Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Did Somebody Say Circus?

Nope…not talking about anything political, but rather the short-lived circus that existed at Disneyland from November 1955 through 1956. This December 1956 image shows a rousing red sign touting the three ring Christmas show. 200 performing animals! Famous stars of the big top! Clowns galore (that’s a selling point?)! Music! Fun! Sounds like a sure-fire hit. Oops. Also note the very-homemade sign promoting Disneyland Guide Books for only 25¢.

Please be sure to check the special holiday hours before making your plans:

See more Disneyland entrance photos at my main website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Thank you for the use of the Hall

Poor little Shirley seemed to be a staple of the court system throughout her childhood film career! Her characters were often found charming a judge into helping her get the right adoptive family (as in 1934’s “Bright Eyes” above). Sometimes, Shirley was able to plead her case to the highest authority in the country, as she did with Abraham Lincoln (perfectly portrayed by Frank McGlynn Sr.) in 1935’s “The Littlest Rebel,” shown below. Of course he kept her on-screen father from the gallows!

In 1936’s “Stowaway,” Shirley lands in jail with co-star Robert Young who accidentally grabbed the hand of the wrong child, thinking it was Shirley. Don’t worry — they were bailed out quickly.

In the same film, Shirley’s expert (albeit coached) testimony helped keep adoptive parents (Alice Faye and Robert Young) from getting a divorce just in time for a Christmas celebration.

In “Heidi” (1937), Shirley is able to keep her grandfather (Jean Hersholt) from being locked away for kidnapping by namedropping “Herr Sessemann,” who just happened to be the wealthiest guy in town.

Shirley got creative in court in “Little Miss Broadway” (1938) by presenting a complete Broadway show as evidence to help keep her father from being evicted from the hotel that he ran.

Even in her adult career, Shirley’s characters sometimes ran afoul of the law. In “Honeymoon” (1947), an underage Shirley has trouble getting a marriage license in Mexico. Ick.

Although Shirley doesn’t appear in court in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” (1947), her sister plays a judge. Thanks to that crucial family connection, Shirley’s underage attempt to romance an older man (Cary Grant) is kept out of the judicial system!

Finally, in “Adventure in Baltimore” (1949), Shirley lands in the klink for being part of a women’s rights protest. Father (Robert Young) has to bail her and the rest of the family out of jail.

Fortunately in real life, Shirley stayed on the right side of the law!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Walt and the Mark Twain

The Mark Twain Riverboat obviously held a special place for Walt Disney; its maiden voyage was on July 13th, celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary to his beloved wife Lillian. Imagine having that boat all to yourself and 300 of your closest friends for a private tour around the Rivers of America! This vintage shot shows Walt himself at the dock of the Twain on December 20, 1959. No security in site; no huge entourage; no paparazzi. Just Walt, the guy who dreamed up the most magical theme park ever created.

This photo was taken at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon on the night of his anniversary with Lillian:

To pad out the post, here are a few other previously unposted shots of the Twain. This one is from July 10, 1957:

In the closeup view you can see some of the Native American figures along the banks with the Disneyland Railroad taking a Grand Circle Tour around the Park:

I believe I have posted this one from 1956, but it is so breathtaking it deserves a second view:

See more vintage and contemporary Disneyland Mark Twain Riverboat photos at my main website.

Friday, September 25, 2020


It’s time for the weekend, and what better way to do that than to get on the now non-existent Skyway at Disneyland? In this September 1958 image bucket #38 is soaring into the Fantasyland Skyway Station from Tomorrowland. I’d never really paid any attention to these two rooftop details before:

A closeup view of bucket #38:

Our September 1958 guest also got this shot of the Fantasyland Station:

A detailed view of the building which sadly no longer exists, either.

From May 1957, showing the buckets floating over what is now the Matterhorn:

And another shot of the Fantasyland Station from December 1957:

Hope you have a great weekend!

See more vintage Disneyland Skyway photos at my main website.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Oregon or Bust!

That was the slogan on the side of the Conestoga Wagons that were once an attraction in Frontierland at Disneyland. This 1956 shot shows the blue wagon riding along the trail with a Stagecoach right in front of it and the Mark Twain in the background.

