Saturday, November 24, 2012

Walt Disney Family Museum

Last weekend I was able to head to San Francisco to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum for D23 days.  The Snow White exhibit: The Creation of a Classic is now open.  The exhibit is in an auxiliary building that the museum uses for special events.  The event did not allow enough time to check out the exhibit  but it really is impressive.  There is some amazing work on display, and in excellent condition being over 75 years old!

I had the opportunity to attend From Page to Screen, a talk with J.B. Kaufman and Lella Smith.  Kaufman is a Disney author and historian who has been working and researching for a Snow White book for 10 years!  His book The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the museum catalog Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film also written by Kaufman, are truly amazing!  Lella Smith is the creative director for the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and the curator of the new exhibit.

Lella discussed some of the things she found for the exhibit and some of the tales of finding work.  Kaufman traced Snow White's history on stage and theater and the path of the Grimm story to Walt Disney's masterpiece.  Much of what was discussed can be found in Kaufman's book.  I would love to hear more from Kaufman - he really has quite the wealth of knowledge and had stories I had never heard.  I'll share more with you all next post.

D23 days started with a similar talk by Lella (a bit of a disappointment to those of us who had just heard the same talk earlier that day).  Alice Davis was present in the audience and she added a few of her stories and memories of working with Walt and for the studios.  Then they took us over to the museum.  An hour is really not enough to fully experience the exhibit.  The exhibit is really exciting to see, but I found it to have an odd flow to it.  It wasn't as large as I was expecting after seeing the books, but Lella explained they had found hundreds of works they wanted to include but had to keep cutting it down to fit in the space.  The exhibit is well worth the time though.  No pictures are allowed in the museum so you'll have to visit it to see (or pick up Kaufman's book).

A couple of other notes - The museum does a program called Inside Track for members where they can answer trivia questions about the museum and turn them in for a button.  This month's trivia is all Snow White related.  Be sure to pick up a card even if you aren't a museum member - it is a postcard of Walt and art from Snow White.  The other note is that there isn't a whole lot of special merchandise for the exhibit.  There is a lot of Snow White  related things for sale - pins, figures, postcards, and whatnot, but little that is special for the exhibit.  There are three posters featuring some great art of the Hag and Snow White (one of which was the gift to D23 members) and there is a hat as well.

I'll be going back in December, when I hope to have enough time to take better notes to share with you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Open!

First, let me start off by apologizing for the lack of posts recently.

Now, on to happier news: The Snow White exhibit at the Walt Disney Family museum is now officially open and I'm headed there this weekend.  I look forward to bringing you a full report but in the meantime, be sure to check out The Family Museum's website for information and tickets.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

