Friday, February 29, 2008

Feb 29: "Gawrsh!"

On this day in 2000, the direct-to-video animated film An Extremely Goofy Movie was released. The sequel to A Goofy Movie, it features the voice of Bill Farmer as everyone's favorite Disney dog. In this film, Max (Goofy's son voiced by Jason Marsden) sets off for his first year of college, thinking he is free of his father. But his freshman days are interrupted when Goofy shows up at the same college to get a degree!
The voice cast also includes Jim Cummings (as Peter Pete), Brad Garrett (as Tank), Vicki Lewis (as Beret Girl), and Pauly Shore (as Bobby). Bill Farmer has been the voice of Goofy since 1986.

Click HERE for more February 29 Disney history.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb 28: "Aflac!"

On this day in 1955, stand-up comedian/actor Gilbert Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, New York. Known for his distinctive squeaky, grating voice he has played numerous roles in film & TV (and is currently the voice of the duck in the AFLAC commercials).
Gottfried is best known to Disney fans as the voice of Iago the parrot from the 1992 animated feature Aladdin. Iago is Jafar's sarcastic foul-mouthed parrot. Like many Disney characters, Iago has made recurring appearances on Disney's House of Mouse and in the Kingdom Hearts series. Gottfried also supplies the voice of Iago for Walt Disney World's The Enchanted Tiki Room and Mickey's PhilharMagic.
His Disney voice credits also include an episode each of The Emperor's New School and Hercules. Gottfried has even shot an episode of Disney Channel's Hanna Montana in which he plays a harsh music critic (scheduled to debut March 21, 2008).

Click HERE for more February 28 Disney history.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feb 27: "And the Oscar goes to ..."

On this day in 1941, "When You Wish Upon a Star" won the Academy Award for Best Song. Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, it was introduced in Disney's animated Pinocchio where it was sung by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket! (Along with Paul J. Smith, Harline and Washington also received the Oscar for Best Original Score on this day.)
Lyricist Ned Washington was born in Pennsylvania in 1901. One of the most prolific of the Tin Pan Alley writers, he collaborated on several Broadway scores. In 1934, Washington moved to Hollywood where he first worked for MGM and then Disney by 1938. Eventually he began writing with many composers - one in particular being Leigh Harline.
Composer Harline was born in Utah in 1907. He majored in music at the University of Utah and by 1928 moved to California. Leigh first joined Disney in 1932 and wrote tunes for some 50 animated shorts before scoring Walt's first feature-length animated feature Snow White. It has often been reported that Walt didn't actually like the musical score to Pinocchio ... until it won 2 Oscars. Unfortunately this caused Harline to leave the Disney Studio and never work for Walt again. Ironically the tune has become the "theme" of Disney!
Pinocchio's most famous melody was later used in opening sequences of Disney's anthology TV series and in Walt Disney Picture's opening logos.
Even Disney's cruise line ships use the iconic first seven notes of "When You Wish Upon a Star" as their horn signals.
Some music experts believe the first seven notes of the tune are borrowed from Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune."
The American Film Institute has ranked "When You Wish" seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History.

Click HERE for more February 27 Disney history.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feb 26: Birth Of An American Hero

On this day in 1732, American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion was born at his family's plantation in South Carolina. First a lieutenant colonel in Continental Army and later a brigadier general in the South Carolina Militia, Marion was nicknamed "Swamp Fox" for his unique guerrilla tactics against the British.
His elusive and crafty exploits became the inspiration for a television mini-series produced by Walt Disney between 1959-1961. The Swamp Fox starred Leslie Nielsen as Francis Marion and aired as part of the Disney anthology series.
Francis Marion is today considered the father of modern guerrilla warfare.

Click HERE for more February 26 Disney history.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feb 25: She's So Unusually Disney

On this day in 2005 singer-actress Cyndi Lauper appeared on Disney Channel's That's So Raven. First introduced to the record-buying public in 1983 with her smash album She's So Unusual, Lauper played the role of Ms. Patuto on the debut of the Raven episode "Art Breaker."
Popularly known as a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, Lauper has also worked as an actress (she made her acting debut in the 1988 quirky comedy Vibes and appeared in 4 episodes of the hit TV series Mad About You).
Lauper's Disney connection doesn't stop with Raven, as her credits include Higglytown Heroes as Operator Hero and the animated feature Tarzan - in which her song "True Colors" was used.
In 2001, Lauper headlined the New Year's Eve entertainment lineup at Disney World's Pleasure Island, and in 2008 appeared alongside Miley Cyrus (a.k.a Hanna Montana) to present an award at the Grammys.

