Monday, December 31, 2007

Dec 31: Programmed for Laughs!

On this day in 1969, Disney's live-action comedy feature The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was released. Starring Kurt Russell, Alan Hewitt, Joe Flynn, and Cesar Romero, it was the first in a trilogy of films that used the setting of the fictitious Medfield College.
The film centers on college student Dexter Riley (played by Russell) and a computer that's been donated to the university by the A.J. Arno Company. The donation seems harmless until it is discovered that the company's namesake and founder (played by Romero) is really the head of a gambling ring. The computer given to Medfield is actually filled with illegal data which is put into Riley's head after receiving a huge shock while installing a new part in it. The information and logic capabilities are now in Riley's body!

Click HERE for more December 31 Disney history.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dec 30: Gallopin' Mickey

On this day in 1928, Disney's black & white Mickey Mouse short The Gallopin' Gaucho was released. Originally a silent film, this day's release featured synchronized sound!
The Gallopin' Gaucho was never released in its silent version due to a lack of interest in its predecessor Plane Crazy. But after Steamboat Willie's success, Disney added sound to Gaucho, making it the third Mickey short to be released (although the second short to be produced).
The Gallopin' Gaucho was a parody of the 1927 live-action feature The Gaucho - starring Douglas Fairbanks. Just like the original film, the events of the Mickey short took place in Argentina. Mickey meets Minnie in a cantina and the two perform a tango. When Pete (a very large cat-like creature) steals Minnie away, Mickey rides to the rescue on an emu.
But what makes this short unique is that Mickey Mouse is seen smoking ... and drinking a beer!

Click HERE for more December 30 Disney history.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dec 29: Born Happy

On this day in 1865, actor Otis Harlan was born in Zanesville, Ohio (located 50 miles east of Columbus). A veteran of vaudeville, live musicals, and early silent movies, Harlan provided the voice for the dwarf Happy in Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Described as a cherub pop-eyed character actor, he worked in films right up until his passing in January 1940.

Click HERE for more December 29 Disney history.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dec 28: A Different Race for Petty

On this day in 2005, it was announced that NASCAR veteran Kyle Petty (son of racing legend Richard Petty) would run in the 2006 Walt Disney Marathon.
Kyle (an avid runner) went on to run the marathon on January 8, 2006, to benefit his family's Victory Junction Gang - a charity serving children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses.
(Brazilian Adriano Bastos won the 13th annual Disney World event with a time of 2:19:44.)

Click HERE for more December 28 Disney history.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dec 27: Tarzan of the Apes

On this day in 2005, rehearsals for a new Disney Broadway musical called Tarzan began in Brooklyn, New York. Based upon the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Disney production featured the music of Phil Collins. (Collins had originally written 5 songs for the 1999 animated version - and added 9 new songs for this stage version.)
Tarzan went on to officially open at the Richard Rodgers Theater on May 10, 2006 and give some 486 performances before closing in July 2007.

Click HERE for more December 27 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dec 26: Today's Episode

On this day in 1956, the ABC-TV Disneyland series re-aired the episode "Searching For Nature's Mysteries." (The episode originally aired on September 26, 1956.)
The various techniques used for making up-close and detailed nature documentaries were described by narrator (and director) Winston Hibler. Highlights included a foray into a beehive, a visit to an ant colony, and a time-lapse-photography sequence of blossoming plant life.
This episode is included on the DVD The Walt Disney Legacy Collection Volume 4: Nature's Mysteries.

Click HERE for more December 26 Disney history.

Dec 25: Birth of a Screenwriter

On this day in 1924, Rodman Edward "Rod" Serling was born in Syracuse, New York. A screenwriter best known for his live television dramas, Serling created the classic TV series The Twilight Zone.
Although born in Syracuse, he was raised in Binghamton, New York and later served as a U.S. Army paratrooper and demolition specialist during World War II. His military experiences greatly affected his writing (and the rest of his life).
A year after graduating from college, Serling broke into television by writing scripts for such shows as Fireside Theater, Lux Video Theater, and Kraft Television Theater. Although he met with success, he was tired of seeing his scripts censored and decided to create his own show.
In 1959, Serling's The Twilight Zone debuted on CBS-TV. The original series ran for 5 seasons (and remains syndicated to this day). Described as an anthology series, each episode presented its own separate story - often involving characters who face unusual circumstances.
Serling served as head writer, executive producer and host (delivering on and off-screen monologues).
Disney's popular park attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is based upon The Twilight Zone series. A simulated freefall thrill ride, Disney Imagineers supposedly watched every episode of Serling's series at least twice to create the detailed attraction.

Click HERE for more December 25 Disney history.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dec 24: Verdi's Musical Drama

On this day in 1871, Aida (an opera in 4 acts) by Giuseppe Verdi was performed for the very first time. It debuted at the Khedivial Opera House (first opened in 1869) in Cairo, Egypt.
Verdi, an Italian romantic composer, was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. He was commissioned to write the opera for a performance in January 1871, but the premiere was delayed because of the Franco-Prussian War.
Aida met with great success & acclaim in 1871 and even today it appears as number 16 on Opera America's list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America!
Verdi's opera has been adapted for motion pictures and its music has been recorded many times over the years.
The story of Aida (not its music) was even used as the basis for a stage version produced by Disney's Hyperion Theatricals. New music was written for the show (which debuted in 1998) by Elton John and Tim Rice. Because of Disney's success, Aida has become popular among school and community theaters.

