Friday, January 29, 2021

The Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery

Adventureland’s Shooting Gallery (known as the Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery) operated from June 15, 1962—January 1982 and was one of three Disneyland shooting galleries, all operated by MacGlashan Enterprises. Founded in the 1930's by Paul MacGlashan, the company was purchased by Walt Disney Productions in 1969. This is the only image in my collection I could find that shows the exterior; it dates from May 1963:

Main Street’s Shooting Gallery operated from July 23, 1955 until January 1, 1962. When the Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery opened a few months later in the summer, Vacationland magazine breathlessly announced:

If you’re a marksman, the new Big Game Safari is for you. While it’s based on time-tested shooting gallery tradition, this jungle hunt is an authentic Disney creation - a rapid fire adventure where you’ll shoot at all kinds of jungle animals and birds, each hand-crafted for Disneyland.

From the 1962 Disneyland Tour Guide spiel:

The unique big game shooting gallery offers to test the skill of all you big game hunters. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago this was all a large orange grove.

The “world's largest” Tree House, three unique restaurants (operated by Stouffer's), and the “Safari Shooting Gallery” were part of the 1962 portion of Disneyland's two-year $7 million expansion. During its 20-year run, the Shooting Gallery had several name changes, including the “Big Game Safari” and “Big Game Shooting Gallery.” The targets had to be repainted each night, since the “bullets” from the pistols chipped away at the eleven colors of paint used on the targets throughout the day. This vintage article describes that problem:

A full round of ammunition cost guests a “C Ticket.” This image shows one of the vintage signs that came up for auction:

The lion head sign (which came up for auction):

And its original location in this vintage photo that accompanied the listing:

Along with this image of the gallery itself:

Though it was a fairly popular attraction, the park already had a successful gallery in Frontierland and the Safari Shooting Gallery closed its doors by 1982. Today, this building houses Adventureland’s gift shop. Former cast member Ken S. has graciously shared his memories of the Gallery:

The Adventureland Shooting Gallery was always a favorite of mine when we’d visit the Park. There was really something special about using actual shot and hearing the ‘clink’ on the target and watch (hopefully) the target drop. The attraction was painted nightly to refresh the look of the targets, be they skulls, rhinos, birds or other jungle-oriented animals. On private party nights (my Dad worked for Douglas Aircraft and later McDonnell Douglas and those nights were so special), the Gallery wasn’t included in the pass, so I’d have to shell out 25 cents for a round. My joy of the attraction ended somewhat when I found myself assigned to working the Gallery in 1972 for the Summer (after having worked on the Jungle Cruise the previous summer), my rookie year in Operations as a permanent “C” status. One would have thought that having achieved that status, this work could have been given to a seasonal, but I suppose I was low man on the totem pole.

Marv and Marty Torrez (twins) always seem to be the foremen. Working an 8 hour shift involved 45min—1 hour stints working the line. Three cast members were on the line at a time covering 5-6 air rifles. The work involved the manual loading of 16 lead round shot into a gun, receiving 25 cents or a C coupon from the next guest in line and standing back monitoring the use of your area, asking all to keep their gun within a 30 degree range to mitigate ricochets. The rifles at and near the ends were the most responsible for ricochets and we watched those very carefully. Needless to say, a day’s work on your feet in the shaded heat and crowd, hearing shots, feeding the rifle breaches using your very sore thumb, and facing ricochets curbed my enthusiasm for the attraction. How I longed to do a spiel on the Jungle Cruise. And that makes me think back to safety. It was not uncommon for guests (or me) to be hit from lead shot. Eye safety consisted of wearing one’s own eyeglasses…which I always did.

Ear protection was provided but not required. Some didn’t care for the plugs and used cotton. And those ricochets could travel beyond the Gallery and into the crowd passing by. At least once or twice a week I’d have a tap on the shoulder and a guest would hand me a piece of shot that hit them between the Gallery and Jungle Cruise. Life certainly was different then. Most took the hits in stride. I don’t recall seeing a serious accident, but there was the occasional “hit” that required Security and a Nurse to come from First Aid. Of course the Gallery has been gone for years and the one in Frontierland is now electronic. It’s fun, but not the same. Can you imagine the liability today if those attractions were still operating in the same manner?