Click HERE for more February 25 Disney history.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feb 24: Hip Hip Poohray!

On this day in 1969, the animated Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subjects, Cartoons.
First released in December 1968 as a companion to the live-action The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, it was the second Pooh short produced by Disney. With music written by Richard and Robert Sherman, the voice cast included Sebastian Cabot (as the narrator), Sterling Holloway (as Pooh), John Fiedler (as Piglet), Paul Winchell (as Tigger), Clint Howard (as Roo), and John Walmsley (as Christopher Robin).
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day went on to win an Oscar the following April 14.

Click HERE for more February 24 Disney history.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feb 23: Final Curtain Call For Simba

On this day in 2002, Legend of the Lion King, a live Fantasyland show at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, played its final performance. Running since July 1994, the Kodak-sponsored show combined puppetry, film, and live-action to re-tell the story of Simba.
Held in a 500-seat theater (once home to The Mickey Mouse Revue and Magic Journeys) Legend of the Lion King featured key scenes from The Lion King animated movie - but were presented by fully articulated puppets. The 25-minute show featured eight different casts of ten people each that performed the show some 30 times a day. (Some of the puppets required multiple people to operate them.)
Legend of the Lion King was closed to make room for PhilharMagic (a 3D film attraction).

Click HERE for more February 23 Disney history.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feb 22: Connecticut's Finest

On this day in 2005, Christy Carlson Romano received the Connecticut's Finest Citizen Award in her hometown of Milford, Connecticut on "Christy Carlson Romano Day."
An actress, author, and singer, Romano is best known for her Disney Channel roles in the live-action sitcom Even Stevens and the animated series Kim Possible (in which she is the voice of the title character). In fact, she became the first person to act in three Disney Channel projects simultaneously when she also co-starred in the 2002 movie Cadet Kelley (with Hilary Duff).
As a singer she has recorded numerous songs for Disney movie & TV soundtracks (including Kim Possible). In February 2004, Romano began a 31-week run as Belle in Disney's Broadway hit Beauty and the Beast, and later that year released her own CD titled Christy Carlson Romano: Greatest Disney TV & Film Hits.

Click HERE for more February 22 Disney history.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feb 21: Club Disney

On this day in 1997, Club Disney (a regional child's play center) opened its first location in Thousand Oaks, California. Operated by Disney Regional Entertainment, Club Disney was described as an "imagination-powered playsite."
Four more Club Disney centers opened in Arizona and Colorado. But due to lack of financial success, they all were closed by November 1999.

Click HERE for more February 21 Disney history.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feb 20: Passing Of A Legend

On this day in 1985, voice actor Clarence Nash passed away at age 80 in California. Best known for providing the voice of Donald Duck, Nash also voiced Daisy Duck and Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Born in Oklahoma in 1904, Nash first made a name for himself in the late 1920s as an impressionist for radio show called The Merrymakers. In 1932 he and Walt Disney crossed paths and Nash was hired for a new short called The Wise Little Hen. The "hen" was of course Donald Duck and Nash went on to voice him for more than 50 years. Nash's distinct voice made Donald one of the most memorable and loved characters in the world.
Clarence "Ducky" Nash was inducted a Disney Legend in 1993.

Click HERE for more February 20 Disney history.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb 19: Slaughter On TV

On this day in 1960, the television series Walt Disney Presents aired the episode "Texas John Slaughter: Apache Friendship" on ABC.
The "Texas John Slaughter" episodes ran from 1958 to 1961 and starred actor Tom Tryon in the title role. The character was based upon an actual historical figure - John Slaughter - who was a lawman, Civil War soldier, cattleman, and gambler.
"Apache Friendship" was the 11th Slaughter episode.

Click HERE for more February 19 Disney history.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Feb 18: Pluto To The Rescue

On this day in 1933, the Disney short Mickey's Pal Pluto (distributed by United Artists) was released. Running just under 8 minutes, the black & white short was directed by Burt Gillett.
After rescuing some kitten from a river, Pluto realizes the cute felines are getting all of Mickey's attention. While Pluto's bad jealous side is revealed ... his true nature eventually shines through when one of the kittens accidentally falls down a well.
Mickey's Pal Pluto was later remade in color as Lend a Paw ... and won an Oscar!

Click HERE for more February 18 Disney history.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Feb 17: The Sounds of Disneyland

On this day in 1961, the television special The Bell Telephone Hour: The Sounds of America first aired on NBC. (The Bell Telephone Hour was a series that had been running since 1959.)
In this episode, a group of children visited Disneyland and traveled by train through Frontierland, by steamboat to hear Mark Twain tell stories, and walked down Main Street to hear a marching band (the Disneyland Band under the direction of Vesey Walker) and a barbershop quartet (the Dapper Dans).
Rehearsals and filming for the show were held at night and from sunrise to sunset on Mondays and Tuesdays (the times Disneyland was closed to the public) during November 1960. To shoot the program with the park filled with guests would have been short of impossible.