Click HERE for more December 24 Disney history.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dec 23: "The Mightiest Motion Picture Of Them All!"

On this day in 1954, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Disney motion picture starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre, was released. It is one of the most well-known adaptations of Jules Verne's classic novel.
Even today, it is considered by many the most mature Disney live-action production - due to its philosophical dialogue. The film was also the first time that major Hollywood stars appeared in a Disney production and the first time Disney shot a film in wide screen Cinemascope. Directed by Richard Fleischer, it was awarded two Oscars: one for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and another for Best Film Editing.

Click HERE for more December 23 Disney history.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dec 22: Passing of a Legend

On this day in 1995, writer, Imagineer & Disney Legend Bill Cottrell passed away in Burbank, California at age 88. Vice President of WDW Enterprises and president of Retlaw Co. (which became Walt Disney Imagineering), Cottrell was one of two employees who Walt originally sent around the U.S. to research amusement parks. Cottrell and Bill Martin visited places like Coney Island and Knott's Berry Farm to gather ideas for Disneyland.
Brother-in-law of Lilliian and Walt Disney, Cottrell's writing credits include Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and The Reluctant Dragon.

Click HERE for more December 22 Disney history.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dec 21: A Thousand Thrills

On this day in 1962, Disney's live-action feature In Search of the Castaways opened in theaters. Based on the novel by French writer Jules Verne, the film was directed by Robert Stevenson.
The film tells the story of a teenage brother and sister (played by Keith Hamshere & Hayley Mills) who are in search of their long-missing father (played by Jack Gwillim). They are aided by an old English Captain, his son, and a French scientist named Professor Jacques Paganel (played by Maurice Chevalier). Their search brings them to South America where they encounter every possible obstacle to their quest - including wild animals, fierce weather, and unfriendly natives!

Click HERE for more December 21 Disney history.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dec 20: Birth of a Mouseketeer

On this day in 1941, Tommy Cole (an original Mouseketeer) was born in Burbank, California. A singer & musician, Cole was one of two non-dancing Mouseketeers to survive the first season cut and become a regular member (mostly due to his great singing voice).
Although born in Burbank, he grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of La Canada. Cole started out playing the accordion in a western swing band. When the ensemble auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955 - he was the only one selected to join the cast.
As an adult, Cole became an award-winning make-up artist in Hollywood.

Click HERE for more December 20 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dec 19: Pollyanna's Originator

On this day in 1868, novelist Eleanor H. Porter was born in Littletown, New Hampshire. Disney fans will recognize her most famous works Pollyanna (1913) and Pollyanna Grows Up (1915). These stories brought Porter international fame as they were later adapted for the theater, television, and the big screen. Disney's 1960 film adaptation starred Hayley Mills in the title role.

Click HERE for more December 19 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dec 18: A Journey That Begins Where Everything Else Ends!

On this day in 1979, The Black Hole, a science-fiction movie directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions, premiered in London, England.
Referred to as Disney's answer to Star Wars, the film starred Maximilian Schell (as Dr. Hans Reinhardt), Robert Forster (as Captain Dan Holland), Ernest Borgnine (as Harry Booth), Anthony Perkins (as Dr. Alex Durant) and Roddy McDowall (as the voice of V.I.N. CENT the robot).
The Black Hole tells the story of the crew of the spaceship Palomino - who discovers the U.S.S. Cygnus, a lost ship hovering on the edge of an immense black hole. Once aboard, the crew learns that the ship is being run by robots and its only human inhabitant is Dr. Reinhardt - who has been missing for the last 20 years!
The Black Hole premiered 3 days later in U.S. theaters and was nominated for 2 Oscars.

Click HERE for more December 18 Disney history.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dec 17: Good Deed

On this day in 1932, the Disney short Mickey's Good Deed, directed by Burt Gillett, was released.
This cartoon finds Mickey & Pluto as homeless beggar musicians - trying to earn money to help out a poor family of cats on Christmas Eve. When they don't have much luck, Mickey decides to temporarily sell Pluto to a wealthy family. He uses the money to play Santa and surprise the feline family. Meanwhile poor Pluto is being driven crazy by the wealthy family's spoiled brat. In the end, Pluto is set free and reunited with Mickey for a merry Christmas.

Click HERE for more December 17 Disney history.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dec 16: Bluth's Masterpiece

On this day in 1978, Disney's Christmas-themed animated short The Small One was released (along with the re-release of the 1940 Pinocchio) to theaters. Based on the book by Charles Tazewell, The Small One was an experiment for the newer and younger animators - most notably Don Bluth (who directed the short).
It tells the story of a young Judean boy (voiced by Sean Marshall) who must part with his best friend - and old donkey named Small One. Although it makes the boy sad, the animal is sold to a kind man who needs a gentle donkey to carry his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem.

Click HERE for more December 16 Disney history.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dec 15: "The Ultimate Star Wars Adventure!"

