. Carlin supplied the voices of Fillmore for the Disney/Pixar Cars and Zugor for Disney's Tarzan II.
Noted for his political humor and observations on language, psychology, and religion, Carlin's stand-up routines often focused on the flaws of every day America. Born in New York City in 1937, he first began appearing on television variety shows (such as The Ed Sullivan Show) in the 1960s. He was a favorite of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson and hosted the very first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975. His best-known routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" brought him fame and controversy.
Carlin was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual Comedy Awards in 2001. His very last HBO stand-up special It's Bad for Ya aired on March 1, 2008.
On June 22, 2008 Carlin was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California complaining of chest pains. Sadly he passed away later that day.

"Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?" -George Carlin

Click HERE for more June 22 Disney history

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 11: Dangerous! Daring! Devil-May-Care!

On this day in 1960, Disney released the live-action feature The Sign of Zorro, starring Guy Williams, to U.S. theaters. (The film had been released overseas in 1958.) The Sign of Zorro was actually put together from episodes of Disney's half-hour TV series Zorro.
Based on the character originally created by Johnston McCulley back in 1919, Disney's Zorro first premiered on October 10, 1957 on ABC-TV. During its run, 78 episodes were produced as well as 4 hour-long specials. Zorro was very popular with kids and its theme song (written by Norman Foster and George Bruns) was first recorded by the Mellomen (a singing quartet featuring Thurl Ravenscroft).
The Sign of Zorro finds the masked avenger up against Captain Monastario, a corrupt military governor who wants to make Southern California his own!

Click HERE for more June 11 Disney history.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10: Birth of Moochie

On this day in 1949, Kevin Corcoran (a child actor and director/producer) was born in Santa Monica, California.
As a young boy he appeared in numerous Disney projects between 1957 - 1963. Corcoran played several different (but similar) characters - oddly all bearing the nickname Moochie. He appeared in 3 Mickey Mouse Club serials beginning with "Adventure in Dairyland," in which he played Moochie McCandless, a farmer's son. He then portrayed Montgomery "Moochie" O'Hara in two Spin and Marty serials - "The Further Adventures of Spin and Mary," and "The New Adventures of Spin and Marty."
Although never a Mouseketeer, he did appear in a Mouseketeer outfit (with the name Moochie across the chest) in the 1957 TV episode "Disneyland: The Fourth Anniversary Show."
In 1959, Corcoran portrayed Montgomery "Moochie" Daniels in the live-action feature The Shaggy Dog. He also starred as Moochie Morgan in the made-for-TV films Moochie of the Little League and Moochie of Pop Warner Football.
His non-Moochie roles for Disney included Old Yeller (as younger son Arliss Coates), Pollyana (as Pollyana's friend. orphan Jimmy Bean), Swiss Family Robinson (as younger son Francis Robinson), and Babes in Toyland (as Boy Blue).
Corcoran later graduated from California State University (with a degree in theater arts) and returned to Disney as an assistant director and producer. Beginning in the early 1970s, his credits included Superdad, The Island at the Top of the World, and Pete's Dragon. In 1977 he worked on The New Mickey Mouse Club and was an associate producer on the 1978 sequel Return to Witch Mountain. He later co-produced Herbie Goes Bananas and produced the comedy series Zorro and Son.
Corcoran was honored as a Disney Legend in 2006.

Click HERE for more June 10 Disney history.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 03: The Adventure in Animation Continues ...

On this day in 2001, Disney's animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire had its premiere in Hollywood at Disney's El Capitan Theatre. (The film was later generally released on June 15.)
An animated sci-fi mixed action movie, Atlantis was written by Tab Murphy, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (both known for their work on Beauty and the Beast), and produced by Don Hahn (who had began his career working for Disney Legend Wolfgang Reitherman).
Set in the year 1914, the film tells the story of an expedition crew and their search for the lost city of Atlantis. The voice cast featured such stars as Michael J. Fox (as Milo - the main character), James Garner, Corey Burton, Don Novello, Leonard Nimoy, David Ogden Stiers, and Jim Varney. Sadly Varney (also the voice of Slinky Dog in Toy Story and Toy Story 2) passed away during production. Several of his lines had to be done by a sound-alike.
Atlantis did moderately well at the box office (making about $85 million) and was nominated for 6 Annie Awards.
Atlantis is notable as one of the few animated features to be shot in the anamorphic widescreen process (a video technique that utilizes rectangular pixels to store a widescreen picture into standard 4:3 aspect ratio).

Click HERE for more June 03 Disney history.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 02: Dean of American Astronauts

On this day in 1997, Story Musgrave appeared at the Disney Institute at Walt Disney World in Florida. An astronaut, surgeon, mathematician, computer analyst, pilot, parachutist, ex-Marine, student of the humanities and a motivational speaker, Musgrave shared his wealth of knowledge as the Discover Magazine scientist-in-residence.
Today a retired NASA astronaut, he continues to be a public speaker and a consultant for Disney Imagineering (he had a helping hand in Epcot's Mission: SPACE).
Originally from Boston, the 6-time space shuttle astronaut made his first flight into space in April 1983. During his six space flights, he recorded 1,281 hours 59 minutes 22 seconds in space in addition to approximately 25 million miles in orbit!
The Disney Institute is gone ... but Musgrave continues to share his wealth of knowledge as a professional speaker.

