Each month, Disney fans and D23 Members send us dozens of questions for Disney Legend and Chief Archivist Emeritus, Dave Smith. To get your answers, check back every couple weeks—we’ll be publishing more of our beloved Disney Legend’s answers to your questions about Disney history!
Q: Which is the shortest of all the Disney animated movies?
Justin, Appling, Georgia
A: That would be Saludos Amigos, at 42 minutes. Normally, a film of that length would be called a featurette, but Saludos Amigos has always been counted as one of Disney’s animated feature films.
Q: Can you help me find who the narrator is in Disney’s film, The Story of Menstruation?
Amanda, Durham, North Carolina
A: The narrator of this well-known educational film was Gloria Blondell. Miss Blondell came to the Disney Studio on July 25, 1945, to record the narration. She also occasionally did the voice of Daisy Duck, and is known for appearing on such television series as Thriller, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Life of Riley, and I Love Lucy.
Q: Where was the Walt Disney World Preview Center located while Walt Disney World was being built?
Leon, Indiantown, Florida
A: The Walt Disney World Preview Center, which was open from January 1970 to September 1971, was located on Preview Boulevard, now Hotel Plaza Boulevard, near the intersection of State Road 535 and Interstate 4. The building is still there, on the north side of the boulevard between the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort and the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort; it is now the national headquarters of the Amateur Athletic Union.
Q: A week ago or so, I noticed a Monorail Café menu for sale/bid on eBay. All I could think about was getting this menu for my son as a Christmas present for the memories it brings. Is there a way to tell if it is an original menu for Monorail Café? Also, could it have been stolen, or did they sell or give them away when they closed the Café?
Philip, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A: The Monorail Café at the Disneyland Hotel closed in 1999. I would assume that you have an original menu—I have not heard of any reprints. There are a number of the menus pictured on the Internet, as they come up for sale from time to time, so you can compare yours. They were sold or given away when the restaurant closed, just as many restaurants give menus to customers if they ask for them.
Q: I recently came across a photo in an envelope with a pre-printed return address that states, “Fun Photo Gallery Disneyland Anaheim, Calif.” on it. The photo (probably Polaroid) shows a group posing in a frame labeled “Honored Guests.” I have never heard of this and am wondering where the gallery was located, what is there now, and, if possible, how long it operated there?
William, Fountain Valley, California
A: There was an Art Gallery and Photo Studio on Main Street, U.S.A. from 1955 to 1959, offering, beginning in 1957, plywood cut-out flats behind which you could pose. Then the operation moved to Tomorrowland, from 1959 to 1967, first known there as Photo Gallery, then Fun Fotos. One paid a dollar for a black and white Polaroid photo.
Q: My question pertains to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. I have been there several times, and have always left wondering why San Francisco was chosen as the site for the museum. I saw an episode of Eye on the Bay, which told about the museum and the artifacts in it, and how there was a warehouse in San Francisco that housed some of the artifacts, but this still has me wondering how those pieces ended up in San Francisco. I feel like something is missing as to why San Francisco was chosen to house these special items. I am glad that they are here, and love going to the museum. I am just curious how it ended up here.
Jennifer, Fremont, California
A: The museum is a project not of the Disney Company but of the Disney family, spearheaded by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller who lives in the San Francisco area. Having the museum in her backyard, so to speak, enables her to keep close tabs on it.
Q: Was James Baskett recognized with the Disney Legends Award or wasn’t he?
Wild Ol’ Dan, New Orleans, Louisiana
A: James Baskett, who starred as Uncle Remus in Song of the South, has not yet received a Disney Legends award. There were no Legends awards presented in 2010. Baskett did win a special Oscar for his portrayal.
Q: I’m watching Dumbo and one of the elephants sounds exactly like Minnie Mouse. Is the person that did the voice work for Minnie the same as the elephant?
