Louella Parsons – spoofed as “Lolly”, who interviewed Bugs Bunny in A Hare Grows In Mahattan (1947); and who was caricatured in Frank Tashlin’s The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (1937) as “Louella Possums” – was in reality one of the most powerful journalists and gossip columnists in Hollywood of the “Golden Age”.
She was primarily associated with Hearst newspapers for most of her career. According to Wikipedia: “Parsons saw herself as the social and moral arbiter of Hollywood. Her judgments were considered the final word in many cases, and her disfavor was feared by many more than that of movie critics. Eventually, Parson’s daily gossip column appeared in more than 400 newspapers, and read by 20 million people around the world.”
So her word weighed heavily with the public – and to the major producers at the studios. Her opinion could make or break a film. The good news – she was quite the fan of Mr. Walt Disney. Disney offered a unique alternative to the standard Hollywood fare – and it was plain to see the art and craft involved in Walt’s earliest films. Disney was plenty popular with the public and her advocacy of Disney’s films rubbed off the other way – it also made her look good.
Thanks to Ned Comstock at USC, we have this set of Parson’s rave reviews for Walt Disney’s feature cartoons. Whatever her intentions, her enthusiastic reviews are certainly hard to disagree with. We get a chance, through these columns, to experience an adult’s point of view as she watches each Disney film as they come out, in their own time.
And her writing, such as it is, is pretty good. I love that she compares Dopey to the “Yellow Kid” (Parsons was old enough to remember the debut appearance of that character), and that she attempts to credit some of the artists, such as Dave Hand, Freddy Moore and Bill Tytla.
Parsons is truly impressed with these films, each apparently more miraculous than the last. But this was the prevailing attitude of the press and public at the time. Disney was a miracle man – producing one fantasy masterpiece after another.
(click on each to enlarge)