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Monthly Archives: December 2015

December 21

December 21, 1945 – The Donald Duck Short Film Old Sequoia is Released to Theaters

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“If Old Sequoia goes, you go!”

On December 21, 1945, the Donald Duck short film Old Sequoia was released to theaters. It was directed by Jack King, with story by Homer Brightman.

The short begins at a national park, where the tree Old Sequoia proudly stands. Two beavers are chopping down trees close to Old Sequoia at a rapid pace, unbeknownst to Donald, who is snoozing away in the ranger station. He nearly falls from the post when he receives a call, and is lectured about the trees in his park. The lead ranger threatens him, and Donald rushes to his task. He spies the beavers near Old Sequoia and chases after them as fast as he can. The beavers manage to trip him up, then set their sights on Old Sequoia. Donald manages to trap them with his shotgun, just as the phone rings. He is lectured again by his boss, and he sprints back to guard Old Sequoia. He realizes that the beavers have gotten into the tree to chop it down, and poor Donald can only watch as sawdust comes out of the tree. He attempts to put the sawdust back in the tree, and only ends up making the tree implode. The tree, left standing by a tiny stand, threatens to fall, with Donald just barely able to keep it propped up. Unfortunately, the tree falls, taking the ranger station with it. Donald receives one final call from his boss, informing him he is fired.

December 20

December 20, 2002 – The Restaurant Ariel’s Grotto Opens in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier

Ariel's Grotto

“Delight in a daytime banquet alongside some of your favorite Disney Princesses or enjoy the Grotto as part of a special dining package.”

On December 20, 2002, the restaurant Ariel’s Grotto opened in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier area of California Adventure. The restaurant is a buffet style dining experience, where guests can meet the Disney Princesses during the lunch dining period. It is one of the few restaurants that offers a World of Color dining package during dinner, where guests that participate are given priority seating to the World of Color nighttime show.

December 19

December 19, 1914 – Animator, Story Man, and Disney Legend Mel Shaw is Born

Mel Shaw

“Mel was on a short list of vanguard artists who would jump into a new film when it was still a blank piece of paper and with his stunning work he’d show us all the visual possibilities.” – Don Hahn

On December 19, 1914, Melvin Schwartzman (who would change his last name to Shaw) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an opera singer mother and a lawyer father. He displayed great artistic talent at an early age, being selected for the Student Art League Society and winning a Procter & Gamble soap carving contest. In 1928, his family moved to Los Angeles, though he left at one point to try his hand at being a cowboy, despite winning a scholarship to an art institute. He soon returned to California, where he found a job at Pacific Titles creating title cards for silent films. Shaw’s first animation job came with the newly formed Harman-Ising Studios, where he took on several roles including animator, character designer, story man, and director. Shaw played polo in his spare time, where he met Walt Disney, who would invite him to join his studio. Shaw left Harman-Ising and joined Disney in 1937, where his first main project was the 1942 film Bambi. He left Disney during World War II, choosing to serve in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working as a filmmaker and cartoonist. After the war, while not going back to Disney, he did work with the company through his new company, Allen-Shaw Productions (a partnership with former MGM Studios animator Bob Allen). He was asked back to Disney in 1974 to help transition animation from the old guard to the new, bringing his expertise to such films as The Great Mouse Detective and The Lion King. For his multitude of work for Disney, Shaw was honored as a Disney Legend in 2004. In 2012, at the age of 97, Shaw passed away.

December 18

December 18, 1991 – Jim Henson Productions Signs Distribution Deal with Buena Vista Home Video

Muppets

“This is our most significant distribution agreement to date and we are pleased to be able to present this entire gold mine of product to consumers worldwide.” – President of International Theatrical Distribution for Disney Bill Mechanic

On December 18, 1991, one year after merger negotiations broke down between The Walt Disney Company and Jim Henson Productions, a distribution deal was reached with Disney’s Buena Vista Home Video. Buena Vista was given 30 years’ worth of the Henson library for the following five to six years, excluding Sesame Street. This stand-alone agreement worked as it was based on Disney’s track record of marketing and distributing tapes to consumers; this track record was also seen as the main reason merger talks began.

December 17

December 17, 1931 – The Silly Symphony The Ugly Duckling is Released to Theaters

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On December 17, 1931, the Silly Symphony The Ugly Duckling was released to theaters. The short was based on the short story by Hans Christian Andersen, and was one of the only Silly Symphonies remade in color; the color version was also the last Silly Symphony, and won an Academy Award for Best Cartoon of 1939. The 1931 short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

A hen is sound asleep in her nest, when her chicks start to hatch. The last egg, however, is of a duck, and the hen is alarmed to find a duckling in her nest. She escorts her chicks far away from the duckling, and the poor ducking is upset at being abandoned. When the chicks steal his food and dismiss him, he is upset. The constant abandonment causes him to cry, but he tries to find a new mother within the farm. He cries by the side of a pond, until he spies a tornado sweeping through the farm. He tries to warn the hen and her chicks, and does so just in time, though they kick him out of their hiding place. The chicks are swept up into the air and land into the rushing river, much to the hen’s dismay. The duckling, exhibiting an ability to swim, goes after the chicks and manages to save them just in the nick of time. The chicks and the hen embrace him as one of their own, and he quacks happily.

