On this day in 1953, Peter Pan (Disney's 14th animated feature) was released. Based on the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and the novel Peter and Wendy - both by J.M. Barrie, it was the final Disney film released through RKO Pictures. By the end of 1953 Walt had established his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution. Peter Pan was also the final Disney film in which all "Nine Old Men" worked together as directing animators.
Since 1935, Walt had been trying to buy the rights to Barrie's play. He finally received them in 1939 after negotiating with the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (to whom Barrie had bequeathed the rights). Work started on the feature in the early 1940s and was originally intended as a follow-up to Bambi. But World War II forced the project to be put on hold for a few years.
The voice cast included Bobby Driscoll as Peter, Kathryn Beaumont as Wendy Darling, Hans Conried as both Captain James Hook and George Darling, Paul Collins as John Darling, and Tommy Luske as Michael Darling. Actress Margaret Kerry posed for animators as Tinker Bell's live reference model - as did Driscoll and Beaumont for their characters.
The memorable songs for Peter Pan were written by Sammy Fain, Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill, Winston Hibler, and Ted Sears. Veteran Oliver Wallace composed the incidental music score. The most popular tune "The Second Star to the Right" (written by Fain & Cahn) was originally to be used in Alice in Wonderland.
Disney's version of Peter Pan proved to be so popular that the character has appeared in House of Mouse, Mickey's Magical Christmas, The Lion King 1 1/2, and the Kingdom Hearts video games. Peter also has his own attraction "Peter Pan's Flight" in Disneyland, Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris!
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