Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30: "Words are the most powerful drugs used by mankind"

Joseph Rudyard Kipling - English author, poet and journalist - was born on this day in 1865 in Bombay, India (to British parents). Best known for writing The Jungle Book, he ranks among the greatest novelists and authors of the late 19th - early 20th century.

Although born in Bombay, Kipling spent most of his early life in England. Once married he and his wife Carrie moved to Vermont in the United States. A daughter was born in 1892, and it was then that Kipling began writing the 'Mowgli stories' which became The Jungle Book, first published two years later in 1894. A collection of fictional stories about the wilds of India, it was followed by The Second Jungle Book in 1895.

These stories became the basis for Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book (some 30 years after Rudyard Kipling's death).

Click HERE for much more December 30 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29: And In The End ...

On this day in 1974, it is widely believed that singer-songwriter John Lennon signed the paperwork that officially dissolved The Beatles. What makes this event part of Disney history? Lennon was staying at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World when he scrawled his name on the legal document.
Learn more about Lennon's stay and other December 29 history by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27: Times Two

On this day in 1937 and in 1954 Walt Disney appeared on the covers of TIME magazine.

Click HERE for much more December 27 Disney history.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26: A Very Good Year For a Youthful Scotsman

This is Dave MacPherson and he was born on this day in 1932 in Ithaca, New York.
What's his famous Disney connection?
Click HERE to find out.

Then head on over HERE for more December 26 Disney history.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24: Christmas Eve Greetings

On this Christmas Eve in 1972, The Wonderful World of Disney aired the episode "A Present For Donald" on NBC-TV. Originally aired back on December 22, 1954, it is a re-edited version of The Three Caballeros with a holiday theme.

View a portion of it below
through the magic of YouTube:

Click HERE for more December 24 Disney history.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23: America's Slowest Rising Comedian

Fans of classic TV will recognize this actor-comedian for his role of Private Duke Slater on the 1960s Jim Neighbors sitcom Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. In case you don't ... his name is Ronnie Schell and he was born on this day in 1931 in Richmond, California.

Often referring to himself as "America's slowest-rising comic," Schell's Disney credits go back to the 1975 live-action comedy The Strongest Man in the World (in which he played a referee). In the midst of guest appearing on just about every 1970s sitcom, he was also cast in the Disney films Gus, The Shaggy D.A., and The Cat from Outer Space (as both the voice of Jake the cat and a character named Sgt. Duffy). During that decade he also appeared on episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and starred in the made-for-TV-movie The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World.

Schell also provided voices for the 1987 DuckTales and the 1997 animated series Recess, and in 2004 appeared on an episode of Disney Channel's Phil of the Future (playing a 75-year-old Phil).

Still active, Schell continues to make use of his gifts as a voice artist on TV, radio, films and commercials.

Click HERE for much more December 23 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21: The Fairest One Of All

On this day in 1937, Disney's very first full-length cel-animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, had its gala premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles, California.

Based on a German fairy tale first written down by the Brothers Grimm, Snow White was adapted for the screen by storyboard artists Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Merrill De Maris, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dick Rickard, Ted Sears and Webb Smith.

Development of the film can be traced back to 1934 when Walt Disney planned to expand his studio's prestige and revenues by moving into features. Walt had to fight to get the film made, as his brother and business partner Roy (and even Walt's wife Lilian) tried to talk him out of it.

But on this evening in 1937, Snow White debuted to a wildly receptive audience that included such Hollywood stars as Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Shirley Temple, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, and Jack Benny.

RKO Radio Pictures generally released the film the following February 4.

Click HERE for much more December 21 Disney history.

Want more Snow White? Visit Filmic Light: A Snow White Sanctum.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19: Happy B-Day Mr Sherman

Most Disney fans can sing the theme park songs "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," "it's a small world," and "One Little Spark," and be able to hum (at least some) of the film scores to The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, and The Jungle Book ... all due to the talents of the great songwriting team of Richard and Robert Sherman. And it is on this day in 1925 that big brother Robert Bernard Sherman was born in New York City.

As a youngster, Robert excelled in music, painting and poetry ... all interests that would later serve him well. But before he and his younger brother Richard teamed up to become an award-winning songwriting duo, Robert served in the U.S. Army during World War II. A little known fact that most Disney fans might not know ... in April 1945 Richard led half a squad of men into Dachau concentration camp, the first Allied troops to enter the camp after it had been evacuated by the fleeing German military only hours earlier. An injury to his knee while in battle forced him to later walk with a cane. For his service to his country, he received an amazing collection of honors including two Battle Stars and a Sharpshooter badge.

Robert and his brother began crafting songs in the mid-1950s which led to forming their own publishing company in 1958. That same year they had their first hit with a pop song sung by Annette Funicello called "Tall Paul." The success of that single tune blew open the doors of success when Walt Disney himself hired the brothers as staff songwriters for his studio.

Their long list of Disney film scores include In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Their success with Disney's 1964 Mary Poppins was repeated when a stage musical about the British nanny opened on Broadway in 2006.

Robert and his brother have won two Academy Awards, a Grammy, and a Theater Museum Award, in addition to being inducted Disney Legends in 1990 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. The brothers were also awarded the National Medal of Arts at a 2008 ceremony at the White House.

A lesser known aspect of Robert's life is his interest in painting. In 2002 an exhibition of his work was held for the first time in London, England (the same year he decided to leave California and live in the British capital).

Today a father and grandfather, Robert is still active and most recently was presented with a Window on Main Street at Disneyland. As of 2010, his candid autobiographical novel "Moose" is scheduled for worldwide release.

Click HERE for more December 19 Disney history.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18: "Four score and seven years ago ..."

On this day in 2009 Mr. Lincoln returned to Anaheim in a new Disneyland attraction called "The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln." The previous version (a hydraulic-based audio-animatronic figure) was replaced with an electronic model which improves Lincoln's emotive capabilities.

The new show also features an abridged version of Lincoln's biography, the first two sentences from his Gettysburg Address, and a song titled "Two Brothers." At the end of the show, Lincoln actually stands and performs portions of the speech from the original attraction (which actor Royal Dano -  the original voice of Lincoln - provided).