December 16

December 16, 1949 – The Donald Duck Short Film Toy Tinkers is Released to Theaters

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“Prepare to defend yourselves!”

On December 16, 1949, the Donald Duck short film Toy Tinkers was released to theaters. The sixteen mm release of the film gave it another title of Christmas Capers. The short was directed by Jack Hannah, with story by Harry Reeves and Milt Banta.

It’s a beautiful winter’s night, and Chip and Dale are sound asleep in their log when Chip is awakened by Donald chopping down a Christmas tree. Chip wakes up Dale, and the two follow Donald home, where they spy all sorts of Christmas goodies through the window. Chip devises a plan to get inside and unnoticed, and the two start collecting the nuts they spotted inside. Dale gets a bit distracted after taking a hat and cane from a teddy bear, and starts playing with the toys. Donald notices the two stealing the nuts, and decides to play a prank on the while reclaiming the nuts; the chipmunks are much smarter than Donald, however, and the two groups go back and forth trying to one-up the other. The two engage in a war, throwing ornaments at each other, but eventually, Donald raises the white flag of surrender while the boys make off with the nuts and the toys.

December 15

December 15, 1933 – Comedian and Disney Legend Tim Conway is Born

Tim Conway

“It’s interesting when you come to Disney, you get a script, go to wardrobe, and then you meet your animal.”

On December 15, 1933, Thomas Daniel Conway was born in Willoughby, Ohio, and grew up in the aptly named Chagrin Falls. He attended the Bowling Green State University to major in speech and radio; after graduating, he joined the Army, where he served for two years. After being discharged, he wound up back in Cleveland to work with radio personality Ernie Anderson. After working with Anderson on several projects, he was noticed by comedic actress Rose Marie, who decided to take him under her wing, which led him to a spot on The Steve Allen Show as a regular. It was his following project, as Ensign Charles Parker on McHale’s Navy, which gave Conway a national presence. After the show ended, he worked several other shows before landing at The Carol Burnett Show, where he was awarded with five Emmy Awards during his time. Conway first started working with Disney in 1973, when he starred in the live action feature The World’s Greatest Athlete, and followed that with the 1975 film The Apple Dumpling Gang, 1976’s Gus, and 1979’s The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. Conway has also contributed to the Air Bud series, as well as several Disney television shows. For his work in the Disney medium, he was honored as a Disney Legend in 2004.

December 14

December 14, 1951 – The Donald Duck Short Film Bee on Guard is Released to Theaters

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“How are you, buzz buzz?”

On December 14, 1951, the Donald Duck short film Bee on Guard was released to theaters. It was directed by Jack Hannah, with story by Nick George and Bill Berg.

A tall tree trunk has been turned into a castle hive for bees, and they set out to gather what they need to produce honey, leaving one bee behind to guard the castle. The bees set to work in Donald’s nearby garden, and he becomes excited about the prospect of honey. He follows them back to the hive and attempts to take the honey, but is thwarted by the lone guard. He heads home to create a giant bee costume, then attempts to trick the guard into believing he’s a part of the hive after the bees depart again. While the guard is occupied, he steals the honey from the hive and “flies” away. The rest of the bees return, and find the honey missing and the guard asleep. The guard is booted from the hive, and finds a trail of honey leading to Donald’s house. Discovering the ruse, the guard attacks Donald, and the other bees watch as the two duel. The other bees cheer when the guard wins the fight, and he is honored within the hive.

December 13

December 13, 1926 – The Alice Comedy Alice’s Brown Derby is Released to Theaters

ABD

On December 13, 1926, the Alice Comedy Alice’s Brown Derby was released to theaters. The short film starred Margie Gay as Alice, and was the 39th comedy produced. As evidenced by the title, the short features another horse race, with Julius trying to win against a cheating Pete who uses a mechanical horse.

December 12

December 12, 2005 – The Cheetah Girls Song “Five More Days ‘til Christmas” Premieres on Radio Disney

Cheetah

“There’s only five more days ‘til Christmas, you know that I can hardly wait.”

On December 12, 2005, the second single of the Cheetah Girls’ first album and only holiday album Cheetah-licious Christmas, “Five More Days ‘til Christmas,” premiered on Radio Disney. Although officially recognized as their second single, and performed as such on the group’s tour, the single was never released as a digital download.