On this day in 1989, Disney World's version of Star Tours officially opened at the Disney-MGM Park. It was the first attraction to open in the park's new back lot annex area. A simulator ride, it is based on the successful Star Wars franchise of movies (created by George Lucas).
Disney World's version was the third to debut - a Star Tours opened in Disneyland in January 1987 and then in Tokyo Disneyland in July 1989. (A fourth Star Tours later opened in Disneyland Paris in April 1992.) Designed by teams from both Disney and Geroge Lucas, each of the 40-seat flight simulators (the same ones used by the military to train pilots) features a thrilling video to enhance the experience.

Click HERE for more December 15 Disney history.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dec 14: A Holiday Treat

On this day in 1961, Disney's first live-action musical Technicolor feature Babes in Toyland was released.
Babes in Toyland
was originally an operetta composed by Victor Herbert with a libretto by Glen MacDonough. It wove together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a musical extravaganza. (You may recall Laurel & Hardy's 1934 big screen version also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers.)
Disney's version (directed by Jack Donohue) had a heavily revised plot, but featured much of Herbert's music with new lyrics. It starred Ray Bolger as Barnaby, Tommy Sands as Tom Piper, Annette Funicello as Mary Contrary, Ed Wynn as Toymaker, and Tommy Kirk as Grumio.
The film's music won a Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from Motion Picture or Television.

Click HERE for more December 14 Disney history.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dec 13: You'll beWITCHED ... You'll beDAZZLED!

On this day in 1971, Disney's feature Bedknobs and Broomsticks was generally released in U.S. theaters. A musical mixing live-action and animation, it was based upon the books The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks, by Mary Norton.
The film follows an apprentice witch named Eglantine Price (played by Angela Lansbury), three Cockney war orphans, and an illusionist conman (played by David Tomlinson) who travel on a magic bed across war-torn England and beyond, encountering various inhabitants of London, football-playing cartoon animals, and Nazi invaders.
The movie features the song "The Age of Not Believing" written by Robert and Richard Sherman.

Click HERE for more December 13 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dec 12: 1717 Disneyland Drive

On this day in 2000, the Disneyland Pacific Hotel reopened as Paradise Pier Hotel. The property was originally known as the Emerald Hotel in 1984 and was later called the Pan Pacific Hotel. Disney purchased it in December 1995 and changed its name to the Disneyland Pacific Hotel. On December 12, 2000, the hotel was reopened as Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel - to complement one of the themed lands in the adjacent Disney's California Adventure Park.

Click HERE for more December 12 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dec 11: Bah Humbug

On this day in 1992, The Muppet Christmas Carol, the fourth feature film to star The Muppets was released. Distributed & produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it was based on the classic holiday story by Charles Dickens.
It was also the first Muppet movie in which the story revolved around characters played by human beings - specifically, Ebenezer Scrooge played by veteran actor Michael Caine. The rest of the cast consisted of mostly Muppets - the character of Bob Cratchit was played by Kermit the Frog!
The Muppet Christmas Carol was dedicated to the memory of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, two original Muppet performers, who died before the film's release.

Click HERE for more December 11 Disney history.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dec 10: Simulation Sickness

On this day in 2003, motion-sickness bags were first placed in the capsules of Epcot's thrill ride Mission: SPACE. It was the first time Disney World (or any theme park in history) made motion-sickness bags available on any of its attractions! Motion sickness is a condition in which a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system's sense of movement.
Although fans do blow air gently at riders of Mission: SPACE to help avoid motion sickness (and a magnified display in front of each rider simulates a window to space with high-resolution computer-generated imagery) some guests still feel queasy.
In May 2006, Disney began offering a less intense version of Mission: SPACE (called Green Team, or Half-Throttle), where the centrifuge does not spin, thus eliminating the forces of lateral acceleration ... and hopefully the need for motion-sickness bags.

Click HERE for more December 10 history.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dec 09: House Full of Cats

On this day in 1931, Disney's Christmas-themed short Mickey's Orphans was released. In this 7-minute cartoon, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are celebrating the holiday when a bunch of orphan kittens are left on their doorstep in a basket. Although they are overwhelmed with the felines, Mickey & Minnie attempt to throw them a Christmas party.
Directed by Burt Gillett, the short features the voices of Walt Disney (as Mickey) and Marcellite Garner (as Minnie). It is the first Mickey short to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Click HERE for more December 09 history.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dec 08: Toon Time

On this day in 1997, Disney announced plans to launch a new 24-hour cable channel called Toon Disney. The network debuted on April 18, 1998 (ironically the same day as Disney Channel's 15th anniversary) and featured mostly older Disney cartoons.
Today Toon Disney features a wide variety of new animated programs and even some live-action shows.

Click HERE for more December 08 Disney history.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dec 07: 24/7

On this day in 1986, The Disney Channel began broadcasting 24 hours a day. When the network first debuted in 1983, it only aired 18 hours a day (from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.). In 1997, the network took on a revamped look and dropped the "The" in its name and simply became Disney Channel.
The network, which is based in Burbank, California, is slated to begin broadcasting in High-definition sometime in early 2008.

