Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disney's Woking Way home - more photos

Here are some more images from Walt Disney's Woking Way home. Some are from the real estate agent who's listed the house for sale, while others come from the collection of my friend Mark Sonntag, the January 1940 edition of Better Homes and Gardens, and the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The first two images show the living room. The 1930s image shows the living room decked out with a Christmas tree. The modern day photo shows the beautiful floor to ceiling stained glass window, which I believe has a view of he swimming pool. This is the window the Christmas tree was placed in front of.

The stained glass window had some gorgeous detailed work. Walt Disney's daughter Diane Disney Miller recalled there was also an insert featuring an image of William Shakespeare.

The next image shows the back side of the house, where the pool would eventually be built. You an see the aforementioned stained glass window on the right side of the image. On the left side is the staircase where the color photo of Walt and Lillian was taken.

The following set of images show Walt Disney in the backyard before the swimming pool was built. In August 1942 Disney participated in a Los Angeles wartime scrap drive by donating two iron deer to the War Production Board's Conservation Division. The Snow White playhouse built for Diane and her sister Sharon is visible in the background.

In The Animated Man, A Life of Walt Disney, author Michael Barrier wrote, "Roy Disney marveled in 1968 at the audacity of the construction: 'He hung this swimming pool up on the corner of this darn thing. It's a granite hill and we were taking bets to see if it would stand. It's thirty-five years and it's still there.'"

As you can see in the second image, the swimming pool and the playhouse are still there to this very day.

On a clear day, this is the view Disney and his family enjoyed.  According to the Better Homes and Gardens article, "When the air [is] clear...he has a 90-degree view. He can see the Pacific and even Santa Catalina Island, about 40 miles away. Below is spread that fascinating checkered panorama of Pasadena, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Beverley Hills...he can see his beloved studio, where inanimate pictures leap magically to life."

The next image shows the beautiful winding staircase that joins the two floors. Regarding the gorgeous painted ceiling, Michael Barrier wrote, "'Everybody gets mad at the rich for owning these big places,' [Walt Disney] told the Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper, 'but they forget how many jobs it creates . . . I built a house in Los Feliz during the Depression. Men used to line up there in the morning hoping to get work. I found a graduate of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and had him paint my whole ceiling.'"

The second image in this set shows Walt and Lillian posing on the right side at the base of the staircase. The shot was taken by famed photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull, who took several images of Walt and Lillian throughout the house during that shoot.

The next two images picture Walt and Lillian in the home library. The images were an almost identical pose.

The next two photos show the screening room. The family would often get together to watch first run movies like Gone With the Wind. Diane Disney Miller recalled, "That room was once the den and a guest bedroom. It was furnished differently . . . it had a couch. We saw all the great movies of the time, including Hop-a-long Cassidy and Roy Rogers films, as well as dailies from dad's current live-action films."


The final image shows Walt standing beside what looks like the fireplace visible in the first two images at the start of this post.

Hope you enjoyed this trip back in time!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Walt Disney's Woking Way home for sale

Here's the official listing the real estate agent sent me with a gallery containing quite a few outstanding images, including the Snow White playhouse built for daughters Diane and Sharon. What a beautiful house! The asking price is $3,650,000.

Click here.

I'll be publishing a post later tonight or tomorrow with some of the home's history, and several interior shots of the house from when the Disney family lived there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ferdinand Horvath Big Bad Wolf drawing

This great storyboard drawing of the menacing wolf is courtesy my friend Dennis Books.

The Big Bad Wolf is looking at the Little Wolves (not seen) and commands, "Remember! No eats 'till I get back!" This art was created in 1937 for the short cartoon The Practical Pig, which was released in 1939.

Horvath was one of many great artists employed at The Walt Disney Studio during the heights of the Great Depression. This piece bears Horvath's signature in the lower right corner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early signed Walt Disney image

Thanks to my friends Mark Sonntag and Gunnar Andreassen who both alerted me to this photo, which is currently for sale on eBay.