Click HERE for more February 17 Disney history.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feb 16: Happy B-Day Mr Baskett

On this day in 1904, actor James Baskett was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Best known for his portrayal of Uncle Remus in Disney's 1946 Song of the South, he was given an Honorary Academy Award in 1948 (for that very performance) - making Baskett the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar!
In his early days, Baskett supported himself as an actor by first moving from his hometown to Chicago and then to New York City in order to work with Bill Robinson (also known as Mr. Bojangles). As Jimmie Baskette he also appeared on Broadway with jazz-great Louie Armstrong in the 1929 musical revue Hot Chocolates.
By 1945, Baskett was now living in California and had appeared in a hand-full of feature films. That same year he auditioned for a bit part for Walt Disney's newest feature Song of the South. Disney was so impressed that Baskett was offered the lead role of Uncle Remus and the voice role of Brer Fox!
Unbelievably Baskett was unable to attend the premiere of Song of the South (at the Fox Theater) due to the fact that it was held in Atlanta, Georgia - at the time a racially segregated city in which he was banned from entering the theater itself!
Sadly Song of the South was Baskett's last performance as he passed away a few months after receiving his Oscar.

Click HERE for more February 16 Disney history.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feb 15: The Boy Who Still Never Grew Up

On this day in 2002, Return to Neverland, an animated feature produced by DisneyToons studio in Australia, was released to theaters. A sequel to Disney's 1953 Peter Pan, it was originally produced as a direct-to-video release (but wasn't actually released to DVD until November 2007).
The plot centers around Wendy Darling - who is now an adult and married with two children of her own. (The final chapter of James M. Barrie's Peter Pan briefly touches upon Wendy as a grown up.) Captain Hook mistakenly kidnaps Wendy's daughter Jane (thinking she is Wendy) in order to lure Peter Pan. Peter later rescues Jane and assumes she wants to follow in her mother's footsteps ... and so returns to Neverland.

Click HERE for more February 15 Disney history.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feb 14: Buon Compleanno!

On this day in 1913, Disney Legend Roberto de Leonardis was born in Naples, Italy.
Following in the footsteps of his father (an admiral in the Italian Navy), a young Roberto attended the Military Academy in Lovorno, Tuscany. He was shipped out to Asia during World War II and was later captured by the Japanese (after Italy's surrender to the Allies). As a prisoner of war, he was detained along with American GIs until the war's end in 1945. It was during that time he learned to speak English.
His English-speaking skills proved to be invaluable as in 1947 he was hired by Disney to translate its films for Italian audiences. His work included such classics as Bambi, Dumbo, and Pinocchio. By 1951, Roberto established his own dubbing company, Royfilm, which continued translating films for Disney (in addition to MGM, Paramount, and Universal).
Roberto passed away in 1984 and was inducted a Disney Legend in 1997.
Today his company Royfilm, now managed by his son Roy, continues the tradition by translating Disney television programs.

Click HERE for more February 14 Disney history ... and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb 13: Passing Of A Legend

On this day in 1976, veteran Disney animator John Lounsbery passed away at St. Joseph's Hospital (across from the Disney Studio) in California. At the time of his passing, he was still an employee - working on the next animated release The Rescuers.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1911, Lounsbery was raised in Colorado and eventually went to art school in Los Angeles. While attending the Art Center School of Design, one of his instructors suggested he go for an interview at the Disney Studio.
Lounsbery was hired by Disney as an assistant animator in December 1935. His first assignment was to assist Norm Ferguson with animating the Witch for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Lounsbery later worked on numerous shorts and features and became part of the elite group which Walt referred to as his "Nine Old Men." As an animation director, his credits include:
Dumbo, Song of the South, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book, and Robin Hood.

Click HERE for more February 13 Disney history.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feb 12: It's Nice Just To Be Nominated

On this day in 1951, Disney's 1950 animated feature Cinderella was nominated for 3 Academy Awards!
The nominations included:
Best Music, Original Song (for "Bibbidy-Bobbidi-Boo" written by Mack David, Al Hoffman & Jerry Livingston)
Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Oliver Wallace & Paul J. Smith)
Best Sound, Recording (Walt Disney Studio Sound Department)
Unfortunately when the 1950 Academy Awards were given out (on March 29, 1951), Disney was beat out in all three categories. The song "Mona Lisa" from the feature Captain Carey took home the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song. Adolph Deutsch and Roger Edens won Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture for their work on Annie Get Your Gun. Twentieth Century-Fox Studio Sound won Best Sound, Recording for their work on the feature All About Eve.