Walt Disney was always fascinated with President Lincoln - even as a young schoolboy Walt recited the Gettysburg Address to his class. In 1962 Disney was approached about contributing to the 1964 New York World's Fair. This led to Disney's first audio-animatronic human figure - an incredible simulation of the 16th U.S. President! The first Disneyland version opened in July 1965 in honor of the park's 10th anniversary. The show was later updated in the 1970s, 1980s, and in 2001. Great Moments temporarily closed in 2005 for the park's 50th anniversary.

Click HERE for more December 18 Disney history.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17: Double Dose of Van Patten

On this day in 1976, two live-action Disney films were released - The Shaggy D.A. and Freaky Friday.

The Shaggy D.A. (a sequel to the 1959 The Shaggy Dog) was generally released to theaters, while Freaky Friday (Disney's very first version of Mary Rodgers' story) premiered in a few select cities. (It was generally released the following January.)

Odd enough that two live-action Disney comedies were released on the same day ... but both films featured actor Dick Van Patten!

Directed by Robert Stevenson (his final film for Disney after 20 years) The Shaggy D.A. starred Dean Jones as Wilby Daniels, an attorney who has a habit of turning into a dog. Dick Van Patten played Raymond, an agent of Wilby's rival.

In Freaky Friday, a tale of a mother and daughter whose personalities are switched, Van Patten portrayed Harold Jennings, a realty developer.

A year later Van Patten would be easily recognized for his role of Tom Bradford, the father on the hit television series Eight Is Enough (which ran through 1981). Van Patten was no stranger to Disney comedies, as prior to these two films he had also appeared in Gus, The Strongest Man in the World, and Superdad.

Born in New York in 1928, Van Patten started his career in showbiz as a child actor on Broadway before moving on to to films and television. He is also the author of several bestselling books including "Eighty Is Not Enough."

Click HERE for more December 17 Disney history.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 16: Ironic & Somehow Fitting

"This is really the end of an era for the Disneys, and it's ironic and somehow fitting that it should be at this time of the year ... Walt in 1966, my dad in 1971, my mother in 1984, and now Lily have all gone during the 10 days before Christmas."

Roy E. Disney spoke those words about his aunt, 98-year-old Lillian Bounds Disney, who passed away on this day in 1997. She had suffered a stroke the day before, December 15 ... the 31st anniversary of her husband Walt's passing.

Eerily Roy E. Disney later passed away on this day too ... twelve years later in 2009. Son of Disney Studios co-founder Roy O. Disney, Roy E. lost his battle with stomach cancer at the age of 79. A successful businessman, philanthropist, filmmaker, and award-winning sailor, he played a key role in the revitalization of The Walt Disney Company and Disney's animation legacy.

Click HERE for more December 16 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 15: We Will Never See His Like Again

"He was an original. Not just an American original, but an original, period. He was a happy accident, one of the happiest this century has experienced. And judging by the way it's behaving, in spite of all Disney tried to tell it about laughter, love, children, puppies, and sunrises, the century hardly deserved him."

Those words were spoken by news journalist Eric Sevareid on the CBS Evening News on this day in 1966 ... the day Walter Elias Disney passed away.

"He probably did more to heal -- or at least soothe -- troubled human spirits than all the psychiatrists in the world. There can’t be many adults in the allegedly civilized parts of the globe who did not inhabit Disney’s mind and imagination for at least for a few hours and feel better for the visitation.
It may be true, as somebody said, that while there is no highbrow in a lowbrow, there is some lowbrow in every highbrow. But what Disney seemed to know was that while there is very little grown-up in every child, there is a lot of child in every grown-up. To a child, this weary world is brand-new, gift wrapped. Disney tried to keep it that way for adults.
By the conventional wisdom, mighty mice, flying elephants, Snow White and Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy and Doc -- all these were fantasy, escapism from reality. It’s a question of whether they are any less real, any more fantastic than intercontinental missiles, poisoned air, defoliated forests, and scrap iron on the moon. This is the age of fantasy, however you look at it, but Disney’s fantasy wasn’t lethal.
People are saying we will never see his like again."

Click HERE for more December 15 Disney history.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14: Pop Goes The Century

On this day in 2003 the first planned phase of Disney's Pop Century Resort at Walt Disney World opened. A "value resort" themed around different decades of American pop culture, it features 10 motel-style buildings.

This first phase, known as the Classic Years, represents the 1950s through the 1990s with huge over-sized icons such as 45 rpm records, a peace symbol, 8-track tape staircases, Mr. Potato Head, and a giant laptop. Located at 1050 Century Drive, Pop Century is adjacent to the Wide World of Sports Complex and near Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Phase Two: the Legendary Years (representing 1900-1940) was to be built across the lake from the Classic Years - with a bridge connecting the two. The addition was never built, although some of the buildings were constructed. In May 2010, Disney announced that the area zoned for the Legendary Years would instead be used for a new resort called Disney's Art of Animation Resort (scheduled to open in 2012).

Click HERE for more December 14 Disney history.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13: Born Today

"I think it's such a shame that Walt didn't live to see computer animation, because he would have had a good time with it. ... In those days it was before the blue screen. They used what was called yellow sulphur lighting -- the screen was yellow, and we worked with that all day, and by the time the day was over you couldn't see anything.
It was just an empty sound stage. And sometimes we didn't even have the music -- we would just dance to a click rhythm. But I think technically it (Mary Poppins) holds up today just as well as anything."

Those words belong to comedian, writer, producer, computer animation enthusiast and Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke, who was born on this day in 1925 in Missouri. He is best known to Disney fans for his role of the chimney sweep Bert and Mr. Dawes Senior, the chairman of the bank in Walt Disney's 1964 musical feature Mary Poppins.

Learn more about Dick Van Dyke's Disney connection (and more December 13 history) by clicking HERE.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11: "I do not make merry at Christmas"

Gonzo: "Hello! Welcome to the Muppet Christmas Carol! I am here to tell the story."
Rizzo the Rat: "And I am here for the food."