Judging by Walt Disney's office, I'd say this photo was taken no earlier than July 1929, and is no later than the Spring of 1931. As Walt and Roy made a little money, they would expand and add rooms to the original 1926 building at 2719 Hyperion Avenue, in Los Feliz, California.

The office in this image does not look like the first one occupied by Walt, which was located to the left as you entered the main door of the 1926 building. This office appears to me to be the one that was moved when they added the two western additions to the original building in July 1929. At this time Roy moved into Walt's first office, and Walt moved into the new western addition.

When the big "L" shaped Animator's Building No. 1 was built in the Spring of 1931, Walt's office was spacious, and had dark colored wood paneling, so the office depicted in this photo is not the office in that new building.

A great image! Thanks again Mark and Gunnar!

(UPDATE July 19 - when I posted this image I didn't have access to the eBay listing. The auction description notes the photo is stamped on verso with the date February 21, 1933. After some consideration, I still believe the image is earlier than that. The date referenced on the image could have been when the photo was distributed by Acme, or used by a particular newspaper. By February 1933 Walt would have moved into his new office in Animator's Building No. 1, and this is defintiely not that particular office depicted in the photo. Do any of my readers have any thoughts?)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nubian Centaurette maquette

Two Nubian Centaurettes were part of the Bacchus sequence of the Pastoral Symphony segment of Fantasia. They were edited out of later re-releases of the film. This is the maquette.

As seen in an issue of Click magazine. (Image courtesy Dennis Books.)

 The Nubian maquette can be seen in the left side of this photo, near the edge of Walt's desk,beside the sculpture of Hyacinth Hippo.

 She was also featured in a mid-1940s issue of Look Magazine. Read more about this magazine image at this link, and this link.

A screen grab from the live-action sequence of The Reluctant Dragon. In this scene comedian Robert Benchley is a mock-up of the Model Department.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More of Stromboli's Model Department wagons

Here's a couple of more shots of Stromboli's wagons about to be filmed by Bob Jones and the gang in the Model Department. These models were built by Bob Jones and Wah Ming Chang.

After the wagons were filmed going down a simulated cobblestone road, they were rotoscoped, which involved projecting the live-action photos frame by frame onto a transparent panel, through which they were traced. 

My friend and fellow researcher Dennis Books says, "Walt improved the system by having each frame of film printed onto photographic paper the same size as the drawing paper.  These photostats were then punched to fit the pegs of an animation desk.  The animator could now study or draw the action by flipping the photostats."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stromboli's wagon - three-dimensional model

My friend Kevin Kidney just had an article he's written about the late-1930s Disney Studio Model Department published on The Walt Disney Family Museum page. Take a moment to read his fantastic expose by clicking on this link.

In his article, Kevin published a photo of the great puppeteer Bob Jones posing beside a three-dimensional model of two of Stromboli's wagons.

Master puppeteer Bob Jones poses with a model of Stromboli's wagons. A maquette of the sadistic coachman who was in-charge of Pleasure Island can be seen on the left side of the photo. Image courtesy Kevin Kidney.

This weighted model was complete with a working suspension system. Here's an image of the evil taskmaster's wagon about to be filmed.

You can see wooden sticks placed on the "road" the wagons will travel. This was designed to capture the movement of the wagons as they bumped along the cobblestone alleys and roads in Geppetto's town.

My friend Dennis Books and myself have long wanted to write a book on the Model Department. Many years ago, Dennis interviewed several of the artists who worked in that magnificent department. Dennis also owns many wonderful related artifacts, including maquettes, photos, original and photostat model sheets. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be publishing Model Department artifacts on the blog, so stay tuned for some great images and stories.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Model Department Fantasia maquettes

A couple of great color photos showing some of the fantastic maquettes created in Disney's Model Department for Fantasia.

These photos were sold several months ago at auction.