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: One of my favorite movies of all time is Who Framed Roger Rabbit because it’s the only movie to feature cartoon characters from Disney, Warner Brothers, Tex Avery, and other cartoon companies. How did The Walt Disney Company acquire the rights to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: Disney purchased the film rights to Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the book title, from the author, Gary K. Wolf, in 1981 shortly after its publication. There were several versions of the script before the final one was selected; filming began in 1986, and the movie was released in 1988.
Q: What was the last film the multiplane camera was used on? Is it still in use?
Kimberly, Hamilton, New Jersey
A: The last multiplane shots on the Disney Studio’s multiplane cameras were for Oliver & Company. The three multiplane cameras are no longer used and are currently on display outside the Walt Disney Archives at the Disney Studio in Burbank, at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and in the Art of Disney Animation attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.
Q: I remember reading somewhere that you could purchase the Disney red rose to plant. Could you please tell me if the rose is still available to order or purchase?
Phyllis, La Mesa, California
A: The Disneyland Rose (PP#15,114, the official rose of the Disneyland Resort, is an orange-pink floribunda rose. It was introduced for sale through Jackson & Perkins, and can be found through their website, and sometimes at local nurseries.
Q: There is this great little Disney facts book I would love to add to my Disney collection! I’m hoping you can help me figure out the title? I want to say that it came out in the early 2000s. It’s a small book packed with different fun facts ranging from character details to the openings of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks. It was being sold at the parks up until a few years ago. Do you have any idea which one that would be?
Tara, Bohemia, New York
A: Perhaps you are thinking of the Imagineering Field Guide series, written by Alex Wright and the Imagineers; the first was on the Magic Kingdom in 2005. Others have been on Epcot, Disneyland, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Q: An old family friend who recently passed away said he had worked at Disneyland. I don’t doubt this but was wondering if there was any way to find the years he worked and what projects? His name is Otto Garst and he would have been there either prior to the opening of Disneyland or just after.
Don, Vancouver, Washington
A: The Archives does not have Disneyland personnel records, but I did find that Otto Garst worked in the machine shop at The Walt Disney Studio in Burbank from 1957 to 1961. During that time, he most likely worked on some Disneyland projects, but we cannot determine which particular ones.
Q: A few years ago, I caught a movie on Disney Channel called Tiger Cruise. It was a story about children of navy personnel on an aircraft carrier traveling from Honolulu to San Diego. While on the cruise the 9/11 attacks occurred, and it tells of the feelings of the sailors and children on that ship. I have been trying to get a copy of that movie. Do you know where I can get a copy or if Disney Channel is going to show it again?
Katie, Dallas, Georgia
A: This Disney Channel Original Film from 2004 has not been released on DVD. It is possible that it might be shown again, but I have not seen it on the schedule.
Q: My earliest movie-going memory is Bedknobs and Broomsticks. On the beautiful remastered DVD of the film, notation is made of the missing “Step In The Right Direction” scene. I believe they said that was only seen in the premiere of the film, and then it was cut. Although I was quite young, I have a rather clear memory of seeing that song performed in the film here in my Illinois hometown. Could that at all be possible, and lastly, have they had any success in finding that scene subsequent to the DVD release?
Scott, Springfield, Illinois
A: The song was cut from the film before release. It was in an early print I saw at the Disney Studio Theater in a screening for distribution executives when the decision was made that the film was too long. Unfortunately when cuts are made in a musical, songs are the first things to go. The song was on the soundtrack record album, so people often think they remember seeing it in the film when actually they only heard it on the record. The film of the missing song has never been found.
Q: You answered a gentleman about a miniature “ride” at Disneyland, saying there wasn’t one built. Now he said something about dollhouses but wasn’t there a miniature of Walt’s vision of Epcot after you left Carousel of Progress? I know it wasn’t a “ride,” and I was very little so I’m not sure.
Stephanie, Quartz Hill, California
A: You are thinking of Progress City, the model of a futuristic city that was displayed on the second floor of the Carousel of Progress building at Disneyland. When the Carousel moved to Walt Disney World, the model was cut up and a smaller version was placed where it could be viewed from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in the Magic Kingdom.