With those words The Muppet Christmas Carol (the fourth feature film to star the Muppets) hit theaters on this day in 1992. A musical comedy retelling of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story, the film was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Directed by Brain Henson (son of Jim Henson - who had passed away in May 1990) The Muppets Christmas Carol starred veteran actor Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Narrated by Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens (voiced by David Goetz) and Rizzo the Rat (voiced by Steven Whitmire), the majority of the cast was comprised of puppets - although it was the first Muppet movie to mainly focus on characters played by humans. British actor Steven Mackintosh portrayed Fred, the nephew of Scrooge, and singer-actress Meredith Braun played Belle, Scrooge's former lover.

Braun also sang "When Love Is Gone" in a scene where she laments the end of her relationship with sour Ebenezer Scrooge - but the song was cut from the original theatrical version. The song was used at the end of the film - although that version featured the vocals of Martina McBride. "When Love Is Gone" was written by legendary songwriter Paul Williams who composed all of the film's songs with Miles Goodman supplying the score.

Despite the humorous spin on Dickens' tale (first published in 1843), it is a fairly close adaptation of the original story. Gonzo even recites many of Dickens' original words!

The film is filled with everyone's favorite Muppets including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Bob's wife Emily, Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim, Statler as Jacob Marley, Waldorf as Robert Marley, and Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig.

Despite being a modest box office success, The Muppet Christmas Carol didn't make much of an impact during its original theatrical release (as it had to contend with the features Home Alone 2 and Disney's Aladdin).

The film was released to VHS the following November and on DVD in 2002.

Click HERE for more December 11 Disney history.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 08: The Return of George Banks

On this day in 1995, Disney's Touchstone Pictures released the comedy feature Father of the Bride II. A sequel to the 1991 hit Father of the Bride, it once again starred Steve Martin as anxious George Banks, who this time around has to deal with both his daughter and wife being pregnant at the same time!
Returning to their roles from the original film were Diane Keaton (as George's wife Nina), Kimberly Williams (as their daughter Annie), George Newbern (as Annie's husband Bryan), Kieran Culkin (as little brother Matty), and Martin Short (as Franck Eggelhoffer, the wedding/baby shower planner).

Interesting to note: Franck's Bridal Studio at Walt Disney World is named after Short's hilarious and eccentric character.

The film's soundtrack (in release since November 1995) featured a score by Alan Silvestri and vocal performances by Steve Tyrell (most notably on the standard "Give Me the Simple Life"), Etta James, and Fats Domino.

Father of the Bride II was released to DVD in May 2009.

Steve Martin, a playwright, producer, musician, and composer, first gained notoriety as a banjo strumming comedian in the 1970s. As a teen he was employed at Disneyland selling guidebooks and working at Main Street's Magic Shop.

Kimberly Williams went on to co-star in Touchstone's hit sitcom According to Jim (2001-2009). Today she is married to country singer Brad Paisley.

Click HERE for more December 08 Disney history.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30: The Greatest American Humorist of His Age

Often regarded as the "Father of American Literature," Samuel Longhorne Clemens (better known by his pen name Mark Twain) was born on this day in 1835. An author and humorist, he is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Twain was immensely popular during his lifetime and his wit and satire was praised by both critics and peers. His legacy lives on today as his namesake continues to multiply.

Admired by Walt Disney (as both a schoolboy and adult), Mark Twain's name, image and works appear throughout Disney theme parks. Click HERE to learn much more about Twain's Disney connection (and to discover more November 30 Disney history).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Novemebr 24: Carlo Collodi

On this day in 1890, Carlo Lorenzini, better known by his pen name Carlo Collodi, was born in what is today Florence, Italy. He is best known for his fairy tale The Adventures of Pinocchio.

Collodi had won fame as early as 1856 with a novel and columns in political newspapers. It wasn't until 1875 that he began writing fairy tales. In 1880 he started writing Storia di un Burratino (The Story of a Marionette) - also called Le awenture di Pinocchio - which was published weekly in the first Italian newspaper for children. The first chapter, published July 1881, was an immediate hit. Two years later in 1883, Collodi's tale was published in book form.

Collodi passed away suddenly ten years later, never knowing the fame and popularity that awaited his little wooden character.

Disney released an animated version in February 1940, and today there is even a Pinocchio Park in Italy!

Experts and critics site Pinocchio for its complex web of moral questions. Collodi's work has an anti-authoritarian tone - showing a contrast between wealth and poverty and distaste for the judicial system. Collodi's Pinocchio is more selfish and aggressive than Disney's little wooden boy.

Click HERE for more November 24 Disney history.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 20: Three Against The Wilderness

On this day in 1963, Disney released the live-action feature
The Incredible Journey
Based on a children's book by Sheila Burnford, the film (about a cat and 2 dogs who lose their owners) was narrated by Rex Allen.

Click HERE for more November 20 Disney history.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17: "I Am Not A Crook"

On this day in 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon - defending his record in the ongoing Watergate scandal - told newspaper reporters that he was "not a crook." The historic televised Q & A session took place at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort.

By August 1974, Nixon had resigned from the presidency.

Click HERE for much more November 17 Disney history.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15: Disney World Project Officially Launched

On this day in 1965, Walt and Roy Disney along with Florida Governor Haydon Burns spoke to the press in the Egyptian Room of the Cherry Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida and officially launched the Disney World project.

View a bit of that day's historic conference through the magic of the State Archives of Florida and flickr:

Walt actually visited the Disney World site the following day November 16.

For much more November 15, 1965 visit Florida Memory.

Click HERE for more November 15 Disney history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11: What's Walt's Line?

What's My Line was a weekly panel game show that originally ran in the U.S. from 1950 to 1967. The game tasked celebrity panelists in order to determine their occupations. Hosted by John Charles Daly, it was the longest running game show in the history of U.S. prime time network television.

On this day in 1956, Walt Disney himself appeared as a mystery guest ... view it below through the magic of YouTube:

Click HERE for more November 11 Disney history.

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 08: Guess the Actress

On this day in 1872, this actress (known for her roles on the stage and the big screen) was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Her best known part is that of the voice of the Wicked Queen and her alter ego the old hag (who gives a poison apple to Snow White) in Disney's 1937 classic animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Who was she?
Click HERE to find out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 06: Bah! Humbug!

On this day in 2009 Disney released A Christmas Carol in U.S. theaters.

An adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic 1843 story, it was written and directed by Robert Zemeckis and starred Jim Carrey (his first Disney picture) in a multitude of roles.

The film was produced through a process called performance capture, a technique Zemeckis had used in the 2004 The Polar Express and the 2007 Beowulf.

Many members of the cast played more than one role in the film -
Carrey played Ebenezer Scrooge, and all 3 Christmas Ghosts - Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Actress Robin Penn portrayed Belle (Scrooge's fiance) and Fan (Scrooge's sister).
Gary Oldman was both Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley.
Bob Hoskins portrayed Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe.

Disney is set to release A Christmas Carol on DVD and Blu-ray on November 16, 2010.

"An exhilarating visual experience!" -film critic Roger Ebert

Click HERE for more November 06 Disney history.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 03: Free Disneyland Tix for Benny

On this day in 1965, The Jack Benny Hour aired on television. Benny, a comedian known for his timing and dead-pan facial expressions, started out on radio in the 1930s. His television shows (throughout the 1960s) were a foundational influence on the situation comedy genre.

After Benny's regular series ended, he had a string of specials including this one on November 3, 1965. Among the guests on The Jack Benny Hour ... Bob Hope, Elke Sommer, The Beach Boys, and Walt Disney.

Watch Walt take part in a comedy sketch with Benny playing his usual (but always funny) vain, cheap and self-congratulatory character.

Click HERE for more November 03 Disney history.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 02: The Spruce Goose - Disney Connection

On this day in 1947, a prototype heavy transport aircraft called the Hughes H-1 Hercules made its one and only flight over the waters of Long Beach, California.

Five years earlier the world was at war and famed industrialist and builder of "Liberty" ships Henry Kaiser saw a need for a fleet of giant flying transports that the U.S. could use to safely move troops and materials across the Atlantic. Kaiser approached one of the wealthiest men in the world, Howard Hughes, with his idea. Together they formed the Hughes Kaiser Corporation and obtained an $18,000,000 government contract to build three "flying boats."

Hughes, an oil and business man and movie producer, was also an aeronautical engineer and world-class aviator. His team set about designing a single hull flying boat capable of carrying 750 passengers. Their plans called for eight 3,000 horsepower engines and wings 20 feet longer than a football field! They called the prototype HK-1.

Adhering to the government mandate not to use material critical to the war effort, Hughes had to make the airplane completely out of wood. Because the research and development that went into the seaplane delayed actual construction, Kaiser withdrew from the project leaving Hughes totally in charge. He renamed the plane H-1.

After the war's end in 1945, criticism of the Hughes project  mounted, as he had exceeded the government's funding allowance. Investing $7,000,000 of his own money, Hughes was determined to finish construction and later fly the H-1.

On this day in 1947 a crowd of observers and newsmen gathered to witness a demonstration of the Flying Boat (that critics had now come to call the Spruce Goose). With Hughes behind the controls, the seaplane lifted off the water and flew for little over a mile at an altitude of 70 feet. The short flight proved that the Spruce Goose could really fly!

After that one famous flight, the plane was placed in a custom-built hangar where it remained for 33 years. In 1976, after Hughes' death, his holding company donated the aircraft to the non-profit Aero Club of Southern California - who in turn leased it to the Wrather Corporation, headed by entrepreneur Jack Wrather (who at the time owned the Disneyland Hotel).

Wrather Corporation built a custom dome for the H-1 (near the RMS Queen Mary) and placed the seaplane on exhibit in 1983 on the Long Beach waterfront. After the death of Jack Wrather, Disney purchased his Disneyland Hotel and other holdings ... which included the dome in which the Flying Boat stood.

In March 1990, Disney informed the Aero Club that it wished to discontinue the domed exhibit. The Flying Boat found a new permanent home at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon.

Interesting to note - in Walt Disney Pictures' 1991 action feature The Rocketeer, the film's hero uses a large-scale model of the famous plane to escape federal agents and Howard Hughes!

Click HERE for much more November 2 Disney history.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31: Texas John Slaughter

On this Halloween in 1958, Disney's weekly television series (at the time called Walt Disney Presents) debuted Texas John Slaughter, the first episode of a new 17-part series starring Tom Tryon in the title role.

Based on a real-life historical figure and symbol of the American west, John Horton Slaughter (who was born in Louisiana in 1841) was a cattleman, lawman, soldier, politician, and gambler. After serving during the American Civil War (in the Confederate Army), Slaughter became a member of the famed Texas Rangers (a law enforcement agency who functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic and later the state of Texas).

This day's debut episode introduced Slaughter as a man attempting to live a simple life during the 1880s as a cattle rancher, despite problems with thieves and rustlers, who decides to join the Texas Rangers in order to pursue the criminals who stole his herd.

The popular mini-series ran for 3 seasons through 1961.

Click HERE for more October 31 Disney history.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27: And now, here's Walt Disney ...

"Welcome to a little bit of Florida right here in California. This is where the early planning is taking place for our so-called Disney World project. Now the purpose of this film is to bring you up to date about some of the plans for Disney World. But before I go into any of the details, I want to just say a word about the site of our Florida project."

Those opening words were spoken by Walt Disney on this day in 1966 as he filmed a 25-minute presentation at his studio in California. With help from animation, models, and props, he outlined for the media and interest groups his plans for a Florida theme park and a real 
community called EPCOT.
Unfortunately Walt Disney would pass away a little more than a month later and "Walt's last film" would eventually be shown in February 1967 to Florida business and government officials.

"As you can see on this map, we have a perfect location in Florida, almost in the very center of the state. In fact, we've selected this site because it's so easy for tourists and Florida residents to get here by automobile."

"Here in Florida we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland: the blessing of size. There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we could possibly imagine."

Click HERE for more October 27 Disney history.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26: Tower of Terror

On this day in 1997 The Wonderful World of Disney aired a supernatural thriller film titled Tower of Terror. Based on the theme park attraction at Disney World (opened since 1994) the film actually has no connection to Rod Serling's television series The Twilight Zone.