Click HERE for more December 07 Disney history.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dec 06: Birth Dates Galore

December 6 is a popular birth date in Disney history.
-On this day in 1903, Walt's only sister Ruth (the youngest of all the children of Flora & Elias Disney) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She later married Theodore Beecher and lived in Oregon, where she became an expert of organs and organ music.
-In 1915, artist Delmer J. Yoakum was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. He was responsible for painting the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Diorama scenery at Disneyland.
-On this day in 1920, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck was born in Concord, California. Best known for his song "Take Five," he released an album of Disney songs titled Dave Digs Disney in 1957.
-In 1924, actor Wally Cox was born in Detroit, Michigan. Best remembered as the original voice of Underdog, he appeared in the Disney live-action features The Barefoot Executive and The Boatniks.
-On this day in 1953, actor Tom Hulce was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Best known for his Academy Award-nominated role of Mozart in Amadeus, Hulce is also the voice of Quasimodo in Disney's animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
-In 1977, Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley was born in Lakeland, Florida. She appeared on Disney Channel's The All New Mickey Mouse Club.
Happy Birthday to all.

Click HERE for more December 06 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dec 05: Proclamation 5585

On this day in 1986, U.S. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed December 5, 1986 as Walt Disney Recognition Day. Proclamation 5585 was filed with the Office of the Federal Register at 2:08 pm on this day (the anniversary of Walt's birth). It was a fitting tribute, as Reagan (then an actor & a friend of Walt's) had helped co-host Disneyland's grand opening in 1955.
"I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 5, 1986, as Walt Disney Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this very special day in the spirit in which Walt Disney entertained young and older Americans."

Click HERE for more December 05 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dec 04: Blast Off

On this day in 1957, the Disneyland television series aired the one-hour episode "Mars and Beyond." Directed by Ward Kimball and narrated by Paul Frees, it discussed the possibility of life on other planets - especially Mars. It was the third installment of an influential Disney series about space exploration.
Walt Disney himself opened the show with a robot named Garco, who provided a brief overview of the episode. Even ideas from science-fiction authors H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs were brought to life with colorful animation. Pulp science fiction comics of the time were parodied including a segment featuring Kimball's comic tone and a cameo appearance by Donald Duck! Then the episode took a serious tone as it profiled each of the planets in the solar system, from the perspective of what would happen to a human on them. The program wrapped up with what a trip to Mars would entail for a space crew and its vessels.
"Mars and Beyond," and the first two episodes "Man in Space" and "Man in the Moon" were all released on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures - Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond in 2004.

Click HERE for more December 04 Disney history.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dec 03: Mickey's Fine Flippered Friend

On this day in 1948, a baby seal created happy havoc for Mickey & Pluto in the release of Mickey and the Seal. Directed by Charles A. Nichols, this short finds Mickey at the zoo - where he befriends a baby seal. Mickey unsuspectingly goes home with his new friend ... which makes Pluto jealous!
Nominated for an Oscar, Mickey and the Seal features the voices of Pinto Colvig (as Pluto) and James Macdonald (as Mickey).

Click HERE for more Dec 03 Disney history.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dec 02: The PURR-fect crime

On this day in 1965, Disney's live-action comedy feature That Darn Cat! was released. Directed by Robert Stevenson, it was based on a book called Undercover Cat. In the film, a mischievous cat, whose collar is evidence of a woman's kidnapping, is used by the FBI to track down a pair of bumbling criminals. Amusingly, the agent they send ... is allergic to cats!
That Darn Cat! starred Hayley Mills (her last role for the studio after six years), Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, Roddy McDowall, Elsa Lanchester, Frank Gorshin, and Ed Wynn. The title song was written by The Sherman Brothers and sung by Bobby Darin.
A remake of That Darn Cat! was later released by Disney in 1997.

Click HERE for more December 2 Disney history.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dec 01: Interstate 4

On this day in 1958, construction began on Florida's Interstate 4. Also known as I-4 (currently the lowest-numbered Interstate Highway in the contiguous 48 U.S. states) the road is used by travelers destined for Walt Disney World and other Central Florida tourist sites.
Today the Florida road stretches from Interstate 275 in Tampa to Interstate 95 at Daytona Beach. It maintains a diagonal, northeast-southwest route for its entire length of 134 miles.
I-4 was one of the first Interstate Highways to be constructed in Florida. The first section opened between Plant City and Lakeland in 1959. By 1961, the Lakeland to Orlando segment was completed. The final link of the road was laid out by 1965.

Click HERE for more December 01 Disney history.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nov 30: One Man's Presence

On this day in 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens - better known as Mark Twain - was born in Missouri. Twain was a writer, lecturer, reporter, humorist, editor, printer, and prospector, and his influence on Walt Disney himself, his parks and his films is immeasurable.
His most noted novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are obviously responsible for such park attractions as Tom Sawyer Island and the Mark Twain Riverboat (which both originated in Disneyland).
Twain's first attempt at fiction The Prince and the Pauper was adapted by Disney into a 24-minute short film starring Mickey Mouse.
His 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was re-adapted into the Disney feature film A Kid in King Arthur's Court and inspired Disney's Unidentified Flying Oddball and The Spaceman and King Arthur.
Even The American Adventure attraction at Epcot features a life-like figure of Twain (along with Ben Franklin).
Perhaps even Walt himself (who was a huge fan of Twain's writing) was thinking of the following Twain quote when first planning Disney World:
"Buy land, they're not making it anymore."