Click HERE for more June 02 Disney history.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 01: A Royal Evening for The Lion King

On this day in 1998, Disney's Broadway production of The Lion King won 6 Tony Awards at a ceremony in New York City.
Chosen for an amazing 11 nominations, the categories included:
Book (Musical), Choreographer, Costume Designer, Director (Musical), Featured Actor (Musical), Featured Actress (Musical), Lighting Designer, Musical, Orchestrations, Scenic Designer, and Score.
Winners included:
Garth Fagan (Choreographer), Julie Taymor (Costume Designer & Director - the first woman in Broadway history to win Best Director of a Musical), Donald Holder (Lighting Designer), Disney Theatrical (Musical), and Richard Hudson (Scenic Designer).

Click HERE for more June 01 Disney history.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27: Playing Among The Stars

On this day in 1938, Disney released an 8-minute animated short titled Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
Based on a popular poem for children written by Eugene Field in 1889, it is a fantasy bed-time story of three fishermen sailing and fishing in the stars. Sailing in a wooden shoe, the fishermen represent a sleepy child's blinking eyes and nodding head.
In Disney's version, the fishermen are three pajama-clad children (also in a wooden shoe) who are sailing on a river of dew and playing among the stars. It is one of the most appealing Disney cartoons of the 1930s - as the studio was making great improvements in production of animated shorts. One of the improvements was a device called the multiplane camera (which would be used extensively over the next several years). The camera gave fuller dimension to the studio's lush artwork.
Directed by Graham Heid (who would later work on Fantasia), Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
also features the music of Leigh Harline (who in a few years would win an Academy Award for his song "When You Wish Upon a Star").

Click HERE for more May 27 Disney history.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18: Pluto's Utopia

On this day in 1951, the Disney short Plutopia was released. Directed by Charles A. Nichols, it featured the voices of James Macdonald (as Mickey Mouse) and Pinto Colvig (as Pluto).
Plutopia finds Mickey & his dog Pluto on vacation at Camp Utopia. Pluto believes it really is a utopia (with trees everywhere and plenty of cats to chase) until Mickey learns of the camp's strict rule - all dogs must be muzzled and leashed! Poor Pluto falls asleep and dreams of "Plutopia" where dogs roam free and cats cater to his every need.
The short was written by Ralph Wright and Al Bertino. Wright would go on to voice the character of Eeyore in countless Pooh featurettes and Bertino would have a hand in the development of Disney's them park attractions.

Click HERE for more May 18 Disney history.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 10: A New Musical Revue

On this day in 2004, Disney’s newest musical On the Record began a workshop in New York City. (A workshop is a part of the creative process of playwriting when a playwright first hears actors run through a play.)

A jukebox musical revue designed to be performed on the road, On the Record featured classic songs from Disney live-action and animated films. Performed by just a cast of 4, the show celebrated 75 years of Disney music … with not a word of dialogue. The story features four soloists who come into a recording studio to record the classics tunes (such as A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Minnie's Yoo-Hoo, Colors Of The Wind, and Baby Mine).

The original cast included Broadway veterans Emily Skinner and Brian Sutherland and newcomers Andrew Samonsky and Ashley Brown. (Brown went on to play Belle in Disney’s Broadway hit Beauty and the Beast and is currently the star of Mary Poppins.)

During its nine month tour (which began in November 2004), On the Record visited 24 cities before closing in mid-2005.

Click HERE for more May 10 Disney history.

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 09: Birth of Barrie

On this day in 1860, Scottish novelist and dramatist James Matthew Barrie, more commonly known as J. M. Barrie, was born in Kirriemuir, Angus (one of the 32 local government council areas of Scotland) to a conservative Scottish family.

Barrie is best remembered for creating Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up, whom he based on his friends, the Llewelyn Davies boys. Barrie became acquainted with the Llewelyn Davies family in 1897, meeting George, Jack, and baby Peter with their nurse/nanny Mary Hodgson in London's Kensington Gardens. Barrie lived nearby and often walked his dog in the park, and entertained the boys with his stories.

Barrie is also credited with popularizing the name "Wendy", which was uncommon for girls in both Britain and America at that time.

The first appearance of Peter Pan came in The Little White Bird, which was serialized in the U.S., then published in a single volume in the UK in 1901. Barrie's most famous and enduring work, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, had its first stage performance on December 27, 1904. It has been performed innumerable times since then, and was later developed by Barrie into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy. In 1929 Barrie specified that the copyright of the Peter Pan works should go to the nation's leading children's hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England.

"Always be a little kinder than necessary.” -J.M. Barrie

Click HERE for more May 9 Disney history.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May 05: Birth of "Cinderella"

On this day in 1929, singer Ilene Woods - best known as the voice of Disney's Cinderella - was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
When she was just 14-years-old, Woods was actually given her own radio show on a new station called The Blue Network (later called ABC). The show featured 15 minutes of music - 3 days a week. Through the program she became friends with two songwriters named Mack David and Jerry Livingston.
A few years later, Woods now living in California was contacted by the songwriting team asking her to record a few of their tunes they wished to promote. She agreed and the tunes made their way to Walt Disney himself. Walt loved the songs and Woods' voice so much that he made them all part of his newest animated feature Cinderella.
In 2003, Woods was given a Disney Legends award.