Tower of Terror revolves around the fate of 5 people who are killed in 1939 when the elevator they are riding in is struck by a bolt of lightning at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Sixty years later newspaper reporter Buzzy Crocker (played by Steve Guttenberg) and his niece Anna (Kirsten Dunst) investigate the mystery of the hotel. They meet up with an elderly woman named Abigail Gregory (Amzie Strickland) who informs them that if they find a belonging of each person on the elevator ... they will unlock the mystery of the hotel and allow the ghosts of the elevator mishap to ascend to a better place.

Much of the film was shot at the Florida attraction (then located in the theme park called Disney-MGM Studios) with additional footage shot at a stage in Hollywood. It was Disney's very first attempt at turning a theme park ride into a film.

Click HERE for more October 26 Disney history.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25: WDW Formal Dedication

"Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney ... and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place ... a magic kingdom where the young heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn ... together." -Roy O. Disney's 
WDW dedication, Magic Kingdom Town Square, October 25, 1971

Click HERE to learn more about WDW's formal dedication
and other Disney events for October 25.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21: The Most Amazing Colorist of All Time

"I knew Mary very well. She was an extraordinary artist, and Walt thought very highly of her. She was the most amazing colorist of all time." -Marc Davis (Disney Legend and one of Walt's Nine Old Men)

The "Mary" Marc Davis spoke of was Mary Blair and she was born Mary Browne Robinson in Oklahoma on this day in 1911.

Although born in McAlester, Oklahoma, her family first moved to Texas while she was still very young and by the age of 7 moved again to California. After studying at the San Jose State College she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.
Soon marrying artist Lee Everett Blair, the couple began to work in the animation industry - actually first joining the Ub Iwerks Studio. Later Lee began to work for Walt Disney first with wife Mary joining him by 1940.

Working briefly on Dumbo (and an early version of Lady and the Tramp) Mary actually left Disney for a brief time in 1941. But she soon returned, just in time to take part in a trip to South America with Walt, his wife Lillian, and a group of Disney animators and writers. She worked on concept art for Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.

By the 1950s, Mary Blair was an important member of Walt's staff - introducing modern art and vibrant colors to the studio while working on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. After completing Peter Pan, Mary once again left Disney and began working as a freelance graphic artist and illustrator.
Highly regarded by Walt, he convinced her to work on the It's a Small World attraction for the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1967 she created mural art for Disneyland's Tomorrowland Promenade and prior to 1971 a 90-foot high mural for Disney World's Contemporary Resort.

Honored a Disney Legend in 1991 (13 years after her death) Mary Blair was one of the first women to be given the honor.

Click HERE for more October 21 Disney history.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18: Disney Celebrity of the Day

Today we celebrate the birth of actor Peter Boyle - who was born on this day in 1935 in Norristown, Pennsylvania (located some 6 miles from Philadelphia).

Known for his role of cranky Frank Barone on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (for which he was nominated multiple times for an Emmy), Boyle's first professional acting job was playing Murray the cop in a touring version of The Odd Couple. But it was his starring role in the 1970 sleeper hit Joe that gained Boyle his first critical acclaim. Four years later he played a role that he would always be remembered for - the comical Monster in Mel Brooks' parody Young Frankenstein. Boyle went on to appear in such classics films as Taxi Driver, The Brink's Job, Outland, and While You Were Sleeping.

Boyle's Disney-connection involves The Santa Clause trilogy (starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin/Santa). In the 1994 The Santa Clause, Boyle played Mr Whittle, Scott Calvin's boss. Eight years later he portrayed Father Time in The Santa Clause 2. In 2006 he returned to the role of Father Time in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (one of his last feature film appearances before his death). The ending credits of The Santa Clause 3 includes a dedication to his memory.

Sadly Peter Boyle passed away in 2006 at age 71 in New York City. In 2007 on what would have been his 72nd birthday, his friend Bruce Springsteen - during a concert at Madison Square Garden - dedicated the songs "Meeting Across the River" and "Jungleland" to him. Boyle was also good friends with singer-songwriter John Lennon .... the ex-Beatle had actually been the best man at Boyle's October 1977 wedding!

For more October 18 Disney history - click HERE.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16: Big Day For Disney Legends

The Disney Legends awards are given annually by The Walt Disney Company to honor those who have made a notable contribution to the company. Ceremonies are typically (but not always) held sometime between September - November at the Disney Legends Plaza on the studio lot in Burbank.

On three separate occasions new Disney Legends were named on October 16.

In 1996 Bob Allen, Rex Allen, X Atencio, Betty Lou Gerson, Bill Justice, Sam McKim, Bob Matheison, Bob Moore, Bill Peet, and Joe Potter were recognized as Disney Legends.

The large Class of 1998 included 20 great names in Disney history like James Algar, Buddy Baker, Kathryn Beaumont, Virginia Davis, Roy E. Disney, Hayley Mills, Kurt Russell, and Dick Van Dyke.

Five years later in 2003 Neil Beckett, Tutti Camarata, Edna Francis Disney, Lillian Disney, Orlando Ferrante, Richard Fleischer, Floyd Gottfredson, Buddy Hackett, Harrison "Buzz" Price, Alfred Taliaferro, and Ilene Woods became Disney Legends.

To view a complete list of all Disney Legends click HERE.

For more October 16 Disney history ... please click HERE.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15: The New Site Is Florida - But The Air Is Pure Old Disney

On this day in 1971, LIFE magazine featured a cover story on the newly opened Walt Disney World in Florida. Disney fans have seen the cover photo, of 1500 Cast Members proudly posing in front of Cinderella Castle, many times.

But did you know in the same issue a pull-out poster of the Magic Kingdom was included? The image to the left is a bit rough (as it is 39 years old) but worth taking a nostalgic look at. Click on it for a larger view.

Click HERE for more October 15 Disney nostalgia.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October 9: The Long and Winding Disney Road

On this day in 1940, singer-songwriter John Lennon, who rose to worldwide fame as a founding member of The Beatles, was born in Liverpool, England. Along with Paul McCartney, Lennon formed one of the most successful songwriting teams of the 20th century. So what does the writer of such songs as "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" have to do with Disney?
You'd be surprised ...