Salvador, Oxnard, California
A: None of the actresses who did the voices of the elephants in Dumbo had also voiced Minnie Mouse. The uncredited actresses were Verna Felton, Noreen Gammill, Dorothy Scott, and Sarah Selby. Felton played the elephant known as Matriarch, Gammill was Fidgity, Scott was Giddy, and Selby was Prissy… and good luck to anyone who knows which elephant is which.
Q: I have always been intrigued by Mr. Disney’s quote about “Think, Believe, Dream, Dare,” but have never been able to find when and why he first uttered those magic words. Would you be so kind as to share with me the etymology of that famous quote?
Don, Bradenton, Florida
A: As you may have noticed on the Internet postings of the inspirational story about Walt Disney speaking to an eight-year-old boy, its author is unknown. We are not aware that Walt ever told this story.
Q: I was going through a box of home movies and found a Disney short called Jealous Mickey. The box has “Home Movies” and “Made in Hollywood Calif.” on it. It has “Enterprises Inc.” on the end flap. The number is 1525-A. This must have been purchased by my parents when I was little. It appears to be in great condition and was probably only run once or twice. Is there a market for this?
Barbara, Camarillo, California
A: When shortened home-movie versions of the Disney cartoons were released in 8mm and 16mm versions, they were often given different titles by Hollywood Film Enterprises, the licensee. Thus, Jealous Mickey is their title for a part of Mickey’s Rival (1936). They had cut the cartoon into several parts, and gave each part a new title. These films have little or no value, since the cartoons have been released in their complete form on video and DVD.
Q: My very first stuffed animal was an Eeyore. He was given to me at the hospital and has been a constant companion ever since. I am told he belonged to my aunt before me. He is made of furry cloth and has felt features. Interestingly, he is stuffed with ground nutshells and shredded clippings. I’m wondering if you had any idea as to when he may have been manufactured? It would be nice to know more about my Eeyore that spurred my love of Disney.
Jodi, Gainesville, Florida
A: There have been many different plush versions of Eeyore; without knowing the name of the manufacturer and approximate date, it would be hard to find information about yours. The character first appeared in a Disney film in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in 1966.
Q: To Amanda from Florida who was looking for the picture of Walt Disney World being evacuated on 9/11: I found an AP photo of the evacuation on this blog. I hope it’s the one she was looking for!
Shawn, Lincoln, Rhode Island
A: Thanks for the follow-up.
Q: I have a large collection of Disney character alphabet blocks in different sizes and colors, with two colors on a block. Is there any record of what sizes and type of characters/letters and colors were produced together on a block? Some characters/letters seem to come in only two colors and others in four colors.
Bill, Mission Viejo, California
A: The primary Disney licensee for alphabet blocks was Halsam Products of Chicago, which was first licensed in 1934; they were purchased by Playskool in 1962 and Playskool continued doing the blocks at least through the 1970s (when they were sold in large cans). The Disney blocks were sold throughout these decades, with the packaging changing from time to time, but the blocks remaining pretty much the same (other than new characters being added). They were advertised as “safety blocks,” with smoothly finished sides, rounded corners and edges, and harmless lacquers. The pictures I saw of them were all two-colors.
Q: I recently asked you on the Disney Wonder about whether Walt Disney had been to Pago Pago, American Samoa. If you learn something about this, please let me know.
Lewis, Pago Pago, American Samoa
A: Walt Disney visited Pago Pago on October 22, 1962, while on a South Pacific cruise on the S.S. Mariposa. On that trip he also visited Bora Bora, Papeete, Nandi, and Honolulu.
Q: I love the caricature of you holding a toy Donald Duck. Who drew it?
Barbara, DeWitt, Michigan
A: That fun drawing was made by Canadian Disney artist and caricaturist Peter Emslie. Besides working for Disney’s Canada office, he also spent some time in the art department at Walt Disney World. He is currently a freelance artist and educator. Peter did that particular drawing after seeing me in a television interview.
Q: My dad often talks about our family trips to the Magic Kingdom back in the 1970s. Whenever I mention an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World with my family, his first question is “Are you going to have space burgers for lunch?” Might he be referring to the burgers at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café?
