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Tag Archives: 1940s

August 14

August 14, 1942 – The New York Times Runs Review of Bambi

“The children at the Music Hall yesterday were content again; form all over the darkened house childish laughter broke forth continuously and one or twice childish tears and boohoos. For Bambi has come to town and with it the Music Hall has again become a children’s fairyland.”

On August 14, 1942, the day after the animated feature film Bambi premiered at Radio City Music Hall, the New York Times ran its favorable review of the film. The reviewer admired the characters, specifically Thumper and Flower, the colors of the woodland, and the story; however, the reviewer does muse of why Disney has cartoons at all, as “one cannot combine naturalism with cartoon fantasy.” Even with the concern about going too far into realism, the reviewer still notes that, even through his own “churlish exceptions,” many will love Bambi.

April 9

April 9, 1946 – The Educational Film Jet Propulsion is Delivered to General Electric

On April 9, 1946, the educational film Jet Propulsion was delivered to General Electric Company. Although World War II ended on September 2, 1945, Disney was still in dire straits, with very little capital after having spent time and money almost solely on the war effort. To supplement, the Disney Studios continued to create training films for various companies, such as the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and General Motors. Jet Propulsion centered around the development of airplanes, starting with the history of their development to a breakdown of their various parts.

March 21

March 21, 1940 – The Disney Studio Commissary Opens

Image credit: D23.com

“Many a celebrity has enjoyed dining at the commissary at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, including Walt Disney himself.”

On March 21, 1940, the Walt Disney Studios Commissary opened. Most studios had a commissary where actors and staff could congregate and have a meal between takes, and the Disney Studio was no different. The Disney Commissary was popular among actors, with actress Cloris Leachman raving about it in a 1979 interview. The area has undergone several changes over the years, including new décor and new menu items, although Walt’s favorite chili dish is still a staple on the menu.

February 27

February 27, 1942 – The Daily Variety Runs Article “Walt Disney Weeps as He Gets Oscar”

“I want to thank everybody here. This is a vote of confidence from the whole industry.”

On February 27, 1942, the Daily Variety ran an article entitled “Walt Disney Weeps as He Gets Oscar,” recounting how Disney received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award the night before at the Academy Awards. The award itself is not an annual award, but awarded periodically to those individuals that brought high quality work to the motion picture industry. Disney was the fourth person to win the award, and he was emotional upon winning, as this seemed to be validation from the film industry for his then-relatively small body of work in animation (which included short films and only four animated feature films: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo). This award was particularly special for Disney, as the film Fantasia had not done as well as hoped at the box office, and while Disney called it “a [mistake] but it was an honest one,” he was still lauded by the presenter as presenting a new and novel way to educate the public about classical music. Thalberg’s widow Norma Shearer was at the ceremony and gave Disney a kiss after he returned to his seat.

September 26

September 26, 1947 – The Character Eega Beeva First Appears in the Mickey Mouse Comics

               Image courtesy of D23

“We can use my interdimensional travel ring to go watch!”

On September 26, 1947, the character Eega Beeva, known as a “highly evolved human,” made his first appearance in the Mickey Mouse comic strip; he was featured in the storyline Mickey Mouse and the Man from Tomorrow. He was originally proposed to premiere in a 1947 ad campaign which tried to introduce the character on Mickey’s twentieth anniversary (although this was erroneous, as Mickey was first introduced in 1928), but was simply introduced as part of a new storyline. Eega’s real name is Pittisborum Psercy Pystachi Pseter Psersimmon Plummer-Push, and he was a tech guru from 2447 that accidentally stumbled into Mickey’s era and life. He was created by Bill Walsh and Floyd Gottfredson, and they completed working on his story until 1950. Although he’s considered a rare character in the American comics, Eega Beeva found great success in Italy, and ended up starring in his own comic; his backstory changed, however, as they claimed he was from 2000 and was an alien.

April 20

April 20, 1946 – The Animated Feature Film Make Mine Music Premieres in New York City

“Make mine music and my heart will sing.”

On April 20, 1946, the 8th animated feature film Make Mind Music premiered in New York City. The film was one of the package films that were released during the wartime period; as resources were diverted to training and propaganda films, making a full-length animated feature was impossible. It was decided that, to make much-needed income for the studio, shorter segments would be made and compiled into a feature film. The film featured what Walt affectionately called “ghost stars,” as the voices in the film were well-known stars who were not seen on film, but usually featured in a narration role. The film was eventually released nationwide on August 15, 1946.

April 2

April 2, 1940 – The First Sales of Disney Common Stock are Offered

On April 2, 1940, the first common stocks of Walt Disney Productions were offered to the public. The offerings were released with 6% cumulative convertible preferred shares; common stock offerings were about $5 a share (almost $89 when adjusted for inflation). The sales of stocks went on to raise $3.5 million for the company. On November 12, 1957, the company would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

November 13

November 13, 1940 – Fantasia Has World Premiere at the Broadway Theater

Fantasia was not simply a film or a concert. Instead, it was a hybrid, a selection of great orchestral works conducted by Leopold Stokowski, played by the Philadelphia Orchestra and illustrated by Walt Disney.”

On November 13, 1940, the animated feature film Fantasia had its world premiere at the Broadway Theater in New York City. This premiere was substantial in showing the evolution of Disney animation, as the film premiered twelve years after the official debut of the first Mickey Mouse short film, Steamboat Willie. This premiere was part of a roadshow held to promote the film, along with an exclusive sound system called Fantasound. Proceeds from the opening night went toward the British War Relief Society, as England was then embroiled in World War II. There was great demand from viewers to see the film, and the film would eventually run at the Broadway for forty-nine weeks.

August 30

August 30, 1943 – Walt Disney is Awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle

On August 30, 1943, Walt Disney, along with MGM Studios co-founder Louis B. Mayer, was awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico’s highest honor. Disney received the award from Mexican president Manuel Ávila Camacho, honoring Disney’s efforts to create a strong relationship with Mexico through the Good Neighbor Program. Through this program, Walt and a group of animators, known as “El Grupo,” traveled through South America to research the countries and create animated features and short films. One such output was the film The Three Caballeros, which featured Mexican rooster Panchito as a lead character. This film was the beginning of a long relationship the Disney Studios had with Mexico.

August 24

August 24, 1942 – Saludos Amigos Has Premiere in Rio de Janeiro

“Saludos amigos, a fond greeting to you!”

On August 24, 1942, the sixth animated feature film, and the first package film by the Walt Disney Studios, Saludos Amigos, premiered in Rio de Janeiro. The film was an output of a goodwill ambassador tour Walt and his animators took of various Latin American countries. The countries featured in Saludos Amigos are Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil, and includes a new main character in José  Carioca, a Brazilian parrot. The premiere featured a Portuguese version of the film, with the name of the film changed to Alo Amigos. The film was very popular in Latin America, and opened in the United States six months later.