In August 1965 Walt Disney met with Beatles' manager Brian Epstein to discuss the possibility of the Fab Four performing songs for his upcoming animated feature The Jungle Book. The Beatles at this time were already worldwide stars with a string of top selling albums and two feature films to their credit. Supposedly Lennon himself nixed the idea of lending their songs (and or voices) to an animated feature and Walt (reportedly not really a big fan of their music) used semi-soundalikes to voice a group of vultures. In fact, Flaps the Vulture was voiced by Chad Stuart - of the English rock duo Chad & Jeremy whose early success came about during The Beatles rise to fame. (The Jungle Book was released in October 1967 ... unfortunately without The Beatles.)

In late 1973 Lennon visited Disneyland with his son Julian, girlfriend May, ex-wife Cynthia (the mother of Julian) and friends Mal Evans (once a Beatle roadie) and Jesse Ed Davis. At this time, The Beatles (still as popular as ever) had been broken up for some 3 years. Lennon, who had not seen Julian in 4 years, thought Disneyland would be a perfect place to re-connect with his 9-year-old son.

One year later Lennon along with Julian and May spent the last week of December in Central Florida - specifically at Disney's Polynesian Village Hotel (today known as Disney's Polynesian Resort). The trio enjoyed a wonderful vacation - even getting to ride in the front of the monorail on two separate occasions. But something significant took place at the Polynesian on December 29.
Although The Beatles hadn't been a band since 1970 it had taken some 4 years for the proper legal documents to be drawn-up dividing their massive earnings. The other three Beatles (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) had already signed the voluminous documents when copies were brought down to Florida by one of Apple's lawyers. (Apple Corps Ltd - a multi-armed multimedia corporation - was first founded in 1968 by The Beatles.) When Lennon picked up his pen and signed the document, he officially ended the greatest rock band in history ... at Walt Disney World.

In the early 1990s The Disney Channel (offering massively different programming than today) showed some Beatle-themed specials. One in particular, "The Making of Sgt. Pepper" was broadcast on September 27, 1992. The program featured interviews and rare footage of the making of the group's 8th studio album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (first released in 1967).
Two years later, The Disney Channel aired The Beatles' 1964 feature film "A Hard Day's Night" in honor of the 30th anniversary of the group first coming to the U.S.

The Beatles' Disney-ties don't end there ... take a visit to Epcot and you will find The British Invasion - a tribute band performing outside of the United Kingdom pavilion, and of course a slew of Beatle merchandise to purchase.

In August 2009 Robert Zemeckis and Disney announced that a remake of The Beatles' animated classic "Yellow Submarine" would be re-made in the same style as "Disney's A Christmas Carol." It is currently slotted for a 2012 release.

Sadly John Lennon was killed in December 1980 at age 40 - October 9, 2010 marks what would have been his 70th birthday.

Click HERE for more October 9 Disney history.

For a more in-depth look at The Beatles and Disney - visit the fabulous blog Disney and the Beatles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5: Your Doorway to a Fascinating World of Enjoyment!

The Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim wasn't always owned and operated by Disney. Although Walt himself dreamed of a "Disney hotel" where Disneyland guests could spend a night or two ... due to the high costs of constructing Disneyland, his company was in no financial situation in 1955 to be involved in lodging. So under an agreement with Disney, the Disneyland Hotel was built, operated and on this day in 1955 opened - by entrepreneur Jack Wrather.

Wrather, a petroleum millionaire from Texas, was also a television producer and investor in broadcast stations and resort properties. In addition to the Disneyland Hotel, he also owned lodges and hotels in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

During Disneyland's construction, Walt negotiated a deal with Wrather and his business partner Maria Helen Avarez under which Wrather-Avarez would own and operate a hotel across the street from the theme park. Originally designed by the firm of Pereira & Luckman, the Disneyland Hotel was to open with the theme park, but various problems caused delays and ultimately postponed the debut until October 5, 1955.

Under Wrather's ownership, more rooms were added to the hotel over the years and even the Disneyland monorail was extended to its front door. The Disneyland Hotel was an obvious success.

In 1984, when Michael Eisner was first running the House of Mouse, he desperately wanted to get out of Disney's agreement with Wrather and have Disney own the hotel. But Wrather refused - as he had many times since the hotel first opened. In 1989 (five years after the death of Jack Wrather) Disney bought the entire Wrather company which not only included the Disneyland Hotel, but also the RMS Queen Mary and a domed exhibit that housed the famous Spruce Goose airplane (built by Howard Hughes).

Today none of the original parts of the Disneyland Hotel remain standing, as over the years the hotel has been remodeled and expanded numerous times.

Click HERE for more October 5 Disney history.

(Interested in more history about the hotel? Today in Disney History highly recommends Disneyland Hotel The Early Years by Donald Ballard.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 4: Family Gets Magic Kingdom to Themselves

On this day in 2006, a family from Ohio took an early morning stroll down Disney World's quiet and completely deserted Main Street. The family of four walked alone along a red carpet laid down in the middle of the street until they came to the intersection of Center Street ...

Suddenly trumpets blared and an announcer's voice greeted them - "Good morning Tammy, Ray, Derick, and Ashley, and welcome to your Magic Kingdom!" At that moment the family was surrounded by over 1500 cheerful Cast Members and some 80 Disney characters!

The Spangler family from Randolph, Ohio were the winners of the online "Keys to the Magic Kingdom" sweepstakes - part of the "Year of a Million Dreams" campaign. They were the first in Disney history to have the park to themselves!

With their Disney VIP leading the way, the Spanglers rode their favorite attractions (with no lines to wait on), met their favorite characters and even appeared on a segment of ABC-TV's "Good Morning America." By noon they had experienced such attractions as Space Mountain, Dumbo, and the Jungle Cruise (where 11-year-old Ashley got to drive the boat).

The Magic Kingdom opened to the public in phases that day as the Spanglers completed their tour.
Later they enjoyed a Fairytale Lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table and were named grand marshals of the Disney Dreams Comes True parade.

"This is beyond the dream. This is something that you can't even think of dreaming of, yet we have it. It's unbelievable." -Ray Spangler

Click HERE for much more October 4 Disney history.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 3: According to Jim

On this day in 2001, According to Jim - a new sitcom from Disney's Touchstone Television - premiered on ABC with the "Pilot" episode.