Colleen, Buffalo, New York
A: Perhaps he was thinking of the offerings in the old Tomorrowland Terrace, the former name of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. Besides a Space Dog and a steak sandwich, back in the late 1970s guests could order a Moon Burger (a cheeseburger)—95¢; an Orbit Burger (a regular hamburger)—80¢; or a Gemini Burger (double beef patties)—$1.25.
Q: I’ve long been a fan of archives and history, especially that of Disney (which means, naturally, owning multiple editions of Disney A to Z). I’m curious about what sort of various job opportunities ever open up in the Archives or similar sorts of departments at the Disney Company, and what sort of experience and knowledge they might require?
Alissa, Des Moines, Iowa
A: The Walt Disney Archives is a small department, and employees tend to stay a long time. These days the staff includes not only trained archivists but those who have studied library science, business, history, and other fields. A comprehensive knowledge of Disney is a major plus.
Q: I have heard that there is a video clip of Roy E. Disney portraying his uncle Walt Disney. Have you heard of this video, and is it on DVD anywhere?
Scott, Remlap, Alabama
A: That short film was first called Mickey’s Audition, then the name was changed to Mickey’s Big Break. It was made in 1991, and has been shown several places at the Walt Disney World Resort—in a temporary attraction in a soundstage at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and in the Magic Kingdom in the Main Street Cinema and the Town Square Exhibition Hall (now Town Square Theater). It is no longer being shown, and has not been released on DVD.
Q: I was recently listening to a Cinderella episode of the Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air show from 1938, and the voice of the Fairy Godmother sounded like Verna Felton, who did the voice in the 1950 animated feature. Did she do the voice both times?
Louis, Rego Park, New York
A: That episode of the old Disney radio show aired on the NBC radio network on February 27, 1938. That would make it a dozen years before we made our Cinderella feature film. We do not have voice credits for that episode, but there have been Internet postings noting that Verna Felton was the Fairy Godmother.
Q: I know that Fauntleroy is Donald Duck’s middle name, but do any of the other characters (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto) have middle names? I also was wondering if there has ever been a book published that details the families of the characters and their backstories?
Rachael, Littleton, Colorado
A: No, the other characters have not been given middle names. The most comprehensive book on the history of the characters is John Grant’s Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters. Perhaps your local library might have it.
Q: I was a fan of the television drama series Avonlea. Do you know when it aired on Disney Channel and how long it ran?
Jody, West Des Moines, Iowa
A: Avonlea, based on the stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables, aired on Disney Channel from 1990 to 1996. The popular series was about a high-spirited girl, Sara Stanley, who went to Prince Edward Island in Canada to live with relatives. Sarah Polley starred as Sara.
Q: I am doing a research paper on Disney films made during WWII, specifically those designed to help the war effort. Do you have any information about why Walt Disney wanted to make films like Der Fuehrer’s Face, and why Donald Duck was used in a number of these films?
Debra, Sacramento, California
A: A wave of patriotism swept the nation during World War II, and Walt Disney was one of many caught up in it. He vowed to do what he could to help the war effort, spearheading the production of training and propaganda films by his studio and the designing of military insignia for fighting units. By the 1940s, Donald Duck had become the most popular character at the Disney Studio, and since he had an explosive temperament, he seemed a natural for war-related cartoons.
Q: We recently enjoyed a second dinner at Club 33. We were told by a hostess that the restaurant was completed in 1967. But after leaving, I thought to myself, “How could Mr. Disney sit at a table and watch the guests in New Orleans Square below him in 1967 when he died in 1966?” Could you straighten out the timeline of the Club 33 construction and completion for me?
Denise, Auburn, California
A: Walt Disney never had a chance to sit in Club 33 and watch his guests below in New Orleans Square (as depicted in a well-known piece of artwork), because he died six months before the club was finished. He was very involved in the early planning of the club, and he and his wife, Lilly, had traveled to New Orleans with the club’s designer, Emile Kuri, to select the beautiful antiques to be featured there. But he never got to see the results as he died on December 15, 1966. The club opened on June 15, 1967.
