Disney’s Boysenberry Mountain. In the Disney animated feature, Fantasia (1940), the majority of the action in the Pastoral Symphony takes place in the brightly colored Elysian Fields at the foot of Mount Olympus.
At the beginning of the sequence, Mount Olympus fills the screen with its smooth, rounded curves. Its unusual royal purple coloring contrasts starkly with the reddish-orange sky in the background.
While decades of audiences have accepted that color choice as the obvious perfect selection for that iconic mountain in the early morning light, it was actually the result of a happy accident.
According to legend, frustrated in his search for a new and different color for a layout from Hugh Hennesy for the Greek mythological world, background painter Ray Huffine sulked in his room during his lunch hour. He had tried vainly everything he had on his artist’s palette but nothing could quite capture the mythic allure of Mt. Olympus that would only be seen briefly at the beginning of the sequence.
He opened his home-packed lunch from his wife and discovered among other things, a small jar of Mrs. Huffine’s best boysenberry jam. Surprised and inspired, he opened the jar and laid a very light boysenberry wash over the background.
He was delighted at the results of obtaining an out of the ordinary but perfect purplish hue. Years later when he told the story, the memory of that discovery still brought a smile to his face as he realized that audiences never suspected that the uniqueness of Mount Olympus had been enhanced by his wife’s boysenberry jam.
Song of the South and Baseball. Walt had one of the bedrooms of his Woking Way home converted into a screening room primarily to view dailies (film footage shot on a particular day for later review) from his first live action film, Song of the South (1946).
“The making of this picture was the reason for the conversion of the downstairs guest room and bath-library wing to a projection room and small wet bar. Dad wanted to be able to watch the dailies at home,” his older daughter Diane Disney Miller told me.
In that same interview, we discussed Walt’s love of baseball. He was a huge fan of the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League that played at Gilmore Field and later an advisor for Gene Autry’s California Angels baseball team.
“When Gene Autry formed the Los Angeles Angels, he offered to let Dad purchase some stock and credited him and Bob Cobb (owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby) as an ‘advisor’. When I noticed this on the game program once, I was really impressed. Dad acknowledged it and said, with mock ruefulness, ‘But he hasn’t asked me for any advice yet’,” said Diane.
“Summer meant baseball to me,” she continued. “When the Stars were on the road, we listened to the games on the radio. While mother, dad and I were on our way up to San Simeon in his little blue Packard roadster at William Randolph Hearst’s invitation to screen Song of the South, we were listening to the World Series.”
Jay Ward the Joker. Tiffany Ward, the daughter of animation legend Jay Ward, said, “Dad was a true eccentric. He saw humor in everyday things. He was a lot of fun. At my wedding, he set up a dummy that looked like him, complete with a one-hour voice recording. All the guests wanted to greet it. It became the world’s longest receiving line”.
Snow White Sound Effect. In Photoplay Magazine (April 1938) in an article entitled “The Amazing Inside Story of How They Made Snow White” by writer Kirtley Basketter, the following interesting fact was revealed:
“Do you remember that awful squeak in the stillness when the dwarfs push open their front door? It baffled the sound department for days. Their lockers of ‘squeaks’ (Disney’s have a regular library of sounds, listed and classified) yielded nothing.
“One night a sound man’s wife asked him to pull open a jammed dresser drawer at home. He yanked and—there was the squeak! He wasted no time. He hauled the dresser down to the studio—and that’s exactly what you heard in the picture!”
Give Bees A Chance. In November 2077, a Florida skin care products company called BeeCeuticals LLC of Fort Lauderdale, sued Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks SKG for using the phrase “Give Bees A Chance” (a take-off on the expression “give peace a chance”) to advertise their computed animated film Bee Movie – based on an idea by Jerry Seinfeld. The suit claimed that the phrase had been used by the company since September 2006 and a federal trademark on it had been applied for at that time.
The suit was settled out of court. BeeCeuticals was owned by Richie Gerber, the cousin of “shock jock” Howard Stern. At the time, Gerber told the press, “Give Bees A Chance is my property. I own that. I trademarked it. I did everything an American citizen would do to protect their property.”
There was also a charge of plagiarism against the animated film by a group of Swedish students who had submitted a similar idea called Beebylon to DreamWorks in 2000 who rejected it for being “too childish”.
Lost in Animation. Actor Jonathan Harris who portrayed the cowardly and selfish Dr. Zachary Smith in the 1965 live-action television series Lost in Space was the only actor to reprise his role in the 1973 Hanna-Barbera ABC Saturday Superstar movie based on the series.
H-B hoped the film would serve as a pilot for a new animated series but that was not the case. At the same time, Harris was also providing the voice for “Uncle Martin O’Hara” in Filmation’s animated television series My Favorite Martians. That role was originally played by actor Ray Walston in the live-action series.
Harris continued doing voice over work in animation up until his death in 2002. His last work was in an independent animated short film entitled “The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas”, a parody of How The Grinch Stole Christmas.