They Made the Magic: Bill Tytla

Grim Natwick wrote of trying to write about Bill Tytla for Cartoonist PROfiles "How does one start to write about a superb artistic talent?"  Natwick points out that Tytla was not one of the Nine Old Men - he taught the Nine Old Men.
Valdimir "Bill" Tytla was born October 25, 1904 in New York.  He dropped out of high school and went to Paris to study.  It was there that Paul Terry contacted him and by 1923 Tytla he joined Terry in New York.  In New York he met Ted Sears and Ben Sharpsteen.  In 1934 Tytla joined the Disney Studios where is first few assignments were working on Clarabelle Cow in Mickey's Fire Brigade and The Cookie Carnival among others.  Tytla said that the working conditions at the studios were terrific and that Walt Disney was miles ahead of the competition in all fields.
Tytla was responsible for many of the dwarfs but is perhaps remembered most for the way he animated Grumpy living up to his name  Natwick said that the scene where Grumpy is given a bath was an "impossible" scene to animate because of the difficult drawings and complicated staging, but Tytla accomplished it with "the determination of an artist with an undaunted spirit and the best mustache in the Studio." (Walt's People, Volume 7).  Tyla said of the time:
"Freddy Moore and I were responsible for the dwarfs.  There were seven of them, all the same size, and only one who didn't have hair on his face.  Each one was a separate color.  We animated all seven of them at once.  On Snow White, Walt always gave us directions.  We were all walking on tiptoes on that one.  We didn't know what to expect.  We were all full of kinds of emotions." (Walt's People Vol.1)
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson said of Tytla: "Fill was powerful, muscular, high-strung and sensitive, with tremendous ego.  Everything was 'feelings' with him.  Whatever he animated had the inner feelings of his characters expressed through very strong acting."
After the success of Snow White, Tytla became one of the highest paid animators in the studio.  He went on to work on Stromboli in Pinocchio, Socerer Mickey and Chernabog in Fantasia, and Dumbo (modeling the character on his own son).  He returned to the shorts department to work on the Giant in the Brave Little Talior.
Tytla joined Disney playing polo and bought a horse.  During one game, Bill's horse tripped and fell on him, injuring his pelvis; an injury he never fully recovered from.
In 1941, Tytla joined the strike at the Disney Studios.  I. Kelin remembered that Tytla didn't have a problem with the Disney Studios and suspected he joined the strike out of loyalty to his friend Art Babbit.  He returned after but things were never the smae, not getting the strong characters he once did.  He worked on Saludos Amigos and some of the war films but left in 1943.
Tytla worked for Paul Terry, Paramount, Tempo Productions and then tried his own production company where he animated shorts and directed commercials.
Bill Tytla died in 1968 and was named a Disney legend in 1998.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Finding Snow White at Mickey''s Halloween Party

This October I made the trip to Disneyland to check out Mickey's Halloween Party.  I attended on a Tuesday night early in the month, so it wasn't too crowded.  I entered the park earlier in the day and checked in for the party at a mobile station in Frontierland.  There, I was given a wrist band and a trick or treat bag.  There were four things that happen that are special to the Halloween party:

Trick or Treating
All over the park there are trick or treat stations.  The locations have the traditional candy (brand names like Reeses, Kit Kat, Whoppers...) along with some healthier option (apples, raisins, dried fruit...)

Character Meet and Greets
The park map shows that all around the park there are characters. I did see Jack Skellington's location in New Orleans Square and the princesses in the small world plaza.  I couldn't find the villain's location though (didn't really look that hard).

Well, parade is not the correct work - on the map, it's a cavalcade - it's got a few floats, but mostly it just characters walking around.  Many of the characters are in costume - Stitch as James Dean and the Country Bears as Ballerinas.  The Princesses (Snow White, Belle, and Tianna) were not in costume.

This was the thing I was looking forward to the most.  I remember one year, they did Halloween themed fireworks that was for anyone in the park that day and it included lasers to the music of Space Mountain as well as Haunted Mansion segments.  Well, this was not the fireworks shown.  Don't get me wrong, they were fun, loved the zero flying across the sky.  However, it wasn't as impressive as I was hoping.

So, what Snow White related things are there?  Basically, nothing special.  You can meet Snow White. She is in her traditional outfit but standing in front of a Halloween backdrop.  I don't know if the queen or hag were characters.  The park map indicated that you can meet villains - but does not list who.  Snow White was in the parade - just walking but I suspect she may not always be.  It is just a princess segment that can have whichever princesses are available.  Finally, you can hear the magic mirror at the very start of the fireworks.  And that's it for Snow White.  I think the Queen and Hag get better placement in the advertising for Halloween time.

Overall, it was fun.  I really enjoyed the creative costumes you saw all around the park.  I think it's a great event to come to with your kids for trick or treating.  Plus most of the attractions are open and the lines on attractions are short - there is so much else to do, sometimes the line for candy was longer than the lines for attractions.  For more information click here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

They Made the Magic: Scotty Mattraw

Scotty Mattraw was born on October 19, 1880 in New York.  A character actor, Mattraw appeared in may movies from the silent pictures to 1940.  Some of his pictures included The Thief of Bagdad, Babes in Toyland (1934), Wee Willie Winkie, and Grapes of Wrath.  Mattraw provided the voice of Bashful for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Mattraw died November 9, 1946.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

They Made the Magic: Hamilton Luske

Hamilton S. Luske was born October 16, 1903.  After attending the University of California Berkley, he went to work as animator for a paper in Oakland.
In 1931, Luske joined the Disney Studios.  His animation attracted the attention of Mae West who was so impressed with the Jenny Wren character modeled after her, she personally wrote to Walt.  He skills as an animator who could analyze a character moved him along the company quickly.

