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September 11

September 11, 1988 – The Final Disney Sunday Movie Premieres

“Good evening, and welcome to classic night on the Disney Sunday Movie.”

On September 11, 1988, the Disney Sunday Movie had its last broadcast on ABC. Running since February 2, 1986, this was the 6th incarnation of the Walt Disney anthology series (which began in 1954 as Walt Disney’s Disneyland). Ratings were never strong with this series, as it competed against 60 Minutes and Murder, She Wrote; the program was reduced from two-hours to one to keep it in competition. However, after the cancellation at ABC, NBC picked up the next incarnation: The Magical World of Disney, which would run from 1988 to 1990.

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November 2

November 2, 1954 – Look Magazine Publishes “Here’s Your First View of Disneyland”

“Walt Disney’s imagination is running wild again.”

On November 2, 1954, Look Magazine published one of the first articles about Walt’s pet project, Disneyland. Aptly titled “Here’s Your First View of Disneyland,” the article featured an early version of the map of Disneyland, along with an explanation of the Disneyland program on ABC and some of the proposed areas of the park. Some of the projects that were listed never materialized in Disneyland, but the ideas were repurposed for other Disney theme parks.

December 29

December 29, 1954 – The Disney Anthology Episode “Beaver Valley/Cameras in Africa” Premieres on ABC

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On December 29, 1954, the Disneyland episode “Beaver Valley/Cameras in Africa” premiered in ABC. Part of the Disney anthology series, this episode showed an edited version Disney’s True-Life Adventure featurette Beaver Valley along with some behind the scenes footage of the filming for The African Lion. The footage for the latter segment included a look with Alfred and Elma Milotte, who shot many of the True-Life Adventures for the company, as they film many of Africa’s wildlife. The African Lion would go on to premiere in theaters on September 14, 1955. This episode would eventually be rerun under the title “Cameras in Africa/Beaver Valley.”

October 9

October 9, 1988 – The Magical World of Disney Premieres on NBC

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“Welcome to the Magical World of Disney.”

On October 9, 1988, the newest iteration of the Disney anthology series, The Magical World of Disney, premiered on NBC. This was the third title of the second era of the series, and ninth overall. NBC had dropped the anthology in 1981, but had renewed interest in the broadcast in 1988 after significant changes within the Disney Company; CEO Michael Eisner continued to present the broadcast after starting hosting duties in 1986 with The Disney Sunday Movie. Unfortunately, the series ran into ratings problems during its run, and ended its run on September 9, 1990. The program block was moved back to the Disney Channel on September 23, 1990.

May 29

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May 29, 1959 – The Disneyland Anthology Episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” Airs

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“And so, believing Pat O’Brien to be an honorable man, I went Irish, Irish all the way. I even crossed the ocean in an Irish Air Lines plane.”

On May 29, 1959, the Disneyland anthology episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” aired. It was a promotional episode for the upcoming live-action film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, but takes guests on a fantastical journey with Walt to Ireland, who has come to learn about the myths of Ireland, as well as asking Darby O’Gill and King Brian of the Leprechauns to join his film. It is notable as the only episode of the series where Walt is in the entire episode in a starring role, rather than just as a narrator.

The episode begins with Walt in his office, explaining that he wanted to make an Irish picture, as he’s always been fascinated by tales of leprechauns. After running into some problems with production, Walt turns to his good friend, actor Pat O’Brien, who claims that Ireland’s main export is good men and women. O’Brien warns Walt about messing with the little people, and sings him a little song about them. He then advises Walt on other Irish legends, including the Banshee, and tells Walt that only a real leprechaun can play a leprechaun in Walt’s film. Walt thinks O’Brien is kidding, but O’Brien is firm that Walt must capture a leprechaun. Upon arriving in Dublin, Walt heads to a folklore library to talk to a scholar. The scholar explains more about leprechauns, including their size based on an outfit in the collection. He then tells the story about how leprechauns came to be, as they were originally angels that hid from the battle between the white and the black angels, as they were too small to do battle. After the battle ended, Gabriel banished the leprechauns from Heaven, sending them to Ireland to live. The scholar sends Walt to find a storyteller named Darby O’Gill, who will give Walt all the information he needs about King Brian, whom Walt wants for his film.