Click HERE for more May 5 Disney history.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May 03: Walter

On this day in 1871, Reverend Walter Robinson Parr, a preacher & author was born in Liverpool, England. Ordained to the Congregational ministry in Clifton, Illinois in 1898, he was a pastor in many Chicago area churches in the early 1900s.
Among his pastorates - St. Paul's Congregational Church in Chicago, the very same one Elias Disney and his wife were members of. Elias - who became good friends with Reverend Parr - named his fourth child Walter after him. Parr in return named his son Elias!
Ironically Reverend Parr past away in 1922 at age 50 in Lewiston, Idaho ... the same town where Walt Disney married Lillian Bounds in July 1925.

Click HERE for more May 03 Disney history.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Apr 30: A Sneak Peak Salute

On this final day of April in 1989, The Magical World of Disney aired the episode "The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening," on NBC the night before the park's actual debut.
The special, which took viewers on a tour of such (now extinct) attractions as Superstar Television and The Monster Sound Show, featured a cast of all-star celebrities. Harry Anderson, George Burns, Walter Cronkite, Jane Fonda, John Forsythe, Estelle Getty, Kate Jackson, Ann Miller, Willie Nelson, Tony Randall, Mickey Rooney, and John Ritter were just some of the stars who appeared.
"The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening" was nominated for two Emmy Awards ... and later won 1 for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, mainly due to its musical finale - "Hooray for Hollywood."

Click HERE for more April 30 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Apr 29: Something frightening. Something strange. Something different.

On this day in 1983, the Disney live-action feature Something Wicked This Way Comes was released.
Based on a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury, the movie tells the story of two thirteen-year-old boys who have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish carnival that comes to their hometown.
Directed by Jack Clayton, Bradbury also wrote the screenplay. The film starred Jason Robards (as Charles Holloway - the father of one of the boys), Jonathan Pryce (as the sinister Mr. Dark), and Vidal Peterson & Shawn Carson as the two young teens.
Something Wicked This Way Comes was foreign territory for Disney at the time, as they had never made a dark film like it before. But it was well received by critics and won the 1984 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.
In the original version of Epcot's Journey Into Imagination attraction, the words "Something Wicked" are printed on the spine of one of the large books in the literature scene. This is a reference to both the film and an ode to author Ray Bradbury ... who had a helping hand in designing Epcot!

Click HERE for more April 29 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Apr 22: "Nahtazu"

On this day in 1998, Disney's Animal Kingdom (Disney World's 4th theme park but Disney's 7th park in the world) had its grand opening. Appropriately debuting on Earth Day, DAK is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums - which means Disney has met and exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research.
The idea for DAK can be traced back to January 1990 when Imagineering Concept Designer Joe Rhode met with then CEO Michael Eisner about a concept for an animal park/nontraditional zoo. Disney's "Wild Animal Kingdom" project was announced in June 1995 with ground being broken the following August.
The park, which covers 500 acres, is Disney's first to be themed around animal conservation. When it first opened, the park was divided up into sections called Oasis, Safari Village, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Conservation Station, DinoLand USA, and a small portion of Asia.
DAK today is broken up into seven themed areas - Oasis (the entrance area), Discovery Island (the main land previously known as Safari Village), Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch (formerly Conservation Station), Asia, and DinoLand USA.
The park's icon, The Tree of Life, is a 145-foot tall artificial tree featuring more than 300 animals hand carved into its trunk.

Happy 10th anniversary DAK ... and happy Earth Day.

Click HERE for more April 22 Disney history.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Apr 20: A Musical Disney Legend

On this day in 2005, Disney Legend & musician Salvatore "Tutti" Camarata passed away in Burbank, California. Originally a trumpet player, he ran Disneyland Records (today known as Walt Disney Records) for nearly 20 years.
Nicknamed "Tutti" by band leader Jimmy Dorsey, Camarata was an instrumentalist, orchestrator, arranger, composer, and record producer.
Born May 11, 1913 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, he attended the Julliard School of Music in New York City and later studied composition at nearby Columbia University. At 21 he began playing with Charlie Barnet's band and then briefly on Bing Crosby's radio show. His big break came when he was offered first-chair trumpet with Jimmy Dorsey's band. Camarat's arrangements for Dorsey was a crucial ingredient in the band's rise to success in 1939.
In the early 1940s, he left Dorsey's band and began playing and arranging for other acts (such as Benny Goodman). In 1944, Camarata was hired as a musical director for Decca Records. He arranged and orchestrated for a number of big name acts including Louis Armstrong and Mary Martin. In 1950, he put together a studio big band - The Commanders - which had success with a series of albums. This led to television work which ultimately brought his name to the attention of Charles Hansen ... an executive working with Walt Disney.
Walt was looking for someone to run a record label that would release soundtracks of movies. Camarata was hired and he moved to southern California to establish and run Disneyland Records. With the popularity of TV's The Mickey Mouse Club, Camarata found himself producing singles by most of the show's stars - namely Annette Funicello. Although Funicello had a thin voice and was not an experienced singer, Camarata patiently experimented with a new echo effect that gave her a rich sound ... and made her a recording star.
Camarata became more than a record maker at Disney, as he played an important role in building up the studio's library of original music. He was responsible for introducing Sterling Holloway (the future voice of Winnie the Pooh) to Walt. Camarata also helped convince Louis Prima and Phil Harris to take part in the animated The Jungle Book. He supervised vocals on Disney's 1963 live-action Summer Magic (starring Hayley Mills). Camarata even worked on the Louis Armstrong album Disney Songs: The Satchmo Way.
During his early years at Disney, Camarata relied on local recording studios to work in. He would often press Walt to invest in his own studio to reduce costs (and to provide a consistent quality of recordings). After Disney rejected the idea (several times) Camarata decided to build his own studio. He bought an old auto repair shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and opened Sunset Sound Recorders in 1960. Although Disneyland Records was the studio's primary client at first, Sunset Sound began to attract some of rock'n'roll's biggest names. The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, and even Van Halen became regular customers.
As his studio's success increased, Camarata found it difficult to juggle its demands with those of Disneyland Records - and so in 1972 he left Disney. Today legendary Sunset Sound (now run by Camarata's son) remains a top-notch facility and home to such recording artists as Dixie Chicks, Cheryl Crow, and Jet.