Q: I have a tradition that I watch all of the Disney animated films on the day they came out in theaters. I am a little confused about what day to see Fantasia/2000. I can’t decide whether to see it on the day it premiered on December 17, the day it came out in IMAX theaters on January 1, or on the day it came out in general theaters on June 16. So please tell me which one of those dates should I see Fantasia/2000 for my tradition?
Daniel, Bergenfield, New Jersey
A: The December 1999 screenings were preliminary screenings (the premiere was actually at Carnegie Hall in New York City on December 15); I would go with July 1, 2000, when the general public could first pay to see the film.
Q: My mother in law, Olga Walker nee Wickner (now deceased) worked for Disney in the late 1930s early 1940s. She graduated from UCLA about 1937 as an art major and reportedly joined Disney. She married in 1942 and may have continued to work for Disney until after the war? In her artist’s case is a sign she taped somewhere with the following:
Inking and Painting
Cor. 115 Desk 17
There are also small drawings of Snow White, some of the dwarfs and a folio (possibly from the opening?) of Pinocchio at Center Theatre February 7, 1940. She said she worked on all the Disney film of the era. Is there a record of her years as a Disney employee and of the films she would have worked on?
John, Campbell, California
A: According to Disney personnel records in the Archives, Olga Wickner worked in the Ink and Paint department from May 1939 to June 1944, when she resigned.
Q: Where is your book available? I’d really like to purchase it!
Kris, Glendale, California
A: My new book, Disney Trivia from the Vault, is available from Internet sources such as Amazon.com, and from bookstores nationwide.
Q: I was just watching the Disneyland 10th Anniversary DVD. In it, Julie Reihm was Miss Disneyland Tencennial. What happened to her after that?
Tim, Anthem, Arizona
A: She is now Julie Reihm Casaletto, living with her husband in Virginia. She returned to college after her year as Disneyland Ambassador and never rejoined the Disneyland payroll, henceforth only returning to Disney for occasional special events.
Q: Do you know if the World Premiere of Fantasia in 1940 was an invitation-only premiere or whether the average Joe could buy tickets for the screening?
Will, Pacifica, California
A: I do not have a definitive answer, but the November 13, 1940, premiere at the Broadway Theater included many celebrities in formal attire, including Walt and Lillian Disney, and Leopold Stokowski. The film began its regular run on that date, and continued to play for 49 weeks at the theater, a record for the time.
Q: I often attend yard sales and came across a wonderful find one day for my Disney collection that I would love some more info on: It’s an 8″ x 10″ Kodak photo showing some form of military, possibly the air force, viewing a Donald Duck movie. It is a photo of a painting. On the back there is a typed sticker that reads:
DOD STILL MEDIA DEPOSITORY
BLDG. 168, N.D.W.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20374-1681
Kristen, Mechanicsville, Virginia
A: Robert Laessig (1913-2010), who for years was known for his floral designs for greeting cards, during World War II served in the 13th Air Force Historical Section, creating 70 paintings depicting his unit in the war. You have an official Department of Defense photo of one of those paintings.
Q: Could you please tell me the date that the Lovin’ Spoonful played at Tomorrowland in the 1960s? Thank you.
Kim, Sacramento, California
A: The Lovin’ Spoonful performed at Disneyland during Easter week beginning April 8 in 1968. Also performing in Tomorrowland were the Cowsills, the Mustangs, and the Baja Marimba Band, along with several of Disneyland’s regular performing groups such as the Clara Ward Gospel Singers and the Young Men from New Orleans.
Q: I am trying to locate a color lithograph of a character named Battlin’ Pete, which was originally done by Hank Porter, as directed by Walt Disney, to honor the U.S. Merchant Marine. It was created by The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, in July 1944.
The finished artwork was mailed on July 14, 1944. The “Walt Disney Merchant Marine Emblem” image of Battlin’ Pete was done by Hank Porter, who was the head of the WW II insignia unit at Disney Studios.