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Walt listens intently as Darby O’Gill tells his stories about his interactions with the leprechauns

Walt sets off to Rathcullen, and finds O’Gill in his home that evening, telling stories about the little people. O’Gill talks about the time he met with and was tricked by King Brian, and much to the interest of Walt. Walt questions him about King Brian, and asks if O’Gill can take Walt up the fairy mountain Knocknasheega. O’Gill agrees, and that night they set out to meet the king of the leprechauns. At the top of the mountain, in the ruins, the pair wait for King Brian to appear. They are finally able to spy King Brian’s lieutenant Phadrig Oge and trap him. Phadrig Oge offers Walt a pot of gold rather than to betray his king, but Walt refuses, wanting to talk to King Brian. King Brian arrives soon after, as he is confused as to why Walt would refuse the gold. Walt asks questions to get information, which amuses King Brian and O’Gill. O’Gill then tells the story of when he was brought to King Brian’s throne room. The two bicker during the storytelling, amusing Walt, and reminisce about other times tricking each other. King Brian and O’Gill laugh at Walt’s offer to have them star in his movie, which leads into another argument. When Walt returns to America, he goes to find his friend O’Brien and tells him of his travels, including his decision to make the movie about Darby O’Gill and King Brian, including O’Gill’s close call with the banshee. O’Brien, however, doesn’t believe that Walt actually found King Brian, until Walt offers a gift from King Brian himself.

February 23

February 23, 1964 – The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, Part III Premieres on Television

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“Do you trust me? All of you? Or will you stand forward now, and say that you’re afraid?”

On February 23, 1964, the Wonderful World of Color Disney anthology episode premiered with the third and final part of the three-part dramatic story of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. It was based on the Christopher Syn stories by Russell Thorndike and William Buchanan. Teleplay was done by Robert Westerby, and it was directed by James Neilson. It stars Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Syn/The Scarecrow, George Cole as Mr. Mipps, Michael Hordern as Thomas Banks, Geoffrey Keen as General Pugh, Eric Flynn as Lt. Philip Brackenbury, and Sean Scully as John Banks.

The episode begins with General Pugh reporting to the King, sadly informing him that the whole countryside protects the Scarecrow. The King is furious with Pugh’s incompetence, but Pugh asks for just one more month to capture the Scarecrow. The King reluctantly complies. Meanwhile, Dr. Syn is working on ideas with Mr. Mipps when a stranger appears at the door. The stranger, sent by Mother Hathaway, is American Simon Bates, branded a traitor for preaching sedition. Syn can’t hide him in his church, but sends him to the local inn for safekeeping. Later, as Syn is visiting the Banks residence, another stranger is seen fleeing from the British troops and hiding in the Bates’ yard. Pugh enters the house and informs them all of a house-to-house search for the fugitive. John walks Syn out afterwards, and the pair spy another man running into the stables. Syn alerts the deserter that he’s there to help, not to harm, and realizes that the stranger is none other than John’s brother Harry, who had been missing for years. Harry has deserted from the Navy, and cannot go inside, as he will surely be captured. Things get worse for the Banks, as Kate’s beau Lt. Brackenbury’s proposal for marriage is shot down by Kate’s father Sir Thomas Banks.

Harry is surprised to find that John brought their father

Harry is surprised to find that John brought their father to see him

In the stables, Harry is ranting about the horrible Navy conditions, when Thomas is brought in by John. Upon seeing his son, he embraces him, and is shocked to hear what had happened to him the past four years. Syn offers to take care of Harry while Thomas and John must deal with Brackenbury. Syn manages to take Harry to hide in the church’s crypt, and are soon joined by Simon Bates and Mipps. The two fugitives are sent to a barn with a hidden stable underground to hide, while Mipps and Syn work on the next plan for the Scarecrow. Unfortunately, the barn has a pair of soldiers inside, and Harry and Bates are apprehended and taken to Dover Castle. Realizing the danger that everyone is in, Syn decides to go to Dover to see what he can find out. Syn and Banks talk to Pugh, and find that the two men are to be tortured. They find an unlikely ally in Brackenbury, which Syn believes will work in his favor. Syn then heads to the prison and witnesses six men being captured for the Navy’s service. Harry and Bates are brought in, obviously tortured, and Syn asks to be alone with the prisoners to pray. As the prisoners pray, he gets an idea using the naval picket free every last man.

