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April 17

April 17, 1957 – The Disneyland Anthology Series Episode “More About the Silly Symphonies” Airs on ABC

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“Actually, the Silly Symphonies were started as an experiment. We used them to test and perfect the color and animation techniques we employed later in full-length feature pictures like Cinderella, Snow White, and Fantasia.”

On April 17, 1957, the episode “More About the Silly Symphonies” from the Disneyland anthology series aired on ABC. The episode is a continuation about the Silly Symphony line of short films, with the first episode, “The Story of the Silly Symphony” airing on October 19, 1955. The episode was directed by Clyde Geronimi.

The episode begins with Walt looking through some fanmail, telling the audience that he continually gets asked questions about the Silly Symphonies. He then reads a letter about the Silly Symphony Waterbabies, which was made in 1938; the short film itself was inspired by the 1863 story of the same name by Charles Kingsley. The scene then turns into an animated retelling of Kingsley telling the story he created to his son. The short itself begins to play. This is then followed by Walt reading a letter about the short film The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934), which traces its tale back to ancient times. The history of fables then begins in Ancient China, followed by Egypt, then finishing up with Aesop, before moving in to the 1934 short film. The third short Walt covers is Chanticleer the Rooster, who was heavily featured in the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, as well as the Middle Ages classic Reynard the Fox. The Chanticleer stories inspired the 1938 short film Farmyard Symphony, which soon begins to play. After this, Walt introduces nursery rhymes, citing them as a big source of inspiration for the Silly Symphonies. He shows the audience a tiny book called Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, which contains several well-known verses and rhymes, including Who Killed Cock Robin. Walt then goes into the supposed meaning of the verse, which was meant to have been written about the rise and fall of Sir Robert Walpole. In 1934, Disney created a Silly Symphony based on the verse, satirizing many well-known celebrities of the time. The final Silly Symphony presented is based on Eugene Field’s well known children’s verse Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (originally known as Dutch Lullaby).

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