Saturday, December 25, 2010

1930s Christmas greetings from Mickey Mouse

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a great day with family and friends. Here are a couple of neat Mickey images to close out the Christmas 2010 series.

First up is a nice Christmas illustration, which appeared in newspaper across America in 1932.

The second illustration was printed inside a circa 1933 Hall Brothers Mickey Mouse Christmas card.

The two images are somewhat similar in design. I own the first item, but not the second.

Hope Santa brought you a few of the collectible items on your want list.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow White at the Carthay - 73 years tonight

73 years ago tonight, spotlights scanned the night sky, and stargazers lined the streets, as Walt Disney's masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, made its premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater, in Hollywood, California.

The large Christmas tree is visible on the left side of this image. Invited guests walked down the carpet under the canopy to the entrance of the theater, just visible on the right. NBC radio broadcast the event live on premiere night. The garden with the Snow White characters, can be seen to the left of the center of the photo.

Three years ago I posted a major story on that evening and the run-up to it. Click this link to read that post. Here are some new images I came across on eBay earlier this year, which show the exterior of the Carthay during Snow White's run.

Large papier mache heads of the Dwarfs line the top of a canopy. Cels, backgrounds, model sheets, drawings, and photographs were displayed to satisfy the curiosity of those wanting to know more about the animation process.

Snow White and Dwarf figurines on display in a garden bed outside the theater.

The December 22, 1937 issue of Variety reported in part:

"Crowd of more than 20,000 jammed entrance to premiere of Walt Disney's first all-color feature length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at the Carthay Theater last night. Assistant Chief of Police George Allen had 80 coppers on hand, 15 more than for the ordinary preem [sic] detail. Aiding them were 11 RKO Studio policemen. Two women fainted in the early crush."

When Snow White went into general release, film critic Frank S. Nugent wrote in the January 14, 1938 edition of the New York Times:

"Sheer fantasy, delightful, gay and altogether captivating, touched the screen yesterday, when Walt Disney's long awaited feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had its local premiere at the Radio City Music Hall. Let your fears be quieted at once: Mr. Disney and his amazing technical crew have outdone themselves. The picture more than matches expectations. It is a classic, as important as "Birth of a Nation," or the birth of Mickey Mouse. Nothing quite like it has been done before; and already we have grown impolite enough to clamor for an encore. Another helping please!"

The article continued:

" child of course, could dream a dream like this. For Mr. Disney's humor has the simplicity of extreme sophistication...and technically it is superb. In some of the early sequences there may be an uncertainty of line, a jerkiness in the movements of the Princess; but it is corrected later and hand and lip movements assume an uncanny reality. The Dwarfs and animals are flawless from the start. Chromatically it is the best Technicolor to date, achieving effects possible only to the cartoon, obtaining - through the multi-plane camera - an effortless third dimension. You'll not, most of the time, realize you are watching animated cartoons. And if you do, it will only be with a sense of amazement.
Nor can any description overlook so important a Disney element as the score. There are eight songs - solos, duets, choruses - which perfectly counterpoint the action...they're gay and friendly and pleasant, all of them, and so is the picture. If you miss it, you'll be missing the ten best pictures of 1938. Thank you very much Mr. Disney, and come again very soon."

Snow White went on to gross over eight million dollars. The Disney brothers were able to pay back their Bank of America loan, and Walt Disney was able to plan and build his new state-of-the-art studio, just down the road from his Los Feliz location, in Burbank.

Monday, December 20, 2010

British Disney Christmas tree lights

Here are two different sets of lights manufactured in Britain by the Thomson-Houston Company.

First up is the Pinocchio set, which was made in 1939. While the gummed decals used on the shades appear to be the same as the ones issued in the Pinocchio light set by NOMA in the United States, the art on the box is lacking - Pinocchio looks a bit off, as does Jiminy Cricket.

Next up is the Fantasia set. This set was manufactured in 1940.

You can always tell when the lampshades have been used. When illuminated, the heat from the bulb turns the glue on the decal a brownish color.

I don't own either of these sets.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Diane Disney Miller

Diane Marie Disney was born on this day in 1933.