Walt Disney personally assigned Luske to the daunting task of animating Snow White herself.  In fact, Walt wrote a memo in 1935 stating that "From now on Ham Luske is definitely assigned to Snow White."
Luske went on to be a director for the studio working on many classics including Mary Poppins.  He also went to work on TV projects at Disneyland and Walt Disney Presents.
Ham Luske died in 1968 became a Disney Legend in 1999. For more information read the 50 most influential animators blog.

Monday, October 8, 2012

They Made the Magic: Art Babbitt

Born October 8, 1907, Babbit grew up in Iowa after leaving Nebraska early on.  Art Babbit began his career in animation in 1924.  He joined Paul Terry Studio in 1929, however he was so impressed with the Disney Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance, he applied in 1932.  He worked on a variety of shorts and became instrumental in developing Goofy.  Babbit also helped establish the studio classes for animators taught by Don Graham.

Babbit moved over to animated features where he worked on the character development for Dopey and was the supervisor on the scene where the Queen becomes the Hag on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs..  Babbit said of the scene: "You may have read that a lot of rotoscoping was done, but I have proof that I didn't rotoscope my Queen.  Live action was taken of an actress who acted out the parts.  I studied the live action on a Moviola, got it firmly into my brain, then put it away and never touched it again." Walt's People Volume 3.  Babbit was one of the highest paid Disney animator at the time.  He also worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. Babbit took legal action against the Disney Studios in 1942 because Babbit wasn't paid a bonus for Pinocchio.  In fact he was not payed a bonus for Snow White either.  According to Michael Barrier, there were two animators not payed bonuses (Dick Lundy being the other).  Babbit lost the suit as no one was paid for Pinocchio as the film ultimately lost money.

In 1941 Babbit led a strike against Disney that greatly effected Walt Disney and his studio.  He was hired back for a short time from 1943 to 1947.  In 1949 Babbit joined the UPA where he introduced the character of Mr. Magoo.  He stayed with UPA until 1952 and then in 1966 (until 1975) Babbit was in charged of Hanna-Barbera's commercial department.  Babbit continued his career working on projects with Grim Natwick and teaching in London.

Art was married three times; first to Margie Belcher, the live action model for Snow White, Dina Gottliebovca, and Barbara Perry.

Art Babbit was induced as a Disney Legend in 2007.  For more information read Animation World's extensive article, or check out the Art Babbit Blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

They Made the Magic: Riley Thomson

Note: sometimes Riley's last name is spelled Thompson including on a Disney short: Dude Duck.  Riley was born on October 5, 1912.  He began his career with Warner Brothers in 1935, and moved to Disney in 1936.  He worked on Silly Symphonies as an animator and worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia.  He moved to the story department after Fantasia and directed some well known Mickey shorts including Nifty Nineties.  In 1950's he moved into comics and worked for Western Publishing.  There he drew mainly Disney characters but also drew some Woody Woodpecker shorts.  In 1957 he went to work for Walter Lunz Productions back in the filed of animation until 1959.  Riley passed away in 1960.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

They Made the Magic: Paul J Smith

Paul J. Smith was born on October 30, 1906.  His father was a professor at a college in Idaho where he composed some songs for the school.  In 1934, he joined the Disney Studios.  He spent most of his life working for Disney as a composer, writing more than 70 scores.    He worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where he got the first of 8 Oscar nods (he won an Oscar for the score of Pinocchio along with Leigh Harline and Ned Washington).  He retired from Disney in 1962 died at the age of 78 in California, and became a Disney Legend in 1994.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kingdom Hearts