James, Melbourne, Florida
A: While the Walt Disney Archives does not have a color photograph of this insignia, they do have a list of the colors of each element on it. If that would be useful to you, contact them at Disney.Archives@disney.com.
Q: Prior to the establishment of the Walt Disney Archives in 1970, what did the studio do to preserve the props, artifacts, and Disney-related historical items? Is there any indication that Walt thought about preserving his studio’s history? Thanks!
Kevin, Mount Washington, Kentucky
A: Before the Walt Disney Archives, individual company departments took care of their own history. The legal department, animation department, and Imagineering already had extensive collections, and they have kept them. Other collections, from such departments as consumer products, music, film production, publicity and public relations, personnel, still photography, corporate administration, Buena Vista distribution, publications, and various departments at Disneyland formed the basis of the Archives.
Q: Is Donald Duck’s 50th anniversary available on DVD?
Ginny, Oceanside, California
A: This 1984 television special is not available on DVD.
Q: I am retired from Walt Disney World and have approximately 100 photos that I took from 1969 to 1971. I was wondering if the Archives had any interest in these? Building tops for Main St., the boats, the Contemporary, etc.
Joseph, St. Pete Beach, Florida
A: You might contact the Archives to ask—you can reach them at Disney.Archives@disney.com.
Q: I’ve got some old black-and-white photos of myself and siblings at Disneyland around 1956 or 1957 (I was four or five). Is there a way to get any other photos of that era?
William, Chula Vista, California
A: For a large collection of historical Disneyland photos, check out davelandweb.com.
Q: My father is looking for a short that he loved as a kid called Goliath II. I would love to be able to find it for him.
Keith, Saugus, California
A: Goliath II was released on two different DVDs, one entitled It’s a Small World of Fun, Volume 2 (2006), and the other is Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities (2005).
Q: I’ve always loved the character Ranger Woodlore, but I don’t know who, specifically, created him. Was it just one man, or were several involved, and what were their names, if you know?
Joseph, Nevada City, California
A: The creation of a Disney character can only rarely be attributed to a single person. Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore first appeared in the cartoon, Grin and Bear It (1954). The character would have come out of meetings held with the director, Jack Hannah, and the writers, David Detiege and Al Bertino. The artist who animated the Ranger’s scenes in that cartoon was Bill Justice.
Q: Is the Florida Orange Bird an official Disney character? Also, are there any plans to bring the bird back to the parks?
Samantha, Athens, Tennessee
A: The Orange Bird is an official Disney character that was designed under the supervision of Disney Legend Bob Moore. The character was conceived as a mascot of the Sunshine Pavilion at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and was sponsored by the Florida Citrus Commission. After the Commission ceased its sponsorship in 1987, the Orange Bird left the Magic Kingdom. D23 Members were the first guests to see the Orange Bird’s return to Sunshine Tree Terrace on April 17, 2012; the character is now featured on the marquee to the location, and the original Orange Bird static figure that was once found above the terrace’s counter has been refurbished and reinstalled. A series of Orange Bird merchandise products—including a poster, pins, t-shirts, and even Orange Bird versions of the Mickey ear hats—have been available for sale this year. You can learn more about the Orange Bird’s return and see an Armchair Archivist episode celebrating the character here.
Q: Certain aspects of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride were changed at Disneyland and Walt Disney World after the release of the films. Were any other rides or attractions changed after the release of a particular film? For instance, since the Haunted Mansion ride predates the 2003 film, did any aspect of it change to reflect the film?
Ian, Lakewood, Ohio
A: I don’t believe there were any changes to Haunted Mansion to match the film, though the original Madame Leota now floats (as the film version of that character did). At one point, the world of Tron was incorporated into the PeopleMover at Disneyland. There is Tarzan’s Treehouse, which took the place of Swiss Family Treehouse at Disneyland after the release of the Tarzan film. Tom Sawyer Island received a pirate overlay, becoming Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island tied in with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and the Submarine Voyage became the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Iago and Zazu were added into the Tropical Serenade attraction at Walt Disney World, and at Epcot, Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba host Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable at The Land, while The Living Seas is now The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Q: I have an original sketch of the Walt Disney signature logo done by Disney Legend Ralph Kent. It was given to me as a gift. I was curious if he was the original designer of the logo. If not, who or what group of people was responsible for designing the stylized signature that graces us with its presence before every Disney film and on basically every Disney product?
