Sunday, December 08, 2013

Belated Walt Birthday Tribute

Last Thursday, December 5, marked what would have been the 112th birthday of creative genius Walt Disney. Today's belated tribute celebrates that momentous day with a recently acquired assortment of photos featuring Walt himself. The first one from August 1954 shows him with a model train, inside of what I believe to be the machine shop at the Disney Studios in Burbank. It is easy to attempt to interpret Walt's thoughts, especially since he isn't around anymore, but this particular quote on Disneyland is about as clear as it gets:

“I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.”

Face it...the main loved trains. If you do, too, you might enjoy this clip of Walt's backyard train setup. It's a wonderful glimpse of him having a ball and enjoying life:

The Lilly Belle, Walt's beloved miniature train that is featured in the video, can now be seen at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francsicso:

Moving forward to 1961, this onset photo from the film "The Parent Trap" shows Walt with director David Swift and stunning leading lady Maureen O'Hara. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Sound by Robert O. Cook, and the other for Film Editing by Philip W. Anderson.

O'Hara was a knockout as Maggie, the spunky ex-wife of her soon-to-be-remarried ex-hubby, Mitch (Brian Keith). Here they are during a dinner cleverly arranged by their twin daughters (played by Hayley Mills) who would like nothing more than to have their parents reunited. The black eye on Keith's character was courtesy of his feisty ex, who had no interest in being told what to do.

I defy anyone with a pulse to have a dry eye during this little romantic reunion scene from the finale of the film. The chemistry between Keith and O'Hara is supreme.

OK, this is about Walt, not Maureen O'Hara. Pardon me for the interuption.

For the Pepsi-Cola small world exhibit entrance at the 1964 World's Fair in New York, Walt wanted a "wow." He spent $200,000 on 100 ton Wally Crump creation that was 120'/12 stories high and 46' wide at the base. This creative medley of mobiles was called The Tower of the Four Winds and required a 60' deep foundation to keep it from blowing over. Opening Day for the fair was April 22, 1964; the Disney press release for the occasion described the Tower in this way:

"Attached to three primary columns and four slender buttresses will be more than 100 spinning, swiveling, oscillating elements of as many colors and shapes. Propellers of every description and size, a miniature, purely decorative carousel with animals from several countries (a giraffe, camel, reindeer, llama, horse, elephant and donkey), a stylized representation of the sun; figures of birds, flying fish, winged dragon, butterflies, bees and other creatures—all will be in perpetual motion."

Although it was well received and "Meet me at the Tower of the Four Winds" became a catch-phrase for the fair, the Tower was basically dismantled and dumped. I am not sure if the model on display in the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World is the same one from the photo with Walt, but for sentimental reasons, I'd like to think so.

However, zooming in to the descriptive display material, it would appear that this is most likely a modern-day recreation.

Last one for today is a Bob Taylor cartoon this was the most fitting of tributes to Walt when he passed away.

The quote sums it up perfectly:

"Laughter and Happiness for children of all ages."

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Snow White Archive said...

Nice pics Dave. Walt looks happy in that first image inside the machine shop.

K. Martinez said...

The first images of Walt with his model train is great!

It's kind of hard to ignore Maureen O'Hara. She was very beautiful and one of my favorite actresses. I loved her in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "How Green Was My Valley", not to mention all the other films she was in.

In "The Parent Trap" she strongly resembled how my mother looked back in the 1960s with the fashion and hairstyle.

These are great photos today. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Agree, "Parent Trap" was a wonderful film and the remake was a joke, second rate talent throughout,IMHO.

That last cartoon looks familiar from the Walt Disney Museum in SF. The final hallway exhibit there is very moving.