Friday, February 28, 2014

May 1964 Treasures, Pt. 3

Disneyland Enchanted Tiki Room May 1964 photo

Our May 1964 girls seem to have recovered sufficiently enough from the Matterhorn to be able to enjoy a little air conditioned comfort in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Those purses they have are cracking me up.

I am guessing that this particular shot is the last one from their trip, arms full of souvenirs and the balloon that was purchased from the Town Square vendor.

Disneyland Entrance May 1964 photo

I'd venture to say that they had a good time.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

May 1964 Treasures, Pt. 2

Disneyland Town Square balloon seller May 1964 photo

I think I made a goof yesterday. Our May 1964 brunette did not go shopping at the Main Street U.S.A. Flower Market; instead, it appears that her purse/handbag is very festively adorned. Oops. One less sale that day for the Flower Market. Today's post shows the before and after faces of riding on the Matterhorn. All seems calm in the first shot, with purses being adjusted and last glances around the area by cool dude in the shades (he looks like Boon from "Animal House")

Second view of the aftermath: the blonde with the bubble-cut looks like she is in a state of ecstasy. Her friend cautiously exiting the vehicle looks like she could hurl. Good thing her handbag seems sturdy! The cast member doesn't seem to be offering too much help.

Disneyland Town Square balloon seller May 1964 photo

One more installment left for this series - see you tomorrow!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

May 1964 Treasures, Pt. 1

Disneyland Town Square balloon seller May 1964 photo

This set of black and white images hold a special place in my heart for two reasons. First, the people in these photos seem to be having so much fun. Second, they are from the month and year of my birth. Sounds valid to me! Our establishing shot of Town Square shows that the Marine Corps families must be in da' house:

Disneyland Town Square balloon seller May 1964 photo

Shot number 2 is a typical site; a guest reaching into their purse/wallet. This lady has been charmed by the balloon seller and is adding to her stash of Disneyland treasures, which appears to already include some plastic flowers from the Main Street Flower Market:

Disneyland Town Square balloon seller May 1964 photo

More great images to come from this set!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Viewliner: BW vs. Color



This undated black and white image of the Tomorrowland Viewliner (June 26, 1957–Sept. 15, 1958) almost looks like a miniature model layout. Of course, for us Disneyland fanatics, we know the truth. Zooming in, you can see that the interior was not very roomy.



A previously posted color image is from a similar angle:





This August 1958 shot, taken one month before the Viewliner attraction was removed, is a bit dark...



but still provides a fantastic view of the front of the Tomorrowland Train, which was a reddish salmon color:



A shot of the Fantasyland Viewliner, which was painted blue:



Which transportation of the future's style do you prefer: The Viewliner or the Monorail?

With the impending release of the Disney blockbuster "Frozen" on home video, here's a bonus "Making Of" clip for you:


Making of Frozen - Frozen Behind the Scenes on Disney Video

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Too Creative For Disney: Class of 1970-something



This month's Vanity Fair contains an excellent article by Sam Kashner called "The Class that Roared," detailing a time in Disney animation history when the old guard was ready for retirement and the need for new blood was dire:

"The great renaissance of animation (Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ratatouille, etc.) has come almost entirely from one now famous group of students at the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. As students, they owed it all to Walt Disney, but as pros, many hit a wall at Disney's studios."

The list of Cal Arts students from this era (shown in the Annie Leibovitz photo above) reads like a Who's Who List of today's best: Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Musker, Glen Keane, Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Henry Selick, Gary Trousdale, Mike Giaimo...just to name a few. "People think it was the businessmen, the suits who turned Disney Animation around. But it was the new generation of animators, mostly from CalArts," states Brad Bird in the article.

This scenario is seen often, and it is not unique to animation. Here's how it starts: a new and cutting-edge business is begun, creating a buzz and excitement in its industry. The public adores it, rushes to take part in it, and puts money in the heretofore empty coffers of that business. Naturally, the public wants more as soon as possible, forcing this company to quickly churn out more of its product to satisfy the audience's needs and to keep those coffers full so that they can all keep their jobs. Sounds like a fantastic situation, right?