The series starred Jim Belushi as Jim, a married suburban family man who is comically abrasive, a bit lazy, but always lovable. Actress Courtney Thorne-Smith (best known for her role on Melrose Place) played his wife Cheryl the mother of five children (2 girls and a boy for most of the series' run - though twin baby boys were added in the final season). Cheryl's jolly brother Andy - portrayed by Larry Joe Campbell - was also Jim's best buddy and business partner. Their wise-cracking sister Dana - played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley (best know for her breakout role in Touchstone's Father of the Bride) frequently teamed up with Cheryl against Jim.

According to Jim ran for 8 seasons and can be seen today in syndication.

Click HERE for more October 3 Disney history.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2: "Time Flies Like An Arrow ... Fruit Flies Like A Banana"

He had a rapid-fire delivery of innuendo-laden patter and was famous for his work on stage, the big screen, radio and television. His name was Groucho Marx and he was born Julius Henry Marx in New York City on this day in 1890.

Groucho made a string of zany feature films along with the Marx Brothers (Chico, Harpo and sometimes Zeppo and Gummo) showcasing their unique appearances and comedic routines carried over from their days in vaudeville. Standing with an exaggerated stooped posture, Groucho's look was distinct as he appeared in thick greasepaint eyebrows and moustache, wearing glasses and always holding his trademark cigar.

All in all Grouch made 25 movies (13 with his brothers) before moving on to radio and ultimately television. But in the 1930s Groucho was easily one of the most recognized and popular characters in Hollywood ... and Walt Disney (a fan himself) knew it. Groucho was animated in at least 4 different Disney shorts.

In January 1932 Disney released the Silly Symphony cartoon The Bird Store featuring a wide variety of birds (some imaginative - some real). When a cat manages to enter the shop, the birds band together to defend their home. Among the caged birds ... the four Marx Brothers!

The following year Disney released the short Mickey's Gala Premiere in which Mickey and his pals attend the debut of the latest cartoon at Grauman's Chinese Theater. The premiere is filled with many Hollywood stars including the Marx Brothers!

In December 1938 Disney released Mother Goose Goes Hollywood, a cartoon short that takes viewers on a trip through famous rhymes with Hollywood Stars taking the place of the storybook characters. Playing the part of King Cole's Fiddlers Three ... Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx!

Disney's The Autograph Hound was released in September 1939. This cartoon finds Donald Duck trying to collect autographs at a Hollywood Studio - while trying to avoid an angry security guard. This time it is just Groucho and his "silent" brother Harpo who make an appearance.

Fast-forward to March 18, 1954 ... Groucho's television quiz show You Bet Your Life is one of the most popular programs on the air. On that particular day Disney animator Ward Kimball (who ironically had worked on some of the shorts featuring Groucho) appeared as a contestant.

Awarded with an honorary Academy Award in 1974, Groucho passed away three years later (the last living brother of the popular trio - although Zeppo outlived all of them). Groucho's wit and style is still loved today as the Marx Brothers continue to make generations of film fans laugh.

"Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age." -Groucho Marx

Click HERE for more October 2 Disney history.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October 1: Magical Day in Disney History

October 1 has become synonymous with Disney park celebrations and debuts ever since 1971 - when Walt Disney World in Florida first opened.
Here's a quick rundown of famous events for October 1:

1971 - Magic Kingdom debuts in Florida
1981 - WDW begins its very first anniversary celebration
1982 - EPCOT Center first opens
1986 - WDW's second anniversary celebration in honor of its 15th anniversary kicks off
1988 - The Caribbean Beach Resort at WDW opens
1991 - WDW's 20th anniversary celebration begins
1996 - WDW begins its 25th anniversary celebration
2001 - WDW takes part in the global 100 Years of Magic celebration in honor of Walt's birth
2004 - Epcot's 9th Food & Wine Festival begins
2007 - Epcot celebrates its 25th anniversary
2009 - The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco first opens
2010 - The 15th Food & Wine Festival kicks off at Epcot

For a more detailed look at this day's events - click HERE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27: A Musical Cartoon Feature

On this day in 1947, RKO Radio Pictures released Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free. The animated film features two segments: "Bongo," the story of a circus bear cub who runs away, and "Mickey and the Beanstalk," an adaptation of the famous tale Jack and the Beanstalk.

The film opens with Jiminy Cricket (first introduced in Disney's 1940 Pinocchio) singing "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow" while setting up a record player to play the story of "Bongo." In the original version of Fun and Fancy Free, singer Dinah Shore narrates "Bongo" - yet in later versions it is Cliff Edwards (the voice of Jiminy Cricket) who tells the story. "Bongo" is based on an original story by Sinclair Lewis (an American novelist and short-story writer) first titled "Little Bear Bongo."

The second segment, "Mickey and the Beanstalk" is narrated by Edgar Bergen (at the time a popular radio ventriloquist) who in live-action sequences tells the story to child actress Luana Patten (who made her debut the previous year in Disney's Song of the South). In this story, Mickey's voice is supplied by both Walt Disney and sound effects genius Jim Macdonald (who would later take over the role of Mickey until 1977). "Mickey and the Beanstalk" also features the voices of Clarence Nash (as Donald Duck) and Pinto Colvig (as Goofy).

The directing animators who worked on Fun and Fancy Free includes such great names in Disney history as Ward Kimball, Les Clark, John Lounsbery, Fred Moore, and Woolie Reitherman.

These two segments aired many times as individual television episodes on Disney's anthology series - but it wasn't until 2000 that Fun and Fancy Free was released in its entirety to VHS and DVD.

Click HERE for much more September 27 Disney history.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26: Brand New Year

On this day in 2000, Christmas came early when the holiday-themed album Brand New Year by country music trio SHeDAISY was released on Lyric Street Records (at the time part of the Disney Music Group). Made up of sisters; Kristyn, Kelsi, and Kassidy Osborn, the group's name is derived from a Navajo term meaning "my little sister." Although a country act, their sound is a mix of pop, rock and funk featuring stellar vocals and harmonies.

