Sunday 14 February 2021

Saturday 16 February 2019

DAVE R SMITH (1940-2019)

News today of the passing, at the age of 78, of another friend of Disney: Dave Smith, founder of the Walt Disney Archive and, for forty years, its champion, defender and gatekeeper. His knowledge of all matters Disney and his passion for sharing that knowledge were unrivalled.

David Rollin Smith was born and raised in Pasadena, California, and was a youthful admirer of Disney movies and a frequent to Disneyland. Later graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, he spent eighteen months as an intern at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Moving back to California he worked as a librarian at UCLA for five years; then, in the late ‘60s, while working on a bibliography on Walt Disney, Dave heard that The Walt Disney Company was considering establishing an Archive and wrote a letter to the Disney Company offering his services. The rest is Disney history!

Apart from his huge contribution, through his work at the Archive, to preserving the history of Disney’s contribution to film and animation, Dave disseminated much of that story through his many books, including Disney A to Z (going through numerous editions), The Quotable Walt Disney, Disney: The First 100 Years, Disney Facts Revealed, his multi-volume The Ultimate Disney Trivia Book and many other books, articles and contributions to other publications.

Dave, was an essentially a shy and very private man; as a result he was – sometimes – a rather prickly customer, requiring careful handling, but those of us who got to share a personal friendship with him also knew him to be an entertaining and often wickedly funny man.

For example, I remember, during one of his visits to the U.K., my husband, David Weeks and I took him on a jaunt around the South of England visiting, among other places, Hever Castle (historic home of Anne Boleyn and her family); it was spring and the flowerbeds were a riot of blooms; admiring them, Dave said: "Well! There are more pansies here than in Disneyland!"

The existence of the Walt Disney Archive is a testament to Dave's determination and work, as well as to the vision of Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney, who appointed him to a job that had didn't at the time exist and let him set about preserving the company's phenomenal legacy.


Sunday 10 February 2019

RON W MILLER (1933-219)

It is with great personal sadness that I note the passing of Ron Miller at the age of 85. Ronald William Miller was an American businessman and former professional American football player. Married to Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney's eldest daughter, he worked for his father-in-law on numerous film projects and later became President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1978 until 1984, when he was ousted following an internal power struggle that saw the company pass into the control of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and Jeffrey Katzenberg supported by Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney.

Ron Miller's achievements, during the difficult years following Walt's death were hugely significant and have yet to received their due credit. As his father-in-law had done before him, he pushed the Company to expand and explore, creating, in 1983, the Touchstone label (with its first stand-out hit, Splash!) and launching the Disney Channel. He was an innovator (although, again, unacknowledged), experimenting in early computer animation in Tron (1982); funding an unlikely collaborator, the renegade Tim Burton, for stop-motion animation shorts Vincent (1982) and Frankenweenie (1984); and sowing the seeds for several future hit projects, among them Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988).

Following the 1984 company coup, Ron and Diane left Hollywood and settled in Nappa Valley where they had already established the now internationally successful Silverado Vineyards.

Ron was a gentlemanly giant, a man of great personal charm and graciousness whose company I enjoyed on several occasions. The first in the late '80s – in company with my friends Richard Holliss and his wife, Chris – on a visit to the Miller's then home in Hollywood and later, on various visits to San Francisco. He will be remembered (apart from his valiant attempts to reinvigorate the Disney studio following Walt's death) for his service to the Disney legacy, tirelessly supporting Diane's various projects devoted to her father's memory, including the documentary film, Walt: The Man Behind the Myth (2001) and the visionary project, The Walt Disney Family Museum created in 2009 in San Francisco where the Millers had a penthouse apartment overlooking the Bay. Following Diane's tragic death in 2013, Ron became president of the Museum's board of directors.

He had agreed to write an introduction to a book of Walt Disney's letters that I am currently editing and I am saddened that this will, now, never be the case.

I am pictured below with Diane and Ron in 2001 at the premiere of Walt: The Man Behind the Myth, in which I made a cameo appearance.