Here's where the problems begin: during the first phase, the new cutting-edge business is able to fly under the radar since they are brand new. The public is not fully aware of them nor do they have any pre-conceived expectations, which is the really important part. Once the blockbuster product is released and the public has spent their money, they become a sort of stockholder. They express their opinions, make suggestions, and become increasingly more critical of what is being produced. This puts a lot more pressure on said company, who finds that their creative freedom is now hampered by fiscal responsibility. The ideas become less cutting-edge as they are forced to create more of the same, as "Don't mess with success!" becomes the business' motto. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that while this will create short-term profits, the long-term success is doubtful, as this particular business will eventually be usurped by a new business who comes up with something new and different. Sounds like a vicious circle, right?

This is exactly where Disney animation was in the 1970s. Nothing new, nothing cutting edge...just a very watered-down version of what had put them on the map back in the 1930s.



At Cal Arts, the aforementioned rag-tag group of "new kids on the block" were taught and mentored by some of the greats from the Disney studio, including Marc Davis. Bill Moore (a design teacher who had come out of the Chouinard Art Institute) did not want to join the faculty. "Why would I want to teach a bunch of kids whose only interest is in making Mickey's tail wag?" Brad Bird recalls how eye-opening it was to learn from Moore that "design was all around you." Moore told his students, "I'm not going to teach you color. I'm not going to teach you how to draw. What I'm going to do is teach you how to think." According to Diaimo ("Frozen," "Pocahontas"), "He took you to the edge of anxiety, fear, and frustration, and then you learned. He had an amazing style." Gary Trousdale recalls that Moore would single out one person almost daily as the genius of the day. John Lasseter would often be the recipient of this honor. After a solid streak of almost 3 weeks of this title, Moore called one of his pieces "true shit." When Lasseter appeared upset, the unfiltered Moore told him, "John, you can't wake up with a hard-on every morning."



Once this group of young upstarts was ready for graduation into the big leagues at Disney, they found that the studio didn't know what to do with them. Scared of trying something new, but aware that what they were doing wasn't really grabbing the public anymore, the Disney Studio let the new kids languish. As Vanity Fair tells it, "The new recruits were on fire and full of ideas, and management was wary." For 1981's "The Fox and the Hound" (the first assignment for the animation mavericks) anything new or creative was vetoed or watered down to the point to where it was just plain boring. Brad Bird's favorite scene is the bear fight, which he says is only as good as it is because the studio ran out of time to "ruin it."



In the meantime, Burton had been fired for "Frankenweenie" (the original live-action version from 1984). "They wanted artists but turned them into zombies on an assembly line."



It wasn't until "The Little Mermaid" (1989) that this group was allowed the creative freedom necessary to breathe life back into Disney Animation.



To see what happened during the making of that movie, "Waking Sleeping Beauty" is a fantastic documentary about all of the blood, sweat, and tears that were involved. In the meantime, be sure to read the Vanity Fair article.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Six Degrees of Shirley: San Diego's Neil Morgan



Sorry for the Shirley Temple overload folks, but I'll just warn you now...it will probably continue for a bit. Today, author Rita Dubas shared a little tidbit that should appeal to ST and San Diego admirers alike. As she tells it:

"I wanted to send two images of an item that made me think of you with your San Diego connection—I ran across this 45 rpm record a couple of years ago and did some research at the time on Neil Morgan, a San Diego Tribune columnist/author. I looked him up again yesterday, and discovered that he passed just 10 days before Shirley, at age 89! Not sure why Shirley is pictured on the 45 sleeve; I think the other woman is Morgan’s wife, Judith. I’m assuming they were friends, and this must date from the mid-60s with the Dr. Strangelove reference. It seems he was an accomplished pianist, all snark on the record notes aside."

Never heard of Neil Morgan? He was an award-winning newsman, author, and San Diego media icon recently passed away at the age of 89.

“He loved this city. He nagged it,” wife Judith Morgan said Saturday evening.

He wrote for the San Diego Tribune from 1950—1992 in positions including columnist and editor. He continued writing at The San Diego Union-Tribune, the newspaper created from the merger of the San Diego Union and the Tribune, and later for the nonprofit Voice of San Diego, a news and opinion website that he helped start.

“If it’s important and it happened — or is about to happen — in San Diego, odds are it will show up in Morgan’s column first,” San Diego Magazine noted in 1981.

He and his wife collaborated on several magazine articles and books, including “Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography,” an authorized biography of writer and illustrator Ted Geisel.

“We were blessed because we were married almost 50 years and had the joy of respecting each other, loving each other and writing together,” his wife said.