Click HERE for more April 20 Disney history.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Apr 17: And the Oscar goes to ...

On this day in 1961, Bob Hope hosted the Academy Awards, held for the first time outside of Hollywood - at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California.
Disney's Goliath II (about a 6-inch tall elephant) is among those nominated for Best Short Subject, Cartoons - but loses to Munro. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Goliath II is narrated by Sterling Holloway.
Although nominated for Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects - Disney's Islands of the Sea loses to Day of the Painter. Islands of the Sea is a beautifully shot documentary about the wildlife on 4 islands - the Galapagos, Guadelupe, Falklands, and an island in the Midway chain.
The Oscar for Best Documentary Feature does go to a Disney picture titled The Horse with the Flying Tail - about a palomino who becomes a champion mount for one of the US equestrian team.
Hayley Mills is given a special Juvenile Award for her performance in Disney's Pollyanna, as a young girl who comes to an embittered town and must confront its attitude with her determination.

Click HERE for more April 17 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apr 15: A New Kind of Magic

On this day in 1962, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color aired episode 26 (of season 8) titled "Disneyland After Dark." Walt Disney himself presented a view of his Anaheim park at night with special musical guests.
The show began with a trip aboard the monorail from the Disneyland Hotel to Tomorrowland. Then Walt made his first appearance on Main Street, ordering popcorn from a vendor. His opening words included:
"Hi there! Y'know this is one of my favorite times of the day here ... just about sundown. I like to be around when the lights come on. It seems like a new kind of magic takes over in Disneyland After Dark."
In Tomorrowland, original Mouseketeer Annette Funicello performed "Dance Annette" and teen idol Bobby Rydell sang "Around the World." Viewers were then shown Frontierland to hear legendary jazz great Louis Armstrong. The Osmond Brothers performed (making their network debut) as well as Bobby Burgess, The Dapper Dans, and The Elliott Brothers Orchestra.
Disneyland looked quaint, homey ... and not as crowded in 1962.

Click HERE for more April 15 Disney history.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apr 14: Oscar for Pooh

On this day in 1969, Disney's short feature Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day was awarded an Oscar for Best Short Subject, Cartoon at a ceremony held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. (It was the first Academy Awards to be telecast throughout the world.)
Based on the Pooh books by A. A. Milne, Blustery Day was originally released in December 1968 along with the live-action feature The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman (one of Walt's "Nine Old Men"), it features the voices of Sterling Holloway (as Pooh), Paul Winchell (as Tigger), John Fiedler (as Piglet), and Jon Walmsley (as Christopher Robin).
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (the second Disney animated feature based on Milne's characters) was nominated along with the shorts The Magic Pear, La Maison de Jean-Jacques, and Windy Day.

Click HERE for more April 14 Disney history.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Apr 13: Birth of a Founding Father

On this day in 1743, Thomas Jefferson - the third U.S. President and author of the Declaration of Independence - was born in Virginia. One of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States, he also served as Secretary of State (under George Washington) and Vice President (under John Adams).
Jefferson was born at Shadwell - what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. His father was a well-to-do land owner and his mother came from one of the first families of Virginia.
Elected to to the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, he was appointed in June 1776 to head a committee in preparing the Declaration of Independence. Although considered the document's primary author, his initial draft was amended by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.
Jefferson served as president for two terms between 1801-1809.
On your next trip to Disney World visit Jefferson and all the U.S. Chief Executives at the Hall of Presidents ... an attraction that offers more than a comfortable seat and air conditioned air.

Click HERE for more April 13 Disney history.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Apr 10: America Sings

On this day in 1988, the Disneyland attraction America Sings ran for the last time. Featuring a cast of Audio-Animatronic animals singing songs from various periods in America's musical history, it was located in the Carousel Theater.
America Sings first opened in 1974 replacing the Carousel of Progress (which had moved to Disney World). It utilized the same rotating theater - although it rotated counter-clockwise (unlike Carousel of Progress which turned clockwise). America Sings was often compared to Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree, because of its cast of singing animals.
The show was hosted by an American Bald Eagle named Sam (voiced by the legendary Burl Ives) and an owl named Ollie (voiced by Sam Edwards). Similar to the Carousel of Progress, the first and last scenes of America Sings involved the loading and unloading of guests. The other four scenes depicted a particular era, with Sam singing in between acts.
The characters were created by Imagineer Marc Davis and patterned after an animated movie idea which Walt Disney scrapped in the 1960s. Buddy Baker arranged the music for America Sings, which included nostalgic Americana songs such as "Yankee Doodle," "My Old Kentucky Home," "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey," and "A-Tisket A-Tasket."
Supposedly America Sings had to be closed as Disneyland's new Splash Mountain had gone over budget and the characters from America Sings were needed for that attraction. The Carousel Theater would sit empty for ten years ... until finally filled in 1998 with Innoventions (a version of the Epcot attraction).