Joshua, Vancouver, Washington
A: The Disney logo dates back to the early days of the company; Ralph Kent didn’t join the company until 1963. The logo is based on Walt Disney’s original signature, but we do not know which Disney artists turned the signature into the logo.
Q: One question that has been on my mind since I was eight years old is in relation to a television special that came out on the Magical World of Disney in November of 1988. It was a special celebrating Mickey’s 60th Birthday Party. Mickey ends up using the familiar sorcerer’s hat we’ve seen, but for the special, the person who owns it is not Yen Sid but a character only known as The Sorcerer (voiced by Peter Cullen). Ever since then, I’ve wondered if this Sorcerer has his own unique name, or if model sheets and script pages may just call him The Sorcerer as well.
Michael, Chicago, Illinois
A: The sorcerer in the 60th birthday special had no name.
Q: I was helping my mom go through some of her old childhood boxes of stuff and I came across a mechanical figure of Doc, the dwarf. It is about 11.5 inches tall and is holding a pan and spatula. When turned on, Doc’s arm with the pan flips two discs of metal with the image of an egg on it. He is standing behind what looks like a grill with the image of Snow White cooking for the Seven Dwarfs. There is no date or copyright, but the bottom says Y.C. Toys. Could you tell me anything about it?
Wil, Cedar Hills, Utah
A: This was most likely a foreign-produced toy. There were companies known as Y.C. Toys in both China and Japan.
Q: I seem to remember a television tour of the Disney Studios hosted by Hayley Mills, who at the time was recording dialog for The Black Cauldron. Was she ever involved with that project or is my memory playing tricks on me?
Allen, San Francisco, California
A: Hayley did a television show entitled Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life in 1981, which was inspired by the book by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston of the same title. She is shown how the animators pick the right actors for the right voices. I remember this episode well because Hayley filmed part of it in the Walt Disney Archives, relaxing between takes in my office.
Q: I am writing a paper on Old Yeller. Was Walt Disney actively involved in the making of Old Yeller?
Brenda, Charlotte, North Carolina
A: Walt Disney was actively involved in the making of all of his movies, though it was Bill Anderson who negotiated the purchase of the story. For some of Bill Anderson’s recollections of dealing with Walt over Old Yeller, see John West’s book, The Disney Live-Action Productions.
Q: Is there any connection between the America Sings attraction and its Sam the Eagle character and the Eagle character designed for the 1984 Olympics?
Larry, Thousand Oaks, California
A: There is no connection, other than that they were both created by Disney artists. Eagle Sam in America Sings was designed by Imagineer Marc Davis for the Disneyland attraction. A decade later, Bob Moore, an artist at the Disney Studio, designed Sam the Olympic Eagle for the 1984 Olympics.
Q: Will the Disney Studio release Aladdin in 3D?
Daniel, Bergenfield, New Jersey
A: That film was not included when future 3D remakes were announced last year.
Q: How does one become a Disney historian?
Michael, Livermore, California
A: “Disney historian,” as usually cited, simply refers to someone who has researched and published in the field of Disney history.
Q: I am cataloging the Disney Golden Book, Supercar, by George Sherman, with pictures by Mel Crawford. I’d like to create a unique authority record for Mr. Sherman, since he shares his name, George R. Sherman, with a geologist and the author of The Negro as a Soldier. I understand from a brief article on the net that Mr. Sherman died in 1974 and that he worked as “head of foreign relations” and in the publications department from the late 1950s until he died. Can you find the man’s date of birth and possibly his full middle name? I seem to have lost my bookmark for an archival page that gave brief biographies of many of the artists and writers who worked at the Disney Studios; has that page been pulled?