SHeDAISY's s second overall album, Brand New Year is a collection of unique versions of traditional holiday songs as well as new tunes. The renditions of "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" both charted on the Billboard Country Charts. Produced by Dann Huff (a successful musician & singer-songwriter) Brand New Year also features new compositions by Richard Marx, Sammy Chan, James VanHuessen, Leslie Bricusse, and SHeDAISY sister Kristyn.

First signed to Lyric Street Records in 1999, SHeDAISY even appeared on the Disney Channel series So Weird and the ABC-TV sitcom The Drew Carey Show.

In 2010 it was announced that the group had left Lyric Street Records (which Disney later closed).

Click HERE for more September 26 Disney history.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 25: Everything Begins With A Dream

On this day in 2005, Walt Disney Studios premiered its biographical sports film The Greatest Game Ever Played at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Based on the life of Francis Ouimet, an American golfer widely known for winning the 1913 U.S. Open, the film was directed by Bill Paxton. Actor Shia LaBeouf starred as the 20-year-old Ouimet who shocked the golf world by beating British champ Harry Vardon - the most famous pro golfer of his time.

Only his second feature film as a director, Paxton (an actor best known for his roles in Apollo 13 and Twister) attended the premiere with his wife and two children. Also at the premiere was LaBeouf (who first became known for his role in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens), young Josh Flitter (who portrayed Ouimet's 10-year-old caddy), actress Marnie McPhail (who played the wife of Ouimet), and cast members Peyton List and Stephen Marcus.

Attending the debut was also Dick Cook (at the time Disney Studio Chief), Michael Eisner (then CEO of Disney) and such Disney Channel stars as Christy Carlson Romano, Brenda Song, and Ashley Tisdale.

The Greatest Game Ever Played was generally released 5 days later earning over $3 million in its opening weekend.

Click HERE for more September 25 Disney history.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20: House of Nutts

On this day in 1989, a new Touchstone sitcom titled The Nutt House debuted on NBC.

The creation of Mel Brooks and Alan Spencer, the comedy was about a once-prestigious New York hotel which had fallen on hard times. (The interior hotel scenes were shot at Disney-MGM.) Starring Cloris Leachman in the dual role of owner Edwina Nutt and Ms. Frick, head of housekeeping, and Harvey Korman as Reginald Tarkington, the hotel manager, The Nutt House was somewhat of a variation on the successful BBC series Fawlty Towers.

A very broad satire, the episode's plots were periodically interrupted by short, funny unrelated gags - much in the style of films like Police Squad and The Naked Gun.

Although The Nutt House had a veteran comedic cast and Brooks at the helm (known for his successful comedy films Blazzing Saddles, The Producers, and Young Frankenstein) the series lasted only 6 episodes before being canceled (although 11 episodes were shot).

Click HERE for more September 20 Disney history.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17: Tim the Tool Man

On this day in 1991, a new sitcom called Home Improvement debuted on ABC-TV. Produced by Touchstone Television/Wind Dancer Productions, it starred comedian Tim Allen as Tim Taylor a Detroit family man and host of his own home improvement show called "Tool Time."

Distributed by Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) the series centered on the Taylor family: father Tim, his spouse Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their three sons Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Mark (Taran Noah Smith). The comedy also featured Earl Hindman as their neighbor Wilson and Richard Karn as Al Borland, Tim's "Tool Time" co-host.

Not only did the series kick-start Allen's career but the series led to Jonathan Taylor Thomas voicing the role of young Simba in The Lion King. In the first two seasons of Home Improvement, Pamela Anderson played the role of Tim's assistant Lisa. She left to star in another series called Baywatch and actress Debbe Dunning stepped in as Tim's new "Tool Time girl."

Home Improvement became one of the most watched sitcoms of the 1990s, running for 8 seasons. Allen went on to have a successful acting career - supplying the voice for Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear and starring in The Santa Clause series of films.

Click HERE for more September 17 Disney history.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September 16: Man Behind the Myth

On this day in 2001, ABC-TV debuted the much anticipated special Walt: The Man Behind the Myth. The 2-hour documentary, narrated by Dick Van Dyke, aired as part of "The Wonderful World of Disney."

The special, produced by Pantheon Studios in association with The Walt Disney Family Foundation, documents the life and career of Mr. Walt Disney through interviews with people who knew him best. Just about every important event in Walt's life is covered - from his humble upbringing in middle America to his critical success in California. But most importantly Walt: The Man Behind the Myth portrays Walt ... as human.

The feature-length documentary was screened at several film festivals (including the Monte Carlo Film Festival) before airing on ABC-TV.

"The film is not whitewash, but a determined effort to provide a true, real-to-life portrait of my grandfather, in all aspects of his life." -Walter Miller, grandson of Walt Disney

(Released on DVD in 2004, Walt: The Man Behind the Myth now includes bonus material containing more in-depth interviews and home movie clips.)

Click HERE for more September 16 Disney history.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15: Music For Bugs

On this day in 1998, Disney released A Bug's Life: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack.
The soundtrack to the Disney/Pixar animated feature A Bug's Life (which wasn't released in theaters until November 1998), featured the music of Randy Newman.

Prior to A Bug's Life, Neman (already a veteran singer-songwriter known for his satirical pop songs) had also written music for the 1995 Toy Story and the 1996 James and the Giant Peach.

The opening track to A Bug's Life album - "The Time of Your Life," written and performed by Newman, is the only song with a vocal in the collection. The remaining 19 cuts are orchestral cues (conducted by Newman himself).

Click HERE for much more September 15 Disney history.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14: Muppets Tonight Episode 202

Muppets Tonight, a live-action/puppet television series created by Jim Henson Productions, was a continuation of the original series The Muppet Show (which had debuted back in 1976). This new series also featured the classic Muppets (and some new ones) in fresh skits with multiple guest stars.

Originally broadcast on ABC in 1996, after one season Muppets Tonight moved to the Disney Channel and on this day in 1997, episode 202 debuted with guest star Rick Moranis.

Moranis, a comic actor best known for his work on SCTV and such classic features as Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors, had also starred in Disney's 1989 comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (Moranis later starred in the sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, the park attraction Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and finally Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.)

Episode 202 was directed by Brian Henson, son of Muppet creator Jim Henson. New episodes of Muppets Tonight continued until February 1998.

Click HERE for more September 14 Disney history.