Q: Will they ever release the movie, Perri, the story of a flying squirrel, made in 1957?
Deborah, Albuquerque, New Mexico
A: Perri was released in 2011 on a DVD entitled True Life Adventures: Nature’s Mysteries.
Q: I have what looks like an original watercolor painting. It is from a made-for-TV movie Disney made about 1977 called Harness Fever, I think. In the bottom-right-hand corner of the painting is written in pencil “Harness Fever” and ”Prod. 3752.” Do you know who would have been the artist, or anything else about it?
Bill, Veneta, Oregon
A: This film was also known as Born to Run, which was its TV title in the U.S. when it aired in 1979. It had been released theatrically in Australia and the U.K. as Harness Fever in 1977. We do not know who would have painted your artwork, but the film was produced in Australia, with David Copping credited as its art director.
Q: While cleaning my uncle’s house, I found a box with a publicity package for the original Tron, and assorted one-sheets from various films. Are these worth anything?
Barbara, Stratford, Connecticut
A: Movie memorabilia such as this does have collector interest. These days, such things often get offered for sale on eBay.
Q: I am hoping you can help me with a title of a box set of books I had when I was younger. There were four or five hardcover books. Each book included a different set of stories (fantasy, adventure, and so on). I think they were from the late 1960s or early 1970s. The stories were shortened from the originals. They were all different color books.
Anthony, Tomah, Wisconsin
A: There were two early boxed sets of four Disney books that are fondly remembered. They had enormous sales through mail-order campaigns. The initial set, from 1965, was called The Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney, with the individual titles being Fantasyland, Worlds of Nature, America, and Stories from Other Lands. The next set (1970, 1977) was The Walt Disney Parade, including Adventures in Fact, Fun Favorites, Fantasy on Parade, and Great Moments in Fiction. The sets were published by Golden Press and can be readily found on eBay and at many used book stores.
Q: Is there a version of Disney A to Z available that can be downloaded? Is the third edition available on PDF format? Will there be a fourth edition available?
Georgina, Kissimmee, Florida
A: The third edition of Disney A to Z was complete at the time of its compilation, which was 2005-2006. Everything from the two previous editions was included, plus new information. There are no current plans for a fourth edition, and as of now, the third edition is not available electronically. The encyclopedia is updated monthly on the Disney website by clicking here.
Q: Hello, I am the owner of a Walt Disney signature on a Disneyland Autopia license. I want to make sure it is authentic.
Leo, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
A: If you want to send a scan of it to the Walt Disney Archives, they can give you their opinion as to whether it is Walt Disney’s signature. Contact them at Disney.Archives@disney.com.
Q: I worked for Disney attractions for nine years and 16 years for Publix Super Markets. Publix has a picture of its founder George Jenkins and Walt Disney standing next to each other in front of pictures of landscaping. I contacted Publix, and they are not aware of when and where this picture was taken. They believe it was before the Florida Project. Walt Disney is indeed young looking before he was involved with that. The Jenkins family said that George Jenkins visited Walt Disney at the studios. Did the Disney Company back then keep track of the visitors. This would be George W. Jenkins, founder of Publix Super Markets. I have a copy of this picture for I worked for both of their companies. Unique to have.
Douglas, Lakeland, Florida
A: Is there a negative number on the verso of the photograph? That would help us identify it if it’s indeed a photo shot by a Disney staff photographer. You might want to send your question and a copy of the photo to the Walt Disney Archives.
Q: I purchased a commemorative coin that claimed to have been given to individuals who entered Walt Disney World on its grand opening. Is there any truth to this claim? Can you give me any information about this coin?
Andrew, St. Louis, Missouri
A: There was no coin given to guests at Walt Disney World during its grand opening. There was a coin that guests could purchase. It has Mickey’s head on one side, and Cinderella Castle, the Contemporary Resort, and a sailboat on the verso, and it is marked “Official Opening Oct. 1971.”
Q: I have long heard that Disney provides gifts or cast-member exclusives to its employees for certain events or anniversaries, whether that be personal or Company. When does this program date to, and do you have an item that you received that is a personal favorite?
