Getting Beer for Fred Moore. While Paul Murry is perhaps most famous for his comic book work, especially the Mickey Mouse serials in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, he got his start as the animation assistant for Disney Legend Fred Moore in 1938. This is from a letter Murry wrote to my friend Wayne DeWald in 1969:
“I had only been there a few months but was lucky enough to have the top animator, Fred Moore, take me under his wing. Fred and his unit always had a beer break at three o’clock every afternoon.
“Me, being the newcomer, had to collect the money from each one and go through the front gate over to Ma Applebaum’s drug store directly across the street (from the Hyperion Studio) and buy the beer, then bring it back to the studio. After we drank it, I had to make the return trip back to return the empty bottles which was also getting rid of the evidence.
“This had been going on for weeks without repercussions. Came the day when I was walking out the front gate loaded down with empty beer bottles. There stood Walt talking with someone else. He looked me over as I walked by but said nothing and I wasn’t about to say anything. I stalled around in the drug store, hoping he wouldn’t be there on my return trip.
“He was still there — never mentioning the beer bottles. I was a bit uneasy not knowing what the results of that encounter would be. I immediately told Fred Moore what had happened and he said not to worry about it. A few minutes later he received a phone call from Walt asking Fred to come to his office for a little talk. I heard no more about the incident, but needless to say, there were no more afternoon beer breaks.”
Tom Carter Productions. Tom Carter Productions was founded in early 1982 by Tom Carter who was a former Disneyland employee who “struck it rich” in the investment field. His business encompassed a travel agency, a security alarm company, an investment firm and Tom Carter Productions which was to focus on the development of an animated feature film called Huck’s Landing about Huckleberry Finn’s adventures with a cast of Disney-esque animals before meeting Tom Sawyer.
The business plan also included Huck’s Landing Regional Theme Parks which would utilize the Huck’s Landing characters. Each complex would consist of approximately 10-20 acres of property and will include water slides; miniature golf course; arcade area; children’s play island; river raft ride; and many other activities depending on each designated area. The first one was planned for Las Vegas. In addition would be The Huck’s Landing Resort Project designed to include a hotel; theme park; shopping center; golf course and many different themed elements.
Original staff included John Cawley, Gerry Ray, Scott Shaw!, Floyd Norman, Mike Sekowsky, Ray Aragon, Phil Mendez, Chuck Harvey, Chris Bailey and other recognizable names. It was an ambitious project. Some of the tests had animation composited hand drawn and painted cel animation over miniature sets, much like the process in some Fleischer Popeye cartoons. It is about time that Floyd, Scott and John got together and wrote the story of this interesting studio that was eventually shut down by the government.
Just So. The June 21, 1983 issue of The Hollywood Reporter stated that Don Messick had entered into a deal to produce Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. It was planned as a half hour animated series with Messick doing the voices of key characters.
We’ll Stop Here. My friend and former writing partner John Cawley who once worked in the Disney Archives told me the following story in 1983: “Walt originally intended Winnie the Pooh to be a feature film. During storyboarding, he quickly became disenchanted. He felt the stories were too light and whimsical for American audiences. As he walked along the rows of storyboards for the film, he stated that they would take the long and difficult road and do a short. Shorts had a harder time making back their costs and also took longer to do so if they did. At that point, Walt stopped at the boards and said, ‘We’ll stop here”. He then pointed to where Pooh was stuck in the tree eating honey and that is where Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) ended.”
The Sword Was Pulled. When the animation strike delayed the completion of Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), the Disney Company made the decision not to re-release Sword in the Stone (1963) that was to accompany the featurette because they felt it was not strong enough on its own. Instead, they substituted Peter Pan (1953) for the Christmas release in 1982.
Huckleberry Hound. “I think of Huckleberry Hound as human. He’s the fall guy and a large part of his humor is the way he shrugs off misfortune. To Huck, nobody is really bad,” said story man Warren Foster.
Parents magazine in 1962 gave Huck’s television show an “acceptable” rating because “Although there is considerable action in the Hanna-Barbera scripts, they are not frightening. They never use a vicious character, not even for purposes of villainy. They never use violence for the sake of violence.”
Lasseter on Computer Animation 1983. Commenting on the experimental combination of hand-drawn and computer animation for the test footage for Where the Wild Things Are in an L.A. Times article (April 3, 1983), John Lasseter said:
“I think this technique is a real breakthrough. For the first time, we can really get a three-dimensional quality in a cartoon. Throughout the history of the studio, Disney developed animation to its present state in an attempt to create three-dimensional characters that the audience could easily relate to. Now we can finally do it.
“The color produced by this technique is also different — and new. The computer-generated image prints onto the film with light, rather than with light reflected off pigments, so there’s a brilliance to the results, even in the dark area. It’s like the difference between a stained-glass window and painting. One may not be superior to the other, but they are different, and that difference can be very exciting.
“This technique is like being handed a new pencil, a new tool. You have to think your animation out much more clearly than if you were drawing it on paper. You have to see it very clearly in your mind before you begin. But we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do his way. In five years those tests will seem so primitive. They’ll look like Steamboat Willie does today.”