Walt Disney’s fourth feature film, and perhaps one of his least known, The Reluctant Dragon was released in June of 1941, now 75 years ago. The film follows famed writer and humorist Robert Benchley (playing himself) as he ventures throughout the then brand-new Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, anxious to share a story with Walt that he thinks might make a good cartoon picture. Along the way he has many silly encounters with artists, animators, voice talents, and other employees, experiencing little stories at each new meeting.
This summer marks the 75th anniversary of Walt Disney and his hand-picked team’s Southern California departure for their “goodwill tour” of South America. The U.S. government was hoping Walt’s presence would help to quell budding Nazi sympathy, while Walt was eager to gather material for future films. By Walt being Walt, he managed to do both.
“This is not the cartoon medium…we have worlds to conquer here.” So Walt Disney described his unique masterwork from 1940, Fantasia. The museum’s collection is comprised of more than 30,000 objects and our collections staff has been busy swapping in other items, including a recent rotation of objects in the Fantasia case in gallery 5.
Walt shared a series of personal connections with America’s southern neighbor. One such connection occurred twenty years prior to this event, when Disneyland was not yet a point on a map, and the United States was dealing with—but had not yet entered—the turmoil of the Second World War.
With excitement abuzz over Disneyland’s latest planned expansion, we pay tribute to its first major park expansion as proof of Walt’s oft-proclaimed pronouncement that “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Walt Disney and his youngest daughter, Sharon, left Los Angeles on August 10, 1947 for a three week trip to Candle, Alaska. What was supposed to be a relaxing flight turned out to be quite an adventure…as well as a wonderful father-and-daughter bonding experience.
Though the Walt Disney Family Museum offers exciting new displays and stories in each special exhibition that opens, there are also delightful new discoveries to be found in the main museum galleries when case rotations are made. Let’s take a look at one of the latest rotations, in the case dedicated to one of Walt’s most distinctive feature films, Bambi (1942).
Being an epic of animated cinema, Pinocchio (1940) is ripe with moments of artistic beauty and raucously fun entertainment. The scene in the fabled pool hall, is a stand out for its combined mastery of the animated art form, thanks in particular to three of Walt’s best animators.
In accordance with Shark Week and our latest special exhibition, Wish Upon A Star: The Art of Pinocchio, Monstro, the terrifying giant sperm whale that consumes Pinocchio, Geppetto, Figaro, and Cleo before sneezing them back out because Pinocchio, a character made entirely of wood, thought it prudent to start a bonfire.
Mel Shaw’s life as an all-out renaissance man produced a near overwhelming amount of artistic creations, from painting to sculpture to sketches and pastels, many of which are exhibited in Mel Shaw: An Animator on Horseback at The Walt Disney Family Museum. The fascinating works on display include a selection of Shaw’s work when he was working for Walt during the Studios’ golden age.