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Monthly Archives: October 2012

October 24

October 24, 1941 – The Donald Duck Short Film Donald’s Camera is Released to Theaters


“Shoot nature with a camera instead of a gun!”

On October 24, 1941, the Donald Duck short film Donald’s Camera, was released to theaters. It was directed by Dick Lundy, and stars Clarence Nash as Donald Duck.

The short begins with Donald deciding to take pictures of nature after reading a sign in a store window proclaiming he should “shoot nature with a camera instead of a gun.” He passes by a gun store with several taxidermal animals on display. Angered by this, he resolves to take pictures of wildlife rather than shoot it.

Although Donald is insistent on taking pictures of the forest creatures, the animals aren’t keen on having their likeness captured on film

The wildlife Donald encounters are amused by his camera equipment, and although he tries to get a good picture, he ends up getting nothing but caught in a cave of skunks. Soon after, Donald spies a woodpecker in a nearby tree, and is determined to get a picture. The woodpecker refuses to have his picture taken, and tricks Donald into falling out of the tree. As the woodpecker tries to catch his dinner, Donald hides in a tree stump, and uses toothpaste as a worm decoy. The woodpecker falls for it, swallows the toothpaste, and suddenly starts spouting bubbles.

Donald finally subdues the woodpecker enough to get him to pose, but the bird soon breaks free, steals the camera, and places it in the path of a falling tree. Unable to save his camera, an angry Donald runs back to the gun store, buys all the guns and ammunition he can, and goes on a mission to hunt down the bird for revenge.


October 23

October 23, 1931 – The Silly Symphony The Spider and the Fly Premieres in Theaters

On October 23, 1931, the Silly Symphony The Spider and the Fly was released to theaters. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

The short opens with a group of flies buzzing around an empty kitchen, snacking on an open jar of jam and playing with a bar of soap and a flyswatter. Two flies fly out an open window and explore a tap near the house. Watching hungrily nearby is a vicious spider, who spies the two flies near the tap and sets out to trap them by using his web as a harp, enticing the two to dance to the music.

The spider holds the female fly captive in his web while the male fly tries to distract him enough to let her escape

As the two dance closer and closer to the spider, the female fly is caught in his web. The male tries to rescue his mate, but the spider manages to catch him briefly before he escapes. Making his way back to the group, the fly sounds an alarm, and every fly nearby, including the horseflies in the nearby stable, gets ready for battle. The flies seize whatever they can from the house to throw on the spider, from pepper to pins. Finally, they use a match to set his web on fire, and place a piece of flypaper beneath him as he jumps, trapping him. They free the female fly, and everyone cheers.

October 22

October 22, 1942 – Actress, Singer, and Disney Legend Annette Funicello is Born

“[Annette] had this wonderful innocence about her. No matter what adulation she got, she was just a sweet, nice girl, very loving to the people around her.” – Composer Richard Sherman

On October 22, 1942, Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York. When she was four, her family moved to Los Angeles, and her mother enrolled her in dance lessons at the age of five. When she was about twelve, she performed the lead in Swan Lake at a performance that Walt Disney attended as he scouted children for his new show, The Mickey Mouse Club. She was the only Mouseketeer hand-selected by Walt, and was arguably the most popular, receiving at least 6,000 fan letters a month.

“I loved when I got to do my ballet numbers,” Funicello recalled. “And I remember Jimmie Dodd had written a song called ‘Annette.’” Funicello would do a ballet routine to this song on the show. Along with being a Mouseketeer, Funicello also starred in several serials, including Adventure in Dairyland, Walt Disney Presents: Annette, and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty.

Funicello’s popularity only grew between her transition from Mousketeer, to Disney star, to teen idol

After singing a song in the Annette serial, she began a singing career, with her first single being “How Will I Know My Love.” “I was scared to death,” she said in an interview, “because I didn’t want to ever sing…after each song made the charts, I thought, ‘How much longer can this go on? I don’t sing!’” But her singing career took off, and she released 15 albums during her recording career, including her first top ten single “Tall Paul,” written by Richard and Robert Sherman. After The Mickey Mouse Club ended, Funicello remained with Walt Disney Studios, starring in other television shows, including Zorro (a gift from Walt Disney on her 16th birthday), The Horsemasters, and Elfego Baca. She also starred in several films, including The Monkey’s Uncle, The Shaggy Dog, and Babes in Toyland.

In the early 60s, Funicello was asked to star in a movie about surfing with teen idol Frankie Avalon. Walt Disney was given full script approval, and he asked her to maintain her image and not wear a bikini. “I respected him so much,” she said on the subject, “and I felt that he was right.” The first movie, Beach Party, turned her from Disney star into a teen idol, and she went on to star in several beach films with Avalon. In 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, although she kept her illness hidden from her friends and family. In 1992, to combat rumors of alcoholism, she publicly announced her diagnosis; in the same year, she was inducted as a Disney Legend. In 1993, she opened the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation with her husband, Glen Holt.

