Tuesday, January 11, 2022

American Dental Association

The April 1936 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association featured an article titled "Mouth Hygiene in Kern County, California." Not the most endearing of topics to be sure, but a quick scan of the magazine's pages reveals an interesting Disney connection. Kern County is located in central California, taking in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mojave Desert. In the mid-30s the Kern County Board of Supervisors employed one dental hygienist to spread the word amongst youngsters the value of brushing their teeth. As part of the promotion children were examined and if they passed inspection, they were awarded either a Mickey or Minnie Mouse "Good Teeth" pin. Classes scoring 100% "good teeth" by the end of the school year were also awarded a hand-tinted picture of Mickey Mouse and the Three Little Pigs. In 25 years of collecting I have never seen an example of this particular certificate. There was also a Kern County dental Roll Call of Honor that was hung in classrooms. While that item also had Disney character graphics, the illustrations were not done by a Disney Studio artist. There were at least two other Disney / American Dental Association campaigns: one featured Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the Big Bad Wolf, while the other featured characters from Pinocchio. Here are examples of premiums associated with the second campaign: A reminder card and close-up detail of the back flap of the mailing envelope, a certificate of merit and a pinback button. All three items feature outstanding graphics. It's interesting to see the Wolf once again resurrected as the villain. One item I have never seen and have never been able to confirm the existence of, is the "Mickey Mouse Merit Medal," an illustration of which can be seen behind the Wolf in the background of the certificate. Enjoy the images and keep those pearly whites clean and shiny - if you're lucky maybe your dentist will give you a pin.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gobble, gobble...

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends from your neighbor north of the 49th.

Today's post features the original "rough" art for the November 1947 issue of Western Family magazine. The art was created by legendary Disney Publicity and Merchandise Department artist Hank Porter. Porter created well over a dozen different covers for Western Family.

An October 1947
note from Western Family Editor, Audree Lyons regarding this particular cover read in part: “Dear Hank. Just a note to express thanks from all of us over here for the fine job you did on our Thanksgiving cover. We...are very pleased with the looks of the cover...thank you – again – for an excellent job.”
A letter from the editor published in the Thanksgiving issue read, “We’re always being asked to use more Walt Disney characters on our covers. Seems that many of our readers save the covers, frame them for the walls of their children’s rooms. It’s an idea, if your child sighs for Mickey Mouse. Our friend, Hank Porter, of the Disney Studios, drew this Thanksgiving cover for us.”


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Just a little scene I made almost 20 years ago using a small celluloid Donald Duck riding a sleigh and Mickey's pal Pluto. I used the image on homemade Christmas cards I mailed out to fellow collectors. The items date from about 1934-1936.

The plastic trees were used previously in 1/72nd scale wargaming I used to play as a hobby and the snow, well, I raided the pantry for the flour.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In the Service of the Red Cross

My new book documenting Walt Disney's time in France as a volunteer driver with the Red Cross at the end of World War I has just been released in soft-cover and e-book formats.


Check out my publisher's information page at this link for more information.

The book contains a lot of new information and photos including:

  • five never-before-published photos of Walt in his Red Cross uniform
  • the contents of a scrapbook of art Walt sent home to a school chum
  • two photographs of famous Parisian landmarks snapped by Walt himself
  • five postcards sent to friends back home
  • the contents of dozens of letters exchanged between Walt and his former canteen boss following the war, when they renewed their friendship
  • extensive use of journalist Pete Martin's landmark 1956 interview with Walt Disney - "hear" Walt speak about his many overseas adventures including the "charge of the cordwood brigade," the court martial that almost happened, doctored souvenirs, the picnic with a famous general's son, and much, much, more.

Join Walt as he celebrates his seventeenth birthday in a small French bistro, and learn about this exciting and formative time in his life that closed his childhood and set him on the path to the man he would become.

Walt stands atop an abandoned British tank overlooking the Hindenburg Line, a defensive barrier built by the Germans that ran across northeastern France. This image and many other never-before-published photos and research items make their debut in the book.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Disney and the war

My book on Disney's involvement in World War II is now available in both print and e-book formats on Amazon and through my publisher at ThemeParkPress.com.

The book is a revised edition of Toons At War, which I self-published 13 years ago! The title of the updated and revised edition is: Service With Character. The Disney Studio and World War II.

The second edition contains a lot of new information on Disney's contributions to the home front, military training films, propaganda films, life at the studio during the war, and the Studio's creation of over 1,200 combat insignia. This book covers a huge variety of topics related to Disney during World War II.

FYI, the print version of the book does not have any images, while the e-book has over 300 images.

Click on this link to check it out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Come take a ride on a magic carpet . . .

Here's another great newspaper ad from 1935 tying in Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus - the two greatest fictional characters of the day. 

By the time this particular ad appeared in print, Disney's merchandising rep Herman "Kay" Kamen was  well on his way to being crowned the "King of Toyland."

In 1932 Kamen embarked on an ambitious plan to have major department stores theme their toylands around Disney characters and related merchandise. The point-of-sale marketing material, as well as the newspaper and radio ads were phenomenal. 

