Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27: Playing Among The Stars

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

Click HERE for more May 27 Disney history.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18: Pluto's Utopia

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

Click HERE for more May 18 Disney history.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 10: A New Musical Revue

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

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

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

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

Click HERE for more May 10 Disney history.

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 09: Birth of Barrie

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE for more May 9 Disney history.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May 05: Birth of "Cinderella"

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

Click HERE for more May 5 Disney history.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May 03: Walter

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

Click HERE for more May 03 Disney history.