Click HERE for more April 10 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Apr 08: A Buzz in France

On this day in 2006, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast opened to the general public at Disneyland Paris in Discoveryland. (A press event had occurred the night before.) Based on Toy Story 2, this attraction shares the same plot as its predecessors at Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland. (Although as each attraction opened - new technology has enabled guests to better interact.)
In the Disneyland Paris version guests have detachable lasers (attached by a cord). The attraction uses a third-generation Omnimover system, which allows the passengers to determine the swivel of the vehicle with a predetermined range.
Disney World's version is called Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (first opened in October 1998), while Disneyland's version is called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. Tokyo Disneyland's and and Hong Kong Disneyland's are both named Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.

Click HERE for more April 08 Disney history.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Apr 07: Luckiest Boy in the World

On this day in 1957, Parade magazine featured a cover story titled "Luckiest Boy in the World." It was about Disneyland Cast Member Tom Nabbe - the park's first Tom Sawyer.
Tom was just 12-year-old when he began working as a "newsie" for Disneyland - selling The Disneyland News to park guests on Main Street. Eventually Tom himself came up with the idea to be the park's Tom Sawyer. He spent a year pursuing Walt about becoming the star of Tom Sawyer Island.
Walt finally agreed - but under one condition: that Tom keep at least a C average in school. Tom kept up his grades and became Disneyland's Tom Sawyer.
After outgrowing the role, Tom went on to manage different attractions and in 1969 met his wife Janice (who was working in a concession stand). In 1971 he was transfered to the new Disney World where he started as manager of the monorail.
In June 2003, 60-year-old Tom Nabbe retired from his job (which at the time was manager of distribution services at the Florida park). He was the final working member of Club 55 - a group of original Disneyland employees.
Tom Nabbe was inducted a Disney Legend on September 20, 2005 and received a Disney NFFC Disney Legend Award the following year.

Click HERE for more April 07 Disney history.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Apr 06: LOOK

On this day in 1971, the April 6th issue of LOOK magazine (volume 35 number 7) featured a cover shot of Mickey Mouse the "first citizen of Florida." At a mere cost of 35 cents, the over-sized LOOK featured multiple articles about the near completion of Disney World and Florida's booming economy.
The Contents page informed readers:
Mickey Mouse is 42. Hard to believe? He still looks ready for mischievous mousery. You've probably seen dozens of his 100 and some cartoons, shaken his hand at Disneyland in California or even joined the Mouseketeers yourself. Now he's about to be host of the new Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. There are more than 27,000 acres of it, opening in October. Mickey and his pals, Dumbo, Daisy Duck and the others, will gladly give you a preview. For a start, see page 17.
Page 17 began with the article "Boom! Boom! Boom?" - in which readers were informed that "money is creating new excitement in Florida."
Page 18 featured "Florida: Preview of The New Biggest Show on Earth" complete with color photos (albeit promo shots) of the new Magic Kingdom.
The article "Florida: What Hath Disney Wrought?" began on page 26. Readers were informed that "Walt Disney's decision to drop his billion-dollar Walt Disney World into 27,400 swampy, wooded acres in Central Florida has resulted in some of the wildest statistics in the history of land development."
Page 33 featured the article "Florida: Powder Keg Among The Palms" and told readers that "the sun-soaked funland is about to explode."
Page 38 featured a story titled "Florida: The Kids Play Outside Every Day," about a family originally from Virginia who happily moved to Florida.
A brand-new vacation world was about to take the decade by storm.

Click HERE for more April 06 Disney history.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Apr 05: Kopy Kat

On this day in 1934, Emmy-nominated actor, comedian, and impressionist Frank Gorshin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Disney fans may recognize him from the 1965 live-action feature That Darn Cat! in which he played Iggy the bank-robber.
His early days as a comedian/impressionist included TV guest spots on The Ed Sullivan Show (his first being the same night The Beatles debuted) and The Steve Allen Show. He also appeared in such feature films as The Bells Are Ringing and Where The Boys Are.
In 1965 Disney released That Darn Cat! starring Hayley Mills, Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, Roddy McDowall, Elsa Lanchester, and Gorshin. The comedy was nominated for an Edgar, a Golden Laurel, and a WGA Award.
But Gorshin will always be remembered for his role as the Riddler on the 1966-67 television series Batman. All in all he made nine appearances on the series as Batman's enemy and even received an Emmy nomination!
He later received another Emmy nomination for his role of an alien in a 1969 episode of Star Trek tiled "That Will Be Your Last Battlefield." Gorshin's television exposure led to headline status in many Las Vegas showrooms.
In 1970, Gorshin made his Broadway debut in the show Jimmy, in which he played New York Mayer James J. Walker.
In 1972, he starred in ABC-TV's The Kop Kats - in which the cast did impressions of actors and TV stars. Throughout the 1980s and 90s he appeared in countless TV films and guest starred on many series.
His final performance was in a 2005 episode of CBS-TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigations, which sadly aired two days after Gorshin's death.

