One Saturday morning in 1953, artist Herb Ryman sat down in front of Walt Disney and started to sketch. He had two full days to create a visual concept depicting an idea of Walt’s: an amusement park that would appeal to both children and adults. Roy, Walt’s brother, was set to leave for New York that Monday—ready to pitch the project to financial backers—and Walt wanted Ryman to put pencil to paper in order to illustrate what his park might look like in reality.
In 1951—four years before the grand opening of Disneyland—a man named Harper Goff browsed the shelves of Bassett-Lowke, a miniature train store in central London. When a particular antique train took Goff’s eye, he was told that it had been promised to someone else. “I found one,” Goff later remembered, “and the man said ‘There’s a gentleman coming in this evening who’s shown some interest in that…’”
The year was 1905. Theodore Roosevelt was president, a quart of fresh milk cost about 7 cents, and Eric Cleon Larson was born on September 3 in Cleveland, Utah. While Disney fans know Larson as one of Walt’s famous “Nine Old Men” of animation, his path to get there was hardly a straight line. In fact, during an interview not long before his retirement, he was asked how he ended up with Disney. His reply: “This is the last place I expected to be.”
Walt Disney’s Melody Time celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Released in May of 1948, it was one of the last of the so-called package features, which took precedent from Fantasia (1940) by combining more than a half dozen short subject cartoons, each musically inclined.
A 1932 article in McCall’s magazine reported that painted on one door in red and gold is a shield bearing Mickey’s coat of arms. The mystic words “Ickmay Ousmay” are inscribed on this heraldic emblem and they puzzled studio visitors a good deal.