Here are a few current images of some shooting gallery targets that most likely resided at the Adventureland Shooting Gallery that are now in a private collection:

See more Disneyland Adventureland photos at my main website.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Back to Catalina, Pt. 3

As I approached the Avalon Casino for the first time in sixteen years, a bit of a fog had descended on the Island. No problem here; I like to shoot in all kinds of weather! You might recognize the Catalina Island Yacht Club shown below from the classic film “Chinatown” (1974) with Jack Nicholson:

On this trip, I ventured further down the way to see the Descanso Beach Club:

As I was nosing around, I discovered this abandoned stone staircase behind the club.

While it was a little rough hiking up the hill to the top, the almost sunset views were worth it:

Afterwards, another hike towards the Chimes Tower provided more fantabulous views, including this one of the Casino from above:

In 1925, William Wrigley Jr. and his wife Ada purchased the Westminster chimes from Chicago’s J.C. Deagan Company and had them installed in this tower that was built for their use:

While there, a documentary about the chimes was being filmed, so I couldn't get inside.

Nearby is the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel:

In 1926, American West author Zane Grey built a home on the hillside overlooking the Avalon Bay. After his death in 1939,  his pueblo was converted into a hotel. The South Building of the property houses rooms from the original estate. Until the next post, I’ll leave you at the Casino:

See more Catalina/Avalon Island photos at my main website.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dave Metz Remembers

Thanks to former cast member David M. (Cavalry Trooper, Tom Sawyer Island, 1970-71) for sharing his memories:

I got out of the Army in 1970, but was not ready to start a career and decided to take a year off to do absolutely nothing gainful – and the best place for that was in Southern California. I called my fellow First Lieutenant roommate (Bob Romoser) with whom I had served in Germany, suggested that we go to Guaymas, Mexico and then drive PCH up California to the Bay Area, then return to Orange County where I “would get us jobs at Disneyland.” He was skeptical, but rising to the moment I called the personnel director at the Magic Kingdom (Chuck Shields) and told him that two ex-lieutenants wanted to work for him – and we’d do anything Disneyland wanted, to include “cleaning up after the Clydesdales on Main Street.” He sent us the applications and said to come see him when we arrived in Orange County. We got to the area, secured housing at the Huntington Capri Singles Apartments in Huntington Beach, drove up Harbor Blvd., met the personnel director and were hired. Bob ended up working in Tomorrowland in that funky uniform with white spats (see below), but I was assigned to Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland – and I have to say that working on The Island was fabulous – with a main job of keeping people from trying to cross the Pontoon Bridge the wrong way and possibly falling off, and keeping kids from smoking grass in Injun Joe’s Cave. I also was asked to pose with guests for their Instamatic photos. My favorite duty was to occasionally make a tour of the area around The Burning Cabin to ensure that kids had not managed to get through the fence to the back lot.

While in the area, I also had some (quite unauthorized) fun. I would stand totally still in my cavalry officer’s costume as if I has just arrived on the scene of the massacre, and would await the passage of the Mark Twain or the Columbia which would always have kids hanging over the rails watching the Burning Cabin.

I would wait until only one kid was watching and I would – just like a Disney Audio-Animatronic figure – turn, look right at him, waive and grin. The kid would always tug at a friend or his parent and say “Look at the cavalry guy!” But when that happened I would freeze until the friend or parent looked away, whereupon I would again have some fun by again acting the role. Of course, I had to be careful doing kind of thing or I would have been chewed out by a supervisor. But someplace out there, there are people that remember the cavalry trooper who grinned and waived at just them – and no one else.

David was also kind enough to share a number of non-Burning Cabin photos below, such as the ones showing him doing Tomorrowland Duty (with the funky spats) to supervise the dance floor (The Sound Castle was the band):

David also let me know that the New Orleans Square One Of A Kind shop was a favorite of his. When he told me that, I knew he was legit! Below, you can see a treasured print that David bought there of the famed dancer Nijinksy by George Barbier in 1913. He found it in The One of a Kind Shop in 1970, paid about $15 for it (less the employee 10% discount, of course), and it’s followed him around for 50 years. How it looked in his 1971 apartment:

An image I found of the original Barbier print:

Many thanks to David M. for sharing all of his stories and images!