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since the Disney Kingdom Hearts series began.  The first game was released in 2002.  I love this stained glass that is seen in the games.  In the game Birth By Sleep, there is even an entire level dedicated to the world of Snow White: the Dwarf's Woodlands.  One of the villains? - the Spirit of the Magic Mirror!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Walt Disney Family Museum Snow White Events

November is Snow White month at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco!  The film will show at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm daily.  The film will continue to show in December at 11 am and 4 pm.  There is a special talk on Saturday November 17 called from Page to Screen for $12 ($10 for members).  You can get tickets here.  Tickets for the Walt Disney Family Museum's Animate the Night Snow White themed events are also available.  At just $10 for the event ($5 for members) they should be a fun event to check out!  Buy tickets here.  There are also several Look Closer events that are free with admission.  For details about each of these events; read below.

Saturday, November 17, 3pm -  From Page to Screen: Join Lella Smith, creative director of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and exhibition curator with J.B. Kaufman, Disney author and historian, as they retrace the remarkable chain of adaptations that led to the classic Disney animated feature. After the presentation, J.B. will sign copies of his latest book. 

Friday - Sunday, November 23-25, - Look Closer: Snow White -  In conjunction with our first major special exhibition--Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic--join us for a short gallery talk on the art and production of the film.  

Friday, November 30, 7–10pm – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Opening Celebration: Come celebrate the opening weeks of the Museum’s major exhibition Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic. We’ll be serving Poison Appletinis!
Friday, December 21, 7–10pm – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Old Hollywood Red Carpet Premiere: Animate You Night in old Hollywood style with a special 1930s 75th anniversary premiere party for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Join us for a soiree of glitz and glamour.
Friday - Sunday, December 21-23 - Look Closer: Snow White Oscar In conjunction with our first major special exhibition--Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic--join us for a short gallery talk on the art and production of the film.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

They Made the Magic: Tom Codrick

Tom Codrick's 1940 Sketch can be seen at the Walt Disney Family Museum

Tom Codrick was born September 21st, 1901.  Codrick joined Disney in 1932 and was a key layout man for Disney for 35 years working on films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Jungle Book.  Additionally, he worked on the Wonderful World of Disney.    For a very interesting read, check out this transcript of a layout training course from 1936.  Codrick passed away in 1969 at the age of 67.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Snow White to New York Film Festival

Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs will be shown as part of New York's Film festival September 29th. The film will be introduced by animator Eric Goldberg and will include a viewing of the wonderful short Paperman.  Check out more information on the New York Film Festival on their website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

They Made the Magic: Norm Ferguson

Know as Fergy by his friends, Norm Ferguson was born on September 2, 1902.  After studying commercial art he worked as a stenographer before leaving to work in animation.  He got a job for Paul Terry's Fables Pictures Inc.  After 9 years he started working for Disney.  In a time when animators averaged 10 to 15 feet a day, Ferguson did 40 feet daily.  His work set a new standard, not only for the speed, but more importantly, for his ability to bring expression and thought to characters.  One of Ferguson's best loved scene (Pluto stuck to fly paper) is credited to be the first time an animator appears to be thinking on screen.During his time at Disney he worked on over 75 shorts.
By 1935 he was moved onto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where he worked on the evil witch.  His career continued on feature films and he can be seen in the live action shots of the Walt Disney Studios in the 1941 movie The Reluctant Dragon.
For a really complete biography of Ferguson, check out this article.  Ferguson was named a Disney Legend in 1999.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

They Made the Magic: Marge Champion

Continuing on with the series of people who worked on Snow White, Marge Champion is one who I've talked about before.  Marge is one of the few who are still with us who can say: 'I was there!'

Marge was born September 2, 1919 in Los Angeles, California.  Her father owned a dance studio and learned at an early age to dance.  She was hired by the Walt Disney Studio as the live action reference model for Snow White.  She later preformed this same task for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and the dancing hippos in Fantasia.