It would appear that there were two wagons, as my collection has shots of both a blue and a red/rust colored wagon. This shot is from April 1958.

This July 1959 shot shows the slogan “Westward Ho.” Does this signify a third wagon in the fleet, or just a different covering that was exchanged for the other one? Another mystery waiting to be solved.

Hoping our friends in Oregon are ok with all the wildfires going on these days.

See more Disneyland Conestoga Wagon photos at my main website.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Disneyland Gems from ’56, Pt. 3

The final installment of 1956 gems begins with a shot of the TWA Moonliner. Most interesting part of this shot to me is the phone booth, which probably goes right over the heads of the current generation. A don’t carry it walk into put coins (what are those?) into the slot and then dial (huh?) the person you want to talk to. had to know the number of the friend/relative/business you wanted to talk to. No memory buttons to push. Can you imagine the brainpower one of these things required? Probably not.

Toning down the snark, here’s a shot of what was once known as New Orleans Street, before the quaint Louisiana city got a square of its own. Casa de Fritos was located in the green portion of this building:

You can see the sign for Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House below right:

Look how barren the banks of the Rivers of America look. Obviously the landscaping would take a few years to make this section look believable.

A detailed view of the dock, the Mark Twain, and the cast members:

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Shirley and the Penguin

In 1938’s “Little Miss Broadway,” Betsy (Shirley Temple) has to escape the orphanage to help rescue her adopted family and friends from a courtroom battle brought on by their snobby landlord (expertly played by Edna May Oliver). When Betsy arrives at her father’s hotel, she runs into Ole (El Brendel) and his penguin, who rush Betsy to the courtroom just in the nick of time. This cute little penguin was a scene-stealer in his miniature tux and top hat. Below is a shot of him “reading” the comics with Ole.

Ms. Wendling (Oliver) visits the hotel that she leases to Betsy’s adopted father, in an attempt to keep Betsy’s sister (Phyllis Brooks) away from her nephew, Roger (George Murphy). While waiting in the lobby, she encounters acrobats, dancing twins, a midget, a fast-talking cigar smoking agent, and then has the bejesus scared out of her by the penguin. Thanks to Oliver, this is one of my favorite scenes.

In this publicity shot, Shirley serves a Happy Birthday fish to the little charmer. Was this a polite offering to prevent him from stealing any scenes from her?

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Marlo Monday: That Girl!

Although Marlo Thomas’ 1965 “Two’s Company” sitcom pilot flopped, the ABC network realized they had a future star on their hands and promised her a series of her own. Thomas pitched the idea of a young woman who wants to become an actress and struggles to find success in New York City. Not only was the concept of a single working girl being the focus of a show new territory for television, so was Thomas (a female) being the producer (only Lucille Ball preceded her). The resulting sitcom “That Girl” ran from 1966-1971. Despite pressure from the network and sponsor, Thomas stuck to her guns and refused to allow her character, Ann Marie, to get married. She did not want to send a message to women that marriage was the only option for happiness.

The chemistry between Ann Marie and her boyfriend Donald Hollinger (DONALD!!!!) was key to the success of the show. His love for her was evident, but the twist was that he also trusted her enough to let her pursue her dream of an acting career without trying to pigeonhole her into what had traditionally been the role of women on TV: a housewife. Ted Bessell played Hollinger who also functioned as Ann’s agent in the pilot. Audiences did not care for Bessell, but Thomas fought to keep him, knowing their chemistry was magic. She sensed that what audiences really didn’t like was that Hollinger was profiting from his girlfriend. The agent became a separate character and the rest is television casting history.

One of my favorite (and typically charming) episodes is “Pass the Potatoes, ” which starred Ethel Merman and aired on September 7, 1967. “The Merm” plays herself, and Ann gets a bit part in her Broadway show. Nervous beyond belief about being in the presence of a legend, Ann Marie tip-toes around Ethel, fearful of disturbing her.

It doesn’t take long for Ann to realize that “The Merm” is just as normal as everyone else, thanks to Donald’s calming influence and Ethel’s own reassurances. In fact, “The Merm” invites herself over to Ann’s apartment to cook a dinner of her specialty (stuffed cabbage) for the young couple. Ann and Donald leave her alone for a bit to gather some other ingredients for the meal; meanwhile, Ann’s father, the abrasively protective but loving restaurateur Lew Marie (played by Lew Parker), drops in and begins to tell the strange lady in his daughter’s kitchen that she’s putting too much pepper in the cabbage. Ann comes back just in the nick of time to diffuse the tension and explain to her father who Ethel is!