John is concerned about his brother, and Syn isn’t sure himself if he can get the men to escape, but comes up with a wild idea and makes a copy of the jailer’s key in the remaining wax from a nearby candle. He has Mipps arrange a meeting held by the Scarecrow for that night, as time is of the essence. The Scarecrow’s men wait in the barn, and the Scarecrow changes the recent plan to capture the ship and steal the men from Dover Castle. The men agree to help, and the plan is quickly set in motion, with Syn and John playing themselves this time. They first head to Mrs. Waggett’s Inn to capture the Navy men to steal their uniforms. The Scarecrow’s men then enter Dover Castle as a Naval Picket, with Brackenbury assisting once he recognizes John, though he makes John wait outside. Syn, leading the group, convinces Brackenbury to assist him in freeing the prisoners. Inside the cell, Syn gives the men orders, and as they prepare, they are almost caught by the jailer. The group finally manages to make it outside, but are caught by General Pugh. John manages to save them from being caught, and the men all make it out alive.

Kate and Thomas are captured by the Scarecrow's men

Kate and Thomas are captured by the Scarecrow’s men

At the Banks estate, Hellspite appears with a few men to gather Thomas and Kate, as the Scarecrow needs them as hostages. At the ship, John says his farewells to his brother, and the men head to the ship while John and Syn become Curlew and Scarecrow. Scarecrow has asked for Thomas and Kate to come to give Harry their goodbyes before he and the other men set sail for America. Brackenbury is later questioned by Pugh, who is furious. Brackenbury has already covered his bases by submitting reports to the Admiral and above, which will surely call for Pugh’s dismissal. In the end, Thomas and Syn drink to the Scarecrow, while Brackenbury has resigned his commission and is allowed to wed Kate.

October 31

October 31, 1956 – The Disneyland Anthology Episode “The Plausible Impossible” Premieres

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“The will illustrate the principle in animation which we call the ‘plausible impossible.’ [It] means taking something that is against the laws of nature – something impossible – and making it appear rational, and acceptable.”

On October 31, 1956, the episode of the Disneyland anthology series “The Plausible Impossible” premiered on ABC. The episode was written by Dick Huemer, with animation sequences directed by Wilfred Jackson, and live action sequences directed by William Beaudine.

The episode begins with Walt showing some drawings that were made for a scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that was never used. He then introduces the term ‘plausible impossible’ from the Disney book The Art of Animation, and explains that this was not a term the animators invented, but an animation principle that goes back centuries. The history begins with the Egyptians, with the animations of the gods, and the Chinese animating dragons. The segment from Fantasia – “The Rite of Spring” – then is shown, along with the theory that the Chinese conception of dragons may go back to the stories of the dinosaurs. The explanation then moves on to Greek mythology, before applying plausible impossible techniques to the animated cartoon. Disney then relates how impossible cartoon scenarios have some sort of basis in fact. He also introduces the concept of “correctness in sensation,” using the feeling of riding an elevator to demonstrate the squash and stretch techniques. Each “plausible impossible” concept has its roots in the physical and psychological. This then moves into giving life to inanimate objects, and introduces the Mickey Mouse short film Thru the Mirror.

Walt introduces a recently drawn Donald, asking him to be his volunteer

Walt introduces a recently drawn Donald, asking him to be his volunteer

After the short, Walt then shows how an animated character is created, with a magic pencil drawing Donald Duck. When Walt mentions the importance of sound, Donald starts to talk, and agrees to help Walt with a demonstration. As Walt explains different sound effects, poor Donald bears the brunt of the demonstration. Donald flees the demonstration and hides on Walt’s desk, with Walt continuing the demonstration without him, though Walt manages to tempt him back with food. This then leads to the Donald Duck short film Donald’s Cousin Gus. Walt then surprises the audience with the complete showing of the unseen test animated sequence drawn for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs after some accompanying scenes from the finished film. The final segment of this episode is about program music, which is a story put to music. Using the classic piece “Night on Bald Mountain,” Walt places it in several animated features, including “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Fantasia, and a scene from Bambi. The true scene from Fantasia with the music is shown, with the music driving the story.