Dan, Edwardsville, Illinois
A: Disneyland began honoring its cast members with service awards beginning with its “Tencennial” in 1965, but the Disney Studio did not follow suit until 1981. But besides these service awards, there were indeed occasional gifts to cast members throughout the company, starting also around the 1980s. Often it would be a button or pin. I fondly remember an ornate metal key given to us at the opening of New Fantasyland at Disneyland in 1983, and special commemorative bronze coins for the grand openings of Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland. Cast members were also given the opportunity to purchase limited edition lithographs created for Mickey Mouse’s 50th birthday and other events, and there were occasional cast-exclusive cels.
Q: Rumors have circulated for years that the mascot for Staten Island Community College (now the College of Staten Island) was drawn by Walt Disney himself. It was of a dolphin holding a book and a T-square while wearing a hat with the initials SICC on it. The Disney Company is said to have given the college permission to use the design on the condition that there be no association with the Disney name. Any truth to this rumor?
Chuck, Freehold, New Jersey
A: I find nothing in the Disney files to confirm the rumor you have heard.
Q: In the short “Casey at the Bat,” there is a scene where a lady in the stands pulls a pin out of her hair with the intention of doing something with it, but the next scene has been cut in all the versions I have watched. What did she do with it?
Brian, Hillsboro, Oregon
A: There is no cut in that scene; it has always been the same. The lady in the stands is yelling “Kill the umpire,” and she pulls out her pin, perhaps threatening to do just that—but you have to read that into the story.
Q: At Christmastime in 1972, my family brought a limestone block to Disneyland. The block was salvaged from an old house on our farm in Ellis, Kansas. The house was once owned by Walt Disney’s grandfather and had the initials of Roy Disney carved into it. Roy and Walt had spent time at this farm when they were younger. I am curious about the pictures of our farm that are in the archives in Disneyland. I would like to bring my children and grandchildren to Disneyland to see these sometime soon. My wife and I now live on this farm and are proud to still have it in our family. A little bit of history and a lot of pride! Could you please let me know if the stone and pictures are still in Disneyland?
Dennis, Ellis, Kansas
A: In the fall of 1912, Roy O. Disney traveled to the home of his uncle, William Harvey Disney, in Ellis to help with the harvest. Six decades later, I visited the farm and noticed the initials, and when I told Roy about them, he indeed recalled carving them. A few years later, when the building on the farm was being demolished, I requested the block of stone with the initials for the Walt Disney Archives. The family brought it with them on a driving trip to California, and it is in the Archives’ collection in Burbank, California. They also have a few photographs of the farm. You can contact the Archives directly.
Q: Who played Lola in Geek Charming?
Gracie, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A: In this Disney Channel film, Lola was portrayed by actress Lili Simmons.
Q: I am looking for a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party button from 1990. It is the only one I do not have. Can you assist with any information as to where I may find this button, or in fact did Disney hand out buttons in 1990?
Robert, Chatham, Ohio
A: We do not have a 1990 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party pin in the Walt Disney Archives, so we can assume that none was produced, even though there was indeed a party (on December 7, 8, and 14).
Q: I don’t have a question, but I just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to see the original Steamboat Willie typewritten script during the D23 Disney Studios tour this last Sunday and to be able to touch an actual Oscar statue!
Steve, San Diego, California
A: I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for your generous comments.
Q: I’m not sure of another way to contact you, so I’m using this. I’m a current student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College. I was in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World. I am fascinated by the Disney Company and the Archives. I wish I could get a job with the Archives. I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re a great person and an amazing leader in the library and information science field. Thank you for being such a positive influence in our field.
Lindsey, Boston, Massachusetts
A: Thank you, Lindsey; I appreciate the kind words.
Q: When was Sharon Disney born? I know when Diane Disney was born but not Sharon.
Ian, Roselle, Illinois
A: Walt and Lilly Disney’s younger daughter, Sharon, was born on December 31, 1936. Later in her life, she served on the Disney board of directors for several years; she passed away in 1993.