Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traveling Thursdays: Mom Goes To Europe, 1955, Pt. 3

Back to Europe...the only information I have on this first photo is my mother’s caption, “Showcoach at Kentwood, Sept. 9, 1955.”

Next up we have a batch of shots all labeled Oxford, Magdalen Tower, Sept. 9, 1955. Magdalen Bell Tower is one of the oldest (and tallest) parts of Magdalen College, Oxford. Built of stone from 1492 and completed by 1509.

A shot of my Grandmother at Oxford.

Closing in for a view of what the well-dressed lady would wear in 1955. DO NOT forget the gloves!

The next day, my Mom and Grandmother visited Warwick Castle, on Sept. 10, 1955. It is a medieval castle in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, England that sits on a bend on the River Avon. The castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and used as a fortification until the early 17th century, when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978.

Getting literary on you...Shakespeare’s House, Sept. 10, 1955

Ann Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) family’s cottage:

Originally, the house was part of a 90-acre parcel. Not bad for a “cottage.”

Zooming in to the previous shot, you can see my Mom and Grandmother.

The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Sept. 10, 1955. The present theatre opened in April 1932 on the site of the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre which had been destroyed by fire on March 6, 1926. It is now managed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and was renamed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961.

See more vintage and contemporary photos at my main website.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

November 1962: Nature's Wonderland

Looks like the gang chose Nature's Wonderland as their next attraction. I'm guessing they either wanted a cocktail really badly or perhaps they had a toothache as they shot two photos of Pat Casey's Last Chance Saloon and the Dental office above (love that gold tooth—wonder where it is today?).

In this view, not only do we get to see the Mine Trains themselves, but Mineral Hall.

As you all know, I just LOVE to zoom in and check out the details. I also wonder what happened to all the stuff in the Mineral Hall exhibit?

And finally, a shot of the actual attraction itself: the Devil's Paint Pots and the Unfaithful Geysers:

See more vintage Nature's Wonderland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

November 1962: What to do next?

Our November 1962 photographer was last seen documenting his Monorail experience; it’s only natural that he and his entourage experienced a journey through liquid space next. These two shots were taken aboard the Submarine Voyage attraction.

From the land of Tomorrow to the land of the past, our group visits Frontierland next. Standing near Nature’s Wonderland, they look somewhat confused.

What to do, what to do? Personally, I would stop by Aunt Jemima's and have some buckwheat pancakes, but that's just me.

Zooming in, I love the look of concentration on these guest's faces as they consult the guidebook in an attempt to figure out which attraction to experience next.

See more vintage and contemporary Disneyland Monorail photos at my main website.

Monday, March 28, 2011

November 1962: Riding The Monorail

Today in the digital age, it's possible to take a few hundred shots and not think a thing about it. Back in the olden days, each shot was a precious commodity that cost money in both film as well as developing. This particular batch of photos stamped from November 1962 seems rare as it appears to document a trip on the Monorail, starting at the Disneyland Hotel Monorail station. I’ll take one of those cocktails, please!

Here you can see the train leaving the Main Street Station, with the cattle and excursion cars pulling up the rear.

Coming into Tomorrowland, the Monorail circles around to get a view of the Matterhorn and Skyway.

The refreshing cool blue water below beckons to guests to brave the Submarine Voyage and all of its liquid space mysteries.

Last shot shows the guests exiting down the Tomorrowland Monorail Station ramp.

See more vintage and contemporary Disneyland Monorail photos at my main website.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pat Casey's Last Chance

One of the structures from Rainbow Ridge that always seems to stand out is Pat Casey's Last Chance Saloon. In photo #1, Tony Curtis, Suzanne Pleshette, and Claire Wilcox pose in a Mine Car for Nature’s Wonderland with the saloon visible in the background for the 1962 movie “40 Pounds of Trouble.”

In vivid color, we can see the bright reds in this next shot, also taken in 1962:

To put things in perspective, let’s pull back a bit to see where it the saloon fit in with the other businesses in Rainbow Ridge:

Unfortunately, Pat Casey’s didn’t make the transfer over into the “new” Rainbow Ridge which is part of the Big Thunder Mountain attraction. The saloon seen today pales in comparison. And to add insult to injury, no dental work is done at the new place!

See more vintage Disneyland Rainbow Ridge photos at my main website.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Screen Gem Saturdays: Elizabeth Taylor Tribute

As a tribute to the recently departed Elizabeth Taylor, here’s a few photos of her from my collection. First up are two previously posted photos of Liz with Eddie Fisher and kids at Disneyland.

At Club 33 in 1973 with her family:

Obviously Disneyland was a favorite spot of hers, since her 60th birthday was held there on February 27, 1992. Can you imagine renting out the park for just you and your friends?!?

This photo was taken on the set of “Rebel Without A Cause.” Liz is wearing a costume from “Giant,” in which James Dean would costar with her.

A few on set photos of Liz in “Giant,” with Rock Hudson & Mercedes McCambridge. These were taken in Marfa, Texas.

Last but not least, a painting that I did many moons ago inspired by “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”

To see more Movie & TV photos, visit my main website.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mr. Lincoln & Lee Romaire

For those of you who have enjoyed the refurbished “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” this post should be a treat. The talented Lee Romaire, the man behind the new sculpt of Mr. Lincoln, was gracious enough to let me interview him for my site.

Q. Please give us a brief background of how you came to be a portrait sculptor.

A. Actually, I'm not a portrait sculptor. I am a creature and character special effects artist, with a strong background in sculpting. The reason I was brought on to the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln project is because my studio has been working with Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development (R&D) for about seven years now on various projects. One of the projects we have worked on together has been the development of a more realistic designs for human Audio Animatronics figures, which turned out to be an all-new head for the Abraham Lincoln figure at Disneyland, and they asked me to be a part of the team.