Click HERE for more April 05 Disney history.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Apr 04: What A Voice!

On this day in 1932, actress Estelle Harris was born in New York City. Best known to fans of Seinfeld as Mrs. Costanza (George's cranky mom), her unique comical voice can be heard in many Disney TV programs and feature films.
Harris has voiced Lula - the talking sword in Dave the Barbarian, Mama Lipsky in Kim Possible, Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2, Old Lady Bear in Brother Bear, Audrey the Chicken in Home on the Range, Mama Gunda in Tarzan II, Mrs, Turtle in House of Mouse, and Mrs. Boogins in Teacher's Pet. She also plays the role of Muriel on Disney Channel's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and has even appeared on an episode of Phil of the Future.

Click HERE for more April 04 Disney history.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Apr 03: A Literary Superstar

On this day in 1783, writer Washington Irving was born in New York City - the same week Manhattan residents learned of the British ceasefire that ended the American Revolution. One of Irving's most famous tales "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was retold in Disney's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Irving's tale was part of an 1820 collection of short stories and essays titled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while living in England. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York. It tells the story of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane who is pursued one autumn night by a headless horseman.
Disney's 1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was directed by the team of James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, and Jack Kinney. The animated version of Irving's story was paired up with Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. Narrated by Bing Crosby, it featured the animated work of Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Milt Kahl, and Ward Kimball.
Irving's The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. also included another well-known tale ... "Rip Van Winkle."
Irving popularized the nickname "Gotham" for New York City (later used in Batman comics and movies). The southernmost section of Lexington Avenue in New York City is called Irving Place, named so after Irving in 1833.
He is credited as the first American to earn his living solely by his pen.

Click HERE for more April 03 Disney history.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Apr 02: The Moral Storyeller

On this day in 1805, author & poet Hans Christian Andersen was born in Denmark. Best known for his fairy tales (of which there are over 150) Disney fans know his work through the animated adaptations The Little Mermaid and The Little Matchgirl.
Andersen's first collection of fairy tales (published in 1835) broke new ground for Danish literature with his style and use of idiom, irony, and humor. The book was a success, and he followed it with many other volumes.
"The Little Matchgirl," about a girl who dies selling matches on a cold New Year's Eve, was first published in 1845. Disney's Matchgirl got its start back in 2002 due to Roy Disney's intent on including it in a Fantasia sequel - which at the time was called The Music Project. The Little Matchgirl eventually came together as a short (with no dialogue - just music) and debuted at Annecy in France in June 2006. It went on to win Best Film For Children at the 17th Festival of Animated Films.
Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea for the love of a human, was first published in 1837. Disney's 1989 hit The Little Mermaid is based on Andersen's original tale which he first wrote in 1836. So popular is the story that a statue of Little Mermaid has been sitting on a rock in the Copenhagen harbor since 1913!
Andersen's other well-known tales include "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Emperor's New Clothes." His stories have been translated into well over 150 languages.

April 2 is International Children's Book Day.

Click HERE for more April 2 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Apr 01: Toe-Tappin Favorites

On this day in 2003, Walt Disney Records released the CD "O Mickey, Where Art Thou?" The album featured movie soundtracks performed in a bluegrass style by such artists as Ronnie Milsap, Collin Raye, Sonya Isaacs, and Elizabeth Cook. (Bluegrass dates back to the 1920s when its creator Bill Monroe named his band The Blue Grass Boys.)
"O Mickey, Where Art Thou?" includes:
Country music singer-songwriter Collin Raye singing "Circle of Life"
"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" performed by country singer-songwriter Elizabeth Cook
Country rock/pop singer-songwriter Kevin Montgomery singing "You'll Be in My Heart"
Newcomer Caroline Brown singing "Baby Mine"
An instrumental version of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"
"The Bare Necessities" by Country veteran Stonewall Jackson
Sonya Isaacs (of The Isaacs) performing "When She Loved Me"
A duet of "You've Got a Friend in Me" by Amanda Martin & Lyle Goodman
An instrumental version of "Mickey Mouse Club March / The Ballad of Davy Crockett"
Singer-guitarist Robbie Fulks singing "When I See an Elephant Fly"
Veteran Charlie Louvin performing "I Will Go Sailing No More"
and "When You Wish Upon A Star" by country legend Ronnie Milsap

Click HERE for more April 01 Disney history ... no foolin'!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Mar 31: AKL

On this day in 2001, the not-yet-opened Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World held a 3-day open house for Annual Passholders.
The deluxe resort is African themed and located at 2901 Osceola Parkway (very close to Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park). This unique resort allows guests the opportunity to watch wildlife graze outside their rooms and public areas - thus creating the feel of an African savanna. Designed by architect Peter Dominick (known for his Wilderness Lodge creation) the Animal Kingdom Lodge is 6 stories tall.
The official opening of the resort took place on April 16, 2001.