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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Uncle Butch in Hollywood



1940's matinee idol Cesar Julio Romero, Jr. was born in NYC, February 15, 1907. Despite playing a latin lover in numerous musicals and romantic comedies opposite Carmen Miranda and Betty Grable, he is probably best remembered as the Joker in the campy "Batman" 1960's TV series, a role which put him on TV Guide's 2013 list of "The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time."

In this photo, Romero plays Khoda Khan opposite Shirley Temple in the 1937 John Ford classic, "Wee Willie Winkie."



Romero was never married; according to the Hollywood gossip rags, he was a "confirmed bachelor" (secret code word of the day). He was never at a loss for "dates" though when it came to parties and premieres, as he was frequently photographed with Joan Crawford (who dubbed him "Uncle Butch"), Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball, Jane Wyman, and Ginger Rogers.

Romero was teamed with Shirley Temple again in 1939, portraying Ram Dass (someone's idea of a bad pun?) in "The Little Princess."



As The Joker in the hit TV series Batman, Romero refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role, which is why viewers can see his trademark mustache poking through the white clown makeup he wore. Sure, Jack Nicholson did a great job on the silver screen as The Joker, but Romero's crazy interpretation will always be tops in my book. Recalling how he got the part:

"I was very surprised when [producer William Dozier] called me and said he was doing a series called Batman (1966) and the important characters were the villains. They had done the first two with the Riddler and the Penguin with Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith, and now they were ready to do the third, and the villain was the Joker. He said, 'I would like you to play the part.' So I said I would like to read the script and know what it is all about. He said, "Come on over to the studio, and I will show you the film of the first episode.' Of course, it was great. I said, 'Let me read this Joker part, and if it is as good as the first one, hell yes, I will do it.' So I read the script, and I thought it was a gas, and I said, 'Sure, I'll do it.' Why Dozier wanted me for Batman, I'll never know, because I asked his wife, Ann Rutherford, 'Why did Bill think of me for this part?' She said, 'I don't know, Butch. He said he saw you in something, and he said, 'He's the one I want to play the Joker'.' I haven't the slightest idea what it was he saw me in, because I had never done anything like it before."

Here he is with Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. They were puuuuuurfect together.



"I had enormous fun playing the Joker on 'Batman.' I ended up doing something like 20 episodes of it, as well as the full-length feature film version, 'Batman: The Movie.' There was certainly nothing hard about that assignment! Even the make-up sessions weren't too bad. It took about an hour-and-a-half to put the full make-up on, including the green wig. I didn't mind it at all."

According to Dozier: "Jose Ferrer was my first choice for the Joker. He either didn't want to do it or couldn't. He has kicked himself ever since. 'Butch' Romero, who I had known forever, was the second choice for the Joker, and I am not sure he did not turn out better than Jose. I am not sure that Jose would have captured the frivolity and the ludicrousness of the character. I think he may have taken himself a little too seriously as an actor to do that."

Burt Ward, who played Robin, recalled: "Cesar was Mr. Professionalism and never missed a line or made a mistake…not even once! His Joker laugh became world famous. I can't tell you how many kids (and I am embarrassed to say how many adults) came up to me at personal appearances and taunted me by impersonating Cesar's laugh! Cesar was a great asset to our show."



Yvonne Craig, who would later work with Cesar in Batman, also worked with him in 1961's "Seven Women from Hell." As she tells it: "I was suddenly overwhelmed by the cloyingly sweet smell of gardenias. Without turning around I said, 'Ugh, can you believe we're going to spend three weeks surrounded by the odor of rotting gardenias?' I turned around to meet Cesar Romero whose 'signature' cologne was something called Jungle Gardenia! If he made the connection between this fact and my comment, he never let on."

In the "Batman" movie, former Miss America Lee Meriwether won the role of Catwoman. "Cesar was the one who took me under his wing when I came on the set," she recalled. "He welcomed me, and he said, 'Don't worry, you'll do fine. Let me help you, and if there is anything I could do to help you, just let me kow.' So, in the actual filming, he would position me into place, because I was wearing a mask. My field of vision was almost tunnel. So, I missed my mark a couple of times, and he just eased me and pushed me right to theplace where we were supposed to end up. He was right there and always wonderful."

At the age of 78, Romero was cast as Jane Wyman's love interest in the top-rated prime-time soap opera Falcon Crest, playing Peter Stavros from 1985—1987.