October 21

October 21, 1911 – Artist and Disney Legend Mary Blair is Born

“When I think of dreams, like as a kid, I see Mary Blair-like colors…like Cinderella herself, just this innocence and a purity, a sincerity…” – Animator Glen Keane

On October 21, 1911, Mary Robinson Blair was born in McAlester, Oklahoma, with her family moving to San Jose, California when she was seven. Blair’s talents were noticed early, and she was awarded a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. There, she would meet her husband, Lee Blair. She and Lee began to look for work as artists during the height of the Depression, and eventually found work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s animation studio. Lee eventually found a job at the Disney Studios, and Mary joined him in 1940, with everyone fascinated with Mary’s use of color in her work. Her first pieces of work were preliminary sketches for the feature film Dumbo.

In 1941, Blair and her husband were selected to be a part of a goodwill tour of South America with Walt Disney and his wife, which included several other notable Disney employees, including Frank Thomas (animator), Herb Ryman (layout and camera), Norm Ferguson (producer), and Bill Cottrell (story). The group would do research for a series of feature films that would hopefully offer friendship to South America before they were taken over by Nazi and Fascist influence. Blair’s work during this trip helped to shape her artistic style, and she was named the art supervisor for Saludos Amigos! and The Three Caballeros. One short that clearly shows Blair’s style was The Little House, released in 1952 [see August 8th entry]. The tone of pivotal scenes in the feature films she worked on were conveyed through her use of color in her concept art. Animator Andreas Deja recalled, “Marc Davis once said, ‘Mary Blair could put colors together like nobody else. She was better than Matisse.’”

Walt was always captivated by Blair’s concept art and use of color, and asked her to come back to help create the look of the attraction It’s a Small World

Blair’s color use would be used to style such films as Song of the South, Make Mine Music, Melody Time, So Dear to My Heart, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. She left the studio in 1953, just after Peter Pan, to try other fields of animation, including children’s book illustrations. However, in 1963, Walt Disney asked her to come back to help design the look of a new attraction that would premiere at the 1964 World’s Fair: It’s a Small World. She was also asked to contribute to the design of other exhibits and attractions, including two grand murals, one for Tomorrowland in Disneyland, and one for the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. Blair passed away on July 26, 1978, and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991.

October 20

October 20, 1901 – Composer and Disney Legend Frank Churchill is Born

“I began writing musical scores for these animated cartoons to get away from the cost of using stock music. Being a reader of fables, they furnish most of the ideas which I put to music.” – Frank Churchill

On October 20, 1901, film composer and Disney Legend Frank Churchill was born in Rumford, Maine. A gifted musician from an early age, he had his first professional job at 15, accompanying silent films at a theater in California. Although enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles in pre-med, he dropped out to pursue his passion for music. Churchill joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1930, and eventually scored nearly 65 short films. He is most known for the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from the Silly Symphony The Three Little Pigs. The song sold more than three quarters of a million copies.

Churchill was asked to develop the songs for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; he earned an Academy Award nomination for the film’s score, and created the classic songs “Whistle While You Work,” “Heigh-Ho,” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.” He received another two nominations for his work on Dumbo, one for the score, and one for Best Song for “Baby Mine,” co-written with Ned Washington. He would also receive nominations for Bambi, one for score, and one for the song “Love is a Song,” co-written with Larry Morey. Churchill passed away on May 14, 1942 of a self-inflicted gun shot; he was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001.

October 19

October 19, 2010 – The Hannah Montana Forever Soundtrack is Released Through Walt Disney Records

“I make wishes, I have dreams, and I still want to believe anything can happen in this world for an ordinary girl.”

On October 19, 2010, the fourth and final soundtrack for the Disney Channel original series Hannah Montana was released, titled Hannah Montana Forever. The tracks on the album are all performed by Miley Cyrus, credited to her character Hannah Montana. The album also features duets with Iyaz, Sheryl Crow, and Cyrus’ father, Billy Ray Cyrus. There were two singles released from the album: “Ordinary Girl (released July 6, 2010)” and “I’m Still Good (December 10, 2010).” “Ordinary Girl” peaked at number 91 on the Billboard Charts, and “I’m Still Good” failed to chart. The album as a whole debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200, the first time a Hannah Montana album missed the top ten. The album gained mixed reviews from critics.

October 18

October 18, 1967 – The 19th Animated Feature Film, The Jungle Book, is Released to Theaters

“As an animator, [The Jungle Book is] probably the greatest film in terms of character development and how characters play against one another. The animators poured their whole heart and soul into every scene in that movie.” – Animator Glen Keane

On October 18, 1967, the 19th animated feature, The Jungle Book, was released to theaters. The film was based on the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, and was the last film which Walt Disney supervised; Disney passed away during its production. The movie was also known for the vultures being a caricature of the famous band The Beatles, as Disney wanted them to be in the film, but they turned him down due to scheduling conflicts and John Lennon’s disgust with the idea; the vultures did remain in the film without The Beatles’ involvement. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, and stars Phil Harris as Baloo, Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera, Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli, Louis Prima as King Louie, George Sanders as Shere Khan, and Sterling Holloway as Kaa.

