One Hour in Wonderland

 
 

One Hour in Wonderland

 

Walt was carefully watching the newly developing world of television. Other moviemakers regarded the little glowing boxes as the enemy -- the monster that was set on devouring their customers. Walt, as he often did, saw something different.
“Instead of considering TV a rival, when I saw it, I said, ‘I can use that,’ you know?” he recalled. “I want to be a part of it. And I think I’ve done a good job using it. People listen to me when I talk with them on the screen if I want them to.”
His first venture was to be a kind of a test case to see if he wanted to expand his work in television. Called One Hour in Wonderland, it was broadcast on Christmas Day 1950.  Walt returned to the fairy tale as his source of story when it came to the theme of the show:  He focused it on the animated film Alice in Wonderland, which was in the works by then.
One of the key ingredients to the show’s success was the selection of Bill Walsh, a press agent at the studio. Walsh hadn’t expected this at all. ”I kept bumping into him in the hall, which is not a bad place, or in the parking lot,” Walsh recalled. “So Walt, in his strange way, said, “You’ll be the producer.”
Walsh protested, “I don’t know how to be a producer.”
Walt responded, “Who does?”
The show starred ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and featured cameo appearances by both Diane and Sharon. Of course, Walt was featured as the master of ceremonies and seemed to relish the opportunity to ham it up on the small screen.
The show was a success, and 90 percent of the available television audience at the time tuned in. Walt had tamed the monster.