Saturday, August 26, 2006

Disney Vignettes

Some more snippets of interviews I conducted two decades ago. This time, I focus on Disney old-timers (doesn't everybody?)... First up, this reminiscence from Harry Holt:
When I started at Disney's Hyperion studio in 1936, animation was exploding and it was a young man's game. I was in the annex across the street from the main studio, and every time there was an addition build on -- a couple more rooms -- Walt would come racing across the street to check it out. Like others at that time, I came in and tried out for two weeks, illustrating several storylines, so they could see how you'd handle it. After a week and a half, they put me onto a short called "Woodland Cafe" as an in-betweener, and then I went on to "Snow White." I was Eric Larson's assistant for awhile. He was the father superior of the place, and everyone came to him with their problems.
And this from Lee Blair...
Years ago at Disney, there was a comic strip artist who didn't have any sense of humor at all. Wasn't real friendly either. Every day a group of us would go across the street to a drug store for coffee and donuts, and this guy would stay in his room and eat a can of Del Monte's fruit cocktail. We were a little irritated that he wasn't more social, so one day we got the idea to go down the street and buy several cans of fruit cocktail, and some cans of corn, peas and string beans that were the same size. We put the fruit cocktail labels on the vegetable cans, and every three or four weeks we'd switch our phony fruit cocktail with one of this guy's real ones. Well, this guy was amazed that Del Monte could make a mistake like that. And after it happened to him twice, he decided to write Del Monte about it. He got a note back from Del Monte's president saying such a thing was impossible. We convinced him to write Ripley's "Believe it or Not," based in New York, which he did. One of the fellas knew Ripley and phoned him long distance about the joke, and told him to Special Deliver that letter back to him. Ripley did, and then we sealed a phony letter from Ripley into a can of fruit cocktail that said the whole thing was an elaborate joke. The guy read it and went out of his mind.
And finally this from Ken O'Brien:
There was an amusing event that happened while "Alice In Wonderland was starting production. A group of us animators and assistants gathered in Milt Kahl's room with drawings we'd made of Alice. We would hand over our drawings to Milt {one of the best draftsmen in the history of animation} and he would work over them, point out ways to improve them. John Freeman handed over his drawing, an upshot angle of Alice's face, and as Milt worked over it, he wasn't happy with his first attempt and began another. As he worked he grunted: "This is a tough drawing to do!" to which Freeman deadpanned: "I didn't have any trouble with it." Everyone in the room, including Milt, broke up.


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