Click HERE for more February 12 Disney history.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Feb 11: Donald's Temper

On this day in 1938, Disney's Donald Duck short Self Control (written by Carl Barks) was released.
In this short, directed by Jack King, Donald attempts to control his temper after hearing musical philosopher Smiling Uncle Smiley on the radio. Smiley's advice for having self control ... "laugh and count to ten." This theory is soon tested when a rascally woodpecker begins to irritate Donald. As hard as he tries, Donald eventually blows his lid ... and destroys his radio!

Click HERE for more February 11 Disney history.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feb 10: CEO Birthday

On this day in 1951, Robert Iger the current CEO of The Walt Disney Company was born in Oceanside (on Long Island), New York.
After finishing his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College, Iger began his media career as a weatherman for a local TV station. By 1973, he was working for the American Broadcasting Company where he gradually rose through its ranks over the following decades. Iger served as president of the ABC Network Television Group from 1993 to 1994, and then was named president and chief operating officer of ABC's corporate parent, Capital Cities/ABC.
In 1996 Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC (and renamed it ABC, Inc.) and Iger remained president until 1999. In February of that year, Disney promoted him to president of Walt Disney International. Less than a year later, Iger was again promoted ... this time to president and chief operating officer. This made him the company's number two executive under then Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner.
For the next 5 years Iger served as Disney's number two man. But in March 2005 (after a year of public pressure from Roy E. Disney's campaign to oust Eisner) Disney announced that Iger would replace Eisner as CEO.

"The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation." - Robert Iger

Click HERE for more February 10 Disney history.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Feb 09: Romney Marsh ... Yeh, Yeh, Yeh!

On this day in 1964, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color aired part one of a 3-part series called "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh." Starring actor Patrick McGoohan as the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn, it was based on the series of novels by Russell Thorndike (first published in 1915).
Much of the series was filmed on Romney Marsh (a sparsely populated wetland in England) with Old Romney church doubling for Dymchurch (which Disney financed to have restored).
Unfortunately for Disney also airing on television the evening of February 9, 1964 ... the American debut of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Click HERE for more February 09 Disney history.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Feb 08: A Marvelous & Extraordinary Journey

On this day in 1828, French author Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France. Verne pioneered the science-fiction genre by writing about space, air and underwater travel ... before air & space travel and practical submarines were even invented!
The eldest of 5 children, Verne developed an interest in travel and exploration at an early age. His stories (written for children as well as for adults) influenced many - including Walt Disney. Verne often wrote in the form of a travel book in order to take his readers on a voyage upward (as in his 1865 From the Earth to the Moon) or downward (as described in his 1864 novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth).
Many of his best-known books such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and A Trip to the Moon were later made into movies.

Click HERE for more February 08 Disney history.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feb 07: Little Wooden Head

On this day in 1940, Disney's second animated feature Pinocchio was released. Based on the book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian author Carlo Collodi, the plot of the Disney film centered on a wooden puppet who is brought to life by a blue fairy.
Actually Disney's original idea for the story was to depict Pinocchio as a Charlie McCarthy-like wise guy who was rambunctious and sarcastic. But it was decided that the audience might not sympathize with such a character, so Pinocchio was redesigned into the puppet/boy we know today.
In Collodi's original tale, the Talking Cricket was a creature whom Pinocchio kills after it tries to give him advice! The cricket later came back as a ghost and continued to advise the wooden boy. In Disney's version the character was turned into Jiminy Cricket who acted as Pinocchio's conscience and was also partial narrator of the film.
Believe it or not, Pinocchio was not commercially successful when it was first released. Disney only recouped $1.9 million of the $2.3 million budget. World War II cutting off the European market was a major factor (although at the time of the release, the U.S. had not yet entered the conflict).
Nevertheless Pinocchio received positive reactions and today is considered by many to be the most technically perfect of all Disney animated features!

Click HERE for more February 07 Disney history.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Feb 06: Greetings Friends!

