Monday, October 24, 2016

The blog will be updated again next Monday.
I can't stand the cover of this book but apparently, from what I hear, its content is excellent. According to the publisher:

[On the Road with Walt

British university professor and Disney scholar Lee Brooks chronicles the road trip he took with his family from Anaheim to Orlando, and all "Walt" points in between, in search of how America molded Walt Disney, and how Walt gave voice to our values, our dreams, and a big slice of our pop culture.

The best way to understand Walt Disney is to follow in his footsteps—literally. And the best way to understand his "mythical America" is to look at it through the perspective of someone foreign to it. On a road trip! In the passenger seat of a rented blue Ford Fusion, Lee Brooks attempts to unravel the skein of history, fantasy, and pop culture that for a few decades took the guise of Walt Disney.

Watch for the exit signs to:

- Anaheim, California, where the trip begins, and where the spirit of Walt Disney is seen reflected in the windows along Main Street, USA

- Kansas City, Missouri, where the McConahay Building, home to Walt Disney's first studio, Laugh-O-Gram, still stands, in derelict grandeur

- Marceline, Missouri, where the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, in the stillness of an old railroad depot, opens for a few hours each day to reveal its preserved relics from Walt's past

- Orlando, Florida, where the Magic Kingdom that Walt inspired but didn't live to visit still evokes much of what's mythical about America, and about Walt himself


Friday, October 21, 2016

The catalog of Van Eaton's upcoming Disneyland-related auction is now available for pre-order.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This just in from Disney historian Jake Friedman:

[I'm looking for a volunteer in LA who would make use of the public library and send me scans from within 4 months of Daily Variety.  Or someone who has online access to their archives. [The volunteer would get] research credit in my book [about Art Babbitt]. This would not take more than part of a day.]

Could somebody help? If so, please email me ( or Jake (

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

One more interesting book just released by Theme Park Press. According to the publisher:

[Jay Stein Builds a Better Mousetrap

After years of sitting fat and happy atop the theme park totem pole, Mickey Mouse discovered a big cat in his backyard named Jay Stein. Against stiff odds, corporate politics, and fierce opposition from Michael Eisner's Disney, Jay Stein founded Universal Studios Florida. This is how he did it.

Starting in the mailroom of MCA (now NBCUniversal), where his duties included delivering messages to stars like Alfred Hitchcock and Ronald Reagan, Jay Stein soon found himself in charge of the Universal Studio Tour, reporting directly to MCA chairman Lew Wasserman. He became a keen observer of what Walt Disney had accomplished in Disneyland—and how one day he might do even better.

That day came when Wasserman gave Jay the go-ahead to build a Universal theme park in Orlando, Florida. With help from Steven Spielberg, Jay got to work, in Jay style: no excuses, no retreats, no failures. Despite Disney's relentless attempts to sabotage the project, and ruinous infighting among members of his own team, Jay did not give up.

When the new theme park opened in 1990, it was full of Jay's patented "JayBangs"—rides and attractions that stunned, shocked, and surprised guests, dousing them with water, blasting them with air, heat, or cold, and giving them what the Disney parks of that time lacked: fear and visceral delight.

It was beating Michael Eisner at his own game. It was catching Mickey in a trap he couldn't aw-shucks his way out of. It was Jay Stein's triumph. But the man who went from delivering messages to building theme parks wasn't done yet...]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This just in from Theme Park Press:


[Did Walt Really Say That?

Now you'll know for sure, in this comprehensive collection of Walt Disney's wisdom, as delivered through interviews, articles, speeches, TV appearances, and more. Each of the over 800 quotes in this book is authoritatively sourced as well. You'll be surprised by what Walt said—and what he didn't say!

Disney historian Jim Korkis has devoted a lifetime of research into assembling the most complete, most accurate, most useful compilation of Walt Disney's quotes ever put into print. For fans, it's a deep dive into the wisdom of Walt; for authors and researchers, it's an invaluable reference, as Korkis also provides the source of each quote—something you won't find anywhere else.

Walt Disney had a lot to say, about many different topics, including America, animation and films, art and music, books, business, Disneyland, education, fear and failure, Mickey Mouse, money and work, religion, storytelling, television, and women. It's all here, uncensored and unedited.

The best way to learn about Walt Disney is to read what he said, not what others have said about him. Walt's Words is the closest we'll ever get to an autobiography of Walt Disney.]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Theme Park Press is releasing a great amount of new books this week. I will be mentioning some of them on the blog over the next few days, starting with this one. John G. West's book about Disney's live-action features is a classic and one that any serious Disney historian should already have on their bookshelves. This reprint includes a large amount of never-seen-before photographs, which makes it even more exciting. The publisher wrote:

[Beyond Animation

In this definitive guide to Walt Disney's live-action output, Dr. John G. West explores an often overlooked but important chapter in Disney cinematic history: the live-action films and television shows released by the Disney studio during Walt's lifetime.

From blockbuster movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mary Poppins, and Treasure Island, to such lesser-known efforts as Savage Sam and Monkeys, Go Home!, West describes the production of each film in detail, with backstage stories and complete cast and crew information.

The small screen output of the Disney studio is given similar treatment: over 70 episodes of Zorro, Texas John Slaughter, Davy Crockett, and other TV series are described and catalogued, along with in-depth analyses of the shows themselves.

Plus, the book features over 80 photos, many of them never seen before, including candid shots of Walt Disney in his office.

In addition to his detailed coverage of Disney's live-action films and TV shows, West devotes several chapters to a fast-moving but comprehensive history of the Disney studio's live-action productions, from the producers, directors, writers, composers, and set directors involved, to the meanings behind Walt's live-action films and the values he sought to impart on American culture.]

Friday, October 14, 2016

Projects update

What am I working on these days? Here is a quick summary:

1. They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age

The third volume in the They Drew As They Pleased book series focuses on the artists from the Story Research and Character Model Departments: Eduardo Sola Franco, Johnny Walbridge, Jack Miller, Campbell Grant, James Bodrero, and Martin Provensen.

The text is now finalized and all the illustrations approved by Disney. I will see the first layouts in November. Exciting! This will be a huge volume (248 pages long vs. the usual 208).

2. Walt's People - Volume 19

The manuscript has been finalized and sent to the contributors for comments. If all goes well it will be released before the end of the year.

3. The Wilfred Jackson correspondence and diaries

As you know, I helped historian Ross Care put together a book which, among its exciting content, includes Wilfred Jackson's diaries, and letters from the set of Song of the South. The book will be released in December this year.

4. The Snow White interviews - Part 1

I also had the pleasure of editing the interviews with artists who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by David Johnson. Those will be released in two separate volumes, the first one of which should be released this year.

5. They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 4

The volume will focus on the 1950s and 1960s. It will include artwork by (and chapters about) Lee Blair, Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, John Dunn, and Walt Peregoy. I have written the first drafts of the chapters about Lee Blair and Walt Peregoy and will be hard at work researching at the Disney Archives and Animation Research Library next month.

6. Walt's People - Volume 20

I am starting to work on the different chapters for that volume.

7. The autobiography of Leo Salkin

After 6 years of intense research, the lost autobiography of storyman Leo Salkin has been located by yours truly. It is a fascinating document and I am working with Leo's granddaughter to get it released next year in book form.

8. The Ward Kimball diaries

This is a long term project, but I am still working on it along with a few other Disney historians.