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Tag Archives: 1950s

August 12

August 12, 1958 – The True-Life Adventure White Wilderness Premieres in Theaters

“Every species had to adapt itself to the bitter cold, or perish.”

On August 12, 1958, the thirteenth True-Life Adventure featurette, titled White Wilderness, was released to theaters. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It was directed by James Algar and filmed primarily in Canada. It took a team of several photographers three years to gather enough footage in the Arctic to create the film, creating a story about the struggle between predatory beasts and migratory animals. This film is also notorious for its “lemming scene,” where a mass of lemmings are seen leaping into the Arctic Ocean; however, lemmings do not commit mass suicide, and the scene was eventually uncovered as staged.

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July 17

July 17, 1955 – The Fire-Wagon Begins Operations in Disneyland

On July 17, 1955, the horse-drawn fire-wagon began operating in Disneyland’s Main Street area. Reminiscent of the fire vehicles of the turn-of-the-century, guests were able to hop in the wagon and ride down Main Street, with the wagon pulled by two horses named Bess and Jess. The wagon was retired from operation in 1960, and has since been on display in the Disneyland Fire Department ever since.

July 9

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July 9, 1958 – The People and Places Featurette Ama Girls is Released to Theaters

On July 9, 1958, the 13th People and Places Featurette, Ama Girls, was released to theaters. Directed by Ben Sharpsteen, the featurette explores the life of a family of fishers in Japan, particularly the eldest daughter who is an ama diver, or pearl diver; the women in this film also dive for a mineral-rich seaweed known as “heaven grass.”. The film is also released as Japan Harvests the Sea. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 31st Academy Awards.

July 4

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July 4, 1956 – The Frontierland Attraction Indian War Canoes Opens

On July 4, 1956, the Frontierland attraction Indian War Canoes opened in Disneyland. It was part of the Indian Village area once it was moved to Critter Country, which provided guests a glimpse into Native American culture. The attraction eventually closed in 1971, but was repurposed as the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, which opened on May 19, 1971.

June 26

June 26, 1952 – The True-Life Adventure Featurette Water Birds is Released to Theaters

On June 26, 1952, the True-Life Adventure featurette Water Birds was released to theaters as a two-reel short film. It was the fifth True-Life Adventure featurette created. Created in collaboration with the National Audubon Society and the Denver Museum of Natural History, the featurette showed audiences the life of a variety of water birds, such as pelicans, flamingos, and storks. The featurette would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).

June 11

June 11, 1958 – The People & Places Featurette Scotland Premieres

On June 11, 1958, the twelfth People & Places featurette Scotland premiered in theaters. Filmed in CinemaScope, this 25-minute featurette explores the three distinct regions of Scotland: the highlands, the islands, and the lowlands. This featurette also looked at the various clans of the regions, the wildlife, and how history is celebrated at the Edinburgh Festival. It was directed by Geoffrey Foot.

April 6

April 6, 1959 – Disney Wins Three Academy Awards for Documentary Features

On April 6, 1959, the 31st Academy Awards were held at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. At this awards ceremony, Disney won three Academy Awards for features considered live-action documentaries: Best Live Action Short Subject for Grand Canyon, Best Documentary Feature for White Wilderness, and Best Documentary Short Subject for Ama Girls. Disney was also nominated for the Best Short Subject – Cartoons for Paul Bunyon, but lost to the Looney Toons short film Knighty Knight Bugs; White Wilderness was also nominated for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, but lost to Dimitri Tiomkin’s scoring for The Old Man and the Sea.