This 1935 ad features Mickey, Minnie, and Santa, and at the bottom of the ad there is a second illustration featuring Mickey, Pluto, Horace, Clarabelle, Goofy (aka Dippy Dawg), and a super-looking long-billed Donald. The crew ride atop a magic carpet, which is the very gimmick Kamen had promoted to retailers that year.

To read more about the "magic carpet" click here to read a post I published back in 2007 about the premium booklet lucky youngsters could score.

As always, click on the image to make it larger.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Special Christmas event . . . this Friday!

This ad ran during the run up to Christmas in 1935. By this time, Disney merchandising rep Kay Kamen had been at the helm of Disney's licensing arm for almost three years. 

Kamen embarked on a merchandising program that would eventually general millions of dollars in royalty fees and tens-of-millions of dollars in Disney-themed toy sales. This is the first of several great ad examples which I'll be posting over the course of the next few weeks, in addition to some fantastic 1930s Disney Christmas-themed merchandise.

To see some more Christmas newspaper ads, click here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter #1

Courtesy Hake's Americana, a great Easter related point of sale counter display.

The display originally held multiple packages of Paas Dye Company "Transfer-O-S For Easter Eggs." The display measured 4 by 11.5 by 9.5 inches.

Each pack of transfers originally retailed for 10 cents each, or three for 25 cents, and contained four sheets with a total of 37 images. Characters represented on the sheets included Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle the Cow.

Happy Easter - #2

Courtesy Hake's Americana, here is a set of three Fisher-Price pull toys circa 1939-1942. These pieces were originally sold as part of the "Walt Disney's Easter Parade" set in 1936. According to the Hake's auction description the toys measured approximately three inches tall.

The characters made their appearance in the 1934 Silly Symphony Funny Little Bunnies, which was released on March 24, 1934. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson, (who helped develop the method in which sound was synchronized in the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie), with animation by Wolfgang Reitherman and Art Babbitt.

Click here to go to Rob Richards' blog "Animation Backgrounds," to see some of the background art, which appeared in the short.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Walt Disney Family Museum

This image was taken two years ago on one of my first visits to San Francisco. Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, stands amidst the renovations in barracks building 104 on the grounds of the Presidio, which now houses the new Walt Disney Family Museum.

I have been very fortunate to have been involved, in a very small way, with the new Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Last week I had the opportunity to attend two preview events that included entrance to the Museum as well as a reception.

The back courtyard of building 104, taken two years ago. A basement and new ground level glass infill building would soon occupy this space.

The back courtyard of building 104, with the newly installed glass infill building, as of September 24, 2009.

The view from the glass infill building, looking out towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

I was going to write a gallery-by-gallery review, but have instead opted to just list some of my favorite artifacts, followed by a description of some of my favorite technical / audio-visual displays. There are so many neat items to see it's hard to choose, but here goes, in no particular order:

The reception area. The awards display cases are visible in the background along the walls.

1) past the reception area you'll find nine huge display cases filled with just a sampling (just under 250 by my quick count), of the many awards, plaques, certificates, medals and sculptures given to Walt Disney over the course of his lifetime.

One of nine display cases.

2) one display case features his Academy Awards including 15 Oscar statuettes, six Award(s) for Outstanding Merit, and four Distinctive Achievement Certificate(s). Included in this case are his first two Academy Awards, given in 1932: the Honorary Special Award for the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the Certificate of Honorable Mention for the first color Silly Symphony Flowers and Trees. Also on display is the specially made Academy Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which features one large and seven smaller statuettes and his Irving Thalberg award.

This photo, taken on one of my earlier visits to the original museum, shows the Academy Awards on display in the new museum.

3) the three page letter written to the mother of Virginia Davis in October 1923. Virginia was the little girl who starred in the so-called "Alice" comedies. In the letter, Walt asks Mrs. Davis to bring young Virginia to Hollywood so work could resume on the Alice Comedies.

4) there are several dozen three-dimensional maquettes on display in various galleries: Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Dopey, Pinocchio, Gepetto, Stromboli, Vulcan, Ben Ali Gator, Hyacinth Hippo, Bacchus and Jacchus and even Casey Jr.

A Pinocchio maquette. Animators would refer to these models during production. This pose of Pinocchio, made in the Studio's Model Department, is believed to be the first three-dimensional maquette design to have been created.

5) a display case filled with Snow White related memorabilia including a Snow White book autographed by Walt Disney to his young daughter Diane...part of the inscription read, "from your daddy, Walt Disney."

6) animation art: spectacular production drawings of the Hag from Snow White and Chernabog from Fantasia were some of my favorites. There are also dozens of pieces of conceptual art: great watercolors of Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, two Old Mill watercolors by Tenggren, Kay Nielsen pastels from Ave Maria; pastels from the Nutcracker Suite; and watercolor backgrounds from Pinocchio and Snow White. What are believed to be one of the earliest Mickey Mouse drawings are also on display.

Old Mill watercolor conceptual art by Swedish artist Gustaf Tenggren.