Click HERE for more November 30 Disney history.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nov 29: Anything is Possible

On this day in 2005, Disney announced it was renewing the Disney Channel animated series Kim Possible for a fourth season. Although the show had officially ended production in February 2005, after 3 seasons and 65 episodes, a grassroots operation by dedicated fans changed that. (Disney usually follows a strict 65 episode policy.)
Kim Possible, about a teenage crime fighter who has the task of dealing with worldwide, family, and school issues every day, was created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley. Supposedly they created the show in an elevator when McCorkle looked at Schooley and said, "Kim Possible: she can do anything." Schooley then replied, "Her partner is Ron Stoppable: he can't do anything."
The series, which first premiered in June 2002, finally did come to an end on September 7, 2007.

Click HERE for more November 29 Disney history.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nov 28: An American Classic

On this day in 1859, author Washington Irving passed away at age 76 in New York on the eve of the American Civil War. (Ironically Irving was born at the end of the Revolutionary War on April 3, 1783. His parents, Scottish-English immigrants, were great admirers of General George Washington, and named their son after their hero.)
Best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," Irving was also a prolific essayist, biographer, columnist, and historian.
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," in which a schoolmaster named Ichabold Crane meets with a headless horseman, was written while he was living in Birmingham, England - although the story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York. First published in 1820, it is among the earliest American fiction still read today! In fact, Irving has been called the father of the American short story.
Walt Disney Productions brought Irving's famous tale to the big screen in October 1949 with the animated "package" feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman was narrated by the legendary Bing Crosby.
Washington Irving is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Click HERE for more November 28 Disney history.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nov 27: Find Your Place In The Universe

On this day in 2002, Disney's 42nd animated feature Treasure Planet was released in the U.S. A futuristic twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel Treasure Island, Treasure Planet follows restless teen Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on a sci-fi journey across the universe as cabin boy aboard a majestic space galleon.
The overall look of Treasure Planet was based on the art style promoted by illustrators associated with the Brandywine School of Illustration. This style has been described as being the "classic storybook illustration." The animators used a computer animation technique called "Deep Canvas" (alongside the traditionally-drawn characters) in order to achieve a painted image with depth perception. This enabled the crew to place the camera anywhere in the set and maneuver it as they would maneuver a camera for a live-action film!
The film was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (the team that wrote & directed The Little Mermaid), and featured music by John Rzeznik (of the Goo Goo Dolls).

Click HERE for more November 27 Disney history.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nov 26: Catch It If You Can!

On this day in 1997, Disney's live-action feature Flubber, starring Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, and Jodi Benson (best known as the voice of Ariel - The Little Mermaid) was released. It was a remake of Disney's 1961 The Absent-Minded Professor.
In this film, Williams plays Philip Brainard a professor at Medfield College who invents a green rubber-like bouncy substance as a new form of energy ... which he calls Flubber. It is eventually used to help the school basketball team win.
There is actually no Medfield College - so the production was partially filmed on the campus of San José State University (in California). It is rumored that Walt Disney himself used to vacation in Medfield, Massachusetts, and used this name in the original film on which Flubber is based.

Click HERE for more November 26 history.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nov 25: On With The Show!

On this day in 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club Circus opened at Disneyland. The live show was the first major addition to the Anaheim park since its July 1955 debut. The attraction featured the actual Mouseketeers from the television series The Mickey Mouse Club (which had wrapped up in early November).
The Mickey Mouse Club Circus consisted of two 75-minute performances each day. Ted Wayne (whose acrobatic troupe had performed on The Mickey Mouse Club) coordinated the circus along with Hal Adelquist (a long-time Disney employee who had worked in production).
The Circus featured Jimmie Dodd as the Ringmaster, Roy Williams as the Strongman, and Bob Amsberry as Bob-O the Clown.
Unfortunately the show wasn't the success that Walt had hoped it would be, and the attraction closed in January 1956 - mostly due to poor attendance.

Click HERE for more November 25 Disney history.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nov 24: Happy B-day Carlo

On this day in 1826, Italian author and journalist Carlo Collodi, best known as the creator of Pinocchio, was born Carlo Lorenzini in Florence, Tuscany. The first of 10 children, he was the son of Domenico Lorenzini, a cook, and Angela Orzali, a servant.
Collodi tried his hand at journalism and the theater, but ultimately found success writing children's books, including Racconti delle fate (1875), Giannettino (1876), and Storie allegre (1887). But he is best known for Le avventure di Pinocchio or The Adventures of Pinocchio which first appeared in book form in February 1883.
Children's literature was a new idea in Collodi's time, an innovation in 19th century Italy (and elsewhere). Collodi, who died in 1890, was respected during his lifetime as a talented writer and social commentator, but his fame did not begin to grow until after Pinocchio was translated into English, for the first time in 1892.
Walt Disney brought Pinocchio to the big screen in 1940.

Click HERE for more November 24 Disney history.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Nov 23: No Smoking!