Emilie, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A: His full name was George Ransom Sherman, born September 30, 1928, and died August 3, 1974. When I met him in 1967, he was head of the Disney publications department. The Web page you are thinking of may be the one for the Disney Legends; it is still there.
Q: Several years ago my wife and I bought a Disney fire extinguisher at an antique show. We were told that it was from the early days of Disneyland. The extinguisher is about 14 inches long and gold in color. On the front of the extinguisher, it says a tribute to Disney and has a picture of Mickey. It appears authentic, but recently a friend told us he thinks it is a fake. Do you know whether or not fire extinguishers of this type were ever used by Disney?
Darryl, Steger, Illinois
A: This is indeed a fake; the fire extinguishers have been around for about 40 years. The plaque was made up without the Disney Company’s permission from various sources, and can also be found separate from the fire extinguisher.
Q: I know that the name of the demon in ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ is Chernabog, but I was wondering where the animators came up with this name?
Catherine, Las Vegas, Nevada
A: Chernabog was actually a name from Slavic mythology, meaning “black god” or “god of evil.”
Q: When we were little, my brother loved the movie Muppet Family Christmas. From what I’ve seen online, it was last released on DVD in 2001. Does Disney own the rights to it?
Kathryn, Annapolis, Maryland
A: The DVD was released by Jim Henson Home Entertainment through Sony, not by Disney.
Q: Is there any reason why Disney will not re-release Dr. Syn: Scarecrow of Romney Marsh?
Vernon, Moreno Valley, California
A: Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was released on DVD in 2008, as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series.
Q: I came across a picture of a sandman. He is holding a bag and sprinkling something over a child. It is marked Disney. Can you tell me more about this?
Julie, Windham, Maine
A: The luminous picture shows characters from the Disney Silly Symphony, Lullaby Land. It was made by Henry A. Citroen of New York City, who was licensed by Disney from 1944 to 1946.
Q: I know you are largely credited for starting the Disney Archives. What did you do before staring the archives?
Jason, Tampa, Florida
A: I was trained as a librarian, working at the Library of Congress and UCLA for six years before coming to Disney.
Q: Growing up, I had a Mickey Mouse alarm clock. I’d love any additional details about this alarm clock if you have any.
James, Boise, Idaho
A: The Mickey Mouse Talking Alarm Clock Choo-Choo was first made by Bradley in the 1970s or early 1980s. Bradley was first licensed by Disney in 1972. As I write this, there are several examples of the clock available on eBay.
Q: Arizona State University has a myth about its mascot, the Sundevil Sparky, that it is a caricature of Walt Disney done by a disgruntled employee. Is there any fact to this?
Juliet, Phoenix, Arizona
A: The mascot, Sparky, was designed by former Disney artist, Berkeley “Berk” Anthony. Anthony worked at the Disney Studio from 1935 until he was drafted for World War II in 1941. Some people have speculated that Sparky looks somewhat like Walt Disney, but Anthony never confirmed that.
Q: I have purchased two paintings that are more than 30 years old. I have looked everywhere for an artist listed as S. T. Kang. These two paintings have been signed that way. Can you help us identify the artist?
Floyd, Aberdeen, Washington
A: The name of S. T. Kang is unfamiliar to me.
Q: My wife and I were wondering if Phil Harris was ever honored as a Disney Legend? I say he was and my wife disagrees. Please settle this for us.
Sean, Huntersville, North Carolina
A: Phil Harris has not been named a Disney Legend.
Q: Do you know where Flora and Elias Disney stayed when they honeymooned in Daytona Beach, Florida? I live near there and would love to see the hotel/inn/home where they stayed if it is still there.
Fred, Port Orange, Florida
A: Elias and Flora married in Kismet, Florida, in January 1888, and actually lived for a time beginning that year in Daytona Beach; their first son was born there in December 1888. For a short time, Elias operated and lived in Daytona Beach’s Halifax Hotel. We do not know any other local locations where they lived. The next year, they moved to Chicago, where the rest of the Disney children would be born. Halifax Avenue was, and is, a major thoroughfare in Daytona Beach.