Romero died on New Year's Day 1994 from bronchitis and pneumonia. Yvonne Craig recalled being surprised at his death. "He had been out and about town dancing the night away only the week before. He loved life and got the most out of it!"

His laugh will eternally remain in the ears of those who caught his portrayal of the Joker. You are missed, Uncle Butch!



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Friday, February 21, 2014

Scarlett Loves Muslin



"The Wizard of Oz" isn't the only classic movie celebrating a 75th Anniversary this year. "Gone with the Wind" is eligible for the diamonds associated with this milestone event, too. While Margaret Mitchell's heroine, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) is best known for the amazing Walter Plunkett gowns that she wore in the film, this post focuses on the plainest one, known as the muslin dress. Here's a make-up test shot. If you had to wear the same outfit as much as Vivien Leigh did, you'd be crying too.



Worn during some of the most important scenes in the film, Vivien Leigh is shown here getting ready to ask Dr. Meade for help in delivering Melanie's (Olivia DeHavilland) baby.



Dr. Meade gives the naive Scarlett a wake-up call by pointing out all the wounded Confederate soldiers that he must attend to; the baby will have to be born without him. He also tells her that next time she needs a favor, she might want to spruce up a bit. He is obviously not partial to muslin.



In this behind-the-scenes cast photo, you might think that Leigh is in the lower left-hand corner of this shot, standing in line like all the other extras to get her lunch.



Not so. The poor schlep in this photo is her stand-in.



Vivien was probably eating filet mignon in her dressing room. Or perhaps a watercress sandwich so that she could maintain Scarlett's 17" waist.

Back at Aunt Pittypat's house, Scarlett (still wearing the muslin dress) asks Prissy for assistance in delivering the baby. We all know how that ended up; Prissy got one whiff of that stinky dress and told her she was on her own!



Rhett stops by the house and picks up all three ladies (plus Melanie's newborn) and agrees to take them to Tara. With the Yankees on the way to Atlanta, there is no time for Scarlett to change dresses. The muslin must be getting a bit stinky by now. At least she had time to change hats.



Rhett abandons the ladies to join the war effort and they finish the journey on their own. Truth be told, Rhett was probably repulsed by the muslin dress. Who knows when the last time was that it hit the suds. Instead of vowing "never to be hungry again," Scarlett should have vowed to get some new clothes. Even Melanie is gasping at the smell of the muslin dress by now.



Scarlett throws herself at Ashley's (Leslie Howard) feet, stealing a kiss. He rebuffs her, too. Doesn't Scarlett realize that wearing the same dress every day is killing her social life?



Even Scarlett's father, Gerald O'Hara (Thomas Mitchell), begs her to change clothes. The neighbors are beginning to talk.



Screaming in horror, Scarlett finally realizes what a mess she has become. This war stuff is nasty business!



Courtesy of her mother's portieres (a fancy word for drapes) and Mammy's skills as a seamstress, Scarlett gets a new outfit. VoilĂ , the birth of the famous green velvet dress; the muslin outfit was never seen again.



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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fifties Fort Wilderness Fun



Hard to believe, but this fairly barren plot of land is Tom Sawyer's Island. The trees are still young, and the island itself is pretty much undeveloped in this November 1958 shot. Where else but Disneyland could you find themed trash cans?!?

The handmade sign to the right points to the Pirate's Den and the Merry-Go-Round-Rock, which became a casualty to a more "safety" minded park.



With this June 1959 image, it's possible to go right up to the gates and walk inside.



Today, the Fort's restyled Lincoln-log exterior remains closed:



Back to July 1959: what a hive of activity! Fort Wilderness is swarming with kids who are having the time of their lives.



Today, guests are not allowed inside the Fort; they can only access restrooms on the exterior.



I am sure that makes sense to somebody...just not to me.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

All Aboard the Disneyland Stagecoach



From 1955 until 1960, Disneyland guests could take a bumpy ride along the trails of Frontierland inside the comfort (?) of an old fashioned stagecoach. The first image for today is from 1955, followed by a November 1958 shot.



Naturally I had to zoom in for a detailed closeup. Something tells me that there's no way safety codes would allow guests of today to ride on top of a Stagecoach.



You'll note that for publicity photos, the Stagecoaches were not quite as full!



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