Book Choice(s) --- Walt's People
Here's how I found out Walt died: There was an afternoon kid show on Charlotte's Channel 9 where Joey The Clown ran cartoons, sometimes a serial, and chatted up local moppets often in cub scout/brownie gear. Joey wore greasepaint and red nose but seemed an ordinary 9 to 5 station man past that. In fact, there was melancholia to JtC I found compelling, this a clown who one day might really cry. On the December 1966 date in question, Joey nearly did when he stepped close as I'd ever seen to the camera's eye and told us a dear friend had passed on. The Winston-Salem Journal had gone up that day with Carolina Theatre ads for upcoming Follow Me, Boys, with Disney's personal guarantee we'd like it. So what would come of The Wonderful World Of Color then? Could there be Sunday nights without Walt? I don't remember how long it was before NBC retired his weekly lead-ins. Here was loss beyond mere celebrity departure. We knew Disney personally, or so it seemed for a face and voice familiar as any adult's and more welcome than most of those. My fascination with the man would make easy morphing Greenbriar into a Disney Digest where he'd be all I'd talk about (plenty of bloggers have). As it is, I'll go days reading/watching solely on WD, lately so with aid of newest in a fabulous book series called Walt's People, edited by Didier Ghez and made up of interviews with artists/executives/family members/imagineers who knew and worked with Disney.
Editor Ghez is mid-mission toward finding every interview extant on a topic I don't expect ever to tire of. These sit-downs make Disney films that much more interesting to watch, being ideal reading companions to Blu-Ray discs recently out. I'm on an Alice In Wonderland dig that will culminate with a GB two-parter down the line. Latest Volume Ten of Walt's People devotes to interviews Bob Thomas conducted for Disney bios published when recalls were fresher and many artists since gone were around to speak on beginning days at the studio. All this stuff is priceless and previously unpublished. Didier Ghez has his own Disney History site where you'll lose yourself in his outstanding research. It's there he provides updates on coming volumes and offers recent text/visual discoveries. Amazon has previous volumes of Walt's People along with newest # 10, each a treasure trove of information.
So allow me back into footie pajamas and reminiscence of World Of Color nights and Disney days at the Liberty. Ann and I just had lunch near what remains of the latter. Some thousand or so Sundays back, there'd have been lines up the block for 1:00's show of That Darn Cat, the roof fairly rocking over slapstick ungovernable but house-filling. Colonel Forehand would open two balconies for Disney shows. My first outing there, related before, was to see The Shaggy Dog in 1959. Two years later, a tick-infested cur presented itself and I named her Nikki after WD's Wild Dog Of The North. Disney somehow brings to mind limitless concessions, candy bars big as felled trees. Full-length cartoons were so-called, but often came in shy of run times live action accorded, so there we'd be relay-running with Yellowstone Cubs or hounds who thought they were raccoons. My mother fitted me in bow tie for our 1962 venture to a reissued Pinocchio, so most of what I remember about that show is a neck chafing. Sometimes Disney pics could be shockingly bad. Bon Voyage comes to mind. I'd walk out on Monkeys Go Home and declare myself well shed of live-action from Buena-Vista, but hadn't mere three years before found me rolling in aisles when Merlin Jones empowered a cat to chase a dog up a tree? My generation thought flubber the most uproarious concept movies yet devised. Would we find it so now?
A neighbor boy wrote Walt Disney in 1965, asking for his autograph, and a few weeks later received it. A sheet of note paper this was, like ones Walt was said to carry around at Disneyland for youngsters approaching to get a signature. Next time I see Lee around town, I'll ask if he still has his souvenir. But wait --- are these so uncommon? Walt must have given or mailed out thousands. (Autograph collectors please advise). Oh, and on that subject, I watched several Worlds Of Color at Lee's as ours contined its black-and-white orbit. Also there were gatherings before my aunt/uncle's 1961 RCA, installed in tandem with Disney premiere show (9/24). I remember Tinker-Bell dousing their 22" screen with paints and figured progress could never go beyond this. Programs ran hot/cold. A cartoon-dedicated night was best, while comic otters and Way-Out seals amused less. However mixed his content, there was at least Walt's intro to cap a weekend ... manys a night I'd tune in/out with his entrance/exit. Ann's been less enthralled with my Disney jabbering for what I realize is fact she was born in 1960 and too young to savor his weekly visits. It's doubtful I'd care nearly so much were it not for fact Walt spoke direct to me for those forming years. I didn't need an autograph to feel we knew each other well.