Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Holiday

Today in Disney History will be on a short break.
Be back the first week of October.
Meanwhile get your daily dose of Disney history at This Day in Disney History.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23: A Tailor Named Mickey

On this day in 1938, The Brave Little Tailor (a Mickey Mouse short produced in Technicolor) was released. Based upon the Grimm fairytale "The Valiant Little Tailor," it featured the work of animators Fred Moore, Bill Tytla, Les Clark, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston.
When a giant threatens a medieval European kingdom, its king mistakes tailor Mickey's (voiced by Walt Disney) boasting of killing seven flies with one blow ... to be giants! An embarrassed Mickey must fight the giant for real.
The Brave Little Tailor was the second to last Mickey Mouse cartoon to feature his original design. For his future appearances, Fred Moore would draw Mickey with smaller eyes that had pupils.
The short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject Cartoon ... but ironically lost to Disney's own Ferdinand the Bull.

Click HERE for more September 23 Disney history.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18: Mary's Official Debut

On this day in 2004, Cameron Mackintosh's stage production of Mary Poppins officially opened for a limited run at the Bristol Hippodrome in Bristol, England. Already in previews since September 15, the musical continued until November 6 when it moved to the Prince Edward Theatre in London the following December.
The show's origin can be traced back to 1993 when Cameron Mackintosh (a theatrical producer known for Cats and Phantom of the Opera) acquired the rights to develop a stage play adaptation of Pamela Travers' book Mary Poppins. It actually took a year for the ninety-plus-year-old Travers to give Mackintosh the green light. It would take another 8 years before Disney opened talks with Mackintosh on a possible collaboration. In this way, the stage production could use the familiar music (written by the Sherman Brothers) from the Disney film version. By 2003, a workshop of the show was already in the works with new music written by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe, as well as the Sherman Brothers' old favorites.
When Mary Poppins had its world premiere on this day in 2004, the cast included Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary and Gavin Lee as Bert. Following the success of the West End production (at the Prince Edward Theatre), a Broadway production debuted on November 26, 2006 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Broadway favorite Ashley Brown (known to Disney fans for her performance in On the Record and Beauty and the Beast) was brought in to play Mary and Gavin Lee revived his role as Bert.
Although the London production closed two years later in 2008, Broadway's Mary Poppins continues its run in New York City.

Click HERE for more September 18 Disney history.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17: Constitution Day

On this day in 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia for the last time to sign a document - known as the Constitution - they had created earlier.
The first constitution of the 13 United States was called the Articles of Confederation, which was ratified in 1781. In September 1786, representatives from five states met to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation. It was later realized that rather than amend the existing articles, a new document called the Constitution should be written.
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the U.S. Government and for the relationship of the Federal government to the States, to citizens, and to all people within the USA.
On September 17, 1787 the Constitution was completed. Among the 39 delegates who signed the document ... George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.
The next time you find yourself in Walt Disney World's Liberty Square looking at The Hall of Presidents building ... you'll know why the number 1787 appears over the entrance.

Click HERE for more September 17 Disney history.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16: An End & A New Beginning

On this day in 1963, one musical career ended while another just began. Composer/conductor Oliver Wallace passed away at the age of 76 in Los Angeles, the same day singer-songwriter Richard Marx was born outside of Chicago.
Oliver George Wallace was a British born musician best known for his film music
compositions - which included features by Walt Disney. First joining the Disney Studio in 1936, Wallace quickly became an important part of the animated shorts. Out of the 100 Disney shorts he wrote music for, his most memorable was the song "Der Fuehrer's Face" for the 1943 Donald Duck cartoon Der Fuehrer's Face (originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land). An anti-Nazi propaganda film for the American War effort, it later won an Academy Award. But before the film's release, Spike Jones and His City Slickers (famously known for their parodies of popular songs) released a version of Wallace's tune. It was such a big hit, that Disney changed the short's title from Donald Duck in Nutzi Land to match the song!
Other shorts that Wallace scored included Ben and Me, Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, and The Autograph Hound. In 1949, he composed the music for The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Wallace even voiced the character of the evil Mr Winkie in "The Wind in the Willows" segment of the feature.
Wallace also scored full-length animted features such as Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. He and fellow-composer Frank Churchill both won Oscars in 1942 for their work on Dumbo.
Wallace's credits weren't limited to just animated films as he also scored many of Disney's live-action features. His credits included Darby O'Gill and the Little People, Seal Island, Old Yeller, Tonka, and Big Red.
Overall Wallace contributed to about 150 Disney productions!
Richard Marx was born on this day in 1963 in Illinois to Ruth (a singer) & Dick Marx (a jazz musician and successful jingle writer). At the age of 5 Marx was already
singing on some of his dad's commercial spots!
Most music fans know Marx as an adult contemporary and pop/rock singer songwriter and record producer. He first came to be known through a string of hit singles during the 1980s and 1990s. His self-titled debut album in 1987, yielded 4 hit singles alone and sold nearly 4 million copies in the U.S.
What's his Disney connection? He wrote and produced "Remember When?" - the song used to celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary. Recorded by LeAnn Rimes, the song was also part of "Remember ... Dreams Come True" fireworks spectacular (held throughout the 18-month anniversary at Disneyland). The song was also included on "The Official Album of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary" and was used within a number of marketing vehicles (such as TV ads).
In 2006, another of his tunes "Through Your Eyes" appeared on the soundtrack release for Disney's Bambi II (a direct-to-video release). Martina McBride supplied the vocals.
Marx's connection with Disney doesn't stop there ... in 2009 he will perform at Epcot as part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Click HERE for more September 16 Disney history.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15: Hey Floyd!