Click HERE for more March 31 Disney history.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mar 29: Wholesome Determination

On this day in 2002, Disney's live-action The Rookie was released. Based on the true story of pitcher Jim Morris who had a brief but famous Major League career, the film starred Dennis Quaid as Morris.
Teacher & coach Morris had "blown his arm" out during his days in the Minor Leagues. Now a coach of a struggling school team, he bets his players that if they win the district champions ... he will tryout for the majors. His team does well and Morris (still able to throw a 98 mph fastball) keeps his end of the bargain. He eventually signs with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a relief pitcher and the leagues "oldest rookie." He goes on to have a short but memorable career pitching 15 innings in 21 games with an earned run average of 4.80!
The scene where Morris tests his fastball speed by throwing it past a speed limit road monitor ... actually never happened in real life.
Filmed entirely in North and Central Texas, The Rookie proves its never too late to believe in your dreams.

"I consider myself very lucky. God has a funny way of bringing some things around and knocking you in the head with the ultimate destination." -Jim Morris

Click HERE for more March 29 Disney history.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mar 28: Whose the Leader of the Band?

On this day in 1910, Ivan Wesley Dodd was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Disney fans know him better as Jimmie Dodd - the adult leader on the 1950s TV series The Mickey Mouse Club. It's been said that the club was Mickey's, the studio was Walt's ... but the show itself was Jimmie's.
An interest in music came early to young Dodd who began playing banjo and guitar as a small boy. Upon graduating from high school, he attended a few colleges such as the University of Cincinnati and then the Conservatory of Music (but unfortunately never graduated from either). At this time he also became interested in acting and dance.
In 1933 he got his first real job playing and singing on a local radio station. From that job came others and he soon found himself touring with the Louis Prima Orchestra. The tour brought Dodd to California where his next break was a part in Paramount's 1940 film Those Were the Days. That same year he married a dancer named Ruth and the two joined USO tours entertaining the troops in Africa and Asia during World War II. (A weak heart prohibited Dodd from joining the military.)
Contacts he made while overseas led him to more film work and even some appearances on a new medium called television. Dodd's friend Bill Justice (an animator at Disney) recommended him to Walt as a songwriter. He was assigned to write songs for cartoons and the Disneyland TV series. When The Mickey Mouse Club was being prepared, Dodd was again recommended to Walt as the show's host.
Dodd also wrote the Mickey Mouse Club March and such tunes as We Are the Merry Mouseketeers, Today is Tuesday, and Here Comes the Circus. He even helped develop storyboards for the show's segments and had a hand in casting the children. But ultimately it was his on-camera performances that ensured the show's success. Dodd's short sermons & advice on character-building, safety, and common-sense became an intricate part of The Mickey Mouse Club. He would usually end each program with the saying:
"Why? Because we like you."

Click HERE for more March 28 Disney history.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mar 27: Birth of The Duck Man

On this day in 1901, Carl Barks - a Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator best known for his 3 decades of Donald Duck work, was born in Merrill, Oregon. Creator of Duckberg (a city in the fictional U.S. state of Calisota and home of Donald Duck), Barks also created such characters as Scrooge McDuck and Gladstone Gander.
The Duck Man (as he would come to be known) grew up on a farm in a rural area of Oregon. In November 1935, Barks learned that Walt Disney was seeking artists for his studio. Barks applied ... and was approved for a try-out (which meant leaving Oregon and moving to Los Angeles, California). He was one of two in his class of trainees that were eventually hired (at $20 a week).
Like many rookies, Barks began an an "in-betweener" working with Disney's top animators. By 1936, he was moved to the story department. The following year, Donald Duck became the star of his own series and Barks contributed gag ideas to some of the early shorts.
Unhappy at the emerging wartime working conditions at Disney (plus bothered by an ongoing sinus problem made worse by the studio's air conditioning system) Barks actually quit in 1942. But just before leaving he moonlighted as a comic book artist, contributing to a one-shot comic book titled Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold.
Barks moved out of the Los Angeles area and began working for Western Publishing ... who had published Pirate Gold and was looking for a Donald Duck illustrator! The Victory Garden, a 10-page Donald Duck story first published in April 1943, turned out to be the first of some 500 Duck stories Barks would draw and script.
He "retired" in 1966 but was persuaded to continue to write for Western. At the urging of a fan, Barks requested and obtained permission from Disney to produce and sell oil paintings of scenes form his stories. To Bark's astonishment, his career went into high gear.
Barks began to attend comic book conventions and licensed a series of art prints of his Duck work. He toured Europe and attended Disneyana conventions. The Duck Man had become a worldwide sensation! He was even inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991.
Sadly, Barks died from leukemia at his home in Grant Pass, Oregon in 2000 ... just short of his 100th birthday.

Click HERE for more March 27 Disney history.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mar 26: Rockin Good Food

On this day in 1994, Food Rocks - a musical audio animatronics show, opened in Epcot. Replacing Kitchen Kabaret in The Land pavilion, Food Rocks was sponsored by Nestle.
The stage show was themed as a "benefit concert for good nutrition," and was hosted by Fud Wrapper. The characters were food items with human features and the music was based on popular songs with new lyrics about nutrition.
The show closed in January 2004 and Soarin' now occupies its space.