The highlight of the episode is a quiet moment in the kitchen between Ethel and Ann when the Broadway legend bolsters up Ann’s confidence by telling her how to reach out and grab the audience and really shake ’em up! To see this moment between the two actresses is perfection. Thomas shines here and steals the show from “The Merm” when she shakes her hips and flashes her signature smile.

Another favorite episode is “The Snow Must Go On,” which aired October 30, 1969. Ann is trapped at JFK airport because of a blizzard and is in danger of missing her audition for a Broadway play. How she creatively solves her problem is yet another showcase for Thomas’ charms and completely natural acting style.

Rosemary DeCamp played in quite a few episodes as Ann’s mother. You might also recognize her as mother to Shirley Partridge (“The Partridge Family”) and Buck Rogers (“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”). Although the role of Mrs. Marie was very much the traditional housewife, she would often be the one who calmed her husband down when he felt his daughter was straying too far into territory that wasn’t appropriate for a single young female.

Lew Parker, who played Ann’s father, Lew Marie, appeared in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” (1921) as an extra and also in one episode of “Gidget” (1966) as Mr. Socrates, the crusty (but caring) owner of The Shaggy Dog, a teenage hangout. Thomas speaks fondly of her real-life relationship with Parker which she believes gave him the child he never had. Some of the best moments in the show are the quiet moments when Lew Marie against type lets his daughter know how much he loves and supports her. Harold Gould was cast as Lew Marie in the pilot, but according to Thomas, test audiences felt he was too “ethnic” and not modern enough. More importantly, I feel Gould’s performance lacked the warmth and genuine love of Parker’s interpretation. Parker died of cancer at the age of 66 in 1972, just one year after “That Girl” ended.

Thomas propelled the name Cardinali onto the fashion scene by wearing their trend-setting clothes in each episode (designer Daniel WerlĂ© on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was replaced by Cardinali after season one). While it was obvious that Ann Marie in no way could afford the multitude of stylish outfits that she wore, Thomas’ signature look became an important part of the show. Audiences expected to see her with bangs, a double-set of false eyelashes, and eye-popping colorful mod fashions that looked as if they came off the runway with Twiggy.

With Season Two, the opening credits featured the classic theme song and a colorful tour of New York City with Marlo Thomas displaying all the youthful enthusiasm of a small-town girl who has fallen in love with the Big Apple. I could (and have) watched those opening credits over and over again. Below is a shot of Thomas from the opening credits, posing in the window of Bergdorf Goodman department store on the left; the iconic dress that she wore shown at right:

How many of you from my generation remember seeing “Miss THOMAS’ Fashions by Cardinali” flash on the screen just as the trumpets began to blare during the closing credits of each episode? Marilyn Lewis was a self-taught fashion designer who went by the name Cardinali as an homage to her Italian grandmother. Her clients included Dyan Cannon, Nancy Reagan, Dionne Warwick, and of course Marlo Thomas, who personally signed Lewis up to design her improbable wardrobe for “That Girl.” Although Thomas definitely looks sexy in her Cardinali fashions, you will also note that she rarely shows much skin. Marilyn Lewis’ fashions were simple, bold, elegant, and timeless. She gave up fashion in 1977 to focus on her marriage to Harry L. Lewis, with whom she cofounded Hamburger Hamlet, a Sunset Boulevard restaurant that eventually expanded to 24 locations before closing in 2014.

While some of Ann Marie’s neurotic whinings tend to grate at times, “That Girl” still stands the test of time and is definitely worth a re-visit. Like “Gidget,” it is a glimpse into a still mostly innocent world that brings a smile to your face and a tinge of sadness at just how jaded we have all become. Can you imagine a sitcom today that could revolve around the scandal of a parent finding a pair of men’s pants in their single daughter’s closet? Not a chance, but in “That Girl,” thanks to good writing and the chemistry of a great cast, it works.

See more Daveland caricatures and paintings at my main website.