Storyman Bill Peet was the one that suggested Kipling’s book to Disney as an animated feature, making the point that the company could do more stories with more interesting characters. Although Peet usually ran a one-man show when it came to story, and Disney liked the story sketches he was seeing for Jungle Book, Disney wanted to have more hands-on involvement in the story process after the let-down of Peet’s last project, The Sword in the Stone. The two could not reach an agreement on the film, and Peet left the studio. The story was then given to Larry Clemmons for his first writing on an animated feature film. “…[H]e launched into how he wanted to tell the story,” Richard Sherman recalled. “And he said, ‘But I want it to be fun. I want this to be a fun story; an adventure with fun. No mysterious…none of this heavy stuff…and I want to have a little heart in it, too.’”

The songwriting team of the Sherman Brothers, who were brought in to write the songs for “The Jungle Book” when Walt Disney came in to rewrite the story

The music for the film is considered one of the greatest soundtracks of Disney animation. The first songs written for the film followed Peet’s darker version of the story, and was done by Terry Gilkyson. When the story went through its rewrite, the Sherman Brothers were brought in to write new songs that were more upbeat and help to progress the story. The only song to survive from Terry Gilkyson was the one that would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award: “The Bare Necessities.” One of the songs that the Sherman Brothers had written for Mary Poppins was retooled to be used for the character of Kaa, called “Trust in Me.” The film was scored by George Bruns, who was well known for writing for Davy Crockett.

The story opens with narration from Bagheera, a black panther, who stumbles upon a basket upon a riverbank in India. Inside, he finds a baby; taking pity on the poor orphan child, he places him with a wolf that had recently had cubs. The mother adopts the child, who is named Mowgli, and raises him alongside her litter. Ten years later, the wolves find out that Shere Khan, a Bengal tiger, will be returning to the jungle and killing anyone who dares protect Mowgli. Bagheera offers to take Mowgli to the man village for his own safety, although the boy is determined to stay in the jungle. While the pair rest in a tree for the night, a python named Kaa appears, who attempts to hypnotize the boy and devour him. Luckily, Bagheera wakes up and interrupts Kaa, with Mowgli sending the python flying out of the tree.

Mowgli meets up with the members of Colonel Hathi’s elephant pack, and hopes that by becoming a member, he can remain in the jungle

The next morning, Mowgli attempts to join Colonel Hathi’s elephant pack, but is quickly intercepted by Bagheera. The two get into an argument about Mowgli’s wish to remain in the jungle, which ends with Bagheera leaving Mowgli to fend for himself. As Mowgli wanders the forest, he comes across Baloo, who aims to teach Mowgli how to fight. When he tries to teach the boy how to roar, Bagheera believes the boy to be in trouble and rushes back to help. Baloo shows Mowgli the carefree life of the jungle, which only makes Mowgli more certain that he will never go back to the village. Unfortunately, just as Baloo and Mowgli begin to bond, a gang of monkeys capture Mowgli to take him back to their leader, King Louie, an orangutan.

Mowgli is brought to the ancient ruins where King Louie lives, and King Louie promises to help the boy remain in the jungle if Mowgli tells him the secret of how to make fire. Baloo, entranced by the music the monkeys are playing, disguises himself so he can sneak in and take Mowgli away. In the ensuing fight over Mowgli, the ruins fall apart, leaving King Louie without a kingdom. That night, Bagheera convinces Baloo that the best thing for Mowgli is to be taken back to the man village, so he doesn’t get killed by Shere Khan. Baloo is torn with what to do, as he loves Mowgli like he was his own cub. When Baloo tries to explain the situation, Mowgli accuses Baloo of breaking his promise and runs away. Bagheera enlists the help of Colonel Hathi to help find Mowgli before Shere Khan shows up, but Shere Khan is seen eavesdropping and is even more determined to kill the boy.


After the fight with Shere Khan, Mowgli gives Baloo a hug, with all being forgiven

As Mowgli wanders the jungle, he runs across Kaa again, who is still hungry. He hypnotizes the boy, but his plans are again interrupted, this time by Shere Khan, and Mowgli escapes. Depressed, he finds a place to sit as a storm fast approaches, and meets a group of vultures who agree to be his friends. Shere Khan finally catches up with Mowgli, scaring the vultures away. Baloo, having finally found the boy, rushes in to save him during the storm, with the vultures returning to create a diversion. When a nearby tree is struck by lightning, Mowgli grabs a flaming branch and ties to it Shere Khan’s tail. The tiger’s only fear is fire, and he flees when he is unable to remove the flaming branch. Baloo and Bagheera still maintain that Mowgli should be taken to the village, but Mowgli remains adamant that he should stay in the jungle. His mind changes, however, when he spies a beautiful girl near the river’s edge. He follows her, helping her carry her water pot. Although Baloo is saddened to lose the boy, Bagheera reminds him that Mowgli will be safe with his own kind, and the two dance off into the sunset together.