Thursday, July 31, 2014

I am always amazed at how Chronicle Books manages to produce some truly gorgeous books about the making of movies that are at times totally uninteresting. Case in point: The Art of Planes which I enjoyed tremendously even though I have absolutely no interest in the movie itself (a rare exception when it comes to Pixar movies).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I have received last week review copies of four new books released by Theme Park Press over the last few months. My favorite one is Service with Character by David Lesjak which includes a lot of material that I had never seen before. That book is a "must have".

If you enjoy Kindle books then that is the version of David's book you want to get since it contains illustrations, which is not the case of the physical book. But you know me and my love for physical books. Considering how cheap the Kindle version is, I would recommend getting both the physical book and the Kindle one. But that is just me, of course!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I need your help.

This letter was sent by Disney artist Kay Nielsen to a friend on December 1940. As you can see, his handwritting is a real challenge.

Here is my current interpretation of the text:

[We are all right, only we are deadly tired – now the dentist is over – it was a horror and [dominated] all my weekends for three months. Tomorrow I am to have the first conference on The Swan of Tuonela. I have got Bill [Wallett] back and he is going to work with me on that music – and it is wonderful music too – only I wished I was not quite so tired. I have done too much and worked too hard on the little [XXX] but I hope this will be good – it might too. I seem to be the sombre sector at that place. God knows whether they really like it – and I have yet to hear anything about the new contract. Strange we must admit.]

Could you help me figure out the XXX? Am I making some mistakes on some other words?

[UPDATE: As many of you noted, the missing word is "mermaid". This now appears so obvious that I want to kick myself ;-)] 

[And here is the corrected text thanks to several of you:

"We are all right, only we are deadly tired—now the dentist is over—it was a hard one—it ruined all my weekends for three months. Tomorrow I am to have the first conference on The Swan of Tuonela. I have got Bill [Wallett] back, and he is going to work with me on that music—and it is wonderful music too—only I wish I was not quite so tired. I have done too much—or worked too hard on The Little Mermaid. But I hope this will be good—it ought to. I seem to be the sombre note at that place. God knows whether they really like it—and I have not yet heard anything about the new contract. Strange one must admit."]

Monday, July 28, 2014

I had the pleasure of watching this weekend on Netflix the episode of American Experience from PBS about Henry Ford and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am mentioning this, of course, because its director is Sarah Colt, who is in the process of directing a 4-hour long documentary about Walt Disney which will be released in the fall of next year on PBS.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Sarah earlier this year and know that she has done her homework. I have a feeling this documentary will be something truly special and I am hoping that it will be one of the best movies about Walt to date.

Time will tell...

Friday, July 25, 2014

I just ordered the books Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles' Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier and Pleasure Island (Images of Modern America). They are not Disney history books, of course, but so many former Disney Imagineers worked on those two parks that I know many of you would like to be aware of their existence.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The documentary about Disney and Italy, which I mentioned a while back on the blog has finally been released in DVD. The good news is that the DVD contains English subtitles (but it uses the European format, so unless you have a multi-zone player you will not be able to watch it in the US).

The documentary is very weak, both from a structural standpoint and from the point of view of historical accuracy. However it contains enough rare sequences of Walt visiting Italy for me to be happy to own it. I am a very special nut case, of course, so I would not really recommend any of you outside of Italy to pick that one up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This just in from Jim Lentz at Heritage Auctions:

[Did you know Heritage auctions weekly Comic and Animation auction is selling tons of vintage disney animation drawings cels and extibles each week? If you could let people know I'd appreciate it.  This week a ton of feature animation 1990 crew jackets as well as great 30s Disney animation drawings.  These type itmes are up every week!]

I didn't know and I enjoyed what I saw.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not 100% Disney history related but I am very much looking forward to Sebastien Roffat's second volume of his history of animation in France, now available on

Monday, July 21, 2014

This just in from one of Disney Legend Cy Young's relatives. Does one of you speak Mandarin? Could you help me dig out the info related to Young's early career in China?

If so, please email me at

[Dear Didier
My Grand-uncle Cyrus Young’s given name in Chinese is 锡冶 See Yeh, and his second name is 左匋 (Zuo Tao).  The following websites might help you to find some of his early activities in fine arts in China.]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Very interesting ebook released recently on the iTunes Store for $4.99. If you want to get the pdf copy, you cal email Dexter Francis at

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The autobiography of Bobby Burgess has just been released by Theme Park Press...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This photo just in from Gunnar Andreassen.

Monday, July 14, 2014

J.B. Kaufman's new book, Pinocchio: The Disney Epic, which will be released in February of next year is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Can't wait!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cover for the program of an event that took place in El Paso quite a few ago. Found on ebay recently by Gunnar Andreassen. I love it!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fun letter found on ebay recently.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

One more magazine with a Disney cover (from Portugal - 1938) thanks to Gunnar Andreassen.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

This just in from Garry Apgar from Film Daily, July 2, 1938, p. 2.

Monday, July 07, 2014

At the celebration of the "Victoires du Cinéma Français 1948" given at the ministry of Industry in Paris. From lef to right, the winners: Monsieur Bellfort representing Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, Jennifer Jones, Jean-Pierre Mauclaire, director of Cinémonde magazine, Robert Lacoste and François Mitterrand, ministers of Commerce and Industry, and minister of Information, Louis Jouvet, Michèle Morgan, Jean Cocteau, Jean Delannoy, Louis Jourdan representing Grégory Peck. Cinémonde July 4, 1949.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Disney artists Art Stevens and Charlie Downs clowning around. Courtesy of Julie Svendsen.

A great 4th of July to all of you! Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

This just in. Can anyone help?

[My name is Chelsea, and I am a Cinema and Animation student at Elon University. I am currently completing an Honors undergraduate thesis on the use of stereoscopic 3D in hand-drawn animation. As part of my research, I am looking into older methods of converting Disney-style animation into 3D, including Disney's own work in the field. I came across your Disney History blog while collecting articles, and was impressed by the depth and detail of your archive. At the moment, I am running into a roadblock in my search, and am hoping you can shine a light on where to look next for new information.

Specifically, I am trying to learn more about the short films Melody and Working for Peanuts, both released by Disney in 1953. While I know these films were both produced in 3D (Melody being the first 3D animated film ever), I'm having a hard time learning anything about the specific processes used to convert the 2D animation into a 3D viewing format. Most 3D history books focus on live-action 3D films, and I wouldn't know where to start looking in Disney short film research. As both 3D filmmaking and Disney history are not taught by my school, my professors are equally unsure of where to look for more information.

In your research, have you come across any references to the techniques used in the production of either of these films? Are there any books or DVD extras you would recommend? Or, are there any websites, archives, or other historians you would point to as a better source of insight? Any information about these films and their creative process would be a great boon to my research and final thesis paper.

Thank you very much for reading, and have a wonderful day!]

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

While looking for some information about Gustaf Tenggren's work on Bambi for my upcoming book, I stumbled upon this great interview with Maurice "Jake" Day and his photographic work in Maine for Bambi which I know you will all enjoy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Some truly unique documents in Heritage's new auction. Call client services at 877 437 4824 if you want to register to bid.  (You can't bid without registering).