Monday, January 30, 2012

They Made the Magic: Eddie Collins

Happy birthday Eddie Collins!
Dopey is a beloved character whose silly antics instilled him in the hearts of the audience.  Animators were able to use live reference film of Eddie Collins to create those silly antics.  Although Dopey doesn't talk, Collins also made some sound bites for the character.  Walt Disney saw Collins in a Low Angeles Theatre. A veteran of vaudeville Collins continued his career into film with roles in Young Mr. Lincoln, The Blue Bird, and Drums Around the Mowhawk

Friday, January 27, 2012

They Made the Magic: Lester Novros

Happy birthday to Lester Novros born in 1909.  Novros worked as an in-betweener on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  He also is credited for working on the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantaisa.  Novros left the Disney company in 1941 and soon then joined the faculty at USC.  He died in 2000.
George Lucas was a student in Novros's class and has said that Novros' teaching "strongly influenced my work."  For additional information see this Los Angeles Times article.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

They Made the Magic: Wilfred Jackson

Happy birthday to Wilfred Jackson born in 1906.  Jackson was a sequence director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  After joining Disney in 1928, he worked on Steamboat Willie and pioneered a method of pre-timing animation with sound.  He directed cartoons, some of which were honored with academy awards.  Jackson went on to produce and direct for the Disneyland TV show.  He retired from the Disney Company in 1961 and was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 1998.

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson said "Jaxon (Jackson's nickname) was easily the most creative of the directors, but he was also the most 'picky' and took a lot of kidding about his thoroughness." (Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life)

According the Jackson: "Walt was a better storyman than any of the storymen he could hire, he was a better director than any of the directors he could hire, but he wasn't a better animator than any of the animators he could hire.  At that point (Snow White and Pinocchio) the direction was very largely a matter of trying hard to get on the screen what you understood Walt to want on the screen." (Ghez, Didier.  Walt's People Volume 6)

Jackson also explained that Snow White was difficult for Walt.  In that Walt wasn't sure he could top it.  He wanted to avoid repeating himself but he wasn't sure he could do better than Snow White and Jackson suspected that was because the public would never be impacted the same way as it had been from Snow White.  (for more of this interview - Walt's People Volume 7)

Monday, January 23, 2012

They Made the Magic: Dave Hand

Happy Birthday to Dave Hand, born today in 1900.  Hand joined the Disney studios in the 1930 as their 21st animator and he worked for three years on the animated shorts.  He then became a director and is credited with directing 70 shorts and three features, one of which is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  When asked how he became a director, Hand replied he really didn't know why Disney picked him to direct Snow White when there were five other directors.

In an interview with Michael Barrier, Hand explained why the first full length feature ended up costing so much more than planned:
"These Snow White characters that actually have these little idiosyncrasies, little twists and turns, and little walks.  Every animator had to know how to do it.  And there were, still, seven dwarfs, and of course, the live-action Snow White and the Prince and such, and also the beautiful backgrounds, and the designs of the dwarfs' house, and interiors...tremendous cost to that." (Ghez, Didier.  Walt's People Volume 1)

Hand left the Disney studies in 1944.  He was posthumously named a Disney legend in 1994.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

They Made the Magic: Claude Coats

Happy belated birthday to Claude Coats, born January 17, 1913.  Coats was hired by Disney in 1935 as a background painter.  He worked films from Snow White to Peter Pan.  On Snow White he worked on the castle and bar-of-soap sequences.  In 1965, he moved over to WED where he worked on attractions such as Pirates and Haunted Mansion.  He received a 50 year service pin from the Walt Disney Company and after retiring in 1989 was named a Disney Legend in 1991.  He passed away the following year.

They Made the Magic: Hugh Hennesy

Happy belated birthday to Hugh Hennesy, born January 12, 1891.  Hennesy joined the Disney Studio in 1932 and worked on the art direction for Snow White.  His second wife, Helen, was Disney's first librarian.  Born January 12, 1891, he served in WWI, worked for the Washing Times and the Times Herald in Washington DC.  He worked for Disney for about 22 years and died suddenly in 1954.
The Disney History Blog has a great interview with Helen's granddaughter.


2012 will mark the 75th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  In celebration of this upcoming event, Whistle While We Blog will feature a series on some of the important people who helped make this project into the crown jewel of Disney animation: They Made the Magic.  Articles will be posted on the birthday of the subject: up first tomorrow - David Hand!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jiminy Crickets!

When we Disney fans hear this we think of that little green guy that helped Pinocchio find his way.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released before Pinocchio and Doc utters the phrase "Jiminy Crickets!"  In fact, Dorothy in Wizard of Oz and Mickey in Brave Little Taylor both used this expression too.  So where did this come from?  Dave Smith addressed this in his ask Dave column on the D23 website:

Dave Smith:
The slang expression, Jiminy Cricket, existed long before it became the name of the cricket in Pinocchio. According to the Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: "Jiminy Cricket! used as a mild expletive. Extended from obsolete 'jiminy!'; 'gemini!', etc., which may derive from Jesu domine; modern use is probably intended to be a euphemism for JESUS CHRIST! US, 1848." Since the character was a cricket and needed a name, it is likely that some story man (or perhaps even Walt himself) suggested using Jiminy as his first name since it was a common expression (as opposed to using the more typical alliteration in naming animated characters and calling him Charlie Cricket or something with a C).