April 4, 1956 – Where Do the Stories Come From? Premieres on Television
“Potential story ideas exist all around us.” – Walt Disney
On April 4, 1956, the Disneyland episode Where Do the Stories Come From? premiered on ABC. Directed by Jack Hannah, the episode attempts to explain the most often-asked question of the members of the Disney studios: where do they get their story ideas?
The episode opens with Walt Disney saying that the question of “Where do the stories come from?” is one that is asked a lot, and this episode will try to explain it the best he can. He tells the audience that story ideas can come from books, or are inspired by a song. The first example he gives of the latter is the song that had to be written for Daisy Duck; “she had to have a song,” since everyone else had one. The assignment for Daisy’s song was given to studio composer, Oliver Wallace. He thinks of words that rhyme with Daisy, and comes up with “crazy,” which gives him the title, “Crazy Over Daisy.” Soon, Wallace is composing an entire melody, and not long after, two men are seen listening to a record of the completed song. It then became the inspiration for a short film called Crazy Over Daisy, set in the early 1900s, which is shown next.
For the next example Disney brings up a short that was based on the True-Life Adventure series, where any interesting footage of animals could inspire the story artists to come up with a short film. “In viewing the thousands of feet of true-life adventure film that comes into the studio, we sometimes come across an animal that is a natural foil for one of our cartoon characters,” Disney explains, as he introduces the short R’Coon Dog. Thinking a raccoon would be a match for Mickey Mouse and Pluto, the animators consult Pluto about his part in the film. Pluto is seen in the projection room, watching the footage of raccoons, and then is seen in the story room, where the animators are seen drawing the raccoon character. Pluto takes the drawing a bit too seriously and tears it up with his teeth. The audience then sees R’Coon Dog.
The next example Disney presents draws on the experiences of the artists during World War II, when they had to get their physicals. The animators thought “it would be fun to put Donald Duck in the same ordeal,” and they show a compilation of some of the Donald Duck wartime shorts, including Donald Gets Drafted, and Fall Out Fall In.
Disney then presents his own hobby of model railroads, as well as two animators who “haven’t escaped the bug” of the hobby, as Disney puts it: Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball of the Nine Old Men. The audience sees home movies of Ollie and Ward with their model railroads. Every detail is built to scale on Ollie’s model, and Ward has a full-size model in his own backyard. Not to be outdone by his two animators, Disney shows off his own model railroad, named the Lilly Belle, and some of the home movies of creating the track in Disney’s backyard. “The hardest part of the job was convincing my wife that the flower beds had to go,” Disney jokes. The hobby shared by these three men led to the creation of a Donald Duck short, Out of Scale.