Today at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific I’ll be appearing once again on Stu’s Show, the weekly internet radio show that discusses all sorts of pop culture – but mainly classic television and animated cartoons.
We will be discussing the upcoming classic animation collections scheduled for DVD and blu-ray (such as Mr. Magoo Theatricals and the Platinum Looney Tunes), new books (like The Art of Jay Ward and others), animated features (Mr. Peabody, The Lego Movie), the new Bugs Bunny “Wabbit” show, Cartoon Network, upcoming features and if we get around to it Scrappy and Krazy Kat … all this and much more, live (and free) at Stu’s Show.com. The whole program will be available for download (for a mere 99 cents) in the archive after the broadcast today.
Though the show is live, we no longer take questions via phone. The “new rules” are that you must submit questions for me directly through Stu via email comments-at-stusshow.com. So, tune in today for two hours of toon-talk (say THAT five times, fast)!
INSIDE THE WHIMSEY WORKS: My Life With Walt Disney Productions by Jimmy Johnson Edited, by Greg Ehrbar and Didir Ghez
I never heard of Jimmy Johnson before receiving this book – but now I feel like his best friend. And I wish I had met him. But alas, Johnson passed away in 1976 after a career at the Walt Disney Studio in various roles. He started there in 1938 and retired in 1975 – spending his final year writing this book.
The manuscript landed at the Walt Disney Archive and remained there for decades – until Disney historians Ehrbar and Ghez were allowed to edit, annotate and publish it at last (via University Press of Mississippi). Johnson tells his whole story here, in a breezy conversational style and took me behind-the-scenes to some of other Disney departments I always wanted to know more about – the merchandising, publishing and music divisions he was a part of and, in some cases, he ran.
It’s Disney history from another point of view. From someone far from the limelight. Who made important contributions and worked with top talent, clashed with executives and collaborated Walt and Roy personally. Sometimes I’m concerned with the avalanche of books about Walt and the studio – its a bit overwhelming. But Johnson’s memoir is heartfelt and human. Not a rehash of old facts, but an important reminder that – once upon a time – real people ran the studio. Their choices, right or wrong, affected our childhoods by creating indelible memories.
Johnson was one of the good-guys. This book was a pleasure to read.
How would you like to take a vacation to Europe in 1935 and tour all the great cities with Walt Disney, his brother Roy and their wives? Didier Ghez, who co-edited the book reviewed above and compiles the annual Walt’s People volumes, is your tour guide – as he has taken Disney’s personal journals, rare letters, newspaper reports, rare drawings and photographs (and a ton of further research) to document the entire trip.
And what a trip it is! Lunch with H.G. Wells in London, a Mickey Mouse ballet in Paris, a book buying binge in Munich. Ghez also definitively answers the elusive question: Did Disney meet Mussolini and the Pope in Italy? Spoiler Alert: No, he didn’t – but here is the whole documented story of how this rumor came to be – and what really happened.
Beyond the incidents of the trip itself, Ghez explains through his text how this European tour influenced important things to come in the Disney canon. The late Diane Disney Miller writes of her gratitude for Didier’s research in a Foreword and Michael Barrier introduces the work with his endorsement in the Preface. Highly recommended, says I.
Speaking of books, those of you in the L.A. area who missed the recent Moosylvania Art Show at Van Eaton Galleries, can make up for it this weekend in Santa Monica, California. Darrell VanCitters and I will be signing our respective books (his, The Art of Jay Way Ward Productions – mine, The Art Of Dreamworks Mr. Peabody and Sherman) at the Aero Theatre where the American Cinematheque will present a big screen showing of classic Jay Ward cartoons, Rocky, Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody, Sherman, etc. Darrell will do an on stage panel and interview with guests Ward voice goddess June Foray, Ward designer Sam Clayberger and Ward writer Allen Burns. Join us – it’ll be funny! Details here!
Speaking of the Van Eaton Galleries… here are some odds and ends I snapped while I was there last week. First up, a file folder filled with the original art for the titles to the TV series The Life Of Riley (1953-1958) designed by T. Hee (click thumbnails below to enlarge). The video of the complete title sequence is below that. (And yes, they are for sale).
Also in the folder was this odd piece (below) by Thornton Hee – I couldn’t figure out who these people in the caricature were. I posted this on the Stu’s Show Facebook page and within minutes we had the answer (thank you, Michael Schlesinger). It’s a promotional piece for a short lived CBS comedy Angel (1960), with Annie Farge and Marshall Thompson. I’ve embed the animated titles below (they start at :34) – but check out the Glade spot excerpt (at 1:10) designed by Pintoff. Mike Kazaleh says the animation looks Vinnie Bell.
And finally, Van Eaton picked up this Kiddie Cartoon Machine. It works and he has it on display at the Gallery for a short time. Apparently its for sale for a few hundred bucks. Contact Mike Van Eaton if you are interested.