On this day in 1951, Disney released the Goofy short No Smoking featuring the voice of Pinto Colvig. The 6-minute cartoon (directed by Jack Kinney) was another "Goofy the Everyman" shorts of the 1950s.
No Smoking
begins by tracing the brief history of smoking - including how Christopher Columbus brought tobacco to Europe from the Native Americans - and then proceeds into a segment starring Goofy - known as "George" in this cartoon, who tries unsuccessfully to quit smoking. Goofy is seen smoking a cigarette from "Phyllis Morrison," a parody of Phillip Morris (one of the world's largest tobacco companies).
No Smoking, because of its content, was originally banned from TV broadcasts, but it did finally make it to DVD as part of the Walt Disney Treasures line.

Click HERE for more November 23 Disney history.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nov 22: Farewell Mr. Holloway

On this day in 1992, Disney Legend Sterling Holloway passed away at age 87 in Los Angeles, California. Best known as the original voice of Winnie the Pooh, Holloway's unique voice can also be heard in such classics as Dumbo (as Mr. Stork), Bambi (as the adult Flower), The Three Caballeros (as the narrator of the Antarctic penguin sequence), Make Mine Music (as the narrator of the Peter and the Wolf sequence), Alice in Wonderland (as the Cheshire Cat), and The Jungle Book (as Kaa).
Also known as the voice of the original Cheerios Honey-Nut Bee, Holloway's final voice acting credit
was narrating an episode of TV's Moonlighting.

Click HERE for more November 22 Disney history & Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nov 21: Travels in Time at the Magic Kingdom

On this day in 1994, The Timekeeper attraction opened at Florida's Magic Kingdom. A Circle-Vision 360 film, it had already opened in Disneyland Paris (in 1992) and Tokyo Disneyland (in 1993) before debuting in Disney World's Tomorrowland. Unlike previous Circle-Vision films, it was the first show that featured an actual plot and not just scenes of landscapes, and the first to utilize Audio-Animatronics.
The Timekeeper featured a pre-show where guests were introduced to the inventor of the show "9-Eye" (voiced by actress Rhea Perlman). She was the latest development from The Timekeeper, the zany keeper of the time machine (voiced by comic-actor Robin Williams). Guests then entered the theater, originally known as "Transportarium," to meet up with Jules Verne (author and considered by many to be the father of sci-fi) and begin their 20-minute travel through time.
Unfortunately after being placed on a seasonal schedule in April 2001, The Timekeeper ultimately closed in 2006. By that time its sister attractions in Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland had also closed.

Click Here for more November 21 Disney history.

Nov 20: Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian

On this day in 1948, actor Samuel E. Wright, best known to Disney fans as the voice of Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid (and countless Mermaid spin-offs), is born in Camden, South Carolina. Wright was also the original lead actor for Mufasa in the Broadway version of The Lion King and supplied the voice for Kron in Disney's Dinosaur.

Click HERE for more November 20 Disney history.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nov 19: Wilbur!

On this day in 1919, actor Alan Young was born Angus Young in Northern England. Best known to TV fans as Wilbur Post on the classic 1960s series Mr. Ed, Young is the voice of Disney's Uncle Scrooge McDuck! He can be heard in such features as Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas, Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas, and various TV episodes of House of Mouse & Duck Tales. Young also voiced Hiram Flaversham in the animated The Great Mouse Detective and appeared as Dr. Wenger in the live-action The Cat from Outer Space. (Sci-fi fans may recall him for his role in the 1960 feature The Time Machine.)

Click HERE for more November 19 Disney history.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nov 18: Happy B-day MM

On this day in 1928, Disney's Mickey Mouse short Steamboat Willie was released. It would become the first commercially successful animated cartoon with synchronized sound to attract widespread public notoriety (but not the first ever sound cartoon). The short would also establish November 18 as Mickey Mouse's birthday (according to Disney) even though Steamboat Willie is not the debut of Mickey on the big screen. (Not to confuse matters - but Steamboat is the 3rd Mickey short to ever be produced.)
Written and directed by Walt and Ub Iwerks, the short debuted ahead of the feature Gang War at the Colony Theater in New York City.
In this 7-minute classic, Mickey serves as the pilot of Steamboat Willie under Captain Pete (a longtime Disney villain). He is first seen piloting the steamboat while whistling, suggesting he himself is the captain - to the disgust of Pete who throws Mickey off the bridge and takes over. They soon have to stop for cargo, but almost as soon as they set off again, the as-of-then unnamed Minnie Mouse arrives, too late to board. Mickey manages to pick her up from the river shore, just as she drops her sheet music for the popular folk song "Turkey in the Straw" ... which is eaten by a goat. Mickey and Minnie use the goat's tail as a phonograph, which plays the tune. Mickey also uses various other animals as musical instruments, which disturbs Captain Pete, who puts him back to work. Mickey is reduced to peeling potatoes for the rest of the trip. A parrot attempts to make fun of him, but Mickey uncharacteristically strikes him with a potato, knocking him into the river. The short ends with Mickey laughing at the drowning bird (which is unusual for the fun-loving mouse).
Steamboat Willie has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Click HERE for more November 18 Disney history.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov 17: Birth of an "Old Man"

On this day in 1907, animator Les Clark the first of Disney's "Nine Old Men" to be hired, was born Leslie James Clark in Ogden, Utah. (Disney's "Nine Old Men" were a core group of animators who created the studio's most famous work.)
Supposedly it all started when Walt Disney complimented a teenage Clark on the lettering he made for the menus on the mirrors of the candy/ice cream shop he worked at. Two years later in 1927, about to graduate from high school, Clark got up the nerve to ask Mr. Disney for a job. "Bring some of your drawings in and let's see what they look like," was Walt's response.
Walt must have liked what he saw because only 4 days after graduating from high school Les began working at Disney's Hyperion studio! Walt warned Clark that "it might just be a temporary job." Well, by the time he retired, Les Clark was a senior animator and director, and the "longest continuously employed member of Walt Disney Productions" - he began with Disney on February 23, 1927 and retired on September 30, 1975!
Clark's large body of work includes early Alice Comedies, Steamboat Willie, The Skeleton Dance, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, So Dear to My Heart, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and TV's Mickey Mouse Disco.
Les Clark was named a Disney Legend in 1989.