Marge was married to animator Art Babbit, but later married Art Champion.  She and Art had a successful dancing career that included film (Showboat among others) and a television show.  She and Champion were married until 1973.  In 1977 she married Boris Sagal (father of Katie), but lost her husband in 1981 in an accident on a set.  After her retirement she worked as a dance instructor in New York City and even appeared in Fame.

Marge has appeared at many events in recent years including TCM's film festival and D23's Detestation D where she has shared her thoughts.  Marge was also the guest on a podcast where you can hear her remembering her work with Disney.  She was named a Disney Legend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walt Disney Family Museum D23 Days

The Walt Disney Family Museum and D23 have announced D23 days to coincide with the museum's upcoming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs exhibit.  The event will happen on two days and features admission to the museum, a welcome presentation, and time in the new exhibit Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic.  Check out the event on the D23 website.  I'm going...Are you?

Destination D: 75 years of Animation: Alan Menken

The final event of Destination D 2012 was an evening with Alan Menken.  Menken was named a Disney Legend in 2001 and holds more Academy Awards than any other living person (8).  In fact, the audience was packed with legends: Dave Smith, Richard Sherman, Bob Gurr, Tony Baxer...

The performance was more like a conversation.  Menken would talk about songs and films and then play short pieces from them.  He played from his work with Disney as well from his work on Broadway and films.  It was an amazing evening and truly a highlight of Destination D!  At one point, Menken joked that he thought Oscars came in pairs - you wrote some songs for a Disney movie and they handed you two Oscars.  He has won Academy Awards in 1990 for Little Mermaid Score and Under the Sea, in 1992 for Beauty and the Beast score, and Beauty and the Beast song, in 1993 for the score for Aladdin, and A Whole New World, and 1996 for Score of Pocahontas and Colors of the Wind.  He also won Golden Globes for Mermaid, Beauty, Aladdin, and Pocahontas.  he has 11 Grammy awards (including Song of the Year for 1993).  This year, 2012, he won a Tony for the score of Newsies. Trivia: Hard Times, High Times from the film version got him a Razzie.

Prince Ali was the song Menken opened with.  We then took a journey through his career.  We heard about his work on God Bless you Mr. Rosewater and then his well known Littl Shop of Horrors.  He played us the "dark side of grease" with a song that wasn't used.

From Little Mermaid we heard Part of your World, Poor Unfortunate Souls, Kiss the Girl, and Under the Sea.

From Beauty and the Beast; Belle, Be Our Guest, Gaston, and Beauty and the Beast. He talked about how they had recorded a pop version and the version for the movie and had mistakenly sent Angelea Landsbury the pop version.  To which she said no.  Once they got her the right version, she did it in one take.  Menken also related that he had given Howard a dub tune to use for Gaston, and it turns out he used it as was; no one could beat up a character like Howard!

Aladdin was next where we heard a song cut from the movie, A Whole New World, and A Friend Like Me.  Originally there wer going for a Fat's walla style Genie.

From Newsies Santa Fe and King of New York.

From Beauty and the Beast's Broadway production: Human Again.

From Pocohantas and Hunchback of Notre Dame: Colors of the Wind, Bells of Notre Dame, and Out There.

We heard music from A Christmas Carol which played for ten years at the Gardens.

When writing for Hercules the orgianl hero was song was to be a ballad, but he threw it out nd wrote Go the distance.  He also played Zero to Hero.

We heard his work on King David.

 At one point there was talk of a prequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Who Discovered Roger Rabbit).  Menken wrote a song for the project called This Only appens in the Movies in a style that was a tribute to the old style musical.

 Home on the Range was quickly discussed "You haven't lived until you've seen a group of animators on horse back" and we hear Patch of Heaven, the Yodel Song, and Will the Sun Ever Shine Again (strongly influenced by the tragedy of September 11th).

From Sinbada's attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea we heard Compass of your Heart.

From Enchanted: True Love's Kiss, Working Song, and How Does She Know.

From the production of Mermaid for the stage Menken played Flounder and Ariel's sister's song.

He played Raise your Voice from Sister Act.