See more Disneyland Burning Cabin photos at my main website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Temple Tuesday: Shirley Before Marilyn!

Having acquired another shot in the 1944 series of Shirley taken by Hungarian photographer Andre de Dienes, I decided to revisit the topic. Shot at the Arden Dairy Farm, some of the photos feature Tillie the cow. 

Tillie, a pure-bred Jersey calf, was sent to Shirley for her birthday from the children of Tillamook in April 1935. The local Coliseum showed her 1934 film ‘Now and Forever’ to the children, and they signed a letter that accompanied the calf and received a complimentary photo of Shirley.

Obviously, it was not these photos taken nine years later!

Here’s a shot of de Dienes, who had just arrived in Hollywood at the time he photographed Shirley:

From the website immortal Marilyn:

de Dienes grew dissatisfied and bored with his role as a fashion photographer, and once again packed his bags and left for pastures new. This time he set his sights on California, the bright lights of Hollywood in specific where he settled and began work on the two subjects he felt more artistic passion for; nudes and landscapes. It was nature, both in the naked form of a human and the beauty of a landscape untouched by the hand of man that drew out the most notable work from de Dienes. He considered it bad form to alter or manipulate any photograph, citing that it was the endurance, the skill, the patience and the imagination of the photographer that made his work great. He championed natural, untouched beauty in front of the lens as much as he did behind it.

Here are two he took of a very young Marilyn Monroe (still known as Norma Jean Baker at the time) in December 1945:

He definitely had a thing for fresh-faced young girls on the farm!

See more teenage Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday at Mickie Finn’s

Inspired by the above business card of my father’s best friend and a vintage vinyl album that was also in his collection, I decided to put together a post on a once famous nightclub that existed in San Diego.

Mickie Finn's was open from October 28, 1960 through 1974. Owners Fred and Barbara Soetje (better known as Fred and Mickie Finn) converted an old warehouse in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego into a Gay 90s/Roaring 20s/Swinging 30s venue. The red-haired Fred was a piano player from San Francisco who had recently received a business administration degree from San Jose State College. His thesis was titled “How to Start a Night Club With No Operating Capital.” Initially he considered Washington and Hawaii as locations for his club, but chose San Diego because he could not afford to transport his collection of old nickelodeons, 1890s pictures, and various turn-of-the-century items, which would serve as the decor for his club. Opening the club put Fred $70,000 in debt, as he converted the barnlike building on University Avenue into Mickie Finn's. The club grossed $250,000 in its first year, serving four million customers over the next fourteen years as they guzzled 250,000 gallons of beer. Barbara (Mickie) played banjo at the club until the couple divorced in 1973.

The Finn's were honored on November 30, 1965 by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce for selecting San Diego as the base of operations for their "speakeasy" club, which brought the city widespread publicity. In 1968 and 1969, Fred and Mickie Finn were co-chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual fund drive in San Diego County. Fred would also employ a 1927 Seagraves fire engine as a publicity gimmick (racing it at the nearby El Cajon Speedway), which you can see in the detail shot from the album below:

Eventually, the concept expanded into a 1966 NBC TV show, a stageshow, a series of compilation record albums issued from 1966 on, and a second club in Beverly Hills (on Restaurant Row in the new Los Angeles Emporium) that opened in the early 1970s. Mickie Finn's seated 600 people, but usually 1000 could be found, crammed inside its lively interior.

“Mickie Finn’s” was a summer replacement series on Thursday nights. From the website comes the backstory of the TV show:

Start of the re-creation in NBC's studios at a cost of $50,000. A scenic designer made countless sketches and photos of the original club to be sure of faithful duplication. Long, narrow tables with red-checkered tablecloths were installed, as were details like moose heads on the wall and signs like "Keep Cool with Coolidge." The origin of the TV show came while Fred had been performing an outside show at a yacht club. Fred was approached by a TV executive [Bill Yagemann] who asked, "How would you like to do a TV show?" The same producers who had done The Andy Griffith Show later came with NBC executives to see Fred's act at his nightclub and decided to give Mickie Finn's mile-a-minute merriment a go!