Click HERE for more November 17 Disney history.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nov 16: Walt & "Mister Disney"

On this day in 1965, Walt Disney and Joe Potter (an engineering and logistical planning genius) visited the Walt Disney World site in Florida. This visit came the day after the big Florida news conference that confirmed Disney was indeed building a vacation kingdom near Orlando.
Potter, who would become known to many as "Mister Disney" for his liaison work between the park and surrounding communities during the 1960s and 1970s, was a retired U.S. Army major general when Walt first recruited him to oversee the early construction of the park. Potter's job was to transform 300 acres of land into the Magic Kingdom - while preserving the area's ecology and beauty. Walt was confident in Potter's ability, as he had served as Governor of the Panama Canal Zone - governing a community of over 40,000 people!
Potter oversaw construction of Disney World's entire infrastructure, including underground sewer, power and water treatment plants that were considered revolutionary at the time. He also developed drainage canals for the entire property, which came to be known as "Joe's ditches."
Ironically Joe Potter passed away in 1988 on December 5 ... the birth date of his famous boss.

Click HERE for more November 16 Disney history.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nov 15: Hello CAPS!

On this day in 1989, Disney's 28th animated feature The Little Mermaid was released in Los Angeles and New York City. It was the first Disney animated feature in three decades to be based on a classic fairy tale (the last being Sleepy Beauty). The Little Mermaid was also the first animated feature to be produced using the Computer Animation Production System (or CAPS for short). CAPS was a collection of software programs, scanning camera systems, servers, networked computer workstations, and custom desks developed by Disney and Pixar. It was the first digital ink-and-paint system used in animated feature films - designed to replace the expensive process of transferring animated drawings to cels. The very first usage of the CAPS process was Mickey standing on the Epcot Sphere for "The Magical World of Disney" titles. But the system's first feature film use was in The Little Mermaid. Most notably in the final scene, where the main characters depart under a rainbow - the rest of the film used traditional painted cels. (Subsequent films like The Rescuers Down Under used CAPS completely.) In 1992, the team that developed CAPS won an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Engineering Award.

Click HERE for more November 15 Disney history.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nov 14: Making a Spectacle at Disney-MGM

On this day in 2005, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights returned to Disney-MGM Studios in Florida for the 2005 holiday season. A Disney World tradition since 1995, the Spectacle of Lights can be traced back to Little Rock, Arkansas.
The idea was born at the Little Rock home of the Osborne family back in 1986. That year Jennings Osborne, a prominent and successful businessman, strung a simple string of 1,00 red lights at the request of his 6-year-old daughter, nicknamed Breezy. Every Christmas season Jennings strung a few more lights and by 1993 his display grew to 3 million - which could be seen from as far away as 80 miles! Unfortunately for Jennings his neighbors weren't happy with the traffic his spectacle drew.
Soon after his light display was shut down, he was contacted by Disney World to bring his lights to Florida. Since 1995 the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights has become one of Disney-MGM's favorite annual attractions.

For more November 14 Disney history, click HERE.

Nov 13: A King Comes to Broadway

On this day in 1997, Disney's Broadway musical The Lion King (based on the 1994 hit animated feature) had its official debut at the New Amsterdam Theater. Having had its world premiere in Minneapolis in July 1997, the New York City version now performs at Broadway's Minskoff Theater (as of June 2006).
The opening night cast included: Kevin Cahoon as Ed, Max Casella as Timon, Tracy Nicole Chapman as Shenzi, Heather Headley as Nala, Geoff Hoyle as Zazu, Scott Irby-Ranniar as Young Simba, Tsidii Le Loka as Rafiki, Stanley Wayne Mathis as Banzai, Jason Raize as Simba, Tom Alan Robbins as Pumbaa, Kajuana Shuford as Young Nala, John Vickery as Scar, and Samuel E Wright as Mufasa.
The stage version incorporated several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the animated film. The mandrill Rafiki's gender was changed to a female role, because there wasn't a leading female character in the film. Several new scenes were added, including a conversation between Mufasa and Zazu about whether Mufasa is raising Simba correctly, and a perilous scene where Timon finds himself nearly drowning in a waterfall while Simba feels powerless to help him.
In 1998 The Lion King won a Tony Award for Best Musical and several Drama Desk Awards.

