May 2, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Mine (and Yours): Favorite Important Moments in Animation History!

Short post this week. It’s reviews week here at the school, and barely a moment to breathe, nearly from sun up to well after sun down— but, happily, it isn’t quite midnight here yet, so I’m happy to be writing a little of this week’s post!

The coming weeks will bring a lot of new scanning, some new members to the Thunderbean staff (to help with orders, restoration and organizing the soon-to-be new Thunderbean office. Small but mighty! Orders are still going out, slower than I’d like, and I’ve been unable to put any time into anything this week so far. The good news is that Friday is free, so I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone got done and what’s left.

I need to grade all the final papers for the animation history class on Friday and over the weekend, and thumbing through the papers made me think about my own favorite moments in the history of animation. As is usual, quite a few papers are on Anime, but others were on pretty unusual (for students) aspects of the industry, from an analysis of box office receipts vs. quality of animated features, to editing/ censorship (very hot at this exact moment) to an interesting analysis of why Donald Duck is more popular than Mickey Mouse everywhere but the United States. My favorite so far from the class was a student’s psychoanalysis of all the main characters in Disney’s Pinocchio. The writer’s empathy, interestingly, was with Jimmy Cricket, who some believe is the true central character of the film (I’m somewhat in agreement since he has the strongest character arch).

So, here are 10 of my favorite ‘moments’ in animation history. Please share some of yours below!

1) Mr. Bug Goes to Town press screening (Dec 5, 1941)
What could be better attending this particular screening? This is my time machine wish.

2) The Old Mill (1937) wins best animated short subject, 1938
AMPAS was nice enough to list the awards given that night here, so you can see the good company this amazing short was in:

3) Disney Studio’s soundstages are commandeered by the Army – for use as a defense and repair facility (December 8, 1941)

4) The Fischer Price Movie Viewer debuts, with Disney’s Lonesome Ghosts cartridge (1973). The actual films in the viewer were not completely helpful for up and coming animators in that they took a lot of frames out so you wouldn’t have to crank to oblivion to see the movie! Someone scanned some of the films and put it up on youtube- and that’s why everything runs so fast at a normal projection speed!

5) At the New York Center Theatre Premiere of Pinocchio, midgets strip out of their Pinocchio costumes (February 7, 1940) Go to the bottom of this article— there’s a rare and pretty nice picture of them before the debacle!

6) The Flintstone’s premieres (Set 30, 1960)

7) The animated feature Raggedy Ann and Andy premieres (April 1, 1977)

8) Classic Japanese animated film Akira released (July, 1988)

9) Fleischer Studios opens in Miami, Florida (September 5, 1938).
Here’s a nifty article by our own Jerry Beck on this very event!

10) Disney company trades football player sports commentator Al Michaels to Universal Pictures to retrieve certain rights to Oswald The Lucky Rabbit (Feb 07, 2006)

Now, it’s YOUR turn! What are some of your favorites?

Have a good week everyone!


  • Small correction: Al Michaels was never football player and never played sports in his life – on the other hand, he had a long career dating back to 1964 as a Sports commentary play-by-play announcer. See:

    • And DIsney traded HIM for OSWALD!

    • As I recall, ABC Sports had fired Michaels after allegations of sexual abuse by his ex-wife came to light following his infamous turn during ABC News’ live coverage of the LAPD pursuit of O.J.Simpson, when he indicated to then anchor Peter Jennings that he’d been had by a phone prankster with an association to a certain “shock jock” who’s radio show Michaels had occasionally appeared on. To think Disney had siezed upon that opportunity to barter him off to NBC/Universal in exchange for the intellectual rights to a cartoon character who’s ownership had long been in dispute between the two enterprises supposedly does signify something of a milestone moment in animation history as well as a sign of the changing state of broadcast television and the entertainment industry in general. Had he been aware at all of how Disney took advantage of his plight, Michaels would’ve found it even harder to live down after having to settle out of court for fear of being raked through the coals of the legal system the way O.J. had been.

  • Grading students’ papers, eh? YIKES! I had a little personal announcement to share with you, but I guess you are busy. oh well.

    I do like some of the unusual choices some of the students picked.

  • Interesting you would cite the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer here! I suppose I could see the point to it as I had one of those as well with all those carts featuring the cartoons I liked.

    • I had that Fisher-Price movie viewer when I was a kid. Lonesome Ghosts was one of the movies I had. along with Robin Hood, the soccer game from Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Mickey’s Trailer, & The Rescuers.

  • One of my “Favorite moments” in animation history:
    December 1991 – MGM/UA releases the first of 5 laser disc sets appropriately called “The Golden Age Of Looney Tunes”.
    I ran out and bought myself a laser disc player, and was introduced to hundreds of amazing cartoons I had never seen before!
    Just seeing the wonderful Avery classic “I Love To Singa” was worth the investment.
    Those sets were the start of many more years of animation collecting for me.
    Now, if they would just release them again in bluray….

  • Apocryphal moment: The notorious silent pornographic short “Eveready Hardon” is premiered in 1929 at a private party, with Winsor McCay in attendance. He is less than amused. But I was there, and it was a hoot! (Again, apocryphal.)

    • Harton that is.

  • July 2, 1982 -Don Bluth’s The Secret Of Nimh premieres.

  • Being inspired by the video there: Nov. 18, 1969- The revolutionary “Sesame Street” debut which would for many years be a partly a showcase for many people in the animation field.

  • “an interesting analysis of why Donald Duck is more popular than Mickey Mouse everywhere but the United States.”

    Well now I want to know why as well!

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