On this day in 1943, Disney's 6th full-length animated film Saludos Amigos (sponsored by Nelson Rockefeller's Inter-American Affairs) was released in the U.S. Released through RKO Pictures, the film had already premiered in August 1942 in Rio de Janeiro (making it the first Disney animated film to be shown in South America before its U.S. screening).
Set in Latin America, Saludos Amigos is broken up into 4 separate segments:
Lake Titicaca - American tourist Donald Duck visits the lake (which sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru) and meets some of the locals ... including an obstinate llama!
Pedro - the title character engages in his first flight to pick up air mail from Mendoza (a city in west Argentina) with near disastrous results.
El Gaucho Goofy - American cowboy Goofy is taken to the Argentine pampas (the fertile South American lowlands) to learn the ways of the native gaucho (a term commonly used to describe the residents of the South American pampas).
Aquarela do Brasil - Jose Carioca (making his debut) shows Donald Duck around South America and introduces him to the samba via the tunes "Brazil" and "Tico Tico" (which later became popular songs in the U.S.).
Various live-action clips of Walt and his artists (such as Mary Blair and Frank Thomas) roaming about South America are presented throughout the film as well.

Click HERE for more February 06 Disney history.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feb 05: "You Can Fly!"

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!

Click HERE for more February 05 Disney history.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Feb 04: "Oh, Stuff and Fluff!"

On this day in 1966, Disney's featurette Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was released to theaters (along with the Disney live-action film The Ugly Dachshund). Based on A.A. Milne's character, the 26-minute short was the only Pooh production (and the first) to be released while Walt Disney was still alive.
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree featured songs by the Sherman Brothers and background music by Buddy Baker. The voice cast included Sterling Holloway as Pooh, Sebastian Cabot as the narrator, Junius Matthews as Rabbit, and Bruce Reitherman as Christopher Robin. Bruce's dad Wolfgang (one of Walt's "Nine Old Men") directed the film. Owl was voiced by Hal Smith (best known to fans of The Andy Griffith Show as Otis) and Roo was voiced by Clint Howard (brother of Ron and star of the Gentle Ben TV series). Howard Morris supplied the voice for Gopher - a character introduced in the film, but not part of A.A. Milne's original tale. In fact, at one point in the film Gopher exclaims, "I'm not in the book, you know."

Click HERE for more February 04 Disney history.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Feb 03: 3 Caballeros

On this day in 1945, Disney's 7th animated feature The Three Caballeros was released in U.S. theaters. Distributed by RKO Pictures, it had already premiered the previous December in Mexico City.
Produced as part of the studio's goodwill message for South America, the film is a series of segments strung together with Donald Duck opening birthday gifts from his Latin American friends. Donald unwraps a 16mm projector and views:
The Cold-Blooded Penguin - featuring a South Pole penguin named Pablo who will do anything to find a warmer climate.
The Flying Gauchito - about a little boy from Uruguay and his donkey named Burrito.
Baia - a pop-up book trip through Salvador (the capital of the Brazilian state of Baia) with Donald Duck, José Carioca (the cigar-smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos), and Panchito (a Mexican rooster).
La Piñata - the trio and a group of Mexican children who celebrate Christmas by re-enacting the journey of Mary & Joseph.
Interspersed throughout the film is live-action footage of native dancing and Latin American songs.

Click HERE for more February 03 Disney history.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Feb 02: Disney's Broadway Plan

On this day in 1994, Disney announced plans to lease and restore the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Located at 214 West 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square, the New Amsterdam is right next door to the Disney Store.
The New Amsterdam was originally built in 1903. At that time, it was the largest theater in New York and could seat 1800. Over the years it housed a variety of plays and musicals (such as the Ziegfeld Follies and Othello). During the late 1930s it was turned into a movie theater and remained that way through the 1980s.
By the 1990s the Broadway venue was sadly in shambles but owned by the State and City of New York - who wished to return it to its original usage and grandeur. In 1993, Disney Theatrical Productions (the stage play and musical arm of the Walt Disney Company) signed a 99-year lease for the property.
After 6 years of restoration (and some $34 million dollars), the New Amsterdam reopened with a formal dedication on April 2, 1997. That same month, a staging of Alan Menken and Time Rice's King David christened the theater. Later that year, the beautifully restored venue became the first home for Disney's live musical hit The Lion King.
Since 2006, the New Amsterdam Theatre (one of the two oldest surviving Broadway venues) has been the home for Disney's Mary Poppins.

Click HERE for more February 02 Disney history.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Feb01: Hooray 4 Hollywood

On this day in 1989, Hollywood Pictures was created by Disney to help cope with the heavy load of movies that Touchstone Pictures (another of Disney's alternate movie divisions) was producing. Like Touchstone and Disney's Miramax Films, Hollywood Pictures produces films for a more mature adult audience.
Hollywood Pictures' first release was Arachnophobia (co-produced with Amblin Entertainment) in 1990. To date its most profitable film The Sixth Sense has grossed over $200 million.
There is even a section in Disney's California Adventure called Hollywood Pictures Backlot!

Click HERE for more February 01 Disney history.