The show's Nielsen ratings were not competitive enough with ABC’s runaway hit “Peyton Place,” so it was not renewed. 

Here’s how the exterior of the club looks today, in its current incarnation of Rich’s, a gay dance club:

See San Diego more photos at my main website.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

I had mixed feelings about seeing Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 magnum opus “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.” Set in 1969, it weaves the semi-fictional account of an actor in a downward career slump (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend/stuntman (Brad Pitt) into the true story of the Manson murders, specifically of Sharon Tate and her friends. Knowing how brutal the murders were, I was not anxious to see those splashed on the big screen; however, Tarantino’s conversion of current Hollywood back into the 1969 version was intriguing to me, especially since I saw some of the façades that Barbara Ling and the production team so carefully recreated during a few visits of mine to Hollywood. Let me get my comments out of the way on that topic first.

Much attention was obviously spent on putting the façades back to 1969, recreating period wardrobe, picking the correct vintage autos, and choosing just the right film stock, lighting, and angles to put the viewer back into that era. For the most part it works and the team should be credited. Interviews I have seen show them patting themselves on the back for doing it all “old school” and not using CGI. While this is commendable, it really doesn’t matter to the majority of viewers who just want to be immersed into a well-made film. Nit-picky me was thrown out of that 1960’s world when I saw street signs and freeway signs that had not been changed; why go to the trouble of putting vintage brochures in a shop window (that probably can’t be seen) and then let street signs stay in the present era? I don’t think the viewer would have held a CGI effect against Tarrantino. That’s the end of my little rant. 

The first time I saw the movie, I found myself getting increasingly bored and restless as the plot continued on. I thought Brad Pitt was masterful in his restrained portrayal of a badass stuntman; Leonardo DiCaprio was a little bit more messy in his characterization of an actor who was on the verge of becoming a has-been; there was too much time spent on showing this rather than moving the plot along. That would be my major complaint; too many unnecessary subplots and too much time driving points home that could easily have been understood by an audience with less waste of film stock. 

It seemed like Tarantino had a difficult time letting go of the extraneous parts that had special meaning to him, but not necessarily important to the storyline. One somewhat uncomfortable sequence shows a fight between Pitt’s character and Bruce Lee (Mike Moh). Lee is portrayed as an egotistical jerk, and Tarantino included a long sequence to explain why stuntman Cliff Booth (Pitt) wasn’t having an easy time getting hired for a particular film because of the director (Kurt Russell) and his wife. Flashbacks of Booth’s stormy relationship with his own wife and the fight sequence with Lee are purely extraneous, and for fans of Bruce Lee, probably offensive.

Margot Robbie does an excellent job of channeling the luminous Sharon Tate. I enjoyed watching her scenes, which were obviously designed to give a sense of what a kind and caring person she was. This knowledge makes her senseless death even more tragic.

The actors playing the Manson gang members were chilling. I cannot give enough kudos to all of them. When Pitt’s character visited Spahn Ranch, I was on the edge of my seat during that entire sequence.

By the time the plot arrives at the point that I knew the Tate murder would be occurring, I was extremely uncomfortable. I even had my finger on the fast forward button. Without giving the plot of the movie away, all I can say is that this is where Tarantino shows his brilliance. It is one of the very few times that I could say the violence shown was cathartic. The last 15 or 20 minutes of the movie found me praising the film and actually wanting to watch it again, which I did. The second viewing was more enjoyable, as I was able to catch more production details and character nuances. The choices of what was shown made much more sense., too I still stand by my earlier comments about this film needing a good edit job to make it more compelling and less rambling. Overall, I’d give it a B+.

Seeing this film made me want to go back to LA/Hollywood and re-shoot some of these iconic locations:

See more Daveland vintage and contemporary Hollywood photos at my main website.