Discover more Disney history for November 13 HERE.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nov 12: The Firehouse Five Plus Two "Rocks" Disneyland

On this day in 1962, The Firehouse Five Plus Two, a Dixieland jazz band made up of Disney Studio employees and led by animator Ward Kimball, performed at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon.
The roots of the group can be traced back to the 1940s when some of the Studio's employees would gather in Kimball's office at lunchtime to listen to jazz records. When it was discovered that many of Walt's animators & writers played musical instruments the idea of a band was born. The group at first consisted of Danny Alguire on cornet, Harper Goff on banjo, Ward Kimball on trombone, Clarke Mallery on clarinet, Monte Mountjoy on drums, Ed Penner on tuba, and Frank Thomas on piano. Originally known as the Huggajeedy Eight, the guys were asked to play parties and dances.
But when the band was asked by the local Horseless Carriage Club to play for its auto tour to San Diego, Kimball quickly found and restored a 1914 fire truck and with the group now uniformed as firemen, changed the name to the Firehouse Five Plus Two. (The "Plus Two" was added so that people who hired the group would know that they were getting seven musicians!) By May 1949 the band was recording its first album (thanks to a Paramount Studio film writer and jazz fan). Throughout the 1950s they played concerts, dances, weddings and even appeared on national TV programs! Eventually other Disney artists such as George Probert, Dick Roberts, Ralph Ball and George Bruns took part in the group as well.
The Firehouse Five Plus Two continued to perform and record their brand of fun and raucous Dixieland until the group's retirement in 1971.

Discover more November 12 Disney history HERE.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nov 11: The Snow White Deadline

On this day in 1937, the final animation for Disney's first full-length animated feature Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs was completed. Working around-the-clock, Walt and his staff just barely met their deadline of Christmas 1937. After nearly four years of painstaking work, two million drawings and a record shattering $1.5 million budget, Disney's masterpiece was ready for a December 21 unveiling. An adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Snow White is generally considered to be Disney's most significant achievement.

Discover more November 11 Disney history HERE.
Remember ... in the U.S. November 11 is Veteran's Day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Nov 10: Disney's First Musical Director

Carl W. Stalling, composer & arranger for cartoons, was born November 10, 1891. Born in Lexington, Missouri, Stalling first started playing piano at age six. Some fifteen years later he found himself conducting his own orchestra & improvising on organ at the Isis Movie Theater in Kansas City. It was at this time he befriended a young Walt Disney who was producing animated comedy shorts in Kansas City. Stalling was hired as Walt's very first musical director and worked on such early Mickey shorts as Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Goucho. He only stayed at Disney for 2 years (which included scoring the Silly Symphonies series). Stalling pioneered the use of "bar sheets" which allowed the musical rhythms to be sketched out simultaneously with the storyboard for the animation! He left Disney and eventually wound up with Warner Bros. where he remained until his retirement in 1958. If you've seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon ... you more than likely have heard the work of Carl Stalling!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nov 9: On The Record

On this day in 2004, Disney launched a new musical production called On The Record in Cleveland, Ohio. A "jukebox musical," this stage show contained no dialogue - just 4 soloists in a magical recording studio singing 75 years of Disney classics. It featured Ashley Brown (who went on to dazzle Broadway audiences as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Mary in Mary Poppins) as Kristen. On The Record toured for nine months visiting 24 U.S. cities.

For more November 9 Disney history, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Nov 8: Robin Hood and his MERRY MENagerie!

On November 8, 1973 Disney's animated Robin Hood was first released in the U.S. The 21st animated feature, it was the first to begin production after Walt Disney's death (although some elements were taken from an earlier abandoned production). As the film was made during Disney's financial slump, the artists reused footage from previous animated features.

Nov 7: Groovy Marsha!

On this day in 1972 actor Christopher Daniel Barnes was born in Portland, Maine. His best-known Disney role is the voice of Prince Eric in the 1989 animated feature The Little Mermaid (which he reprised in the Square Enix/Disney video game Kingdom Hearts II). Barnes was only 16 years old when he first provided the voice but the producers cast him because his voice sounded much older! He also provided the voice for Cinderella’s Prince Charming in Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. You may know Barnes as Greg Brady from the Brady Bunch parody movies!

More November 7 Disney History HERE.

Nov 6: Dr Smith Celebrates a B-day

Born on this day in The Bronx, New York in 1914 … stage and character actor Jonathan Harris! Best known as the comic villain Dr. Zachary Smith, in the popular 1960s sci-fi series Lost in Space, Harris supplied the voices of Manny in A Bug’s Life and Geri the Cleaner in Toy Story 2. (Lost in Space also starred Guy Williams - Disney’s Zorro!) Harris also appeared in two 1961 episodes of The Twilight Zone. Harris once said of his characteristic accent: “I’m not British, just affected.”

Click HERE for more November 6 Disney history.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nov 5: It's "Incredible"

On this day in 2004, the Disney/Pixar animated feature The Incredibles opened in U.S. theaters. Pixar’s sixth feature film (presented by Walt Disney Pictures) centered around a family of superheroes. It was written and directed by Brad Bird, known for directing TV’s The Simpsons and the 1999 animated movie The Iron Giant. (He later went on to direct Ratatouille.) The Incredibles was originally developed as a traditionally-animated movie for Warner Bros., but after Warner shut down its animation division … Bird moved to Pixar and took the story with him!

Discover more Disney history for November 5 HERE.