Do you have any memories of the original Great Moments attraction? Was this a special project in that regards to you? And have you any other history with Disney and/or Disneyland?

I do not have memories of the original Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln attraction, but I certainly have memories of the original Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World in Orlando. I was there two weeks after opening day; that trip changed my entire life and is a big part of why I do what I do for a living. I am a bit of a Disney geek. I remember my parents bought me a Country Bear Jamboree vinyl album when I was in first grade, and when I got home, I asked the teacher if I could play the album for the class and I acted out each of the bear parts for my classmates. Of course I asked the teacher to leave the room because I was too embarrassed to act in front of her, and she respectfully honored my request.

As far as other projects I have worked on for Disney, they include the Remy figure, the Muppet Mobile Lab, the Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea, and quite a few other things that aren't public yet but will be in the near future.

Discuss the process of creating this Mr. Lincoln; did you do the research on your own or were you given some guidelines/materials as to what Abe should look like by the team at Disney?

I was asked by Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development to sculpt Mr. Lincoln, but I also wanted to be a part of the figure finishing: the hair, eyes, skin etc. They eventually asked me to be part of his entire look with the exception of the clothing and the animation. Tony Baxter, who is the Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering, and Valerie Edwards, who was Head Sculptor of Imagineering, in addition to my team members at R&D , all had various notes, both aesthetic and technical, that I had to follow. Tony wanted the Lincoln figure to be a bit more attractive and heroic than previous versions, yet we had to keep Lincoln exactly how he is. We did this by “cheating” certain elements in his face up or down to make him a bit more symmetrical; I also gave him a more generous hairline than Lincoln had. The thing about Lincoln is that there are so many photographs taken of him, and in each one he appears a bit different; he’s quite a chameleon. So we did have a bit of license to make him more attractive.

We went to great detail to make him authentic though; Lincoln’s eyes are particularly important. We had to make one eyelid lower than another. He also has white showing under his irises so we had to include that as well. One eyebrow has a peak in it, and his lip is crooked and one side is jutted out. All of these details have to be present in order for him to appear authentic.

I did help with some of the research into color and the way the hair is attached, etc. It was an ongoing project of about 8 months, but from a mechanical and skin standpoint, they had been working on it for 3 or more years on and off.

When doing the sculpt, did you have to take into consideration that the face would be moving? And how far into the process were you on board? For example, once the mechanics inside the head were added, did you have to come back for any touchups or was your portion already a done deal?

I had to sculpt the face in a relaxed, slightly open mouthed position. I can't go into great detail about the skin, but it did have to have a certain thickness in certain areas to make it move well. I had to first sculpt him in his classic look with a closed mouth, and then gently open the mouth, but keep his same characteristics, so that when he closes his mouth, he will look like Abraham Lincoln. As you can imagine, it was very difficult.

I have noticed that the Mr. Lincoln Audio-Animatronics figure has much more realistic eyes than the ones in the Hall of Presidents in Orlando. Can you explain the difference?

That is a very interesting question and I'm glad you asked it. The eyes are one of the most defining aspects of any character or likeness, and if you can get the look in the eyes right, you can find the character. This all new electric head created by R&D has some amazing new skin technology created by Imagineers Phil Jackson and Bryan Tye. It allows us to really shape the outer eye, eyelid, and eyebrow, so that it's less like a doll eye and more like a real person. We could really hone in on that wise look that Lincoln had. More importantly though, we can keep the look consistent as the skin comes on and off for repair. The older figures, while cutting edge for their time, did not have the skin adhesion technology that this new electric head has. So when the mechanic would take the skin off for repairs, it wouldn't go on exactly like it was before. The eyebrows were pinned on and off, and that slight change also changes the character. So over time, the character slowly loses the look that was originally created. Now, with the new Lincoln figure, there will be a consistency that Disneyland can maintain and he will always look the same for decades to come.

See more vintage and contemporary Disneyland Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln photos at my regular my main website.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Traveling Thursdays: Mom Goes To Europe, 1955, Pt. 2

First, a few apologies on the rest of the photos from this series. One, the quality of the following photos is all over the board; my mom (admittedly) is not really a photographer and the weather (as one would expect) was often dark and cloudy. I did my best to yield some decent results, but am giving a pre-apology nevertheless.

Second, my mom’s memory of this 50+ year old trip are spotty at best, so if you’re looking for witty commentary, well...again, I will do my best. Fortunately, for most of these, she wrote down a few captions so generally I can give that much information.

These first few photos were labeled “Le Havre, Sept. 8, 1955,” obviously taken aboard the ship.

Finally on dry land, these shots were labeled “Hampton Court Palace, Sept. 8, 1955.” Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London. It was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favorite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favor, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it. It would serve as the location for the 1966 film “A Man for All Seasons.” It has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century, and is currently a major tourist attraction.

This photo was part of a batch labeled “Tower of London,” and shows the Tower Bridge.

Here are a few from the Stoke Poges Churchyard/St. Giles Parish Church, also taken on September 8, 1955 (it was apparently a busy day for mom!).

Thomas Gray's “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is believed to have been written here, and his grave can be seen in the next photo.

Naturally, I had to zoom in.

“King of Siam’s Garden at Eton College, Sept. 8, 1955” was mom’s caption for this one:

The last ones for today are from (again, according to mom’s captions) Windsor Castle:

Even with these shots, I can’t control the inner sign-geek:

See more vintage & current photos at my main website.