I personally was very happy to hear Menken refer to Tangled as Rapunzel and he played the first version of Rapunzel's song, and everyone has a dream.

 Menken wrote a short song for Captain America.

He talked about the phenomenon that is Newsies and played Katehrin'es Song from new production of Newsies.  We also heard about the new production of Aladdin and the Genie's song about being free.

The evening closed with a tribute to Howard: Proud of Your Boy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Destination D: 75 years of Animation: Snow White Still Fairest of them All

Okay, here we are, the panel you've been waiting for: Snow White Still the Fairest of them All!  Tim O'Day hosted this panel featuring musicologist and historian Alex Rannie, CEO of Walt Disney Family Museum Gabriella Calicchio, and 93 year old Marge Champion who was the live action model for Snow White.

The panel began with clarfiying that the word soundtrack didn't exist in 1937 so the music was refered to as "the exclusive recordings from the actual sound film." Alex Rannie brought a variety of images of sheet music that Churchill, Harline, Morey and Smith worked on for the film.

 The Silly Song was in fact the third song written for the scene where the dwarfs entertain Snow White.  One version of the song was Never Too Old to Be Young.  There was another song called Lady in the Moon that was written before 1935.  In this song, each dwarf would sing a verse as a different anmal who was in love with the lady in the moon.  The song ends with all the animals realizing the lady in the moon is, in fact, the man in the moon.  Sleepy would have sang as a fish and Dopey a frog. One idea stuck, Sleepy still plays a fish clarient in the final film.  So the song that made it into the film was the Silly Song.   In 1935 there was the first national Hillbilly Championships in LA that inspired the yodeling.  The sound effects team worked on the Grumpy's pipe organ.  In order to get the correct sound, the team used jugs and the largest jug required so muh air, the player would pass out - only Jimmy McDonald would play that one.  At one point the song had a verse sung by Snow White!  The D23 audience was lucky enough to hear the recording session of Snow White's verse.

The Yodel Song

Never to Old
Lady in the Moon
Final Song: The Dwarf's Yodel Song or The Silly Song
(Look at the words in the box: inspired the dance craze "Doin the Dopey")

The next guest introduced was Marge Champion.  This 93 years young woman was gracious enough to come and talk to the D23 audience about her memories of being part of the team that created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  She was hired as the live action reference model for Snow White.

Marge Champion
 Marge told the story of how she was hired to work for Disney.  Her father owned a dance studio and when Disney went looking for a girl to do live action shots for Snow White, Marge was in the right place at the right time.  She believes she wasn't the first to take on htis role because the bodice of the costume had two rows of hooks and eyes, suggesting that it was fitted for some one else.  (You can see the outfit she word at the Archives exhibit at the Reagan Library).  When asked if Walt was at the audition, she said she was sure he was there, but she didn't see him.
The process from live action, to sketch, to final product

Marge also told of her life growing up: her father would go to Shirley Temple's house to teach her ballet and Marge knew Shirley.  When wanting to be excused from the dinner table, Marge was taught to say: "I've had an elegant sufficency, May I be excused?"

Marge Champion in her costumes
During her time at the studio, Marge would act to Adriana Caselotti's voice recordings.  The animators referred to the girls as Margiana Belchalotti (a mash up of both of their names).  Marge also remembers how the studio needed her to run through the forest for Snow White's frightening escape.  They hung clotheslines and attached ropes that would hit her like branches.  Ham Luske attached some to her dress.  She said it didn't take much acting because she was  terrified!  She though the whole structure would fall down at any minute.

You'd be scared too if animators made you run through ropes hung from cloteslines!
The most interesting thing that Marge remembered was that at one point, animators thought that Snow White's head should be larger than her body as was a popular style of animation in those days (think Betty Boop).  In order to test this, Marge was given a football helmet that was painted with a wig and bow.  She remembered having to wear it and under the hot lights, she became dizzy and almost fainted!

The final panelist shared some of the artwork that will be featured at the Walt Disney Family Museum when the exhibit opens this fall.  They also announced D23 would hold an event in November.  I can't wait to see some of these in person: