Prologue: Once Upon a time in reality

  • Prologue: Once Upon a time in reality

    Once Upon a Time, in America not so long ago. Walt Disney was born in 1901. Nobody at the time knew what he would go on to do but Walt would change the world. He became a pioneer of the American animation industry; he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. With his team, he introduced the world to beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald duck, show white, dumbo, and more. Today you know a Disney character even if you don’t like Disney. Disney also holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. Walt worked closely with the likes of his brother Roy and had a close partnership with Urb Iwerks. At first, the company was laughed at but the success of snow-white changed everything.

    Walt was anything but boring. He was adventurous and went about introducing synchronized sound, full-color three-strip Technicolor, feature-length cartoons, and technical developments in cameras. It changed the world. Soon came more and more films for Disney. Eventually, he expanded beyond just them. Theme parks soon followed in California and Florida. Then tragedy struck hard. Disney had become a heavy smoker throughout his life and that came back with a vengeance in the 1960s. he died in December of 1966 unable to ever see his dream come true. The park opened but EPCOT would never be realized. The Florida Project was renamed Walt Disney World in his memory.

    Disney would enter a dark period after Walt’s death which it would only truly recover from in 1989 with the little mermaid. A new birth was soon found with big hitters we all now know and love. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, lion king gave a whole new generation the Disney magic that the older generations. The company continued to grow through some of the movies in the later part of the 1990s and early 2000s. soon the company would grow eating up Pixar which bolstered the good movies, Disney, where producing. Disney was not to be left behind however and soon a new age was born with the debut of princess and frog. The rest we know as the Disney of today. They bought out and own marvel and Lucas films.

    Their entertainment empire spans the globe. From theme parks in nearly every corner of the world to a dominating streaming service. The MCU is a franchise that brings in the money. Their animation movies have also continued to improve with Zootopia and Moana being a return to from. However, it was never easy to get here. rewinding the clock to Walt’s time. Things were never easy. He suffered what could be considered a hard childhood. He and his brother used to have to wake up at 4:30 every morning to deliver the Times before school and repeated the round for the evening Star after school. The schedule was exhausting for the young boy yet it was his life.

    Things did not get any easier as he aged. He began smoking at an early age, something that would kill him. In the 1920s, his early businesses failed, and eventually, when they did find success, they lost it and their staff to universal. Oswald the lucky rabbit was taken with it. the tragedy did not stop there. Walt’s smother died in a house he had bought for her and he would never truly move on from that loss. His movie dreams were also somewhat crushed. Pinocchio in early 1938 and Fantasia did not do well and world war two soon crushed the studio further. It was all stuff they would recover from but eventually before he could truly come to realize his dreams. He died.

    Walt’s legacy has left questions remaining behind. Disney has been accused of anti-Semitism; he’s been accused of being raciest as well. Etheric serotypes in the early films did not help nor did songs of the south. Like it or not, however, Walt is a cultural icon and without him and his team, the world would likely not the same. So, let us stop the clock, stop taking apart Disney. He was a flawed man and was far from perfect. No man is perfect.

    Rewind the clock. Before the 90s rebirth, before the slump of the 70s and early 80s, before the swinging 1960s, the rebirth of the 1950s, the troubles of world war two in the 1940s, and the golden age of animation that began in the 1930s. travel further back through world war one and into the 1900s. 1901 to be exact. What if everything for Disney went right. What if he never lost Oswald, what if his mother never died and his flops were successes, what if Walt never died in the 1960s. the world he changed will be changed even more. Things never built will rise from the ground and others who perished will find themselves in a Disney world. Marylin Monroe, James’s dean, and others will find their fates shifted too. The world is about to change forever. A utopia is waiting in the wings. The progressive movie maker and king maker in democratic presidencies are preparing and the lights are set. The animators are standing by, the curtains are ready to rise on a whole new world. So, without further ado. Once Upon a time in Chicago, Walter Elias Disney was born.
     
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    Chapter One: The Early Childhood of Walt Disney

  • Chapter One: The Early Childhood of Walt Disney

    Elias Disney was the father of Walt Disney. Elias was Disney was an ardent socialist and a supporter of Eugene Debs. He became a farmer and a businessman with little success. He pledged to pass on his socialist views to whatever family he may have in the future. It is here that the traits Walt would go on to have come from. Elias was a man with dreams. He worked for a short time as a mailman in Kissimmee, Florida, and also attempted to be an orange grower. None of these would be successful but would be vital for the future Walt. Soon marriage came calling for Elias. They met in Florida during Elias's time down in the Sunshine State and marriage soon followed.

    He married Flora Call on January 1, 1888. Oddly enough they lived just 50 miles north of the land on which Walt Disney World would eventually be built. It was not the first time the pair had met as she was the daughter of his father's neighbors. Flora was a grammar teacher; this job would affect both Walt and Roy as they grew. Just one year after their marriage in 1888. Their first child (Herbert Arthur Disney) was born. Herbert would go on to be a Letter Carrier. Soon after the birth of their first child, Elias moved the family back to Chicago. A key friendship formed for Elias in this time. He became friends with Walter Parr, a preacher for whom Walt would be named after.

    Another child would follow in 1890. Raymond Arnold Disney. He would go on to be a self-employed Insurance Broker. By now the world fair was coming to Chicago. Needing work, Elias became a construction worker for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This would be an event that would inspire both Walt and Roy. One key part of the Disney Media empire was born in 1893 named Roy Oliver Disney. During the rest of the 1890s, Elias became a trusted home constructer, even building his own family home. The parents also became trustees at the local church. Their socialist progressive views were entrusted to their children.

    Just one year after the turn of the 20th century. Their next child was born. Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, at 1249 Tripp Avenue, in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. Growing up Walt was taught by his mother as she was once her teacher. Disney’s early beliefs began to be molded at a young age. his father was never drunk and was not against beating his children if they misbehaved. He also kept their money because he considered them too young to look after it themselves. Walt would never hate his father however and would always have respect from him as he grew.

    The fifth and final child Joining the family in 1903 called Ruth. The young Walt would spend frequent time with his young sister. It was here another view of Walt’s would be forged. His ardent respect for women especially his family was born. Walt would often play with his sister and his brother Roy which caused great worry from his father and often caused punishments. Just as he had when he was younger, Elias was to move the family again and his wife agreed. Flora would always agree with Elias and their marriage was a happy one. Despite Elias having anger problems, he never lashed out at his wife. Another lesson for a young Walt.

    Before any move began. Walt began to draw on any scraps of paper. Boxes, planes, or his house. He drew it. His father was not pleased. He did not see any future in drawing and punished the boy for it. but Walt was not one to give up and continued to draw no matter what. His brother Roy too went against his father and aided his brother in his drawing. Walt soon began to draw for his sister which powered his inspiration. Soon however it was time to move away from the home they had always known since Walt was young. To Marceline was the place the family would now go. A young Walt already having his views shaped would find greater inspiration in Marceline. A choice to make was on the horizon. And Walt’s father who stood against the drawing would accidentally helped his son and shape his future even further.
     
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    Chapter Two: Opening His Eyes to a Wider World

  • Chapter Two: Opening His Eyes to a Wider World

    Elias wanted his children to be good people, to never smoke or drink. He wanted them to be just like he was. Living where they had originally lived was no longer viable for the father. Elias had come to fear the rising crime rate in the city and came to believe it was no longer safe for his family. The final push to move came when Elias learned that two children nearby had been involved in a robbery. He feared deeply his children would be influenced by local events. That his sons would become criminals and tarnish the family. It was not something he could sit back and accept. To save the family from the rot he feared, he moved them to Marceline. He came to own a farm that pre-dated the founding of the city itself.

    Elias hoped that owning a farm would shape his young sons into young hardworking men and would help quash Walt’s growling desire to draw. The four-year-old child was still too young to work properly on the farm but Elias put him to work wherever he could. His hopes to shy him away from drawing would not go down as planned. The move to Marceline would shape the young Walt in more ways than his father could ever realize. Instead of pushing him away from his drawings the move Instead further emboldened him to continue. His father occult not truly understand why the move had not helped take away his son’s love of drawing but two things had become more prominent in the young child’s life.

    The first was trains. The Move had placed the family close to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway line. Walt would often go sit close to the train line and watch them pass by. When his father learned of this new growing obsession his father did not act out against it as he had done with his drawing. His father believed his love of trains would shape the young Walt into an industrial man, it was not the dream he had for the young boy but working on the trains was a respectable job and could get you much further than drawing ever could. His father encouraged him to visit the train lines and local stations to further increase his interest. Yet his father did not know that Walt’s brother Herbert had felt sympathy for Walt and had bought him watercolors and crayons.



    Walt’s love of drawing soon exploded even more though as he grew, he learned to hide it from his parents. He would spend hours by the train laws, drawing the trains. His spirit of never giving up was one thing Walt had taken from his father. Soon however another outside influence joined Walt’s life. He and his younger sister Ruth started school at the same time at the Park School in Marceline in late 1909. It was here Walt became obsessed with reading. Books were a doorway into another world for an eight-year-old boy who finds ever-increasing work upon the farm they lived in. He came to love adventure novels and would often read fairy tales to his younger sister. Nobody knew it at the time but the opening of Walt to so many books and tales would never leave him. It would remain with him for the rest of his life even as others grew up.

    Soon however their lives were set to change again. The family was forced to sell the farm they lived and worked on. Elias was by that time offering from typhoid fever, followed by pneumonia. They rented a home for a while before buying their own in 1914. Elias would recover but they would never return to farm work again. To earn an income, Elias purchased a newspaper delivery route for The Kansas City Star. Roy and Walt were put to work delivering the newspapers which were not easy for the young boys. By now the older brothers had moved out so Elias's attention shifted onto them. It was not an easy time but it continued to hammer in the hard-working nature Walt would be known for.

    Disney soon began attending the Benton Grammar School. His grades here were considered poor and his obsession with drawing did not win over favor with teachers. However, here Walt met another influence on his life, one that would eventually go on to become vital. Walter Pfeiffer was a student at Walt’s school and became his closest friend. The friendship would be one that seemed almost unbreakable. Pfeiffer’s effect on the young teen was more than just friendship. Pfeiffer came from a family of theatre fans and introduced Disney to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Walt was entranced by the bright world he never knew existed. He soon began spending more and more time at Pfeiffer’s home, soon he became spending more time there than his own. Walt’s eyes were now wide open to a wider world that dazzled him.

    Elias by now began to drop his resistance to his son’s drawings though he still voiced his annoyance. By now, however, it was impossible to break Walt away from that world. His mind was set, his path had been chosen. Pushed by his friend, Walt was aiming for a future with cartoons. Soon however the great war would break out and even president Roosevelt pledged to do what was right for America. Walt faced questions he had not faced before. As Highschool dawned and as the war in Europe broke out. Walt would face his first cross roads and he would not let it conquer him. Instead, he would conquer it. A taste of early popularity was on the horizon.
     
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    Chapter Three: I can go the Distance

  • Chapter Three: I can go the Distance

    1914 and Walt began attending high school as the great war broke out in Europe. President Roosevelt made many pledged. The Disney’s got a radio the very same year as Elias liked the president. The family often gathered around that radio in the evening and listened to the president’s speech. Those speeches would go on to impact Walt as he grew in his teenage years. His grades were still mediocre as his obsession with art and cartoons continued to grow. He attended Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute and also took a correspondence course in cartooning. His father could now see clear as day that his son could not be turned away from this burning passion. Any hope that age would sour the young boy to his hobbies. His father and Walt would have a turbulent Relationship from this point on. Walt was disappointed in his youngest son and turned his attention to Roy who seemed to be coming to a budding businessman. He was also dismayed by his youngest daughter who had under Walt’s guidance taken up an interest in writing.

    This was the way it would be for the next two years. Walt continued to draw and dream of cartoons, he kept friends with Walter Pfeiffer and the pair often visited local theatres. It continued to shape the young Walt. His father continued to be opposed and apart from meal times, the family time at the radio. Walt and Elias seemed distant from each other though Walt would always continue to respect his father even if they did not agree on certain things. The world they knew was dramatically changed come 1916. America had stayed out of the great war but events had taken a shift. Reports of German atrocities in Belgium in 1914 and following the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania in 1915, America had come to see the central powers as the problem and the main aggressor. When Germany attempted to sway Mexico into war in 1916, it was enough for Roosevelt to drag America into the great war.

    The great war impacted Disney’s as Elias finally sold the newspaper and moved them back to the city. He had been investing in the O-Zell Company of Chicago since 1912 and had moved to the city in 1917 to take an active role in its management. This freed the young Walt from the paper route and now he found himself open to new opportunities. In mid-1918, Disney attempted to join the army, pushed by his father. However, Walt was rejected, he planned to fake his way into the army but instead got an offer to run the school paper cartoon sections. It was not as big as joining the army but Walt saw it as a launching point for greater things. He became popular in the school for his cartoons and soon found a new business opportunity.

    People began coming to Walt for Christmas cards, birthday cards, or notes to overseas soldiers. They were only high school students so the money given was little but Walt began to earn an income. The popularity of these cartoons and drawings solidified that it was a profitable job and that it could be a decent future. Soon Walt began to work with his younger sister. She penned the story; he drew the cartoons. It was extremely basic and Walt was still gathering skills but with night courses nearly every day now pained by the money he saved from selling his drawings Walt began to improve. Soon he saw a chance to try something new like a job as a war cartoonist opened up at the Chicago Tribune. It was a long shot but Walt applied and gained the job.

    He was thrust into the working world of newspapers fast and hard. There was no waiting around. Guidelines and target shad to be hit or you were fired. There was no room for errors either. This sense of urgency and perfection would stick to Walt like glue and soon he began to churn out war cartoons for the newspaper. His father however was still not impressed as he knew the war would not last forever and the newspaper only needed someone while the war raged. The war was turning in their favor by 1918 and the end seemed near but Walt continued. Roosevelt who had won an unprecedented third time soon decided to go on a nationwide tour to empathize the need for a united Homefront to win the war.

    By now Walt’s war cartoons had become incredibly popular and he was well known inside the business. Roosevelt visited different factories, schools, and newspapers. He happened to visit the place Walt worked. It was a brief meeting with the progressive president but the meeting would shape Walt’s life. It would cement him as a republican for years to come, a progressive one at that. The way he ran his studios years later would stem from this one meeting. However, the war could not last forever. It had to end. On the 11th November 1918, the guns slowed and came to a silent halt. The war was over and the worry that Elias had would now be tested. The fighting was over and there was no need for a war cartoonist anymore.


    Walt also felt the worry. He wrote a letter to his sister but never sent it. he would not worry about a job, if he lost it he would find another way. That was the way he had grown up. His job would not be lost however even as America shifted away from the war. Despite not serving in the war, its times had shaped Walt. He had many lessons to learn but the man people would come to know in the later decades had been formed and shaped by the war years. Walt could have continued working at the Chicago tribune. They had no desire to fire him or let him go, his cartoons were incredibly popular. He could have kept on but something was burning inside him. Walt was getting bored; the newspaper cartoonist job was not challenging anymore. Soon Something would change. The animation Walt would come to love was now set to enter His life and set him on a new path. A path of innovation.
     
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    Chapter Four: You Got a friend in me

  • Chapter Four: You Got a friend in me

    By late 1918 Walt had the stable life he needed. His job was secure and his cartoons were well-liked. His father was placated that the years of drawing were not. He could have continued that way for another few years maybe for the rest of his life. Roy was still in the navy while Ruth Disney had due to Walt’s insistence become a writer though it was plagued with attacks from their father. Their socialist values taught to them by their father never left them but their life for the most part was a content one. While Roy was gone, Walt and ruth bonded further and to some, she became one of Walt’s closest friends. He acted as her financial advisor as well. Yet this status quo could not remain forever.

    Elias Disney saw it coming first and began frequent arguments with his son. The arguments continued to boil over and nights were spent discussing something that had yet to even happen. Yet Walt’s sister Ruth and his mother flora also saw the fire within Walt. He was bored and the time would come when he would depart his cartoonist job. That fateful day would finally come in October 1919, not feeling challenged he quit his job and began to wonder. His father and mother by this point had left to live in Oregon where their older son Herbert resided. There would be no more communication between father and son for at least twenty years. Soon it was learned that would Roy would also not return to the city. He had contracted tuberculosis and had been discharged from the navy. Instead of returning, he relocated to Los Angeles and worked as a banker while recuperating in the hospital. Ruth soon departed as well to join her brother in Hollywood. Walt was left alone drifting yet he would not drift for too long.

    He Finally returned to Kansas City. The place he would settle down for a while. He took up a small apartment and set out for work. With his qualifications and time working as a cartoonist it would not be too long before he found something. His skills were not yet fully at the level they would become so he became an apprentice artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio. The role here was nothing as challenging as Disney wanted. He drew commercial illustrations for advertising, theatre programs, and catalogs. It was to bide him over until he could find something else yet this job would yield more than it first seemed. It was here he would meet and become close friends with Ub Iwerks. It was the strongest friendship Walt had so far and the pair bonded over cartoons and drawing.


    Ub Iwerks was born in the same year as Walt. 1901. However, Iwerks was older by nine months. He was born in kanas city. Unlike Walt, Iwerks had no major moves in his life and also suffered from a bad father. Iwerks’s father was 57 and working as a barber when Ub was born. It was known that he had fathered and several previous children and wives before Ub and his mother. History was to repeat itself as he abandoned them too, forcing the boy to drop out of school and work to support his mother. Ub would never talk about his father for he came to hate the man. Putting into perspective Walt’s situation with his father. Ub is known to have celebrated his father’s death.

    The pair would continue together throughout 1919. Yet the situation at the Studio was anything but grand. Walt and Ub began to come up with ideas to save the struggling Studio that was doing worse than expected. Their requests and suggestions fell upon deaf ears and the Studio continued to tumble into the red. When an ax had to come down to save money it first fell on Walt as he was newer and then it came down on Ub would was still insisting on his changes. The changes would never be made and the company would go bankrupt in 1921. Walt and Ub were both without jobs yet the experience was vital and now a key figure in Walt’s future was an established friend. Too early yet ready to be daring. The pair strove to run their own business and established Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists.

    Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists was doomed to fail however as the pair had not yet truly understood running a business. It made Walt promise that no business of his would fail again. With no money, the pair had to return to work again yet it was this need to work that would begin a chain reaction that would last throughout the 1920s and 1930s. While there was still hope for the company Walt left the business to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, run by A. V. Cauger. Yet alone Ubs could not run the company and it went under. He would soon join Walt at the company. The company produced commercials using the cut-out animation technique. The fascination that would last with Walt till his dying day was finally born here.

    Walt who had loved drawing since his childhood now turned away from the activity as animation burst into his life. He however no longer doing things the way they should be done, his spirit for innovation and change was ignited. Like his younger days of cramming so much in, Walt began to do the same again. by day he would work at the company, and by night with a borrowed book on animation and a camera Walt began his first experiments with animation. They were crude tests but they were a start. It was here Walt met the brothers Fred and Hugh Harman. Both were younger than Walt with Fred born in 1902 and Hugh in 1903. Like Ub’s they supported Walt’s new ideas and would go on to be key figures in the growing circle of animators.

    Walt soon concluded that cel animation was more promising than the cut-out method. Yet once again Walt could not persuade his boss that change was a good idea. No longer content with this Walt left the company along with Fred. Ub and Hugh would remain for now. Walt was now determined than ever to go his way. his past with his sister growing up would soon come useful as Disney opened a new business, Fred Harman. Their main client was the local Newman Theatre. Striving for content to turn into cartoons for the theatre Walt turned to the stories he loved as a kid. He soon began to study the recently made Aesop’s fables from Paul terry as inspiration. The result was Newman's Laugh-O-Grams. Modernized fairy tales turned into cartoons. The results were staggering.


    In May 1921, the success of the "Laugh-O-Grams" led to the establishment of Laugh-O-Gram Studio. Now Hugh and Iwerks were able to join the new studio alongside Rudolf Ising who would also join. Ising would go on to become an important figure in his own right but his career started here with Disney. With a studio in his hands, animators by his side. Their Popularity was on the rise and so too was their dreams and idea. With Margaret J. Winkle on the horizon and the first 12 and a half minutes, the cartoon would leave them with more choices to make. The road they had set themselves upon could not seem any brighter.

     
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    Chapter Five: Almost There

  • Chapter Five: Almost There

    The rest of the 1920s would be a transformative decade for Disney, the company, and the artists who worked at it. It would also be a big change for certain members of the family itself. The first big change would be the location of the young animator and his company. It was a big risk to move from New York. New York was the center of the cartoon industry. Yet Walt was not truly enjoying the laugh o grams. they made money and gained some popularity but they were far from groundbreaking. He saught to become a live-action film director instead that added to the fact his brother still suffered tuberculosis drove Disney to move to Los Angeles. Here coming back into full contact with his sister and brother once more.

    Like pieces in a puzzle, things soon began coming together. Ub Iwerks soon followed in the move to continue working on the laugh o gram’s even though he knew Walt intended to move on he did believe he could continue without him with the other staff. Hugh Harman would choose not to follow the company and this would be the end of his short tenure with the company. There would be no hard feelings that existed between Hugh and the company. He would go on to found the just as important Harman-Ising Productions which in turn would go on to originate the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated short subjects in 1930 and 1931. Though Hugh left, his brother Fred Harman would remain. The three men (Walt, Ub, and Harman) began the foundation of what is today commonly known as the Merry folk of Disney or the wise old folk of Disney.

    Yet it was more than animators that Disney needed and like the rest, it began to fall into place. Roy O. Disney had always been close to his brother yet they had not truly seen each other for years. Now they were both in the city while Roy recovered slowly from tuberculosis. He had worked as a banker while recuperating in the hospital but before that had worked as a businessman. When his banking job let him go as his illness seemed not to be clearing up, Roy jumped straight back into another job. He became the financial man behind the company, the boss of sorts. Handling the money and making sure Walt didn't do anything too crazy. There were clashes of cause but the group persisted. After tense meetings that nearly broke apart the new Hollywood venture before it could take root, the name Laugh-O-Gram Studio was dropped in favor of Disney Brothers Studio.

    Roy would not be the only Disney now joining the fray at the newly named studio. Ruth had lived nearby Roy while he recovered and had taken up a job writing for a local newspaper. She had honed her skills by now and surprised Walt with what he considered impressive storytelling. Ruth and Walt had been much closer so the chance to bond again was a strong one. As Roy recovered, they established permanent roots in the city. The brothers ordered kit houses and built their homes adjacently on Lyric Avenue. Despite some reservations from the others, ruth became the first female at the studio and the next link in the chain that was Merry folk of Disney.

    The company seemed to have it all it needed yet there was one more person to join who would be one of the most vital members. Walter Pfeiffer Walt’s old-time friend had broken the mold of his family as Walt had done and had successfully somehow become a lawyer. It had been a stressful time for Pfeiffer yet his love for the theatre had never died. He moved to Hollywood when he heard of the Disney studio. Work would never be dry here for the lawyer especially not as Hollywood began to grow around them. He would never officially work for or with Walt or his studio. Yet he offered advice from other things he had seen and heard. Vital advice on ownership and the courts. It was advice that would remain in Walt’s head even If he had yet the need for it.

    With the crew in place, the laugh o grams continued. Still profitable but not yet complete money makers. Yet one of them was about to get the company noticed. Alice's Wonderland‍ combined both live-action and animation to tell the tale of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland‍. It was a brave venture and Walt cast Virginia Davis in the title role. It was a gamble, a roll of the dice to see how far the studio could push its limitations. The result was the studio's longest production to date. At 12 and half minutes, it was a success for the studios yet if they couldn't find a buyer soon the company would drop into bankruptcy. Luckily for them, they had an interested party already and that person was impressed with the cartoon.

    It would be a New York-based person that would latch onto Alice's Wonderland‍. New York film distributor Margaret J. Winkler was interested which surprised the studio. She was the first woman to produce and distribute animated films and continued to solidify Walt’s progressive views. Women had a place in animation was something he told anyone who asked, he pointed to Winkler and ruth as evidence. Life for Winkler at the time however was not easy. She was losing the rights to both the Out of the Inkwell and Felix the Cat cartoons and needed a new series. This lined up perfectly with Walt and his studio. She could have turned anywhere else yet she turned to the newer studio and soon they signed a contract for six Alice comedies, with an option for two further series of six episodes each. Virginia Davis, the child star of the Alice comedies was persuaded with her family to move to Hollywood. The Rise of the Studio had begun.

    Two more key figures would soon join the studio. Les Clark was the first. Born in 1907 he began to work at Disney as a camera operator however he soon moved on to work under the guidance of Ub. He was the next link In the Merry folk of Disney. Yet another person caught Walt’s eye. Early in 1925, Disney hired an ink artist, Lillian Bounds. Lillian had been born in Idaho in 1899, making her one year older than Walt. She had been the youngest of ten children and family life was never easy for the young girl. She struggled financially while her father died when she just seventeen. After attending a year of business college, she moved to southern California in 1923 to live with her sister Hazel's family. It was here in 1925 she joined the studio as secretary. It was here she met Walt.

    The romance burned bright straight away. They married in the July of 1925; a letter of happiness was sent by Walt’s mother but his father still refused to talk to the son. Their marriage was to be a happy one yet despite Walt’s pledge she could continue working if she wanted to Lillian chose not to. Lillian had little interest in films or the Hollywood social scene so she happily became a housewife tending to the home. This would be necessary as their first child would be born a year later in 1926 named Theodore Elias Disney. An attempt to keep his children away from the limelight would be in vain as the first child would begin following his father’s path as soon as he could walk. Their second child and last for the rest of the 1920s was Diane Disney, born December 1929.


    Yet as Walt attended to family life. A big opportunity lay on the horizon. Tiering of the Alice comedies, one night over a meal at the Disney home. Disney and Iwerks created Oswald Rabbit. They did not have plans yet for the Rabbit nor did they know the fame it and its eventual counterpart would bring but for now Oswald laid in waiting. As time bled on Walt became more and more bored again and once again everyone around him could see it. yet this time he was not about to leave. By 1926, Margaret J. Winkler had handed over the distribution of the Alice series to her husband Charles Mintz. While Walt had enjoyed working with Margert, he hated Charles and the pair’s working relationship was strained from day one.

    The Alice series ran until 1927. By now Walt wanted to move onto full animation. Luckily for the company, Mintz wanted new material. Oswald Rabbit was brought back out and spruced up. Oswald was to be preppy, saucy while also being neat and trim. Yet here is where Walt finally listened to the advice of his friend Walt er Pfeiffer. During a tense negotiation, which Mintz nearly walked out on, a new contracted was agreed. The studio would begin making Oswald shorts, a prototype for what was to come in the 1930s. by now the shorts were popular and so Walt moved to gain a larger free for producing the series. This action would destroy a man’s carer. Mintz wanted to reduce the payments and so a clash began. With Walt owning the rights to Oswald there was little Mintz could do. He attempted to steal many of the artists involved but they refused.

    Disney and his would continue to make the Oswald shorts still released by universal for now but Mintz was out in the cold. The stress would cause him to suffer a fatal heart attack in 1929 and tragically pass away. For the studios, they seemed to be gaining popularity yet had not truly broken the beach. For Walt, Oswald was not enough. They needed something else. In Walt’s mind, Oswald needed a friend. He began talking to Ub who agreed. The conversations were short as Disney seemed ready to push for innovation again. yet one day, inspired by his childhood the lightbulb lit up. Soon Mortimer Mouse (later named Micky by Lillian) was born. Oswald had a friend now and together they were ready to strive forward. The Rabbit and the mouse were about to change the game once again.
     
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    Chapter Six: Rabbit and The Mouse

  • Chapter Six: Rabbit and The Mouse

    The creation of mickey mouse was not a forgone conclusion. Oswald was quite a popular figure and had so far appeared in thirty of his own shorts come November of 1938. Yet even though the rabbit was popular he was not exactly the most sellable character. He came off more adult with his suave nature and saucy nature. Oswald had however become Universal's first major hit in 1927, rivaling other popular cartoon characters, such as Felix the Cat and Koko the Clown. He earned the studio money and a new contract in early 1928 kept the studio producing Oswald cartoons. Yet with Mintz out of the way. a warmer yet stable working relationship with universal was developed. It seemed set that the studio would continue on with Oswald alone but Walt being Walt could not let his worries go to waste.

    After visiting New York to discuss a further contract, a deal Walt was not ready to sign. He departed for California on a long train ride feeling optimistic. It was here a childhood pet would strike Walt with inspiration. A new character based on a pet mouse, one that could join Oswald. It was a basic idea at first and soon Walt began extremely secret meetings with Ub about the new idea. Ub was onboard from the start. At first, the pair agreed to try out other animals such as a dog, a cat, a horse but none seemed to stick. The mouse was the way they chose to go. Mortimer Mouse was to be the name and he was to be a minor star alongside Oswald. However, Lillian intervened. She believed the name to be pompous and aloof. She instead suggested the name Micky mouse and the character was born.

    Micky would make his first-ever appearance in an Oswald short. The 1928 December short, Farmyard Follies. At first, it was not known what to do with Micky and his character was deemed okay. Walt however was determined to give Micky a shot, in trade for agreeing to stay with universal to at least 1938, the shorts now became known as the Oswald and Micky shorts. Oswald was no longer alone and with Ruth Disney shifting to work on the story. Things began to make a little more sense for the cartoon characters. Oswald would be the smarter, careful quieter more adult character in contrast to the younger, carefree, and slightly mischievous. To test this new formula, Disney pushed ahead with the first Oswald Disney short. That film would be called Plane Crazy.

    Plane Crazy featured Micky trying to imitate Mickey Charles Lindbergh in order to impress Mini mouse all while Oswald attempted to keep things sane. Minnie was created to be the love interest of Mickey Mouse and an object for the crazy actions he takes that Oswald has to deal with. She would be the first of the expanded cast of characters that would soon grow around them. Plane Crazy was decently viewed but still being silent it did very little for the studio. Walt was not impressed and once again his strive to change up what was normal hit home. Ub refined Mickey while Walt worked on the sound. Walt had already seen the jazz singer and was now more determined than ever to be the first to do it.

    The result of this great effort would be the January 1929 Steamboat Shenanigans. Now considered by many the first true appearance of Mickey mouse and Mini mouse while also serving as the first appearance of Pete. The plot was simple. Oswald and Pete run a steamship, Mini was onboard and mickey was a stowaway. Shenanigans soon followed. Many in the studio did not expect the short to do that well as it appeared in front of the gang war film. The unexpected became the expected as Steamboat Shenanigans opened Disney and mickey/Oswald to international fame. The company was now being watched and in order to cash in the fame, plane crazy was soon released with sound as well. Disney had its thing and was now prepared to use it to continue gaining popularity.

    During this time the studio would continue to grow in more ways the one. More members of the Merry folk of Disney soon joined in the wake of an increase in popularity for Oswald and Mickey. Marc Davis was the first, he was born in 1913 and was picked out of a drawing contest the company held to find new animators. He had an interest in drawing animals and that was the key to his entry into the studio. He would soon be put to work on the Disney cartoons and would be an important animator in bringing some of the expanded characters to life. following Davis in the same vein was Wolfgang Reitherman who also took part in the same contest that hired Davis.

    Reitherman was born in 1909. He had been studying at Chouinard Art Institute. His paintings had attracted the attention of a painting instructor, impressed with his artwork he notified dissent who invited Reitherman to the content where he won the second position open at the studio. The final place from the contest was taken up by John Lounsbery. Lounsbery had been born in 1911 and had attended East Denver High School and the Art Institute of Denver. It was that Art Center College, an instructor sent him to interview with Walt Disney and gained him a place in the contest which claimed him his place in the studio. The final person would directly apply to work for the studio and in an interview with Walt would gain a position even if there weren’t any. Mary Blair was born in 1911 and was in Hollywood looking for a job. She applied at MGM but was turned down, she applied for universal but was directed toward Disney who soon hired her. The Merry folk of Disney had now expanded even further with all of them ready to play key vital roles in the company.

    The animation staff expanded would also allow the animation shorts to expand in more ways than one. For Walt innovating sound in his cartoons was simply not enough. He had to go above and beyond and so the next challenge came. Working alongside Universal, Disney managed to gain an exclusive contract with Technicolor (through the end of 1935) to produce cartoons in color, beginning with Flowers and Trees. It was another revolution for the studio and a further boost in popularity. With black and white out, the world of Oswald and Mickey was about to get much larger. In 1932 Just Dogs would see the debut of Mickey’s dog Pluto and Oswald’s dog Mercury. While Mercury was a calm older dog, Pluto was an adventurous puppy. This was done to reflect their owners.

    A couple of months after Just dogs and the Disney animation family expanded again in Santa's Workshop. This time Goofy debuted. Goofy was the dim but caring friend of mickey mouse who often felt the brunt of mickey’s jokes and the blame from Oswald. Goofy debuted with his wife Clarabelle Cow. Clarabelle did not agree with goofy and mickey’s friendship and often worked with Oswald. They would become the first married couple to be debuted in the shorts. After two years of shorts would go by before 1934’s the little wise hen saw the debut of Donald Duck. Donald appeared as a grumpy, greedy, and lazy character who would do anything to get out of work. Finally in 1937, Daisy duck. The love interest of Donald appeared in don Donald. Daisy was everything Donald was not. Hardworking, dedicated, and happy.

    The debut of more characters and the release of more and more shorts propelled the studio's popularity through the roof. And changes where abound which would lead to things the company and Walt never expected. For example, which produces a short in 1931 Walt gained a strange request from theatre manager Harry Woodin. He wanted to start a Mickey Mouse club. Walt agreed and soon they began popping up all over the country. The success was growing. Yet Walt did not let it get to him as another thing came into his desk. The idea of comic books. In 1935, Walt signed his first contract with William Randolph Hearst to begun publicizing Mickey and his friend’s comics. By now Oswald had been outpaced by Mickey and he began to take a back seat with mickey taking over. The days of Oswald’s sole dominance were over yet he would never truly die away.

    Walt himself was a busy man throughout the 1930s. raising his two children Theodore and Diane. Two more would join bringing the total to four. Harry Roy Disney was born in 1933 and Water Disney Junior was born in 1936. This plus his work at the studio kept him busy. Walt should have been happy and content with his success. He already had three Oscars by 1934 (Flowers and Trees: Best Animated Short Film, The Three Little Pigs: Best Animated Short Film, and The Tortoise and the Hare: Best Animated Short Film). It should have been enough yet the people around him knew it was never going to be. By now the company gained a new name. Walt Disney Productions had a merchandising division, Walt Disney Enterprises, and a subsidiary (Disney Film Recording Company). Shorts were no longer fun. Walt had big plans; he was ready for the next step. To the shock of his family, his staff, his brother, and the world. Walt Disney declared he would make the first-ever full-length cel-animated feature in motion picture history. And it would be called Snow White and the seven dwarfs.


     
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    Chapter Seven: Dreaming with our eyes wide open

  • Chapter Seven: Dreaming with our eyes wide open

    Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Years of hardship, growing friendship, and animated shorts had led Walt to this moment. Yet even now the hard-fought battles were far from being over. He believed in the project. He also believed it was the next step for animation. Yet it had never been done before and nobody believed it could be done. Development on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had already begun in early 1934 and had already acted out the entire story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to his staff. His staff stuck by him as they always had but reservations were high. His brother attempted to persuade him not to follow up with the idea while his wife was soon echoing the same words.

    Yet Walt refused to listen to either. Despite their successes, the shorts were boring Walt now. once again he found no challenge and completion had already begun to ramp up. The loony toons shorts were rapidly approaching the same popularity and for them not to be overtaken and forget. They had to make the next biggest move. Yet the media did not agree. They called it Disney’s Foley and predicted that animated movies would never become a thing. A box office failure and the ending of the Disney studios were all predicted. Despite claims that the movie would destroy the studio, Walt pressed on and with his staff behind him began the production of snow-white. It was to be the first-ever animated film so groundwork would have to be laid. For now, however, he was the only one who felt that the movie was the way.

    The estimated budget Is recorded to have nearly given Walt’s brother Roy, the money man of the business a heart attack. It was estimated that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be produced for a budget of $250,000 dollars which was ten times the budget of an average short film. Even as Hollywood looked on in amusing, Walt did whatever he could to make sure the film was made. He even mortgaged his own house to help finance the film's production, which eventually ran up a total cost of $1,488,422.74 which was much more than the estimated budget and a very large sum of money for a feature film at the time. Lillian feared her children would soon be homeless yet despite her disagreements stood by her husband.

    Yet here is where the Merry old folk of Disney would come into their own. Ruth Disney would be the first to work on the project. She too was worried about the film but pushed on. She put together the earliest draft of the film which consisted of characters, situations, and jokes the story could hold. While the film was snow-white, Walt himself was fascinated with the seven dwarfs and their potential to replicate the comedic success of mickey and Oswald. Despite his sister writing the story, Walt was not against intervening himself. He suggested that each of the dwarfs whose names and personalities are not stated in the original fairy tale could have individual personalities. It was a grand idea that seemed almost too much for the first animated film.

    There were many dwarf names suggested including Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzy, Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy, Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty, and Burpy. The final seven were chosen through the progress of elimination which included Ruth, Lillian, and the children. Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, and Dopey were to be the ones they would use. The original draft was much more comedic however than expected. The original idea was to have a fat, bratty self-caring character while the Prince was also portrayed as a clown-like character. Disney became concerned that such a comical approach would lessen the plausibility of the characters and pushed for the comical elements to be toned down.

    Doubts in his mind nearly sank the project but a brief holiday put him back on track. On his return, Walt threw himself into the project and alongside his sister worked on things that he considered unworkable like the portrayal of the queen. The plot film shifted for a final time. At first, the dwarfs were to be the main focus of the film and many sequences had already been written or were in the process. Walt and Ruth shifted the perspective to snow white and her relationship with the queen. With that change, the rest of the film fell into place. The prince’s role was reduced and snow-white became the main focus. There was still comedy in the film but it was not as heavy as before. With the plot fully completed, now came the hardest part.

    Here is where the rest of the merry old folk of Disney came into play. Ub Iwerks became the sole authority on the design of the film. Everything used in the film from the characters to the simple look of a tree had to be approved by him. Fred Harman and Wolfgang Reitherman were also pulled in to work on the visual style of the film. Marc Davis was placed in charge of staging and atmosphere. The goal was to recreate the European feel that Walt sought. Other artists included: Les Clark, John Lounsbery, and Mary Blair. For the most part, Walt entrusted his passion project to people he trusted and knew. Hence the lack of newer names working on the film. But he did entrust some newer names on the project and they, in turn, would become members of the merry folk of Disney, the last few to join. These included: Frank Thomas, Eric Larson, Ward Kimball, Milt Kahl, and Ollie Johnston. All would learn from one another while Walt set up closes with Art Babbitt and Don Graham to teach the staff human antimony, movement, and human emotions.

    The film was no easy task to make. At first, it proved difficult to add color to Snow White's and the queen's face until they found a red dye that worked. The animators were not artists either which added further complications even though art lessons helped many. The studio did gain a break from problems as their multiplane camera gave a three-dimensional feeling in many sequences. Despite production for the film finding a few bumps but mostly going smoothly, the word’s *Disney’s Foley continued to circulate and no matter what Walt did the press were keen to slam the movie before it even came out. They even at one point attempted to harass Marge Champion who was being used to copy her dance moves for snow white.

    The songs were composed by newcomers to the studio Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. Walt wanted to use someone in-house but lacked any form of musicians to do so. Well becoming key parts of the studio in later years both Churchill and Morey would not become members of the merry folk of Disney. Despite keeping hold of Oswald, Walt was not able to keep the publishing rights for the songs or music as the company did not yet have a music publishing company. Instead, those would fall to universal who still hold those rights to this day. On top of being the first animated film, the film would also be the first to have a soundtrack album released alongside the film. The film had everything it needed now to be made. Animators, music, live-action references, and a plot. Snow white was a go. Three years would pass during the film’s production and soon release day arrived.

    The staff, Roy, Lillian were apprehensive while the media continued to call it a dud. After years of growing up obsessed with drawing then switching to animated shorts. Disney’s biggest dream yet arrived. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937. The audience was dotted with many of those who had once called the film "Disney's Folly". The reception to the film was an unexpected one. It received standing applause and with that Disney’s Folly became Disney’s success. The studio had done the impossible and brought animation into a full-length feature.

    The effects of the film’s release soon hit the studio. Walt himself appeared on the cover of the time’s magazine with the seven dwarfs while the New York times thanked the studio. The film went into general release on February 4th, 1938. It quickly smashed all expectations and quickly became not only a major box office success but also the most successful sound film of all time. The successes it found at home were also found overseas especially in Australia. The film was a tremendous critical success, with many reviewers hailing it as a genuine work of art, recommended for both children and adults. Praise came in from all directions, Charlie Chaplin declared snow white a notable achievement in the cinema while Eisenstein went so far as to call it the greatest film ever made.

    Soon the Oscars came around and as expected. Snow White was present. Disney himself won an Academy Honorary Award a significant screen innovation while the film itself won the best musical score. Yet even as the film reached successes never expected, Walt was already preoccupied. His final child was born in March of 1938 and named him George Arthur Disney. Even with the new child and a successful film behind him. Walt was not ready to stop. They had produced the first-ever animated film and won acclaim for it. Now he was ready to do it for a second time. He was now prepared to push ahead with Pinocchio.
     
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    Chapter Eight: A Wish Come True

  • Chapter Eight: A Wish Come True

    The success of Snow-white had propelled the studio firmly into the limelight and now they were being noticed. No longer was the idea of an animated film off-putting. Show white had already inspired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to produce its own fantasy film, The Wizard of Oz, in 1939. Disney would also create their own rival with the release of snow-white. Majer Fleischer had been born in 1883 making him quite a bit older than Walt himself. His family had immigrated to the United States in 1887, settling in New York City, where he attended public school. From here his name would become max Fleeishcer and he would go on to be responsible for several technological innovations, including the Rotoscope. Walt had not paid much attention to other animators but they had paid attention to him.

    With Snow white released, Max Fleischer decided to produce his own animated feature film. The second to be made. Fleischer and his studio would work on Gulliver’s Travels in order to compete with Snow White with paramount pictures releasing the film globally. Gulliver would go on to be just as much as a success as snow white had been before it. Gulliver earned $3.27 million in the United States during its original run, even as it was limited to fifty theaters during the 1939 Christmas season. This box-office success prompted a second feature to be ordered for a Christmas 1941 release Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Walt and his studio now had competition as they were not the only animated film studio making films. Fleischer studios would remain for now a constant source of competition for Walt.

    There was another matter entirely for Walt and Roy to solve. Their family. Elias Disney had spent the last twenty years away from his son’s in California. He did not believe that their animation could get them anywhere. Yet Elias and his wife were both pleasantly surprised by the success of their milestone feature animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Communication once again opened between father and sons. though at first cold the warm did return as Elias was at last proud of both of his sons. To prove how much, they cared, Walt and Roy presented their parents with a new home in North Hollywood. In a letter today in the hands of the Disney family Museum. Flora said to daughter Ruth describing their wonderful new home and the beautiful California weather. Elias Disney would remain alive just 2 more years before passing away at the age of 82 in 1941. His wife survived him and would be a constant support pillar for her son’s films. She would live to the age of 87 before passing away in 1955.

    The studio was already at a fork road itself. Walt wanted to make a more artistic film that put together a segment of shorts played against a backdrop of classical music. Roy intervened again, believe this would not make money. This time he was joined by Ub who offered a compromise. Ub Iwerks had very much nearly left the studios by 1939 to seek more fortune and creative freedom elsewhere. But a compromise in 1938 would change that. Walt would be granted the freedom to make the yet unnamed art film by his brother if he consented that the already planned Pinocchio went ahead. Walt agreed but soon realized even if he wanted to. Being in two places at once was impossible.

    Someone else would have to lead the production on Pinocchio while he focused on his own project. Many of the Merry old folk of Disney could have been selected but Walt settled on Ub. Ub had been there from the very start. he had helped create Oswald Rabbit and Mickey mouse. Yet he had yet been given a chance to take the limelight himself. For what this was a test for his studio and himself. Pinocchio, if successful, would in Walt's mind prove his studio could make a film without his watchful gaze. Ub had the backing of Roy who was already making business deals. World war two had by now broken out in Europe, to release a film there would be unprofitable. So Roy began working to get their next two feature films showed in army encampments and barracks. It wouldn't make the films big hitters like snow white but they would gain some income lost from the war. So with Roy’s backing, Ub set out to make Pinocchio.

    Storyboard artist Bianca Majolie was selected to write a story outline for the film but after reading it Ub believed it was too faithful and would not sell well as they intended to. Majolie was given the chance to re-write it and eventually delivered a basic plot outline. With Ub acting as producer, he was more open to giving newcomers a chance to prove themselves and so selected animator Jack Kinney to direct the motion picture. While snow-white had been a short story and was open to tinkering with, Pinocchio was based on a novel with a very fixed story which meant drastic changes were to be made to make it fit in with an animated film. The pressure was on for all of them to do well and so a working environment that was much tenser than that of snow-white.

    In the original novel, Pinocchio was a cold, rude, ungrateful, inhuman brat that often repelled sympathy and only learns his lessons the hard way. This was deemed unsuitable for film and so the character of Pinocchio was shifted into the one more commonly known today. Pinocchio's design was exactly like that of a real wooden puppet with a long pointed nose, a peaked cap, and bare wooden hands. It was a gamble to portray him this way but it was one the studios were more than willing to make. Attempts to make the puppet look more real were squashed by UB who had Milt Kahl finalize the look of Pinocchio himself. Ub himself alongside writer Ted Sears believed the puppet needed a guiding figure and so the cricket was born.

    At first, the cricket was going to die and become a ghost. Instead, he now became a guiding figure for Pinocchio almost serving as an audience surrogate. The cricket would be dubbed Jimmy by Ub. Ward Kimball who had scenes cut from snow white was given the go-ahead by Ub to create the look for Jimmy. While Pinocchio was a more realistic puppet, it was decided that jimmy would be something more likable and nice to look at. More famous people were inclined to voice characters now that snow-white had been such a smash hit. Pinocchio would mark the first time an animated film used celebrities as voice actors. Popular singer Cliff Edwards was cast as Jimmy Cricket while the debate about who should voice Pinocchio lasted longer. Some wanted an adult, some wanted a child. Ub compromised and went for someone just fresh out of teenagehood. Mickey Rooney was cast as Pinocchio.

    Further casting included Frankie Darro as Lampwick, Walter Catlett as Foulfellow the Fox, Evelyn Venable as the Blue Fairy, Charles Judels as both the villainous Stromboli and the Coachman, and Christian Rub as Geppetto, whose design was even a caricature of Rub. The studio also gained a victory over Warner Brothers as they poached Mel Blanc (voice of many characters in Warner Brothers shorts) to play Gideon the Cat. With a cast and a story, production on the film went ahead. Animation on the film began in January 1938. A character model department was established so three-dimensional clay models of the characters from the film could be created and given to the staff to oversee how characters should be drawn from every angle.

    Once again the studio used live-action actors to play out scenes that were to be in the film. This time they used the footage as a guide for studying the moment of humans and incorporated them into the film itself. The progress was still a long one. Pinocchio was a ground-breaking achievement in the area of effects animation. effects animators were used for the first time giving more believability to vehicles, machinery, and natural effects such as rain, lightning, snow, smoke, shadows, and water. Pinocchio was set to be an improvement over snow-white as lessons had already been learned from all aspects. Like snow-white, Pinocchio would take three years to make and would be ready for 1940 after three years of producing it. The songs in Pinocchio were composed by Leigh Harline with lyrics by Ned Washington. The pressure for the film to do well was known by Ub and the staff but now there was nothing they could do as the release date neared.

    Pinocchio was a critical success. Some said it topped Snow white while others praised it for being the most genuine film. The film would go on to win the Academy Awards for Best Original Song, and Best Original Score, the first Disney film to win either. Despite fears, the film would tank because of the war, it actually brought in a hefty sum. Of the film's $2.6 million costs, the studio earned 2.3 million in returns. It was a loss of three million but Roy had managed to get the film showed in army barracks in allied nations that weren’t occupied. The film would however remain in theaters much longer than snow-white due to the war and by 1943 had managed to overcome its initial disappointment to earn 2.8 million at the box office in total. Jimmy cricket would go on to join Oswald and mickey as another icon.

    Walt himself was pleased with the film, it led to him giving his animators a pay rise which kept many who wanted to leave from leaving. The studio was now believed to be one of the better places to work for. For Ub the film was everything it needed to be and it solidified his position as Walt's right-hand man. No longer would Walt be bound to just one film, he had the trust in Ub to produce good films just as he did. The film also pushed Ub into the limelight and made more people acutely aware that even if it was Disney studios there was more than Just Walt. Ub was now greenlit to work on a project of his own choosing and despite the war looming over them, they would for now continue onward. Peter Rabbit would be Ub’s selection though he would also have a hand in choosing the third man in what had become known as Disney’s line of succession. Whoever that man would be, would focus on Dumbo while Walt himself worked on Hansel and Gretel.


     
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    Chapter Nine: A Gamble for Art

  • Chapter Nine: A Gamble for Art

    While Ub worked on Pinocchio, Walt himself worked on another project. The still-untitled film that was Walt’s next dream project. The title would come soon after Pinocchio went into production. The film would go by the name Fantasia. While the shorts had got him noticed and snow-white had got them popular. Walt wanted to elevate animation to the next level. He wanted it to become a form of art and through Fantasia, that goal would hopefully be achieved. It was a gamble, one that Walt was willing to make. His brother agreed only if Pinocchio was made in tandem. Fantasia would be a key piece of film for the studio as it would lay down the groundwork for future animated anthology films be it in a different format.

    Before Fantasia could become Walt’s sole project. Another big change hit the studios. The number of staff was increasing meaning the building they were in was no longer suited for their needs. The company needed one that would suit their growing team and a larger number of films and shorts that were going into production. So, the move to Burbank soon began and a new more expansive studio that could fit their needs. Built from scratch alongside Kem Weber the studio was built to fit their animation needs. The new office would become a cornerstone of the studios and would become the main headquarters of the Disney company from here on out. Walt Disney and his staff began the move from the old studio at Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake from December 1939 to January 1940.

    The new studio held more than just the animation building, however. The Hyperion Bungalow was home to Disney Publicity and Comic Strip Departments. It was here for the first time Disney began to make its comics in-house before shipping them out. With this move, more comic cook creators were able to join the studio and the number of comics jumped. Before the Move Mickey was the only one to have his own comic but as soon as the Hyperion Bungalow was up and running Disney comics exploded. Snow White, Oswald, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto all got their own comics. The Donald duck comic was one of the most important as it introduced key characters to the Disney Universe over the years by Famous Disney comic writer Carl Barks. Banks would introduce Scrooge McDuck in 1947 and Gladstone Gander a year later in 1948. The twins of Huey, Dewey, and Louie would also be rebooted and given fresh new life inside the new Donald comics.

    Donald was not the only one to benefit from the new comic books. Oswald Rabbit had slowly but surely lost popularity to Mickey mouse. He began to vanish from shorts and the focus shifted. Yet the comic books were too set to change that. They gave Oswald a new lease of life, sending him on an adventure to find his family among other things. His comic would introduce the long-standing character George Rabbit. The Stern businessman and father to Oswald who many believed were inspired by Walt’s father Elias. It here that the first seeds of Mickey and Oswald’s true relation were born. The studio also had a Talent school though small at first it would grow. It existed to teach animators, artists, radio stars, or even live-action performers. It was not well known yet and would not remain on the studio lot forever because eventually, its size would grow. One of the first attendees of that school would be Norma Jeane Mortenson. She would go on to be a key star for Disney in the 1950s and beyond.

    Finally, the smallest building on the Lot was nicknamed the shack. It's where the studio began to experiment with Radio. Like comics, radio programs would produce in-house and set out. The only one to be made by the company would be the Mickey and Oswald show. Though it would only be one radio show its popularity would see it last into the 1950s. it was not ground-breaking but it would lay the groundwork for future exploration into other mediums. The studio in all would become a vital part of Disney as it grew. Including in the Fantasia film, Walt is now worked upon.

    Fantasia had begun it a life as a short. Walt still loved Oswald but Mickey now gained all the popularity. Walt believed Oswald just needed a boost to be up there alongside his counterpart. So He decided to feature the mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a deluxe cartoon short based on the 1797 poem written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and set to the 1897 orchestral piece by Paul Dukas inspired by the original tale. The short was to be something different than their other shorts. The music would be elevated and used to tell the stories. By chance, Walt met Leopold Stokowski, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Walt by now had gained the right to use the music from 1897 and so Stokowski joined on for free to produce the score.

    Eventually, a fee of five thousand dollars was agreed for Stokowski to hire what he needed and to produce the score for what was being called a special short. Yet soon the budget began to balloon out of control the Sorcerer's Apprentice was already up to $125,000. Roy had agreed for the short to go ahead but now it needed to be expanded. Roy wanted Walt to keep any more costs on the down-low but Walt was not prepared to. And so, the deal was made. Ub would be allowed to work on Pinocchio while Walt would expand his short into a feature film now known as fantasia. Fantasia was in Walt’s mind going to be his masterpiece. Roy was not so sure if that claim was going to turn out to be true.

    Nevertheless, Stokowski was asked to extend his contract. Even with Roy’s protests, Stokowski was to be paid 80 thousand dollars plus royalties for his work on the film. Composer and music critic Deems Taylor was the next one to be brought onto the project. He would serve as an on-screen host for each musical segment. Joe Grant and Dick Huemer were selected as writers to work alongside the already established team. The team set about finding which pieces of music they could use and what animation they could set it to. It was quite a long progress and sometimes it became frustrating but the team persevered. In the end, a final agreement was made and the segments were chosen. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, The Nutcracker Suite, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Rite of Spring, The Pastoral Symphony, Dance of the Hours Night on Bald Mountain, and Ave Maria were to be the one’s included in the film.

    The making of the film would include the largest amount of people on a film thus far. Over a thousand artists and technicians were put to work on the film. The studio's character model department would also sculpt three-dimensional clay models so the animators could view their subject from all angles just as they had done for Ub’s Pinocchio. A new multiplane camera that could handle seven levels, three more than the old multiplane camera, was built. While the studio worked with David Sarnoff to create Fantasound. Fantasound would allow the viewers of the film to experience the orchestras if it was in the theatre with them. A failure or a big hit, the film would be groundbreaking in technical advancements. Roy was worried the film would bomb yet Walt was pleased with the artistic nature the film put across.

    The film would release November 13, 1940. As Roy predicted, it was not a box office success like the last two films. The onset of the Second World War prevented plans for a potential release in Europe, normally the source of as much as forty-five percent of the studio's income. Fantasia was a loss and Roy felt the impact. Yet Walt was undeterred, the success of his other films, shorts, comics, and radio shows would keep the studio going along nicely. However, despite the economic failure of the film, praise soon followed. Fantasia had garnered significant critical acclaim at the time of release and was seen as the golden masterpiece of animation. The West Coast premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre was a grand affair, attracting some 5000 people, including Shirley Temple, Cecil B. DeMille, Forrest Tucker, James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, James Murphy, Edgar Bergen, and many other notables in the film industry. Walt was pleased. The film also put Oswald back in the limelight after his source’s appearance.

    Walt would not wander back into the world of art animation after the economical failure of Fantasia. Other projects and the war would soon garner his attention. Fantasia however would never be forgotten. Like Jimmy’s cricket before him, Oswald’s appearance in the film re-solidified his popularity. He would never be as big as mickey but he could enjoy his own adventures. Soon however the second great war that plagued Europe would finally make its way home to America. The normality the studio had thrived under would be plunged into a new frontier and chaos would ensue. However, like the great war before it, Walt would thrive under the conditions and soon he was making himself noticed in democratic circles.
     
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    Chapter Ten: A War Time Studio

  • Chapter Ten: A War-Time Studio

    War was raging in Europe and soon it would consume America just as it had the majority of the planet. Yet one more film would come before things changed completely. That would film would be Dumbo. Dumbo was to be the first film completely directed and guided by Wolfgang Reitherman. Reitherman would become the third in a three producer hierarchy. Walt sat at the top followed by ub followed by Reitherman. This line of producers allowed the company to produce more animated films. Reitherman chose Dumbo, the Flying Elephant by Helen Aberson to adapt into his first motion picture and would the final film to made just before terror struck. Walt greenlit the project as he saw the possibility of a heart-warming story. Something he believed the world needed at the time.

    The studios at the time were in a dire situation. The comics and shorts kept the studio afloat but the failure of Pinocchio and Fantasia had led to financial trouble. Disney also insisted on paying his staff fairly following the suggestions made by the new deal pushed by the president. This kept his staff happy but the bank account hurting. Dumbo was to be a cash grab, a reach for the money necessary to keep the studio afloat. It was not something Walt wanted to do but gave Reitherman the go-ahead to do what was needed. Story artists Dick Huemer and Joe Grant were assigned to develop the plot into a feature-length film. Reitherman wanted to keep the movie as authentic as possible so vetoed attempts to change or add characters such as the rusty black crows.
    When the film went into production in early 1941, supervising director Ben Sharpsteen was given orders to keep the film simple and inexpensive. It was not something Reitherman wanted to do but to annoy Walt would bring down his temper and that was something nobody wanted. Dumbo would be kept as cheap as it could which led to the character designs being simpler and background paintings being less detailed. Even with attempts to keep the budget down low, real-life animals were brought into the studio to study their movement. Dumbo was completed and delivered to Disney's distributor, Universal Studios, on September 11, 1941. Hopes were high for the film’s successes even as war still burned. To some Dumbo saved the Disney studios.
    Dumbo was to be the most financially successful Disney film of the 1940s. The film had cost $950,000 to make. Dumbo eventually grossed roughly more than $1.3 million during its original release. Dumbo would go on to win the 1941 Academy Award for Best Original Score. Yet dark storm clouds were brewing. Peter rabbit had taken time to get into production, its 1941 release date had been pushed back twice once into 1942 and again into 1943. Beatrix Potter had denied Disney’s requests to make the film twice as she feared they would change the artwork within her stories. Ub who was selected to make the film drew up artwork that was enough to convince potter to give over the rights and allow the studio to make the film. Hansel Gretel had also slowed down as Walt had taken two trips to south and central America in late 1941 and early 1942. This was on behalf of the government, who had requested goodwill films and Walt was obliged to agree.

    Upon his return, he began early development of the goodwill films while also restarting progress on Hansel Gretel. The films were nearly completed, both with little changes to the source material as that had become Disney’s thing, as cheaply as they could have been like Dumbo had been though more effort was put into peter rabbit in order not to offend the writer who had given them the rights after tense negotiations. Reitherman was brought on board by Ub to help the production of Peter rabbit along. The animators, Walt, Roy, their families, and America could not have foreseen what would happen in December of 1941.

    On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. Just before 08:00. Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces. A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Japan announced declarations of war on the United States and the British Empire later that day while the British declared war immediately after learning that their territory had also been attacked. On December 8th, 1941. Congress declared war on Japan, Germany declared war on America a few days later. Dragging America into world war two. The effects on the Disney studio were felt straight away as male animators began to enlist. The studio would be affected as male staff departed but it gave the female animators a chance to push forward and keep the studio alive. Lillian Disney herself returned to the studio to help her husband and 15-year-old Theodore Elias Disney also pitched in at his father’s studio.

    The war would affect the studios in three ways. First was the army. When Walt himself received word that the Disney studio lot in Burbank had been requisitioned as an Army anti-aircraft base, he and his staff pledged to support the war effort without hesitation and so the army moved into the studio. The second would see half the 800 staff move on to make propaganda films. The war would be a boom to the company however as the production of the propaganda films would herald sizable income for the studio. In total they received $4,500 for each short it produced for the war effort. During the war, the company would go on to make films for every branch of the armed forces and government. The most popular of these propaganda films would be, Der Fuehrer's Face, starring Donald Duck.

    The propaganda film would feature Donald and daisy duck in a majority of them. In Commando Duck, Donald, by himself, destroys an entire Japanese airbase. Donald had always been a side character to mickey even though his comics were popular. The war would put an end to this and Donald became third in rankings of Disney characters just below Oswald and Mickey himself. He had become an icon and would retain that status. Der Fuehrer's Face and Commando Duck both won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. The propaganda films would not be the only thing the company would make on behalf of the American government. Walt had already taken a trip around south and central America to get ideas for films. Now in the midst of world war two, these films would be created.

    To offset the lower number of staff due to other productions. The two good films were merged into a double bill. It was hoped that this would help costs and garner more money. So what was once two films becoming Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. Both would be live-action/animated hybrids. Together with the eight segments with four each with Saludos Amigos focusing on South America and The Three Caballeros central America. Production for the film like Dumbo was kept on the down-low, Walt himself would not work on the project due to commitment elsewhere so both Ub and Reitherman would work on the project. The film's original score was composed by Edward H. Plumb, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott. Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros would introduce more characters that would begin frequent appearances.

    Saludos Amigos saw the debut of José Carioca while The Three Caballeros saw the debut of the Three Caballeros themselves. Carioca was a crossover bridge for both shorts while Caballeros used Donald in the film due to the popularity and the fact the film’s release would line up with his 10th birthday. The film premiered on January 21, 1943. The film received mixed reviews upon its release and like fantasia before it, was a major loss for the studio. Like before they would rely on comics and shorts to set the loss the film had given them.

    The final thing to occupy Disney during the early years of the war was the then titled song of the south. Disney had decided against making any better will films and seeing the income later on strengthened his choice. Instead, Walt turned to Mary Blair who would serve as the first female director for animation motion pictures while Walt would serve as producer. The film had been in production for years but Walt could not find the right way to produce the film. Walt had purchased the rights to the stories in 1939, paying Harris's family $10,000 for the rights yet nothing had yet come of it. Now needing money during wartime Walt returned to the idea. The idea was to create an animated film with longer intersected live actions pieces that would be set on a plantation but Walt wanted the animation to take the forefront so the planation idea was scrapped with the animated sections taking precedent.

    The film would consist of four shorts based on the tales from the book with something interlocking each story. Disney and Blair visited Harris's home in Atlanta to get a feeling for the film yet Roy worried about the project during a time of war. Yet Walt insisted again. Some began to call the film Disney’s wartime Foley though the term was not as widespread. African American screenwriter Clarence Muse was brought on board to write the script. He came up with the simple idea of an elderly grandfather telling stories to his grandchildren. The hiring of Muse was slammed by some southern states but Walt was considered a progressive for the time so he ignored the criticism. He let Muse do as he pleased to give the film an edge.

    With the focus shifting from live-action to animated shorts telling tales from the book’s the film lost its title of song of the south and gained its new title. Brer Rabbit Adventures. Next on Walt’s list was the casting of the grandfather (who would also double up as the voice of Brer Rabbit). Paul Robeson was considered for Grandfather Remus but ultimately he was not cast. There was some annoyance by some that the uncle character had been re-named as a grandfather but Walt refused to change it back and kept muse’s script intact. James Baskett was in the end cast as Grandfather Remus/ Brer Rabbit. Disney liked Baskett, and told his sister Ruth that Baskett was "the best actor, I believe, to be discovered in years. Their friendship became well known and would last till Baskett’s death in 1948.

    More controversy arose as two white children were cast as the grandchildren. Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten’s parents both received hate mail for the casting and partaking in the film and some threatened to lynch Baskett if he came to their town but the anger only fueled Walt more as he saw it as a revolution akin to snow white. Doing something he believed had never done before. Hattie McDaniel also appeared in the role of Grandmother which further added compliments to the film’s black agenda. The budget was set at $1.35 million, for Disney it went big or go bust; a gamble which scared Roy. The animated segments of the film were directed by Mary Blair while the live-action scenes were filmed by Harve Foster. The live-action scenes took just three months to film.

    There were four animated segments in the film though Walt wanted basset to enter the animation at the end making the film’s most iconic scene a blend of animation and live-action. The tree segments where Br'er Rabbit Runs Away, Br'er Rabbit's Laughing Place and Brer Rabbit Ride the Fox”. Later comments by historians in the 1970s and 1980s would call the animation sections the proto-loony toons films which came to be a thing in the 1950s. Nearly all of the vocal performances were performed by African-American’s on Walt and the renowned all-black Hall Johnson Choir on Walt's request that the music also sounded authentic. Roy feared the film though it had an unexpected admirer in Eleanor Roosevelt who requested a special screening of the film.

    The film’s premiere was shifted from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to New York in November of 1944. Roy did not attend the film out of fear of the reactions. Walt himself attended the event with James Baskett. The premier was shifted from Atlanta as the city was then a racially segregated city and Walt wanted his friend to partake in the event. The headline’s the next day read one thing. Disney has done it again. it was heralded as another smash hit Disney and quickly blew snow white out of the water. It was the 4th highest rated Disney film of the 1940s and the most highly praised especially by African American’s who were pleased with the positive portrayal within the film. The film at the time would also garner the studio’s most amount of Oscars. The film won Best Original Song (Best Original Song), best actor in a leading role (James Basket), best scoring of a musical picture, and two Academy Juvenile Awards for Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten. Hattie McDaniel gained a nomination as the best female in a supporting role.

    Brer Rabbit Adventures saw a shift in Hollywood. The progressive nature of Walt given to him by his father began to bleed out into the film industry. The positive portrayal of African American’s had netted the company millions and now they wanted in too. Universal and Disney agreed to extend their deal till 1952, Walt was pleased with the studio and their friendship would continue for now. the next big movie would not till after the war. Walt now shifted his focus onto package films. Two feature films at a shorter length as more and more staff moved onto propaganda films. Walt would not give up and soon lesser-known animated films began production as across the sea in Asia the war neared its own climatic final.
     
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    Chapter Eleven: Package It up

  • Chapter Eleven: Package It up

    The war coming to a close by 1944. Yet this meant little to nothing for the Disney studios who entered one of their busiest periods. By 1944 the studio was back in the green though the studio was still not ready to completely shred of its old skin to become the golden age studio it would be known as in the 1950s. One of the reasons for this was Walt's children. Theodore Elias Disney was now eighteen years of age. Growing up he had shown many of the same talents Walt had but Theodore was also exposed to his uncle Roy and took on a passion for business. It was in his eighteenth year he pledged to the latter which disappointed Walt though the father did his best not to show it. he stood by his son, learning lessons from his father. Theodore would take up work under Roy and begun a cycle of Disney family members training under family members.

    Fifteen-year-old Diane Disney was also beginning to outgrow the family home. She saw the world that her father partook in and wanted in as well. She was no writer like her aunt or artist like her father instead the child was for the most part charismatic. She found a fork in the road at that age. her father for his part would not play favoritism with his children. He believed whole heatedly that if they were to make a success they had to do it without his help. To this end at the age of 15, Diane Disney made her choice and joined the Disney Talent school on the lot. Her name got her attention as was expected but Diane pushed on to find her own way just like her father had done.

    While the two oldest children forged their own, the three youngest continued on normally for now as Walt turned his attention to package films. Package films for Walt and the studio had taken on a different meaning entirely after the success of Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. To them, it meant two smaller films packaged together in a double bill. That way more profit could be gained and more projects could be produced. Trust had become paramount among the Disney staff by 1944 and so more people were trusted with films. After the success of Peter Rabbit/Hansel Gretel (which was merged together as a double bill in 1944 after constant delays, the studios pushed ahead with a faster pace.