Here's a link to a story on this blog I posted last year.

Happy Birthday Diane!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In memoriam - Walt Disney - December 15, 1966

In memory of Walt Disney, who passed away on this day in 1966.

Photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull

With wife Lillian - the first award, and many more to come - 1932

Paris, France

With wife Lillian - winter fun at Lake Arrowhead

At the Riviera Country Club, watching a game of polo

With wife Lillian - Santa Anita racetrack

Woking Way residence, Los Feliz

With Shirley Temple - special Academy Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Thank you Walt, for giving me and my family many hours of quality entertainment, and for being the visionary that you were.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow's in the forecast - shovel, or snowball fight?

Should I shovel, or should I play?

The shovel was made by the Ohio Art Company, a Disney licensee who manufactured a large variety of great tin litho items. The shovel dates from about 1936.

Love seeing the "Don" get beaned! Wonder if a mouse in hiding tossed that one?

Unfortunately, I own neither item...but we can still enjoy the great graphics!

Disney corporate Christmas card - unused art

This art has been posted on my friend Kevin Kidney`s site.

Click this link to learn more.

This piece looks like Floyd Gottfredson art to me. The lettering is a bit off, but the moon with the houses is replicated on Disney`s first corporate card. See this earlier post on my own blog, which showcases Disney`s first Christmas card - one that was attributed to the great Gottfredson.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Meet Me At Merkel's Toyland" - Mickey Mouse pin

This great little pin was made for the Merkel's department store. Mickey Mouse is dressed as Santa carrying a sack of toys, and if you look closely, you'll see a Mickey Mouse doll and a Mickey Mouse drum in that bag.

Image courtesy

The pin measures approximately 1.25 inches in diameter. A paper insert on the back indicates the pin was made in 1931, and was distributed by the Philadelphia Badge Company. Three different text versions of this pin exist.

I love the graphics on this pin and hope you do too!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

1930s Donald Duck gift tags

Here's a couple of great looking mid-1930s Dennison items - a Donald Duck gift tag and a sticker, which uses the same image.

Who wouldn't want to receive a Christmas gift labeled with these beauties? They date from 1934, or 1935, when the duck still sported his long beak. One is marked "© Walt Disney Enterprises."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Belated birthday wishes

Missed it by one day - yesterday would have been Walt Disney's 109th birthday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The gang's all here - Hank Porter Christmas art

As many of my readers might know, I have been working on the biography of Disney Merchandise and Publicity artist Hank Porter for several years now.

In the course of writing this book, I have amassed an archive of close to 800 or so images of art created by Porter. The following piece if by far one of the best pieces of art executed by the master draftsman, who Walt Disney once referred to as a "one man art department."

Porter studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, completing a four year course in just two years. While at the Academy he studied under famed illustrators Philip Lyford and Franklin Booth.

Lyford was a commercial artist and magazine illustrator who created imaginative advertising for a diverse range of clients including Smith and Wesson, Mazda Lamps, and Coca-Cola. His art appeared in many leading magazines of the day, and he even created art found on patriotic WW I recruiting posters.

In a letter to his father, Porter referred to Booth as "the famous pen and ink illustrator." Booth created works of art that featured extremely detailed scrolls, decorative borders, and classic hand lettering, using literally thousands of strokes of ink.

I have a copy of a promotional brochure Porter published when he ran his own commercial art studio. The pen and ink art in this pamphlet is stunning, especially when you consider Porter was just in his early 20s when he created the booklet. It's clear to me Porter mastered the art of pen and ink at an early age.

I have to agree with Porter's daughter Maxine, who told me in an interview her father, "was a good pen and ink artist. That came from working on a...newspaper, and then having his own commercial art business. He [was] a crackerjack of pen, and ink, and scratchboard. I think this is why [Walt Disney] singled him out to do some of the illustrations. He did terrific lettering."

It's not known at this time which publication this art was created for. The illustration is circa 1938, and measures approximately 17 by 21 inches. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it took Porter to create this masterpiece. It's definitely one of my favorites.

Please click on the image to see a larger view...and e