Wednesday 28 November 2018


From All of Us to All of You: The Disney Christmas Cards
by Jeff Kurtti
Disney Editions; $50.00

This is a book I have wanted to own for about the last 20 years! It’s actually a book that I had once entertained hopes of putting together myself; and it’s only the fact that it has finally reached us via the skilled editorship of my friend and fellow Disneyphile, Jeff Kurtti, that I am able to supress my envy!

Disney and Christmas have always got on rather well together – Christmas-themed movies, TV specials, music, books and comics – and the official Christmas greetings that, from 1931 onwards, the studio sent to its ever-growing number of friends and associates represents an imaginatively documented capsule history over eighty years of Disney history.

The cards in Jeff Kurtti’s seasonal mailbag, being annual bulletins from the Mouse Factory, give a visual chronicle of the studio’s output: from Mickey and the Gang, via Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the other features of the Golden Age, to the war years, the post-war renaissance, the Disneyland park and TV years to Poppins and the decades from Walt’s death to Walt Disney World, EPCOT and beyond.  

More than that, they provide a fascinating insight into the way in which the Studio saw and publicly presented itself and, as a parallel theme, the changing styles of popular graphic art.

This project could so easily have been simply produced as a book of pictures (and, indeed, some years ago, a book of Disney postcards was published based on many of these very images), but what Kurtti has done that makes this volume both collectable and informative is to place each card within the context of the Studio’s annual development.

The book is further enhanced by profiles of some of the artists responsible for the card designs including Hank Porter, Mary Blair, Bob Moore, John Hench and Paul Wenzel. There are also a number of special features covering such topics as the cards designed by the studio for Nelson Rockefeller as Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and, a few years later, for the Toys for Tots Christmas charity.

The author has been ably aided by the book’s talented designer, Paul Wolski, whose ‘wide-screen’ format (encased in a holly-green gate-fold binding) allows the cards to be shown to their very best advantage – especially since a number of the originals opened out horizontally and/or vertically. Fronts, backs and interiors are all simultaneously visible and, printed with shadows, appear to be lying on the pages of the open book – as if ready be picked and arranged on your Christmas mantelpiece! And, as a bonus, there are ten special envelopes slipped into the book containing additional cards featuring seasonal Disney artwork from a variety of sources including film posters and comic book covers.


The book’s surtitle, ‘From All of Us To All of You’, is a references the famous Disney animated television special of the same name, first presented on ABC in December 1958. The show, comprising clips from Disney classic shorts and features, was hosted by Jiminy Cricket and based around the theme of Christmas cards from the characters featured in the clips.

Just as that TV special enjoyed a number of an annual re-runs, Jeff Kurtti’s beautifully produced, joy-infused and smile-inducing book will become a treasured part of every Disney fan’s holiday season for many Christmases to come!

Practically Perfect in Every Way: A Magical Carpetbag of Countless Wonders by Jeff Kurtti
Disney Editions; $50.00

Unless you have been living in a remote Neolithic cave for the past year, you will know that everybody’s favourite nanny is about to make a comeback! Mary Poppins Returns will open this Christmas and, once again, we will be exposed to the magic that is unique to that mysterious figure who flies in on the east wind and is universally known by her carpetbag and parrot-handled umbrella.

To accompany this long-awaited movie sequel, Jeff Kurtti has conjured up an engaging and enlightening collection of articles and essays in celebration of all things Poppins.

Kurtti traces the history of the Poppins books and their enigmatic author, P. L. Travers; tells the astonishing saga of how Walt Disney managed, against the odds, to acquire the film rights and take Mary Poppins from book to the movie. He also examines the movie’s triumph both as a film and a merchandising phenomenon; and recounts how Mary Poppins’ went on to recreate her unique brand of magic on the West End and Broadway stage before, bringing the story up to date, with background insights into the making of the sequel.

The book is profusely and sumptuously illustrated with original concept art, film stills and archive photographs – although, oddly, you will look in vain for an image of Julie Andrews that isn’t from an animator’s sketch or from posters, record sleeves and book covers.