Click HERE for more March 26 Disney history.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mar 25: Those Wacky Midvale College Students

On this day in 1964, Disney's live-action comedy The Misadventures of Merlin Jones was released in theaters. Originally shot as a 2-part episode for Disney's television series, Walt liked it so much that he decided to release it theatrically.
The film follows the mishaps of Merlin Jones (played by Tommy Kirk), a precocious but gifted college student/inventor and his girlfriend Jennifer (played by Annette Funicello). Merlin's experiments with hypnosis, a chimpanzee, and a complicated mind-reading gadget lands him in trouble with the law.
The film's opening title song "Merlin Jones" (written by the Sherman Brothers) was performed by Funicello. With vocal contribution from the Wellingtons (who sang the Gilligan's Island theme song), the song was released as a single.
Less than two months later Gold Key published a comic book based on the film.
The following year Disney released a sequel The Monkey's Uncle, also starring Kirk & Funicello.

Click HERE for more March 25 Disney history.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mar 24: Astro Jets - Fly It Yourself!

On this day in 1956, Astro Jets, the first rocket-spinner Disneyland attraction, opened to guests in Tomorrowland.
Manufactured by Klaus Company Bavaria, the 12 jets traveled around a large red-checkered rocket and had the ability to rise 36 feet up in the air. Astro Jets stood between Flight to the Moon and Submarine Voyage. The jets were given futuristic names such as Canopus, Vega, Sirus, Castor, and Antares.
Astro Jets was renamed Tomorrowland Jets in 1964 when United Airlines became its sponsor. (United felt the name was free advertising for its competitor American Airlines whose coast-to-coast jet service was called ... "astro jet.")
Yet in 1967 the attraction was once again renamed, this time as the Rocket Jets. This version was located atop the PeopleMover platform.
In 1998, after Tommorrowland was refurbished, the attraction was once again renamed to Astro Orbitor (a replica of the Orbitron, Machine Volantes in Disneyland Paris).

Click HERE for more March 24 Disney history.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mar 23: W.I.T.C.H.

On this day in 2004, Disney Publishing Worldwide announced it was launching W.I.T.C.H. - a new book series about five teenage girls who each have the power to control a natural element.
A fantasy/superhero comic series first created in Italy by Elisabetta Gnone, the title W.I.T.C.H. is an abbreviation of the first letters of the five girls: Wilma, Irma Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin.
The only American release prior to Disney's involvement were books adapted from the comics. In 2005 Disney began releasing graphic novels and chapter books through its Hyperion Books for Children division.
Disney's Buena Vista Games later released W.I.T.C.H. a video game for the Game Boy Advance.

Click HERE for more March 23 Disney history.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mar 22: Birth of an "Old Man"

On this day in 1909, Milton Erwin Kahl - known better to Disney fans as Milt Kahl was born in San Francisco, California. Often considered the finest draftsman of the Disney animators, Kahl became on of Walt's "Nine Old Men."
It all started in June 1934 when Kahl applied to The Walt Disney Studios. He was hired to work as an assistant animator on such shorts as Mickey's Circus, Lonesome Ghosts, and The Ugly Duckling (which won an Academy Award). He went on to contribute to all the early classic features, in fact for many years the final look for the characters in Disney films were designed by Kahl. Because of his talent, he was often given the toughest of tasks at the studio (such as animating human characters).
In Snow White for example, he was responsible for the forest animals, the Prince, and the dwarfs dancing with Snow White. Kahl also contributed greatly to Pinocchio, Saludos Amigos, Melody Time, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty.
His final contribution (as a directing animator) was the 1977 release The Rescuers ... the same year he was given the Winsor McCay Award. After 40 years with the company, Milt Kahl retired. His departure ushered in a new era when Disney artists would no longer control animation film making. Kahl passed away in 1987, two years before he was inducted as a Disney Legend.

Clickl HERE for more March 22 Disney history.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mar 21: Mission to Mars

On this day in 1975, the Disneyland attraction Mission to Mars opened in Tomorrowland. (A similar attraction would open at Disney World in June 1975.) First called Flight to the Moon (an original opening day Disneyland attraction) it was updated once man had actually traveled to the moon.
Mission to Mars (designed with NASA) launched guests to the red planet. But prior to blastoff, guests entered a viewing area (or Mission Control) where they were greeted by an Audio-Animatronic named Mr Johnson. With the use of film clips, Johnson explained space travel and the effects of a microgravity environment.
After the pre-show, guests boarded their spacecraft - a circular theater with stadium-like seating and circular flat screens on the ceiling and floor. To add to the realism, the seats simulated the vibrations and G-forces from "Hyper-space."
Mission to Mars closed on November 2, 1992 and the building remained unused until May 1998 when it was turned into ... Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.

Click HERE for more March 21 Disney history.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mar 20: Oscar Night

On this evening in 1948, the 20th Academy Awards were held at the Shrine Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
Songwriters Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert took home the Best Music, Original Song Oscar for "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from Disney's Song of the South. Other song nominees in that category included "Pass that Peace Pipe" (from Good News), "You Do" (from Mother Wore Tights), "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" (from The Perils of Pauline), and "A Gal in Calico" (from The Time, the Place, and the Girl).
The team of Daniele Amfitheatrof, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott were nominated for Best Music, Scoring of A Musical Picture for their contribution to Song of the South. But Alfred Newman took home the Oscar for his work on Mother Wore Tights.
Both Disney's Pluto's Blue Note and Chip an' Dale lost to Edward Seltzer's Tweetie Pie for Best Short Subject, Cartoon.
Among the Honorary Oscars presented was one to actor James Baskett "for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and storyteller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney's Song of the South."

Click HERE for more March 20 Disney history.