September 11, 1957 – The Disney Anthology Episode “The Fourth Anniversary Show” Premieres
“I remember how his fingers flew over the keys of our battered, old piano, how his face glistened with perspiration as he concentrated on the music, and all the time I could see pictures; I could see his lovely fantasy coming to life on the screen.”
On September 11, 1957, the Disney Anthology episode “The Fourth Anniversary Show” premiered on ABC. Celebrating four years on the air, the episode shows some upcoming projects for the studios, and a stylized flashback sequence. The show also features proposed scenes for a film called The Rainbow Road to Oz, which would have been an adaptation of one of Frank L. Baum’s Oz stories, which Disney owned the rights to; this film was never made. The episode was directed by Sidney Miller and Hamilton S. Luske. It starred the Mouseketeers, Fess Parker, Jerome Courtland, Guy Williams, and Walt Disney as himself and as the voice of Mickey Mouse.
The episode begins with Walt attempting to play “Peter and the Wolf” on the piano. He reflects on how the piano in front of him played an important part in one of the many adventures at the studio, when Sergei Prokofiev came to the studio to work with the animators on a segment. The audience is then taken back in time to a storyboarding meeting in 1938, when the studio was hard at work on Fantasia and Pinocchio. Walt gets a call from Rudy Polk, VP of a talent agency, who tells him that an important composer wants to talk to Walt, and that Prokofiev had Disney in mind when he wrote Peter and the Wolf. Walt agrees, and they work together in a small little studio, although Prokofiev spoke very little English, and Walt spoke no Russian. Polk explains the piece to Walt while Prokofiev plays, and Walt listens intently. Unfortunately, although Walt wanted to work on the story, WWII put a wrench in any non-military stories and films. After the war, they went back to “Peter and the Wolf,” which was one of the first post-war projects. The short subject film is then presented.
After the short, Walt is about to go into an introduction of more classical music in Disney films, when Mouseketeer Cubby shows up at his office door. Walt introduces him, but tells him that they will talk later. He tries to go back to his introduction, but turns to find Cubby still at the door. Walt explains that he’s talking to the Disneyland audience, but Cubby interprets this as an okay to enter, and tells the other Mouseketeers that Walt’s “just sitting on the desk talking.” The Mouseketeers enter and start jabbering away, when Walt tells them to hold on for a second. He then introduces them: Annette, Bobby, Darlene, Karen, and of course, Cubby. They drag him to the Mouseketeer stage, where they surprise him with a party celebrating the anniversary of the Disneyland show. They put on a special show for him about everything they’d seen on the Disneyland television show, and ask him what’s in store for the next year. He answers that there’s more Donald and Goofy adventures, more global adventures, and a new character – Andy Burnett – explained by Fess Parker, with scenes from the new miniseries starring Jerome Courtland. Courtland then serenades the Mousketeers with a new song from the series called “Ladies in the Sky.”
After this, Walt gives a brief overview of what’s next, although Moochie keeps asking about Zorro. He then explains that Zorro will no longer be on Disneyland, but will be its own series. When Moochie asks if Zorro was real, Walt explains that Zorro was a mythical feature, but it soon interrupted by Zorro himself, and soon has a sword fight with a shadowy figure. Zorro, of course, wins, and makes the sign of the Z before he disappears. Walt then decides to leave, and the kids give him a present: a shooting script of the film The Rainbow Road to Oz. The Mousketeers volunteer to take over all the preparations for the film, and who off the characters in their story. They show a scene where the character of the Patchwork Girl (played by Doreen) meets the Scarecrow (played by Bobby) for the first time. Another segment plays, with Darleen singing a song called the “Oz-Can Hop.” Walt agrees to make the film, and then the Mousketeers present another song with a large anniversary cake. Mickey then makes a surprise appearance at the end, noting that the Mousketeers are a great bunch of kids, with which Walt agrees.