    Walt himself would work upon The Life of Hans Christian Andersen which would be the only non-package film made during that short window near the end of the war. Plans for this film, like the others, had begun a long time before its production even began. Plans for a film that would feature a collection of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy-tales were first discussed in late 1937, shortly before the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Actor Jean Hersholt, who had spent a lifetime researching the author was brought in to provide his knowledge. Production on the movie began shortly before the finishing of Brer Rabbit Adventures. The film was more than just a film, however. It would begin a slow but amicable break up with universal with the contract soon to run out in the 1950s Disney was ready to find a new avenue for release.

    The film was to tell the tale of Hans Christian Andersen injected with his fairy tales. Disney made an agreement with MGM. Though Disney was capable of filming the live-action sections by themselves they wanted to solely focus on the animation. Well MGM got about working on the live-action sections of the film, the Disney studio got about working on the animation sections. Five of his tales were selected for the film (The Little Fir Tree, Through the Picture Frame, The Emperor's Nightingale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and "The Ugly Duckling). Production on the film would last from 1944 to 1946. It would become the first film Disney film to release post-war and the first to feature the voice of future screen star Norma Jeane Mortenson. It was a success like Brer Rabbit Adventures before it. the film did not win any awards but the influx of return soldiers drove the box office numbers up sending the film into third highest of 1946.

    Well, Disney produced Brer Rabbit Adventures and The Life of Hans Christian Andersen. Other people worked on other projects. UB had taken up the task of not just doing two films but instead pushing ahead with three named Three Fabulous Characters. This film included The Wind in the Willows, The Legend of Happy Valley, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It was an ambitious plan and costs were to be kept on the down-low as Dumbo had before it. Well-known celebrities Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby were cast as narrators in order to provide mass audience appeal. It was a risky move for the studios but one that would soon pay off. It went on to gross $1,200,000 in domestic rentals in the United States and Canada. It would be the only time that a three package film would ever be created. UB Won a recognition award at the Oscars for his effort.

    With Three Fabulous Characters releasing in February of 1945. The next project led by Wolfgang Reitherman would be the final film Disney would ever make and release before the end of the second world war. It would release in July of 1945, just one month before Victory over Japan. Reitherman chose a more musical project while UB had chosen a more story-based project. Fun and Fancy-Free and Melody Time were to be Wolfgang’s project. The film would consist of eight pairs of shorts. With each having four. Fun and Fancy-Free would contain Bongo, Bambi, Donald Duck, and Oswald Too, and Mickey and the beanstalk while Melody Time would be more akin to fantasia and would feature Once Upon a Wintertime, Trees, Blame it on samba, and Pecos Bill. Both would be joined together by a narrator which was done by Walt himself. At the time of its release, the film received generally unfavorable reviews and would begin the end of package films.

    The final package film for Disney would be made by trusted merry old folk of Disney member Marc Davis. The film was delayed three times from 1944, 1946 to finally 1947. This was due to members of this film being needed to work on others yet Davis still pushed ahead of his own double bill The Reluctant Dragon/Make mine music. While the reluctant dragon served as a cartoonish tour around the Disney studio while make mine music was the generic package idea Disney was used to consisting of five segments (Peter and the Wolf, The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, Two Silhouettes, After You've Gone, Without You). The film was a moderate success but for Walt, it was a disaster.

    Their last big hit and Walt groundbreaking film were Brer Rabbit Adventures. Nothing that had come after had truly broken any records. Fleischer studios by now had begun to catch up releasing The Secret Garden in 1947 which went on to win the Oscar for best picture and dominated the box office. Warner brother’s by now fought Disney, as well as the loony toons shorts, also began to dominate the Oscars. To make Walt feel even worse characters like Woody Woodpecker were also gaining in popularity. The media began to claim that though Walt had lit the flame of animation his studio was no longer the one’s carrying it. Walt and his studio however were not about to go down without a fight and with a new decade on the horizon. Walt was back in the mentality that to save the studios. They had to be prepared to do whatever it took, no matter the cost.
     
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    Chapter Twelve: At Last, I see The Light

  • Chapter Twelve: At Last, I See The Light

    The period immediately after the war is often known as the rebirth of the Disney company. As was the case for many Hollywood studios, World War two had changed the way they operated but now the war was over. Fleischer Studios was now a rival to Disney in terms of animation and Warner Brothers were not far behind either. The Disney studio had started It all but now they needed to adapt again. rebooting everything in Walt's mind was the only option. The first to be rebooted were comics. They had lost popularity near the end of the war and Roy had become signaling their loss. The last issue released in 1945 and after that, the comics fell silent. They were not dead just dormant as the company figured out how they would adapt to a new age. Walt again found himself in more places than one but this time embraced it. In his mind, the studio needed a solid footing if it was to remain stable.

    Walt realized that well his writers and artists could in fact make comic books it was not their specialty. They needed a figure who was well versed in that industry to lead their comic department. Once again Roy was shocked by the salary Walt was offering, the studio was afloat but if they kept spending as they did, they would be bankrupt by 1955. Once again, the pair argued and once again Walt got his own way. The Undisclosed amount of money was never revealed to the public but it was enough to sway Bill Finger to Disney. Finger is now known as the co-creator of batman but credit was not given in the early days. Finger was also known for many of the 1940s Green Lantern stories, featuring Alan Scott. Yet with Disney, he would have control over an entire department to make what stories he liked with any character he wanted. Finger took the job and soon joined Disney in 1946. The move would be the first of a growing number of connections to finger’s formal employer.

    At Disney, Finger quickly embraced his new role, and the rebirth of Disney comics began. The first successful one where the Adventures of Donald and Oswald. The comic itself would build upon the movie short that put Oswald and Donald duck together. It was not expected the pair together would be a major hit but to the studio’s surprise, it was. The comic would soon build upon that and send the pair on adventures around the world solving misfires. Carl Barks who shared joint control now with Finger would also be heavily involved. He would introduce Scrooge McDuck in 1947 and Gladstone Gander a year later in 1948. The twins of Huey, Dewey, and Louie would also be rebooted and given fresh new life inside the new Donald comics. The seeds about his family that had been rooted by banks years earlier were now paid off as it was finally revealed mickey and Oswald were brothers.

    The Mickey Mouse and friends' adventure would be set inside toon town itself and would follow the daily lives of Mickey and his friends. The comic featured the usual characters associated with Mickey. Pluto, Minnie, Pete, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar. Yet the series would also be popular for establishing new characters and plot ideas. Mortimer Mouse was introduced as a folly to Mickey mouse and a love rival, Horace Horsecollar became a rival to goofy. The comic also introduced the world of snow-white which was seen a train away in the comics. It was seen as the first attempt to unify the Disney world. other comics made by the studio at the time included. Uncle Remus and His Tales of Br'er Rabbit. Instead of adapting the animated film or the book, this comic strived to tell its own stories with Matt Baker brought on to do the artwork. Chip and Dale also got their own comic featuring their adventures in rescuing people.

    The rebooted comic series was a success for Disney. Such a success they would not be rebooted again. they would continue on as they are with more comics being added. The stories were aimed mostly at a child and at a time other comics began to lose popularity after World War Two. The Disney comics were once again a large success. The movie shorts would also be rebooted and re-focused. With no need for propaganda anymore their focus was shifted back to smaller tales. Ward Kimball was selected as the head of the shorts department. The main focus of the shorts was to be the romance triangle between Mickey/Minnie and Mortimer, Donald and His nephews, and Oswald/Goofy/ Clarabelle Cow and the new character of Max. Goofy’s child. With the shorts and comics rebooted. Walt himself turned his attention to the last film of the 1940s, to be released in 1949. He would not work upon the film; he was working on a project he deemed the big return so he once again let Ub work on the project.

    That project would be another that had remained dormant for a long period of time. It was to be the gremlins. The Gremlins had a book written by Roald Dahl and published in 1943, its sole purpose was its hopes of being adapted into a film made by Walt Disney Productions. It had begun life as a film in 1943 just one month after the books. Dahl himself had recently exited the war as a pilot and was drafted by the studios to help with production. Dhal for the most part would write the script. The story was the last film Disney would work upon that would be related to the war. It saw mischievous mythical creatures (the gremlins) be blamed for all plane problems in the war and must be convinced and trained to fight the real foe (Hitler and the Nazis). The focus was put on the character of gus and his relations with the gremlins while also working on fear of loss.

    It would be the first time Dahl would work for the studio and would be the last till the 1960s. Still there were high hopes for the film. Mickey Rooney was cast as Gus the main character (something some disagreed on as the character was British). Walt himself did not have much faith in the film. Edward H. Plumb, one of the composers from the Brer Rabbit Adventures was brought onboard to be the composer for the film. By 1949, after a few delays and some of the hardest work Ub had put into a film. The gremlins released. The film’s premiere was held in New York after the company had decided not to return to Atlanta. The film was a modest success and saw profits begun to climb as theaters in post-war Europe began to re-open.

    The Gremlin's success was an indicator to Walt that the time was right to push for grand animation once again. To return to what made the studio so popular in the first place was also a choice Walt made. The 1940s has been a transformative era for Walt himself. Some of his children had grown up, his progressive values had been tested but remained strong and the animation he loved dearly had suffered due to war. Times were changing; Harry S. Truman had won the 1948 election in a landslide and the new deal was secured for another four years. America was shifted, the world was healing and the 1950s would see the Disney studio rise from that little studio that showcases great and mediocre animated films to a kingdom of entertainment. But as The Disney studios benefited from the boom of the 50s so too would her rivals. The animation war was about to begin.

     
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    Side Chapter One: Early History of Fleischer studios

  • Side Chapter One: Early History of Fleischer studios

    Walt and his studios were not the only ones to begin a life of animation. Their chief rival also began around the same time and was in fact older than Walt himself. Yet the life of Max Fleischer was not the happy one Walt had found himself enjoying. He had bene born Majer Fleischer in 1883. Four years later he and his family had had immigrated to the United States they soon settled in New York where many immigrants settled at the time. It was here he would begin to attend school. At the start things seemed to go well and the family enjoyed a happy and decent lifestyle due to his fathers as an exclusive tailor to high society clients. Ten years later however the business was gone and Max spent most his teens in Brownsville, a poor Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn.

    Like Walt, he continued his education at evening high school and like Walt he soon commercial art training. He also attended the Mechanics and Tradesman's School in midtown Manhattan. This would begin to shape Max and the future that laid in store for him. Just like Walt, Max would begin his career in a newspaper. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Unlike Walt, he began his job as an errand boy, before he advanced to photographer, photoengraver, and eventually, staff cartoonist. Max’s road was longer than that of Walt but he insisted to push on. It was during this period he met newspaper cartoonist and early animator, John Randolph Bray, who would later give him his start in the animation field.

    Before he began his own studio, Max would be important in the technology behind animation before Walt was even old enough to consider starting his own studio. The first animated cartoons often tended to be stiff and jerky. Max came up with a way to stop this through a combined projector and easel for tracing images from a live-action film. This device, known as the rotoscope, enabled Fleischer to produce the first realistic animation since the initial works of Winsor McCay. It set the motion for what animation would become in the 1920s and beyond. Max became more and more interested in animation. Soon his life would be nothing but animation. The first iteration of his company would be established in 1921 as Inkwell Studios.

    It has here that years before mickey and Oswald came to a recognizable character named the clown. Out of the Inkwell would be very popular throughout the 1920s. Out of the Inkwell featured the novelty of combining live-action and animation which the Disney studios would use for one of there own biggest hits in the 1940s. The clown would finally get his name in 1924 when Dick Huemer came aboard. Huemer would be important for the studio like Ub was to Disney. He moved the Fleischers away from their dependency on the Rotoscope for fluid animation soon Ko-Ko the clown was becoming even more popular than before. Another future big artist would also soon join that was Art Davis who was appointed as an assistant to Huemer. Unbeknownst to the studio, they had begun a practice that would become common place in animation studios.

    Max did not stop there however and soon he developed the Rotograph. It served as a means of photographing live-action film footage with animation cels for a composited image. The Rotograph soon went into more general and became a staple in animation. Sound soon became a possibility and the studio was ready to jump on the bandwagon to test it out. This would in turn give birth to another popular character. With the conversion to sound, Paramount needed more sound films, and cartoons could be produced faster than feature films so Max and his studios entered into a deal with paramount. series, Talkartoons replaced the silent Inkwell Imps, the first being Noah's Lark released October 25, 1929 by now Disney had arrived on the scene and was consuming many a praise.

    Soon bimbo arrived and the studio had the intent to develop him into the star of the series yet it was the cameo appearance of a Helen Kane caricature in the seventh entry, Dizzy Dishes that took center stage. Paramount encouraged them to keep on pushing and soon Betty Boop was born. Alongside Ko-ko the clown she would be main stays of the animated shorts produced by the studio. She had originated as a hybrid human/canine character, but was transformed into the human character she is known as by 1932. The studio was always lagging behind Disney by the 1930s yet continued to push as much as they could do with their shorts being just as popular.

    The hays code hurt the shorts and Paramount who soon changed their films. They urged the animation studios to be more like Disney. To be more family-friendly. The studio was not truly against this but they did not want to be complete a Disney clone. They wanted to be there own thing though they had to change by law as the hays code watched over all. When Snow-white released, the studio had been beaten to the first animated movie but they where not content on going out quietly. The second-ever animated feature would be produced by the studio based on Gulliver’s Travels story. Gulliver would go on to be just as much as a success as snow white had been before it. Gulliver earned $3.27 million in the United States during its original run, even as it was limited to fifty theaters during the 1939 Christmas season. This box-office success prompted a second feature to be ordered for a Christmas 1941 release Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Coemption had now begun between the Disney and newly named Fleischer Studios.

    There next two films would push aside Disney even as war consumed America. In 1933 the company had licensed E.C. Segar's comic strip character Popeye the Sailor and began to include him in shorts. Popeye eventually became the most popular series the studio ever produced, and its success surpassed Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons. It made sense for the studio to turn pop-eye into a big-screen film. The first would release in 1943 and would be titled simply Popeye the Sailor, it was for the most part a package film of five pop-eye shorts however they were extremely successful and put Disney’s claim of being king of animation in doubt. The second Popeye at Christmas was release in 1944 and was another five short package films this time themed around Christmas.

    The studio would soon switch to another popular formant and that was to adapt books. Unlike Disney, they did not go for fairy tales but instead settled on classic literature. Moby dick would be the first of these animated tales which would release in late 1944. It was to be a popular movie however the release of Disney’s Brer Rabbit Adventures swept it aside and Disney once again reclaimed their crown. The battle would ensue throughout the late 1940s to see who would win. Disney’s Peter Rabbit/Hansel Gretel beat Fleischer’s King Arthur, Fleischer’s Sherlock Homes beat Disney’s The Life of Hans Christian Andersen, Disney’s Three Fabulous Characters beat Fleischer’s Christmas carol (the first animated version of the film) well Fleischer’s first attempt at a Tarzan animated film tied with The Reluctant Dragon/Make mine music.
    Fleischer soon got a bigger one up on Disney however as they released the Secret Garden in 1947 which went on to win the Oscar for best picture and dominated the box office. Fleischer Studios was entering the 1950s strong and ready to fight. They announced for 1950 an animated adaptation of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Disney soon announced Cinderella. Disney had become the animator of fairy tales and family films while Fleischer had become the animator of classic novels and more adult based films. Little did either know their actions in 1949 to announce there 1950 film would begin an animation war that would soon drag in the likes of warner brothers. The 1950s was to be a battle ground for animation as both studios expanded in any direction they could. The friendly rivalry between the studios today truly began in the 1950s. As one newspaper predicted in 1949. Brace yourself the Fifties will be explosive.
     
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    Chapter Thirteen: Dawn of The Golden Age

  • Chapter Thirteen: Dawn of The Golden Age

    Well, the 1950s would be known as the decade the animation war began. This was by many seen as a good thing as the decade also began the golden age that animation would carry upward towards the stars. Nothing seemed impossible in this whole new decade as all companies began to fight it out for the crown. The wartime era which had been drab, dark, and at some pointless gave way to the bright hopeful decade of the 1950s but it was more than just the films that changed. The way life’s where lived also shifted. The economy was booming and soon the seeds laid by those returning home blossomed and prosperity soon flowed. New cars, new planes, suburban houses, and other consumer goods were available to more people than ever before. And that included films, the race was on to set the standard for this brave new frontier of animation.

    Warner brother’s joined the face with the Loony toons movie and Fleischer Studios aimed high with an adaptation of Oliver but Walt was more than ready to knock it out of the park and win the first battle in the war of animation. To achieve this goal, Walt knew it was time to go back to the very thing that had propelled them into the spotlight the first time. Fairy-tale had to be harnessed one more after a decade of leaving them behind for other tales. Nobody at the time quite knew if the success of snow white was a one-time thing. The other films had suffered due to the war and none of them had truly dominated the box office. Walt knew that they hit gold the first time but could they gold the second time. It was one question that worried many in the studio but they pushed ahead. It was everything or nothing for the making of Cinderella.

    It was not the first time the studio had looked at the classic tale. In 1922, Walt had produced a Laugh-O-Gram cartoon based on the fairy tale. He had also been interested in producing a second version in December 1933 as a Silly Symphony short. The short was planned with Ub Iwerks penned to be the director. Yet the story proved too complicated to be chopped up into a short story and so it became suggested as a motion picture in 1938. One of the first films to be suggested for production. The film would have a fourteen-page outline written by Al Perkins which two years later in 1940 it was re-written by Dana Cofy and Bianca Majolie. Yet this also fell through and the studio moved onto other projects soon after.

    By September of 1944 however, four years after the film was shelved Walt restructured it. Dick Huemer and Joe Grant to begin work on Cinderella as story supervisors. When Ruth Disney was freed from other work she also joined the project. She and Rapf decided to make the character more rebellious against her stepfamily in order to be different from the character of snow-white. Rapf himself stated * I made her earn it, and what she had to do to achieve it was to rebel against her stepmother and stepsisters, to stop being a slave in her own home*. The idea was green-lit by Walt who was persuaded by Ruth to keep the rebellious nature inside the film to make Cinderella a stronger character. Walt was to produce the film, one of the only films to release in the 1950s to have his full focus.

    With the film needing to go all out, Walt moved to select the best talent he had for the film. Ub Iwerks was selected to direct well Ben Sharpsteen was assigned as supervising producer while Ward Kimball, Wilfred Jackson, and Ollie Johnston became the sequence directors. It would be one of the last films to feature many of the merry folk of Disney in some role as afterward the approaching changes inside the studio would see many of them spin off into different departments. Oliver Wallace was to compose the score. Casting for the film was no easy task. Despite arguments to hire newcomers Walt once again overruled. He insisted a big name could sell the film and a personal friend of his was on the radar as she needed roles. The Casting was still in discussion but soon the news leaked and just two days later. Walt received a phone call from Judy garland and an interview was secured.

    Days later garland was cast as Cinderella. Garland has had nothing but appreciation for Walt and the film. In a 1988 interview, garland admitted the film saved her life and restarted Hollywood’s interest in her. She however would always gravitate towards Disney and her friend if a role was on offer. That was how Judy Garland at the age of fifty-five ended up in Star Wars. Well, a well-known actor was cast as Cinderella the studio decided to use an unknown as Prince charming who had a few lines. The crew settled with 19-year-old James Dean as he worked well with Judy garland when the pair met in an arranged interview. Both Dean and Garland were used as live-action references for their characters. Mary Alice O'Connor served as the live-action reference for the Fairy Godmother. Production was finished by October 13, 1949.

    The film was released in theaters on February 15, 1950, in Boston, Massachusetts. Walt attended alongside garland, dean, and Roy. The film would go on to win the first battle in the war of animation. The film became a critical success garnering the best reception since the Br'er Rabbit adventures. In a personal letter to Walt Disney, director Michael Curtiz hailed the film as the "masterpiece of all pictures you have done well the newspapers declared Disney is back. It proved to thousands included the studio and Walt that snow white was not a one-time hit but that fairy tales if done right could be a gold mine and were highly successful.

    The film was worth more than just its praise, however. The film was Disney's greatest box office success since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs earning $8 million in gross rentals. By the end of its run, it had earned nearly $4.28 million in North America which made it the fifth highest-grossing film released in North America in 1950. It was the fifth most popular movie at the British box office in 1951. And in France the sixteenth biggest film of all time in terms of admissions with 13.2 million tickets sold. With Europe over the profits began to explode, the success of Cinderella could not be understated. It gave Disney enough money to keep on making films throughout the 1950s well also begun funding the three secret projects only known at the time as project orange grove, project flowing river, and project sunflower. The film also launched the carer of James dean and gave a boost to Judy Garland’s. It also won the Oscars for Best Sound and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Pictures.

    The film was more than just important for Disney’s secret projects. the first effect would be the establishment of Buena Vista Distribution. Ever since its early shorts the company had worked with universal to release its films but now the company was ready to go its own way and that meant releasing its own film. There was no hate on universal’s part and they understood that it would come eventually. The deal would run out in 52 with every film after that to be released by Disney themselves. The establishment of Buena Vista Distribution INC saw the departure of the first two merry folk of Disney as John Lounsbery and Frank Thomas departed to work as head of the new Distribution company. It was a move made to make sure the leadership was trusted.

    The next new department created would be one of the most important Disney could have made. Walt himself had seen the power of animated shorts in the 1930s but he now wondered what if you expanded them slightly and stuck them on the quickly Advancing television. Walt had become competently obsessed with the idea of television and so he founded Marceline Animation, named after his hometown. Not yet possible to make their own channel, Walt put out the call for any TV station to embrace his new idea. ABC and NBC rejected it but CBS was all for It and saw the chance to gain what they hoped would be quality-made Disney programs for television. It was a gamble but it was another gamble Walt was prepared to make again.

    Marceline Animation would be headed by Ward Kimball, Milt Kahl, and Ollie Johnston which was the departure of three more merry folks from the main movie department. Yet Marceline Animation would prove both profitable for CBS and Disney. Their first show would be called The Oswald and Mickey Revue. The show saw Oswald and Mickey inside a cartoon version of the studio working on their next production before launching you into three randomly presented classic Disney cartoon shorts. It was a simple show yet popular and soon gave way to more tv shows. The next would be The Adventures of Merlin the Magician. The show would serve as a more educational program as merlin and his pet owl named Archimedes attempt to solve real problems and look into the history and other things with things more often than not going wrong.

    These two shows relied on new concepts but the new TV animation was not completely against using established ideas. The Briar Patch used stories from the comics to tell further tales of the rabbit and his friends. The show also saw cameos from Oswald and Thumper from Bambi which was integrated into the universe. The last two shows, for now, would be two duck-themed shows as the duck family was extremely popular. The Marshall Plan was a program to provide aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II. Donald Duck in Europe was made to foster warmer relations and saw the duck travel Europe in animation as he tells you all you need to know about life in a certain European nation per episode.

    The final would be titled Triple trouble. The show saw the adventures of Huey, Dewey, and Louie in school as shenanigans happen around them. Though the show was not as popular as the others it would serve as a prototype for what was to come. It included the first appearance of Bentina Beakley though not in the role she would become known as. Goofy’s Son Max was aged up for the show. The successes of the tv show and the movie were pleasing to the studio. Warner Brothers would win the next fight in the war with their Loony toons film which propelled the characters onto the screen but by now Walt was looking bigger than ever. Project Orange grove was becoming more and more of a reality and a dream but first Disney and his studio would make a movie that would lead to the long-awaited downfall of the hays code.
     
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    Chapter Fourteen: Daring to Defy

  • Chapter Fourteen: Daring to Defy

    Animation was the bread and butter of Disney. It had established the presence and made them extremely popular. It also led to the rise of an entire animation industry with Warner Brothers and Fleischer studios became large and profitable with their own animation. Yet as many expected, doing one thing was never enough for Walt Disney and he wanted more. It was all well and good for the studio if they could manage animation but was it enough. With Buena Vista Distribution now established, the studio could make what it wanted on its own terms and not rely on a deal to distribute its films. The studio had made live-action/animation hybrids before but now the studio was ready to claim its stake in live-action.

    The first attempt would be a simple film-based Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was a book Walt had read to his younger boys when they were children and had become enthralled by it. the first attempt at a live-action film would be a simple affair for the studio. Walt would stay on as producer due to it being their first major attempt and wanting to make sure the film was done right. Byron Haskin would direct the studio’s first attempt which would begin a long-term collaboration between the Disney studio and Haskin. Bobby Driscoll was cast as Jim Hawkins; Driscoll would soon become a mainstay of the Disney studios up till his death in the 1990s. Money was sunk into the project just like had been done with Cinderella to make sure the film was up to standard.

    The film returned from its initial release around $4,100,000 with $2,100,000 being generated in the United States and Canada. Reviews from critics were mostly positive. Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times called the film "a grand and glorious entertainment" that "captures the true spirit of the novel. Yet Walt was unhappy with the film. To him it seemed like the studio had become stuck in an unbreakable mold and that people only saw them as a children’s studio. It was not an image Walt wanted. He wanted to break out the mold and do something that would truly shape their image. To do this Walt decided he would do something shocking which would put him in violation of the hays code. The hays code hung over Hollywood like a dark cloud and was not dissipating.

    The Production Code spelled out what was acceptable and unacceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience in the United States. Many feared what would happen if they dared to even break the code and so remained within its parameters. Such things as Sympathy for criminals, the use of drugs, White slavery, and Ridicule became almost unseen within Hollywood. Yet Disney had already defied the normality once when he portrayed African American’s in a good light. Being an environment with African American’s and women shifted Walt's views further, one’s that had already been shaped by his father.

    Walt had been a supporter of the republican party until the 1940s when he switched his allegiance to the democratic party. He had he became a generous Donator to Harry Truman in 1948 and 1952. In 1946, he became a founding member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Expansion of American Ideals. The Alliance was progressive in nature and stood firmly against the hays code. Walt was not alone in standing against the hays code come the 1950s. In a strange first, Max Fleischer stood alongside Walt calling the hays code a shackle on the freedom of artistic expression. The newspapers had a field day. Anti-Hays Code Stance Brings Rivals together. With his views on the hays code known, Walt moved to make a picture that would shatter its control over Hollywood.

    The first indication that this film was coming was the establishment of Elias pictures. Named after his father, the new production company would work within the Disney studios and would focus on making more adult productions that were not so family-friendly. Roy was completely petrified that the studio would be burnt to the ground if they continued but the mood in Hollywood was shifting against the hays code and with overseas films threatening to overtake them due to their content. Walt pushed on. He searched high and low for a story that he could adapt and settled on a vampire novel from 1872 called Carmilla. The film was known for its homosexual undertones even if the book never acknowledged it. it had been adapted before but now Walt wanted to take it all the way and announced the project in pure defiance of the hays code.

    Well, the media erupted again due to Walt's actions he pushed ahead with the film. African American screenwriter Clarence Muse was brought on board to write the script after working with him on Brer Rabbit Adventures. Walt had struck up a friendship and decided he wanted to work with him again. The mere hiring of an African American screenwriter was enough for people to call for boycotts of the film. Yet Walt pushed on and became the producer of the film himself, making sure nothing was taken out or removed. Finding a director proved hard, but Byron Haskin agreed. He had enjoyed filming treasure island and tended to ignore the situation they found themselves in. Walt and some in Hollywood had realized soon that the hays code was not enforced so his next move was considered even more shocking.

    Twenty-seven-year-old Marilyn Monroe was cast as the protagonist Laura. Monroe was a smaller actress who had appeared in Disney films in cameo’s here and there will also appearing in Donald duck in Europe. She had studied at the Disney school on property and had taken the stage name Marilyn Monroe to stand out. Yet at 27 Monroe was already making headlines for all the wrong reasons. She lived a life that many considered sinful and wrong. Even Roy protested the casting knowing full well that Monroe and Walt's son Theodore, had by now been hooking up. The news of these lesions leaked to the press and soon the newspapers began another range of attacks that Walt ignored.

    The next character cast would Madame Perrodon who was to be played by Anna May Wong. Wong had become Frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played in Hollywood; Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s. In 1935, Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, when MGM refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film version of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. MGM instead cast Luise Rainer to play the leading role in yellowface. The Hays code was to blame and hearing of Carmilla had in desperation placed herself in the running for a role which Disney gladly accepted. Another voice against the hays code was a victory. The casting further added gasoline to the fire Walt was creating on purpose.

    The rest of the casting was met with less media attention. British actors Vincent Price and Christopher Lee were cast as Baron Vordenburg and General Spielsdorf respectively. Well, Sidney Poitier was cast as Laura’s father. Some pointed out that Poiter was actually younger than Monroe but the casting stuck. The final and second most important role went to Judy Garland. She was not known for playing villains but wanting to break out of typecasting she was cast as Carmilla. The film’s homosexual undertones were slightly increased as filming began. Yet soon, far away a choice was being made that would shake the foundations of Hollywood.

    The code had already become weakened in the late 1940s even if it seemed set in stone to some. Then came the supreme court. In 1953, in the case of Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, the Court unanimously overruled its 1915 decision) and held that motion pictures were entitled to First Amendment protection. Walt and Hollywood saw the writing on the wall. The government could not interject and censor them. The Hays code was in its dying days. Carmilla was still under constant pressure to change however yet Walt persisted right up until the opening day in late 1953. Carmilla was a smash hit. The film returned from its initial release with around $6,100,000. The film was outright banned in some southern cities because of the nature of the film and the cast was banned as well. Yet praise was high for the film. Its progressive nature was not unnoticed and it would see a shift in Hollywood.

    At the Oscars the following year. The film proved just how powerful it was. It had twelve nominations and eight wins, matching two other films, Gone with the Wind (1939) and From Here to Eternity (1953), though those each had thirteen nominations. The film won best picture, best director, best actress (Judy Garland), best-supporting actor (Vincent Price), best supporting actress (anna may Wong), Best Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Story and Screenplay, and best art direction. Walt also won Best Documentary Feature for The Vanishing Prairie. The film was a critical and box office success and the hays code would soon slowly but surely vanish. Yet Walt and the other studios knew, with no regulation another hays code could come.

    So, the heads of Hollywood’s largest studios. Walt And Roy Disney (Walt Disney Studios) Max and Dave Fleischer (Fleischer Studios), Jack L. Warner (Warner Brothers), Adolph Zukor (Paramount Pictures), John Cheever Cowdin (Universal Pictures), Louis B. Mayer (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Mary Pickford (United Artists), Darryl F. Zanuck (Twentieth-century fox) and David Sarnoff (RKO Pictures) met in early 1954 and began long progress of establishing a code. Less restrictive than the hays code. That meeting and their actions would lead to the establishment of the Motion Picture Association and the Motion Picture Association Rating system. Rated G was Suggested for general audiences, Rated m was for mature audiences, Rated R was restricted for anyone under 16 and rated X was restricted for anyone under 18.

    At first, the code was considered a fluke, and the hays code would win out. It would not. With Hollywood’s largest studios using the new rating system. Responsibility was passed from the studios on to the people. In a testament to their actions, the code is still used today. With parents having the reasonability over what children see not the studios. Yet through it, all Walt and his studios had not stoped and some of their most ambitious projects were already in motion. Most of the projects however would not be overseen by Walt. His focus has shifted onto project orange grove even as big films and the animation war continued.

     
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    Chapter Fifteen: A whole New World

  • Chapter Fifteen: A whole New World

    There were two clear things that came to Prominence for Disney in the 1950s. the first was that Walt could no longer be ever-present in film production be it live-action or animated. As the war of animation continued to wage and both warner brothers and Fleischer Studios now pumping out ever-higher quality films. To keep Walt in charge was no longer viable. Proof this came with 1952’s Chanticleer. The film was not the box office hit or success that Cinderella had before it, some critics considered the film unfinished and in places unimaginative. Walt’s attention was very much elsewhere, a new home heralded a larger garden and a miniature train. Roy, who remained the ever-steadfast head of the company knew that a change was very much needed and despite Walt's attempts to remain head of as many departments as he could. The time for that was over.

    The studio was therefore reorganized after the failure of Chanticleer. After being in charge of the animation department since the 1920s, Walt finally stepped down. He also relinquished his leadership role over Elias Productions and instead moved into a new position of President of the company. Roy’s role would remain the same. Walt was not completely out of the picture and could work on motion pictures if so chose but now he was free to devote his time to the many many creative projects he had in store for the company. With Walt stepping down from his two roles however two new replacements were needed. And this was where the second clear thing came into view. The children of the company were heading for leadership roles one way or another. A case in point was 27-year-old, Theodore Elias Disney.

    Theodore by now had become obsessed with live actions films as his father had done with animation. So, putting him in charge of Disney animation was a no-brainer but after proving himself during the production of Disney’s first two live-action films and after graduating the Disney School. Walt finally agreed to appoint his son, as head of Elias productions and the studio’s live-action branch. There were some accusations of favoritism by some of the staff but in time Theodore would more than prove capable of continuing on his father’s legacy and releasing some of Disney’s biggest live-action hits. The head of the animation studio was even clearer to Walt. Fifty-one-year-old Ub Iwerks had been with Walt since the 1910s and they had since then become extremely close friends. His successes in his own movies, elevated Ub to now take Walt's place. With the two secured in their leadership, they set about creating their own mark.