In the early hours of this day in 1999, the parks at Walt Disney World still remained closed (from the prior afternoon) due to the threat of Hurricane Floyd.
Floyd had clobbered the Bahamas - including Disney's Castaway Cay - the day before (September 14). So powerful was the storm, that Disney sent its cruise ships to Cozumel instead of its private island. Meanwhile in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, residents braced for the worst and on the afternoon of the 14th WDW closed its doors at 2:00 PM. (The first time WDW ever closed its theme parks due to a storm.)
On the 15th of September, only essential Disney employees were asked to report and guests who were staying at Disney's campgrounds were moved to the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center.
Floyd was the sixth named storm, fourth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1999 Atlantic season. It hit the Bahamas at peak strength and then headed to the East Coast of the United States. The storm weakened significantly for Central Florida residents, allowing WDW to open just Animal Kingdom at noon (for resort guests only) later on this day in 1999.
For the next 3 days though other U.S. states were not so lucky ... as Floyd caused great damage from the eastern Carolinas all the way up north to New Jersey.

Click HERE for more September 15 Disney history.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14: Mickey's Revue

On this day in 1980, the Mickey Mouse Revue closed at the Fantasyland Theater in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
An indoor audio-animatronic show, it had first opened with the park back in October 1971. The attraction featured a concert orchestra led by conductor Mickey Mouse. He was surrounded by over 70 characters on stage including Minnie Mouse (playing violin), Goofy (on bass viola), Pluto (striking a cymbal) , Winnie the Pooh (on a kazoo), and Baloo (playing a flute). Songs included "When You Wish Upon A Star, " "So This Is Love," and "Whistle While You Work."
One of the initial attractions conceived by WED Enterprises (today known as Disney Imagineering), the Mickey Mouse Revue was also the first major attraction to leave WDW. The idea for the show actually started with Walt Disney himself years before construction on WDW even started.
The Mickey Mouse Revue was dismantled and shipped to Tokyo Disneyland, where it began running in 1983.

Click HERE for more September 14 Disney history.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 06: Creator of Bambi

On this day in 1869, Austrian writer Felix Salten was born Siegmund Salzmann in Budapest, Hungary. Disney fans may not recognize his name, but they surely know some of his most famous characters and stories.
Salten's career as a writer actually started when he wrote poems and short stories to relieve the boredom of his job as an insurance agent. His stories began to appear in newspapers and he soon found himself working full-time as a journalist. In 1900 he published his first collection of short stories - which later led to novels, essays, and travel books.
Salten's most famous work Bambi was published in 1926. The idea for the story came to him while vacationing in the Alps. He was charmed by the wildlife and based the name Bambi on the Italian word "bambino" - meaning baby. First published by the Zsolnay publishing company in Vienna, the original title was Bambi, ein Leben im Walde or Bambi, a Life in the Woods. In 1933, Salten sold the film rights to director Sidney Franklin who later transferred the rights to the Walt Disney Studios. Bambi, Disney's 5th animated feature, was released in August 1942. Salten saw the film himself for the first time at the European premiere in Zurich's Rex Movie Theater.
Among Salten's many stories were also Perri and The Hound of Florence. Disney released Perri as a True Life Fantasy in 1957. The film follows the life of a female squirrel named Perri who lives in a forest filled with danger. When she isn't fleeing her natural enemies, she finds time to fall in love. Directed by Paul Kenworhty and Ralph Wright (later the voice of Eeyore), it was nominated for an Oscar.
First published in 1930, Salten's The Hound of Florence became the inspiration for Disney's 1959 live-action comedy The Shaggy Dog. One of the top movies of that year, it told the story of a teenage boy who is transformed into a a sheep dog. The success of the film led to a sequel in 1976 called The Shaggy D.A. (The Shaggy Dog was also remade in 2006.)
Salten passed away at the age of 76 in 1945.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 01: The Burroughs-Disney Connection

On this day in 1875, writer Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for the 24 novels he wrote about his fictional character Tarzan - who was raised in the African jungle by apes.
Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1914. Four years later Tarzan was made into a live-action film (the first of over 80 through the year 2008). Burroughs wrote another 23 sequels making Tarzan one of the best-known literary characters in the world. But he always wanted his jungle creation to star in an animated feature. Burroughs went as far as writing Walt Disney about it after the success of Snow White.
Forty-nine years after the death of Burroughs, Walt Disney Feature Animation released Tarzan, the only animated version of the character ever made. Featuring music from Phil Collins, the film was such a huge hit that it was made into a live stage musical. Although a Broadway production of Tarzan of the Apes had been staged back in 1921, Disney's musical version opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2006. In attendance at the grand debut on May 10, 2006 was Danton Burroughs - grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs!
Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show which played at the Theatre in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom during the popularity of the animated film.
Tarzan of the Apes was also originally adapted into a newspaper strip in early 1929. His popularity led to appearances in many comic books over the years. In June 1977 Marvel Comics even published the first of what would be 28 issues about Tarzan.
But Tarzan isn't the only connection that Edgar Rice Burroughs has to Disney. Burroughs was also a pioneer of modern science fiction. He wrote about the world of Barsoom - a fictional representation of the planet Mars. Burroughs penned over 95 swashbuckling action adventures in various genres. The first novel A Princess of Mars in 1917 led to countless sequels over the next 3 decades. Burroughs frequently made up words for the language spoken by the characters in these science fiction stories. (The word "Barsoom" is the native Martian word for Mars.) He even compiled a glossary of these terms ... which leads us to Walt Disney. In 1957, Disney created an animated version of Burroughs' Martian Dictionary for the "Mars and Beyond" television episode!

Click HERE for more September 01 Disney History.