Jeff Kurtti has cleverly interwoven his telling of Mary Poppins journey from page to screen, to stage and back, again, to screen with contributions from Cameron Mackintosh, Tom Schumacher and the first stage Bert, Gavin Lee, as well as essays from (to quote the jacket blurb) “renowned Disney authorities” Jim Fanning, Paula Sigman Lowry, Craig D. Barton, Greg Ehrbar – and, I am bound with a blush to admit, the present writer!

The 1964 film is generally regarded as Walt Disney’s greatest triumph and it remains, over fifty years on, beloved by several generations; now Mary Poppins Returns to entrance new audiences and Jeff Kurtti’s Practically Perfect in Every Way is the absolutely perfect way to commemorate a literary and cinematic legend.  

The Art of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse by Jessica Ward
Disney Editions; $40.00

As part of the Mouse’s 90th birthday celebrations, Jessica Ward has produced this lavish book that begins with a commemoration of Mickey’s extraordinary career through a comprehensive filmography and a milestone-by-milestone examination of his life and times on and off the screen.

All of this is, however, is but a prelude to the remaining 115 pages featuring an exhilarating and imaginative Picture Gallery of artistic interpretations of Mickey by creative working for Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

Using pencil, pen and ink, watercolour, acrylic digital and mixed media, the artists present Mickey in may forms and artistic styles – cubist, minimalist, pointillist, abstract and pastiche –– look out for homages to Rockwell, William Stout and Frank Frazetta.

This diverse imagery reinforces a great truth that, if after 90 years we haven’t yet understood, we never will: Mickey Mouse is an enduring icon and his worldwide identifiable silhouette is so much part of our popular culture that it remains instantly recognisable and perennially beloved.

They Drew As They Pleased – The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s and 1960s by Didier Ghez
Chronicle Books; $45.00

The indefatigable Didier Ghez has produced the fourth volume of his exceptional They Drew As They Pleased series with a retrospective exploration of a intriguing period in the Disney Studio’s history: the post-war era noted for its optimism of spirit and, in the graphic arts, for the emergence of a new modernism that challenged the old-school style that had been the touchstone for Disney’s success during the so-called Golden Age of Animation.

As with the earlier volumes, Ghez’s aim is to profile the work of those – often unsung – concept artists who, in every era, helped set the mood and frame the style of the Studio’s shorts and features: men and women who, as the title (taken from the 1948 book devoted to the work of Albert Hurter) suggests, were allowed to draw as they pleased. All the books in the series have featured rarely seen or previously unseen artwork and, along with the artists’ stories and the historical contextualising that are Ghez’s forte, this is what makes this series such a joy for the Disney reader – and of incalculable benefit to Disney research.

Among the five artists whose work is explored in this book is one – Mary Blair – who has, in recent years, been probably more chronicled, celebrated and exhibited than any other member of the Disney concept team, but there are newly revealed images from film classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan that merit the inclusion of her memorably stylised work.

The other artists are Mary’s husband, Lee Blair (responsible for superb work on Disney’s South American features); Tom Oreb (brilliant modernist takes on the cut 'Jabberwock' sequence in Alice and examples of his work for Disney-created TV commercials); John Dunn (lively, cartoony ideas for the new, ‘limited animation’ style adopted for TV programmes such as Man in Flight and Mars and Beyond); and Walter Peregoy (bold early designs for The Sword in the Stone and Jungle Book and a balletic approach to the unmade Chanticleer).

The highest compliment one can pay Didier Ghez is to say, on closing the cover on his latest volume, “When’s the next one coming?”

And, finally for now, there’s this behemoth...

But I have yet to read it – or, indeed, develop sufficient muscular strength to even lift it out of its box!


Wednesday 31 October 2018


The Disney Villains (how many can you identify?) send 


Monday 29 October 2018


Signed art prints of movie-fan Mickey Mouse by Disney artist Jaume Esteve, currently up for auction...