    To test the waters on his ability to make films. Theodore decided to start out how his father had done by making what could be called a package film. He decided to adapt Gent from Bear Creek, a 1937 novel that collected the Western short stories by Robert E. Howard. He chose four stories from the book to be played out as shorts. Those consisted of Striped Shirts and Busted Hearts, Mountain Man, Guns of the Mountains, and A Gent from Bear Creek. Norman Foster was brought on to direct and James's dean was selected to star as Breckinridge Elkins. The film released in March of 1953, just one month before Walt's last film Carmilla. Well, A Gent from Bear Creek was no Carmilla it was in fact a smaller but well-liked film that would eventually spin off into a tv show with Ronald Reagan taking over the role from James dean.

    With his first film out of the way. Theodore decided to go bigger with his next film and adapt the 1898 sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds. George Pal was interested in making a WOTW film at the same time and with interest and money from Disney to make the film. He agreed and joined as a co-producer. It was decided, due to the way Disney adapted books, that the film would be kept as close to the book as could be. That would make the film the first to shoot in London. Byron Haskin was once again brought on to direct, marking his third film for the company.

    Ronald Regan who would go on to star in Disney’s western tv show was cast as The Narrator (Named George) while Theodore used favoritism to cast girlfriend Marylin Monroe as The Narrator’s Wife. Gene Barry was cast as The Artilleryman well English Actor Peter Cushing took on the role of The Curate. During the expensive production of the film, Roy came to realize that the son was very much like the father. Pal had originally planned for the final third of the film to be shot in the new 3D process to visually enhance the Martians' attack on Los Angeles. The plan was dropped prior to the actual production of the film due to budget constraints. Despite changes Pal wanted to make, Theodore insisted on keeping the book the same though there was an increased role for the Narrators wife, removing the brother entirely.

    For the tri-pods, there was a great effort was made to avoid the stereotypical flying saucer look of UFOs. The Fighting machine machines were instead made to be sinister-looking machines shaped like manta rays with nimble legs. Three Martian war machine props were made out of copper for the film and when moved were doing in stop motion which took time but elevated the film and allowed the Martians to have their legs instead of floating flying machines. The film was a mammoth task to film. Well busy with other tasks Walt was present as an observer in the production of war of the worlds to see how his son could handle the weight of such a large project.

    The film released in February of 1954. Walt, Theodore, Regan, and Pal all attended the premier and soon found out the verdict for Theodore’s first outing. The film was both a critical and box-office success. It accrued $2,000,000 in domestic rentals, making it the year's biggest science fiction film hit. Theodore had done what was asked of him and more. He secured his position as head of the department as the war of the worlds went on to win the Oscar for Special Effects. But even as the film finished, Theodore proved he was even more like his father as he moved straight onto the next project. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Another novel adaptation, the anticipation was high for Disney to bring the Novel to life.

    Well, War of the world’s had indeed filmed some of its scenes in London. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea would be the first film to have most of its scenes shot overseas. The film at filmed at various locations in The Bahamas and Jamaica, with the cave scenes filmed beneath what is now the Xtabi Resort on the cliffs of Negril. Over 500 men would work on the technical scenes in the film, making it one of the most crew-heavy productions the studio had worked on thus far. Walt and Roy got into a heated argument over the budget of the film however as with a production cost of $9 million, it was to be the film was the most expensive in Hollywood so far and presented a serious financial risk to the studio should it flop. Theodore was too much like his father for Roy’s taste. There was no reason to be worried however as the film went on to gross $8 million in North American distributor rentals alone, making it the third highest-grossing film of 1954.

    Well, Theodore stormed the box office with live-action adaptions of sci-fi novels, UB turned to uncompleted projects the studio had. The first of those being Alice in Wonderland. Ub was more than aware of Alice in wonderland. Walt had made the studio read both books and they had also produced Laugh-O-Gram’s based upon the book. Yet the studio was not finished there and for a short time, Alice was considered to be their first-ever full-length animated feature. The film idea however would not die. Walt soon bought the film rights of Alice in Wonderland. He then hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David S. Hall to develop the story and concept art for the film. Yet once again, the specter of world war two stopped production on a feature that would need just too much work.

    Now Ub once again resurrected the film in 1952. Ub decided to lean in on the more out there and whimsical style of the book. He hired British author Aldous Huxley to the script well Mary Blair was drafted to produce the artwork. Ilene Woods who had missed out on Cinderella was cast as Alice and as a live-action reference. This was done early on in order to help the film’s production so concept art could closely match the story being crafted. Some of the writers working on the film would often see, many sequences that were present in Carroll's book drifted in and out of the story. However, Ub made it clear that all the scenes must be kept in as by now the studios were known for semi-faithful adaptations. Frank Churchill was assigned to compose songs working alongside the reels of the film to make sure the score was authentic to the story they were portraying. Sammy Fain was also brought on board.

    Alice in Wonderland premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on July 26, 1953. The film had a lukewarm reception. Some suggested the film was too lucid to follow where one newspaper reported that he believed the film was what would happen if you consumed drugs. Compared to the release of Fleischer Studios’ of mice and men (which was praised) the film was ranked lower with Fleischer taking the victory in this battle. Yet Ub was not out of the picture yet as he had two films in production. After the massive success of the loony toons being brought to film, it was time to adapt the wizard of oz after paying for the rights to all the films. Yet this was not to be just any wizard of oz. it would be Mickey and Friends in The Wizard of Oz. the film cast mickey as the scarecrow, Oswald as the tin man, Pluto as toto, Minnie as Dorothy, Donald as the cowardly lion, Pete as the wizard, and Maleficent as the wicked witch.

    The film was no big hit but it was not a dud either. It released in December of 1953 and would once again beat, this time by Warner Brothers. Loony Toons: Wild West Bonanza. Yet the film would go on to become a cult hit. Often being shown on television and becoming one of the first home releases of the studio. It would start a trend for the company of interjecting mickey and friends into classic stories which would be popular yet not ground-breaking. The next big film for the studio and the hope for another hit was peter pan. Like Alice before it, Walt had expressed interest in doing an adaptation of Peter Pan as his second film following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, yet could not make it live-action due to Paramount Pictures owning the copyright. The animation rights however were up in the air and a bidding war began. Disney did finally manage to outbid its rival for the rights to Peter pan. Its rival being Fleischer Studios.

    By early 1939, a story reel had been completed, and by the following May, Disney had several animators in mind for the characters. it was decided there and then to remain faithful to the book and play despite different interpretations of the story being considered. The film’s production, like that of Alice and wonderland, was shelved due to world war two. Ub Resurrected the film again in 1952 and production soon began again. Jack Kinney was appointed director by UB. The first voice actor joined before the film’s production even began and that was Cary Grant as Captain hook. Bobby Driscoll who had already worked for Disney before secured the role of Peter pan. Wanting to play Fleischer Studios at their own game. The film was darker than most Disney films at the time. There were scenes involving Captain Hook being killed by the crocodile, the Darling family mourning over their lost children, and Pan and the children discovering the pirates' treasure loaded with booby traps.

    Like the films before it, live-action actors were used for reference. It was to be the last time A Disney film would use the practice. Milt Kahl was appointed to animate captain hook something he had wanted to do since the film’s early production and which some suggested added more quality to the character as Khal was enjoying the role and the character. Frank Thomas was given peter pan and worked closely with other animators to make sure the character looked more childlike than the live-action references. Wolfgang Reitherman also helped the film along at the request of Ub. Eliot Daniel composed songs for the film. Staying as true to the book and play as they could they feared another failure like Alice in wonderland. Peter Pan was first released in theaters on February 5, 1954. The film was a much greater hit and scored another long-awaited victory for Disney in the animation wars. It went on to grossed $7 million in distributor rentals from the United States and Canada and was praised for its faithfulness.

    Walt returned for the next film to be released in 1955. He had recently had ideas for a none human film and so UB and Walt would work together to produce lady and the tramp with Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske serving as the film’s directors. Early on in the film’s production, it was decided that to maintain a dog's perspective, meaning Darling and Jim's faces are rarely shown, similar to Tom's various owners in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. In a first for A Disney film, one person would voice more than one character. That was singer Peggy Lee not only voiced four characters but co-wrote six songs for the film. Well, Peter Pan was the last film to use humans as life references for cartoons. Lady and the tramp would be the last film to use the progress altogether. With animals brought into the studio to be studied. Lady and the tramp would also be the last film Ruth Disney would work upon. It would also be the last film Mary Blair would work upon as she would depart the studio after its production to become an illustrator for children’s books. Disney also decided to animate the film in CinemaScope making Lady and the Tramp the first animated feature filmed in the process.

    Lady and the Tramp were released to theaters on June 22, 1955. The film once again received mediocre reviews. Yet the film caused a divide. Fans loved it and critics hated it. the film smashed the box office but failed to win any awards. To Walt it was a victory, he made the film for the people, not the critics, and was pleased with the film’s success. Yet well all these films came out over a period of five years after Walt stepped down. He was nothing but busy. In 1954, he and Roy established The Walt Disney Music Company. Yet it was not this that was important, it was what he was doing with television.

    To fund his secret project Walt turned to CBS who were more than obliged after the success of his cartoons. They asked for a tv show however in return. The first was One Hour in Wonderland. The show contained teasers for Walt's park, as well as episodes representing life inside the project Walt was crafting. Each episode would contain a short cartoon as well about certain aspects. The show would be hosted by Walt and would begin airing in 1953, the show however would only remain under its original name for 3 years. As the secret project was revealed to the public the show was renamed Walt Disney Presents. The reason for this was simple. Walt became the host and would remain so in one of his longest potions. Yet as this all happened, the films released and TV shows were produced. Walt’s grandest and craziest idea was now ready to be crafted. Walt wanted a place people could visit his motion pictures. He wanted a Disneyland.
     
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    Chapter Sixteen: Walt’s Biggest Gamble

  • Chapter Sixteen: Walt’s Biggest Gamble

    The concept for Disney land had begun long before conception work on the park had even begun. With children, Walt always had to find a way to entertain his children alongside working and so he took them to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. It was here that while watching his wife and youngest child on the merry-go-around Walt got hit with the idea. A place where both adults and children could come together and have fun together. This dream however was simply nothing but a dream. Walt told nobody and the idea remained dormant. The earliest mention of the park however was 1948 with a memo to studio production designer Dick Kelsey on August 31, 1948, where it was referred to as a "Mickey Mouse Park. It was not the idea that would become Disneyland but it was the start. The idea would not remain dormant for very long, however.

    As the popularity of the studio began to rise further than it had before, Walt often found himself opening letters from the fans instead of letting his secretary do it. It was here Walt found a common theme. People wanted to come to the studios, to see how things were done. To see how the magic, they created was forged. Yet Walt knew that the functional movie studio had little to offer to fans and would be more than a disappointment. Disappointing fans was the one thing Walt feared more than anything. The idea of a park however could easily negate the problems of studio tours. A park where people could see magic. It was with these letters that Walt began to foster various ideas about building a site near the Burbank studios for tourists to visit. It would be simple but effective.

    Yet like everything including Walt Disney. The ideas could not remain simple for very long and soon his ideas evolved to a small play park with a boat ride and other themed areas. The ideas that would become Disneyland soon began to form inside Walt's mind. The initial park concept, the Mickey Mouse Park, was originally planned for an eight-acre plot to the south of the studio. Besides Greenfield Village and the Chicago Railroad Fair, Disney was also inspired by Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Knott's Berry Farm, Colonial Williamsburg, the Century of Progress in Chicago, and the New York's World Fair of 1939. Yet the park did not inspire confidence in everyone just like his attempts to make snow white he was met with resistance.

    The people Walt needed to win over stood against the idea. This included both bankers and investors. People within the company itself also stood strongly opposed to the idea. They had just returned back to strength now Walt wanted to waste their hard money on insane ideas. Ub also stood opposed while his son Theodore kept out of the way of the project which told Walt all he needed to know. His brother Roy thought that a "fanciful, expensive amusement park would lead to financial ruin. Roy was right that Walt lacked the real estate and commercial construction experience to bring this kind of project to life. But even with resistance Walt persisted.

    He had proved everyone wrong before with snow white and he believed In his own ideas. Walt began to seek the money himself, the money from Cinderella being a massive help alongside the live-action films still he sold vacation property and borrowed on his life insurance. With the money increasing, he soon assembled a team of the Studio's most talented staff members and gave them the task to develop his broad ideas and create, with the help of commercial contractors, a rough construction timetable. Disneyland was now more than just a pipe dream as Walt founded Walt Disney Enterprises (WED) to deal with the construction of the massive project.

    WED would be the precursor of today's Walt Disney Imagineering. A key factor in all of the parks. People still believed Walt was crazy and that like his other ideas it would soon pass on but Walt proved to them that this was more than just a fluke. He hired the Stanford Research Institute to examine the economic prospects of developing Disneyland and to scout a Southern California location for a place to locate Disney land. Walt specified in documents that were not revealed too much later, he was aiming for enough land to build at least three parks. One now and two in the future. He wanted to leave himself open for expansion in the future in case Disneyland was a success. Weather conditions, urban density, location to contractors were also all considered in choosing the location.

    Soon the land was found. 38 miles south of Burbank in the city of Anaheim. He soon purchased the land which was back-to-back orange groves and walnut trees. It was also located next to the new Santa Ana freeway and Harbour Boulevard meaning that it was just 30 minutes away from downtown Los Angeles. Walt knew he needed more funding for the grand park however and turned to CBS in the hope they would help. Owing to the fact Walt's cartoons were a smash hit on tv. CBS was more than happy to help as long as they got a tv show out of it. that show would be One Hour in Wonderland which air alongside the construction of Disneyland.

    Soon the first inkling of what Disneyland would look like came to be as Walt tracked down an artist friend called Herb Ryman. Together they would work closely to draw a detailed rendering of what Disneyland would look like. Over a weekend the pair talked about Walt's vision for Disneyland. Walt was so impressed by the drawings he went on to hire Ryman and he would be instructed to help with construction on the park itself. With $500.000 upfront and a guarantee of $4,5 million in loans from CBS, the reality of Disneyland's existence came ever closer. Roy, Theodore, and Ub still all believed Walt was crazy. In April of 1954, just 90 days before construction was to begin on Disneyland, Walt brought retired Admiral Joe Fowler on board to supervise the project. It was an odd choice but Walt believed he could do it after all he had once run the busy San Francisco Navy Yard. Construction on Disneyland finally began on July 16, 1954.

    Construction on the park went day and night to build the lands of the park which consisted of Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Toontown USA. Walt visited the site several times a week to keep an eye on the construction works. Roy also visited the project both worried and curious about what the project was going to be. Progress went sporadically despite numerous obstacles and soon the former orange groves were gone and transformed completely into something the world had not yet seen. Then just as the construction had begun, it came to a close after a total investment of $ 17 million. The gates of Disneyland would be opened for its first guests on Sunday, July 17, 1955. Anticipation was high.

    The opening day was a semi-disaster. 28,000 people attended the event, only about half of those were invitees, the rest having purchased counterfeit tickets, or even sneaked into the park by climbing over the fence however opening day did include the dedication of the park and CBS aired the opening live. There were some problems as guests did trip over wires and trees went without water however the park’s opening was considered a success overall with some problems. However, Traffic was delayed on the two-lane Harbour Boulevard. The Park however would not be a failure and would go on to be a massive success. Disney’s empire had a foundation, Disneyland was only the start. Now it had to expand, in more ways than one it would do that. But Disneyland would go down as the birth of modern theme parks.
     
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    Chapter Seventeen: Going in all Directions

  • Chapter Seventeen: Going in all Directions

    As the 1950s bled on. CBS found that some of the Disney shows were beginning to lose their shine. Well, The Briar Patch and the Adventures of Merlin the Magician still burned strongly. The Oswald and Mickey Revue had begun to burn out while Triple Trouble had failed to grab the attention of the fans. Donald duck in Europe had also come to a natural end. CBS wanted two hours of new content from Marceline Animation for their whole new children’s line up which had grown ever more popular. To this end, the time to craft new TV shows had become to pass once more. Yet Marceline Animation was now much more experienced than they were before allowing them to craft shows which would be immensely more popular. They were able to take lessons learned from past shows in order to implement more creative stories.

    These would include The Adventures in Disneylandia. This show would follow a pair of siblings who each Episode enter a different part of Disneylandia and meet different characters such as snow white and Cinderella. the show was the first effort in media form to connect the different stories in one universe. As more animated films, the range of characters the show could use expanded. The second show created would be Summer of Invention. The show followed two twin brothers who would build marvellous contraptions each Episode to deal with summer boredom all while their sister attempted to catch them in the act, the brothers also had a pet rooster who was also a secret agent. Donald duck in Europe got a sequel series called Donald Duck In America which saw Donald duck take his nephews on a trip around all around North America.

    Well, all these shows were popular they would be overshadowed by one of Disney’s most beloved shows. Mickey Mouse Clubs had dominated American childhoods for years but now it came to TV in The Mickey Mouse Club. The Mickey Mouse Club was hosted by Jimmie Dodd, a songwriter and the Head Mouseketeer, who provided leadership both on and off the screen. The opening theme was written by the show's primary adult host, Jimmie Dodd. The show’s popularity was not to be understated and a whole new generation was exposed to Mickey mouse and friends. Some historians have pointed out that due to the show’s successes the selling of Disney comics and merchandise began to climb again. The Minnie Mouse Hour followed on from the success of the Mickey Mouse Club. It followed the female Disney characters taking part in their own adventures across Toon Town USA.

