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Monthly Archives: April 2016

April 20

April 20, 1914 – Actress and Voice Actress Betty Lou Gerson is Born


“Betty Lou Gerson gave you so much to work with [for Cruella de Vil], and she was absolutely marvelous.” – Animator and Disney Legend Marc Davis

On April 20, 1914, Betty Lou Gerson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her family followed her father’s work, as he was an executive with a steel company, and she was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. When she was sixteen, her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she attracted attention as a performer on the radio serial The First Nighter Program opposite Don Ameche. She continued her radio career with a string of soap opera hits, including Lonely Women and Midstream. She moved to Los Angeles in 1940, and continued her streak of popular radio programs, including Mr. President and Johnny Dollar. Gerson also broke into the television and movie mediums, starring in some B-list films and popular television series, such as Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone. Gerson was hired by Disney in an uncredited role as the narrator in the beginning of the film Cinderella, but she is well-known for playing the villainous Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Gerson also has a cameo in the film Mary Poppins as an old crone. Her role as Cruella is so beloved that she was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996. Gerson passed away in 1999 at the age of 84.

April 19

April 19, 1997 – The Animated Series Nightmare Ned Premieres on ABC

Nightmare Ned

“Thank goodness I’m awake.”

On April 19, 1997, the animated series Nightmare Ned premiered on ABC. Based on a video game, the show is about 10-year-old Ned Needlemeyer, who handles his problems in his everyday life through his nightmares every night, including school, bullies, and his family. The show ran for only 12 episodes before getting cancelled, with the last episode airing August 9.

April 18

April 18, 1953 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film The Simple Things is Released to Theaters


“It’s the simple things that give my heart its wings, like fishing on a sunny day.”

On April 18, 1953, the Mickey Mouse short film The Simple Things premiered in theaters. This was the last Mickey Mouse short film released for thirty years, until 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The short was directed by Charles Nichols, with story by Bill Berg.

It’s a beautiful day at the beach, with Mickey and Pluto set out to go fishing. Pluto is more confounded by the creatures he discovers than anything, and ends up fighting with a clam. The clam attaches itself to Pluto’s tail, and ends up accidentally in Pluto’s mouth. When Pluto tries to get Mickey to help him, Mickey mistakes Pluto as wanting some food. The clam then eats the treat Mickey provides, as well as Mickey’s sandwich. As the clam accidentally swallows the pepper in Mickey’s hand, he sneezes himself out of Pluto’s mouth into Mickey’s hand. The sneezing clam flees, sneezing all the way into the water. Pluto loses another treat to a nearby gull, and has to contend with nothing but bait. Mickey almost loses his bait to the gull who stole Pluto’s food, but he manages to steal one finally from Mickey. Mickey chases the gull away, so he thinks, but the gull is able to get inside the bait bucket and eat more of the fish – until he gets chased away by Pluto. The determined gull strikes back, however, and beats the poor pup before settling back for another pass at the bucket. Mickey chases the gull up and down the beach, but are soon chased away by a whole flock of gulls that want fresh fish.

April 17

April 17, 2012 – The Orange Bird Returns to Walt Disney World

Orange Bird

“Little Orange Bird in the sunshine tree, won’t you think of something sunny just for me?”

On April 17, 2012, the official Disney fan club D23 announced in front of a small group of members that the Orange Bird would be returning to the Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World. Designed in the 1970s as a mascot for the park, the bird was located in Adventureland’s Sunshine Tree Terrace, where citrus drinks were made available. In 1971, a song was written and released by the Sherman Brothers, called “The Orange Bird Song.” In addition to adding new merchandise featuring the quirky character, a statue created in the 1970s was brought back, standing proudly above the Sunshine Tree Terrace.

April 16

April 16, 1928 – The Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Short Film Ride ‘em Plowboy is Released to Theaters


On April 16, 1928, the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short film Ride ‘em Plowboy premiered in theaters. It was the 18th Oswald short film released, and has since been considered a lost film. The only remnant of the film that survives to this day is a storyboard page depicting Oswald tilling a field, using a cow as a plane, and a rooster in a musical hen house.

April 15

April 15, 1973 – The Attraction The Walt Disney Story Opens on Walt Disney World’s Main Street


On April 15, 1973, the attraction The Walt Disney Story opened on Main Street in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park. The attraction was a movie about Walt Disney, narrated by Walt himself through archival footage, and was one of the only free attractions at the park, as coupons were still being used at the time. The queue for the attraction also gave guests a look at some rare Disney memorabilia and collectables. While similar to the original Disneyland attraction, the Walt Disney World version gave guests a look at what was to come, including a look at Epcot, as well as a look at the Disney-MGM Studios. The attraction closed on October 5, 1992.

April 14

April 14, 2009 – The Picture Up: My Name is Dug is Released Through Disney Press


“You are surprised that I can talk. Oh, yes! I can talk.”

On April 14, 2009, the picture book Up: My Name is Dug was released through Disney Press. The book, written by Kiki Thorpe and illustrated by Pixar employee (specifically, the story supervisor for the film Up and the director for Dug’s Secret Mission short film) Ronnie del Carmen, the picture book is based on the film Up, and has the character of Dug interact with the audience. An app version of the storybook was released in late 2012.

April 13

April 13, 2012 – The Premiere of the Disneynature Film Chimpanzee is Held in Downtown Disney

Jane Goodall

“Disneynature joined forces with the Jane Goodall Institute for a special ‘See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees’ program.”

On April 13, 2012, a red carpet world premiere event was held for Disneynature’s newest film Chimpanzee. The world premiere was held at Downtown Disney in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, and included guests of all types, including producer Don Hahn, Jane Goodal, and special Disney Channel stars. The event was planned with the Jane Goodall Institute, with Disneynature making a donation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to the JGI program with every ticket sold for the film in its first week.

April 12

April 12, 1995 – The Los Angeles Production of Beauty and the Beast Opens


“But Disney did something right here: it has delivered to Los Angeles virtually the entire, excellent Broadway cast.”

On April 12, 1995, the Los Angeles production of the hit Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast opened at the Shubert Theater. The show featured most of the original Broadway cast, including Susan Egan as Belle, Terrence Mann as Beast, Gary Beach as Lumiere, Beth Fowler as Mrs. Potts, Burke Moses as Gaston, and Tom Bosley as Maurice. The production lasted a little over a year, running until September 29, 1996, and wound up winning three Ovation Awards, as well as eleven Drama-Logue Awards.

April 11

April 11, 2006 – The Soundtrack for The Wild is Released Through Walt Disney Records

The Wild

“I’m having a really nice day, really nice day, really nice day…”

On April 11, 2006, the soundtrack for the Walt Disney Pictures and C.O.R.E. Feature Animation joint production The Wild was released through Walt Disney Records. While most of the album contained the film score by Alan Silvestri, artists included on the album ranged from Disney recording artists Everlife, to more popular acts Coldplay and Lifehouse. The album also features actor Eric Idle singing a song called “Really Nice Day.”