7) the Herman Schultheis Camera Department Process Lab notebook. This notebook is filled with photographs and notes and documents many of the special effects and film processes used in the creation of several of the golden-age classics. This notebook is a treasure trove of information, much of which was previously unknown.

The Schultheis notebook.

8) a huge display case filled with 1930s memorabilia - items related to the 1930s Mickey Mouse Club including a rare child's vest and fez, Campaign Book and pinback buttons, a merchandising rep Herman "Kay" Kamen catalog, dolls, storybooks, advertising items, bisques and more - this case is a visual treat for the eyes.

9) rare posters from the Alice comedies and the Oswald series.

10) selection of items from the strike including several issues of the trade magazine Variety.

11) three display cases filled with rare war-related items including original insignia art and home front related pieces.

12) Walt Disney's train, the Lilly Belle, and rare paper items related to his backyard railroad the Carolwood Pacific.

The Lilly Belle, as seen in the first museum.

13) a huge animated model of Disneyland, not as it was completed, but the one envisioned in Walt Disney's mind. This model is amazing and has many, many moving parts.

The detail in this model is exact and amazing!

14) Eyvind Earle conceptual art for Sleeping Beauty.

15) a display case filled with Zorro memorabilia.

16) the sculpted model bust of President Abraham Lincoln, which was used in the audio-animatronic, as well as the audio-animatronic tube frame of the President's upper torso.

17) A small gallery with display cases featuring personal objects - Walt Disney's watch, money clip, Lillian's perfume bottles, jewelry, a case of miniatures from Walt's own collection and a handwritten note from Walt detailing the types of food he enjoyed eating, complete with the remark: "Only one vegetable" with each meal. What was Walt's favorite meal you ask? Two cans of Hormel and Gebhardt's chili mixed together. Lemon Jell-O was one of his favorite desserts. Elias Disney's fiddle is also on display and there is a small vignette in the awards gallery that features pieces of furniture from Walt and Lillian's Disneyland apartment.

18) hundreds of photos and 16 mm film of Walt Disney - family pictures as well as professional images catch Walt Disney at work and play. Perhaps the most touching image was one taken by his son-in-law Ron Miller on the last family vacation - the photo shows Walt Disney sitting on a log on a beach on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Walt has a movie camera on his lap and is tipping his hat. A very moving and poignant photo before one of the last galleries, which documents the world's reaction to news of Walt's death.

This image is found in gallery one and shows Walt with his sister Ruth.

Some really neat audio-visual related notes:

1) a decision was made early on in the project to use Walt Disney's own voice to tell his story. This was one of the best decisions made. Who better than Walt Disney to tell his own story? Clips are used from many of Disney's television appearances, as well as various radio interviews, including the over 12 hours of tape captured by Pete Martin and Walt's daughter Diane for the series of articles that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.

2) There are many additional audio clips to listen to: you can hear Disney employees speak on a wide range of topics.

3) There are three neat shows to see in Gallery 1 - the three separate vignettes have Walt telling the story of a) his childhood on the farm; b) growing up in Chicago; and c) volunteering for duty as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross in France. Each uses paper cut-outs in an amusing and entertainingly whimsical fashion!

4) The elevator ride to the second floor has a neat angle - it's made out to be a Santa Fe railroad car and has Walt speaking about his journey west to Hollywood.

5) The Schultheis notebook has been digitized. The original notebook is on display in a cabinet with the digitized version avalable for viewing - this was a very cool display!

6) A couple of reactrix displays (at least I think that is what they are called)...a flat horizontal screen in front of the guest displays various small images. You point and press the circle you want more info on and a detailed image appears in front of you on a vertical screen.

7) A fanciful recreation of a Moviola, where you can control the speed and forward or reverse direction of a sequence from Snow White. Very, very cool!

8) A two-storey multi-plane camera. Just an amazing piece of equipment. The camera punches up through the second floor of the Museum and gives guests an idea just how large this mechanical wonder really was.

These are just some of the wonderful things that await you on your visit. I had the opportunity to spend two very brief evenings at the Museum. I believe 4 1/2 hours is what Museum staff have calculated to be the minimum amount of time needed to see most of the exhibits. One could easily spend the whole day there.

Photography is not allowed in the Museum. The images in this post have come from photos I was allowed to take on previous visits at the old museum and other sources on the internet, including Roger Colton and his great website: http://www.theblueparrot.info

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Philadelphia Gas Works - Mickey Mouse Magazine

Fantastic little promotional item published during the Christmas season of 1935 by the Philadelphia Gas Works Company.

The neat thing about this publication is that it not only features Mickey Mouse on the cover, but also contains a Mickey Mouse Magazine promotion on the inside pages. There can't be too many of these that survived the ravages of time.

Courtesy the collection of Dennis Books.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mickey Mouse Holiday Special

From the collection of Dennis Books, the Mickey Mouse Holiday Special magazine from 1938-39. This English newsstand publication contained puzzles, games, comic strips and short stories, and was published by William Banks Levy's Willbanks Publications.
Page three features the same "Merry Christmas" illustration printed previously in color on the back cover of Kay Kamen's shoestore premium, which can be seen here.