    Well, Disney cartoons began to dominate the small screen. Ub was pulling out the heavy hitters he believed could become the high of animation and win the war of animation that had been fought for years. The efforts were put into making the story tight with the animation looking clear. The first of these new waves of higher art animation was to be the Tales of Tintin. Nineteen-year-old Water Disney Junior had joined the studio as an understudy to UB and had visited Belgium with his father where they had secured the rights to the tinted novels. Soon the Tales of Tintin begun production in 1955. Artist Bob de Moor was brought over to the studios to perfect the artwork for the film adaptation which would adapt Tintin in America, Cigars of the Pharaoh, and The Broken Ear. Wolfgang Reitherman would direct, one of the most prolific members of the merry old folk of Disney. The film would star 18-year-old George Arthur Disney as Tintin. When it was released in 1956, the film was considered a major success and likened back to snow white once again. It won the Oscar for the best score as well as the best actor for George Arthur Disney at the 57 Oscars.

    Ub Also wanted to try to copy the success of Fleischer Studios. To see if animating books could be a success. With Theodore working on two large projects, Ub negotiated with him to take over the production of Journey to the centre of the earth and turn it into an animated picture. It was a brave move as the studio had done yet adapted an adventure novel into an animated picture. Roald Dahl returned to work with the studio to write the screenplay on request of Walt who was seeking to work Dahl on other films and wanted him to work as a screenwriter. Rock Hudson was cast as the main character Sir Oliver Lindenbrook on behalf of George Arthur Disney. The pair had become quite close as friends despite the age gap. George himself took on the role of Alec McEwan. Wolfgang Reitherman once again returned to direct. Well, the film did not smash the box office as Tintin did. It brought another actor into what had become known as the Disney box.

    The Disney box was a set of actors and actresses who more often than not started in a majority of Disney pictures be it voice or live-action. The term had begun with Judy Garland in the 1950s but by now had expanded to include the likes of Ronald Regan, Marylin Monroe, and James Dean. Rock Hudson was the latest to join this box though some media reported something was not quite right between Rock Hudson and George Arthur Disney. Considering their age difference. Disney was 19 when Journey to the centre of the earth was released while Hudson was thirty-two. Another actor George found himself close to was twenty-six-year-old James’s dean when the pair met on the set of Road to Hollywood that very same year. Walt and Lillian both refused to common on the rumours but rumours only grow.

    Ub also ignored the rumours as he focused on the last animated feature of the 1950s. It would be a return to the fairy-tale movie that had begun the decade. That film would be sleeping beauty. The film was to be a groundbreaking film in terms of animation and the look of the movie. Like the other adaptations, the choice was made to keep the movie as loyal to its source material as possible. By the middle of 1957, director Wilfred Jackson had been selected to direct the film. Prince Philip became the first-named prince in the film with an effort given to make the character a more fleshed out person, the same effort was made with Aurora. Mary Costa was selected to play the princess, joining by now a select group of people called The Princess of Disney. The group was more unjust a title however as the company treated them with more favour including lifetime passes to Disneyland and first call if the character was to return. The casting for Princesses thus became even tighter than before as the weight of being a princess voice actress was a heavy one.

    Sleeping beauty was made at a cost of six million. Making it at the time the most expensive film up to the point. Efforts to make beautiful animation, deeper characters, and adherence to the book however would make Sleeping beauty a major hit. As Disney had begun the decade with a smash hit, it now claimed victory in the animation war. Sleeping Beauty grossed approximately $8.3 million in theatre rentals. The film would win the Oscar for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture well also winning its first Grammy award Best Soundtrack Album, Original Cast – Motion Picture or Television. Ub had proven himself by the end of the 1950s to be just as good at making hits and historians have pointed out that Ub led Disney animated movies have done better at the box office than Walt’s.

    As Ub dominated the box office and the newspapers and became the time’s person of the year in 1949. Theodore Disney set about to continue making his own mark on live-action films. Theodore would get two more live-action films in before the end of the 1950s as family issues pulled him away from the studio. The first of these would be the time machine. Walt had enjoyed the war of the worlds and wanted pal to return. A deal was struck up and pal was given the green light for any book he wanted to direct. He chose the time machine. Theodore would remain on as producer even though George pal was given more of a boss role.

    Once again, the film was to be kept authentic to the book. This time around it meant casting an Englishman as the main character. The production crew settled with James Mason. The film prop was built by the Imagineers. Though their main purpose was to work upon Disney land they sometimes worked on the film. The prop today can be seen Inside the Disney Museum which is located fifteen minutes away from Disneyland and is run by the Disney and Iwerks family. The charm of time travel allowed the studio to request a higher budget which Walt agreed upon allowing some filming to be done within London itself. The film earned $1,610,000 in the United States and Canada and $1 million elsewhere, turning a profit of $245,000. It was not a critically liked film like a war of the world was before it but it is still considered a cult classic today.

    Disappointed by the responses to The Time Machine. Theodore turned to create an entirely different film in 1957. He wanted to do Disney’s first live-action musical and to make it big and out there. He settled upon an idea to have two characters completely different compete for a role in a musical with their partners standing by them and Hijinks ensuing. Judy Garland and A recently recovered Marylin Monroe were cast as the main character. Marilyn was to play Jessica. A typical Hollywood dreamer. She was a sweet, flirty yet innocent girl hoping to make it big in Hollywood while Garland would play her unlikely competition Victoria. A leather jacket-wearing biker girl who's going to Hollywood to become a rock and roll singer. James’s dean would Play Monroe’s boyfriend while George Disney was cast as Garland’s.

    Walter Lang was selected to direct the film after Theodore watched There's No Business-Like Show Business in order to understand live-action musicals. The film would be a clash of traditional music songs with rock and roll. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were brought onboard. The film also ended with the song There's No Business-Like Show Business with a cameo from Theodore and Walt himself. The film was a cortical success and would spawn a trilogy. It was considered by the critics the height of 1950s musicals. The film's budget was $3,223,000 but the earnings sat around $8,203,555. Disney had hit out the park and praise for the film was high though some pointed out the homosexual undertones were even higher than Carmilla. The film garnered an Oscar win for Garland and dean.

    The end of the 1950s also brought a small partnership with a small Japanese company called Nintendo. The Company had contacted Walt Disney to incorporate his company's animated characters into the cards. Disney agreed and characters soon began to appear as Nintendo also developed a distribution system that allowed it to offer its products in toy stores. Yet the end of the 1950s would be dominated mostly by family news as shifts began to happen. Theodore Elias Disney and Marylin Monroe Finally married in the spring of 1956. Their first Child Peter James Disney was born a year later in 1957, there second Lillian May Disney was born in 1959.

    Theodore was not the only one expanding the Disney Family. Diane Disney had gone on to Marry Don Iwerks in 1952, Don was the son of Ub, and through marriage, the families were now connected in more ways than one. Their First Child Elias David Disney was born in 1954 well their second pair of twins were born a year later in 55 Jessica Snow Disney and Martha Ruth Disney. Harry Roy Disney had no children yet but had gone on to Marry in 1959. He married Disney Animator Elizbeth Rogers. Water Disney Junior had no time for romance yet as his focus was work while George Arthur Disney only had rumours about his lifestyle which the family chose to ignore.

    Yet tragedy would soon hit the family. Fifty-six-year-old Ruth Disney had been with the company since the very start working as a story writer. She had often worked with her brothers and was extremely close to Walt. She had retired from the business to work upon writing her own novels. Her first, The Curse of tomorrow released in 1958. Yet one day, well walking home from the studio’s Ruth was hit by a car. She survived but the damage had been done. On October 2nd, 1958, Ruth Disney passed away. The news hit the headlines and the studio was soon plunged into mourning. In one of the most circulated images of that year. The entire family and the merry old folk of Disney all gathered together at the funeral to mourn the loss. The 1960s would offer the company many changes to grow but Ruth was gone and she would soon not be the only one. The Ruth Disney Foundation today was founded in 1959 in her memory to provide free books to children around the country.


     
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    Side Chapter two: The 1950s for Fleischer Studios
  • Side Chapter two: The 1950s for Fleischer Studios

    Fleischer Studios had always been viewed as that little studio. The One that always sat below Disney. Depside successes throughout the 1940s, the company could not escape that image. It was one that changed up the company as the 1950s arrived. Relations between the brothers had begun to deteriorate around 1938, which was aggravated further by Dave's insistence on being more like Disney. He wanted the studio to thrive and not just get by. The brothers put aside their differences for most of the 1940s but by 1950 the hostility between the pair grew too high and Dave Fleischer resigned from Fleischer Studios, leaving max alone yet as the 1950s soon came to prove. The studio would emerge from the shadow of Disney to be a strong competitor on its own. Max Fleischer could not do this alone and he struck out to find new talent to lead the animation department as he moved onto business full time.

    Max could not have known then what his call would bring but it caught the attention of two animators. Separately William Debney "Bill" Hanna and Seph Roland "Joe" Barbera, were two animators for MGM studios who were insanely talented at what they did. They met while working in Rudolf Ising's unit at MGM's animation division. It was here that the two solidified a partnership that would last for six decades and would end up with them in charge of one of Americas’ largest film companies. Their first cartoon together, the Oscar-nominated Puss Gets the Boot, featuring a cat named Jasper and an unnamed mouse, was released in 1940 and served as the first entry in the long-running theatrical short subject series Tom and Jerry. The Pair’s rise to further fame was pushed higher by Dave Fleischer’s choice to quit.

    The pair had no ill will against working at MGM's animation division but they did not have complete creative control. Hanna supervised the animation, while Barbera did the stories and preproduction. Seven of the cartoons won the Oscar for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) between 1943 and 1948 but still, they were not rewarded for their efforts as the Oscars went to Fred Quimby instead who had no input into the production of the shorts. This alienated the duo who soon happened across the advert from Fleischer Studios. Finding the advert was an accident as Hanna only bought the paper that day due to missing a train. The pair quickly sought the job, a chance to be the people in charge and gain credit for their efforts. Max seeing the pair’s qualifications agreed and so as he moved into the business role Hanna and Barbera moved into control of the animation department.

    The pair agreed to strike a balance between the more family-friendly movies and the adult-based productions. Despite not being completely free from upper management both Hanna and Barbera were let loose in the studios beginning the studio’s assent to a large power in Hollywood. Their first film would be a historic epic. That film would be Lawrence of Arabia based on the life of T. E. Lawrence and his 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The newspapers questioned the choice of topic calling it an odd one as action and historical epics had not yet been proven to work on the big screen. It was not something Hanna nor Barbera had worked on either but they pushed on with the project nether less. Max also pledged his support to the film funnelling in money the studio had from other areas.

    To add credibility to the new project, it was decided to make the film an all-star cast. Well, Disney had used big names before they had not gone all out on every cast member. Alec Guinness was cast as the title character. Guinness had previously played Lawrence in the play Ross and was considered the perfect voice for the character. With Guinness on board, the next snatch was that of Laurence Olivier. Guinness had appeared alongside Olivier in King Lear making the casting easier when Guinness was cast. The pair were also used for live-action references for the characters. the first time the studio used the practice. Claude Rains, Cary Grant, Maurice Ronet, and Edmond O'Brien rounded out the cast. The news reporters reported on the project’s cast and questioned the actors.

    Everything was sunk into the project. Hanna and Barbera sunk their own money into it, well max sold his home and took loans to plunge money into the film. When questioned about the project years later both Hanna Barbera admitted that they were trying to define cartoons as much than just child-friendly films and knew all the risks they were taking to make the film as perfect as it could be. Some predicted the end of the studios and some even asked Disney for comments but the studio declined. Walt in private letters to ruth Disney admitted he was intrigued by the film and its attempts to redefine something. The studio’s income was close to hitting the red as production wrapped on the feature film. The cast was for the most part agreed in the belief the film would do well. Historical accuracy was balanced at 50/50 in order to keep excitement and action up.

    The film was released in the United States on 16 December 1952, the first film for the studio in the 1950s and the first in the animation war for the studio. With the money sinking into the red, the film had to smash the box office. upon release, the film was both a huge critical and financial success. The studio’s income shot through the roof and further projects were greenlit. For the studio’s they had defined animation had two paths. The family friend movies of Disney and their more adult-oriented films. The film as a whole is widely considered a masterpiece of world cinema, it was also considered a defining moment in animation working on building upon the foundations that snow-white had established. Today is considered one of the greatest films ever made. Hana and Barbera were also finally jointly recognized for their work.

    The film’s success saw the studio continue to make adult-based animation adaptations throughout the 1950s, many claiming victory over their Disney counterparts. 1954 saw the release of John Steinbeck’s of mice and men. The film saw John Wayne as George and Audie Murphy Lenny. The film was praised for its faithfulness to the book and is considered as some of the first representations for the disabled in Hollywood. One year later in 1955, Sherlock Holmes II released a sequel to the studio's last film. This film would begin a series of Sherlock Holmes films that would continue onto the 60s and 70s. The third film was released in 1958. The studio would also release a lesser liked Jungle book adaptation in 1957, there first of three attempts on the film. This film was considered a lesser success than that of mice and men and sherlock homes.

    Adult films would not be their only properties, however. In 1955 the studio released Betty Boop and the pea and in 1957 they released Return of Popeye. These films were released as an effort by Hana and Barbera were both seeking to update both characters and bring them up to the new standards the studio help. Both pop eye and Betty Boop would be key figures in Hana and Barbera’s strategy going forward alongside their original characters they would be a common feature for the growing studio. Yet it would be none of these animated films adult or family friend that would truly claim the company’s place right alongside Disney. Two films that would go on to become franchises would dominant the company.

    The first was a character from Toho is a film, theatre production, and distribution company located within Japan. In 1954 the studio released Godzilla. Godzilla was a popular film in Japan and the local Asian land. It was the first Japanese film to become a big hit in the republic of China. The film had not yet breached the American market due to Hollywood dominance. Yet the studio was interested in the film when nobody else was. They wanted to preserve the film and only dub it, to try to see if A Japanese film could do well in America. In 1955, Max Fleischer entered with Toho to bring Godzilla films to American audiences with the goal of persevering as much as they could. The Film Godzilla was theatrically released in the United States on April 27, 1956, and brought Godzilla to international stardom. The film’s critical and box office success in America aided Toho and increased tourism to a rebuilding Japan which sought to capitalize on the success of Godzilla. One sequel would follow in the 1950s, in 1958 titled Godzilla Raids Again. It was another hit.

    Well Godzilla was a live-action success it was not made by the studios and they sought to make their own live-action movie. The search for something to adapt was quite a slow progress yet in 1953 they found a book by a British writer that intrigued them. The book titled casino royale was a popular book in Britain and was considered for adaptation. After meetings with the writer, an agreement was finally made in 1954 and the rights were sold to the studio for six thousand dollars. The writer would be included in the production of the film which was slated for a 1956 release. Henry Levin was brought on as director well Monty Norman who would become known for the bond theme was brought on as a music producer.

    The film was to keep as close to the book as possible with Fleming working alongside the crew. The only disagreement came with the actual casting of the main character. Well Fleming wanted David Niven for the lead role the cast instead went for Richard burton who agreed and so the film was a go. The media this time around was more supportive after the success of prior films. The studios beat Disney to the mass marketing idea as they made licensing deals revolving around the character's tastes. Creating merchandising tie-ins with drink, tobacco, men's clothing, and car companies. The campaign also focused on Ian Fleming's name due to the minor success of the book. Walt took notice of this campaign and planned to use it himself at a later date.

    The film had its worldwide premiere at the London Pavilion, on 5 October 1956. It beat Disney to a London Premier. Well, the film was not a critical success, it was a hit with the fans. The film made on a budget of a million dollars would go on to gross six million. It grossed $840,000 in just two weeks in the Uk. The film served as a basis for a franchise and things learned in this film would carry on over to the other sequels all based on books written by Fleming. Live and Let Die is released in 1957, Moonraker in 1958 and Diamonds Are Forever in 1959. Despite the films being insanely popular and Richard burton well-liked in the role, by the end of the 1950s, there were rumours about his exit. The studio had however won the animation war but the fight was far from over.

    The 1950s had been a chance for both studios to find new footing, explore, and create new ways of crafting animation. President Truman and President Warren had both seen an American boom in the 1950s with a whole new wave of consumerism being born. The Election of 1960 saw a progressive democrat John F Kennedy beat the sitting president Warren heralding the start of a decade that would be different than the one that came before. The sexual revolution, the push for civil rights, the early LGBT movement would all ignite with Hollywood falling more and more under the spotlight for its actions. Both companies were now ready to ascend to the mass media empire’s they were set to become but to do so they would have to embrace the changing nature of Hollywood or fight against it. One way another, neither studio would be the same in 1970 as they once were in 1960. The most vital decade for both had finally arrived.
     
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