Wednesday 17 October 2018


I thought I knew most of what there was to know about the associations between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali – but, somehow, I must have missed the fact that, in 1967, the artist included Walt in a suite of etchings entitled FIVE AMERICANS (the other four being George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). So, here's Dali's salute to the Dream-merchant...

Wednesday 4 July 2018


Celebrating 156 years since Lewis Carroll first told the story that became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...


Thursday 17 May 2018


A batch of new books celebrating Disney past and present...

Yesterday's Tomorrow: Disney's Magical Mid-Century
by Don Hahn, Disney Editions, 2018, pp.176

This feels like the book that many of us Disney aficionados (especially those whose childhoods coincided with the 'fifties and 'sixties) have long been waiting to read. Don Hahn chronicles that explosive decade that followed WWII as reflected in the vision of Walt Disney and the work of his studio.

Born at the turn-of-the-century and raised in an age and culture that was just taking its first tentative towards a new tomorrow, Walt had an abiding love for the nostalgia of the past, but he also embraced change and looked to a future of ever-expanding possibilities and opportunities – as can be seen from the fact that Disneyland not only celebrated the lost age depicted in the park's Main Street USA but reached out towards a new dawn in Tomorrowland.

Don Hahn presents a masterly tour of the Disney's futurism as it impacted not just on the creation and development of Disneyland but on film and TV, leisure and hospitality (The Disneyland Hotel, Celebrity Sports Center and the unrealized plans for a Ski resort in the Sierra), education (CalArts, the New York World's Fair and educational films and programmes) and Walt's final bid for a utopian future with the concept of EPCOT.

The book's large format has allowed it to be sumptuously illustrated with a visual feast of photographs (many unfamiliar) and artwork by, among others, Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, Ward Kimball and Rolly Crump.

There is a tendency in Disney Circles to focus on the achievements of the so-called Golden Age – understandably, since those achievements were truly astonishing – but Yesterday's Tomorrow is a timely reminder that the mid-century was a period in which new technologies and ever-expanding prospects were reflected in new movements in popular art and entertainment along with ambitious hopes of a better world.

Travels with Walt Disney: A photographic Voyage Around the World
by Jeff Kurtti, Disney Editions, 2018, pp.152

From his earliest years Walt's life was peripatetic but was also essentially parochial in scope; so much so, that when he found himself in the big bad city of New York for the first time in the late 1920s struggling to sell his cartoons and add sound to Mickey Mouse it was a time marked by loneliness and homesickness. However, he would, later, discover the joys of travel and those expeditions and explorations impacted not just on the development of his personality, but also on the work of the studio.

Jeff Kurtti traces Walt's excursions (to France during the last days of WWI) his travels by trains (of course!), boats and planes, his great adventure South of the Border, his visits to Europe which fired his imagination, inspired films and had an influence on Disneyland and other projects. The book also shows how Walt's ever-widening perspective on the world helped shape series such as the 'True Life Adventures' and plans for creating better world communities.

The book is literally stuffed with official and family photos charting the itineraries of a busy life and full career.

Disney's The Lion King: Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World
by Michael Lassell, Disney Editions, 2017, pp.224

This lavishly-conceived volume from the indefatigable Michael Lassell (whose Disney Aladdin: A Whole New World I reviewed last October) celebrates the creation and international longevity of a show that has become a landmark in the history of musical theatre.

In words (including quotations from those involved in the show's creation) and breathtaking pictorial spreads, Lassell takes us from the movie's success, via Julie Taymor's extraordinary vision for a theatrical re-presentation of the animated story and the complex challenges of creating sets, costumes, masks and effects to the show's exhilarating global triumph.

The Lion King has also inspired...

My Pride: Mastering Life's Daily Performance
by Alton Fitzgerald White, Disney Editions, 2017

Broadway's longest running portrayer of King Mufasa, Alton Fitzgerald White, shares his experience of creating daily magic on stage (over 4300 performances) and telling the story of his career – overcoming the difficulties of his early years to become a successful singer and actor – and sharing some of the valuable life lessons he has learned that readers can adapt and adopt to living their own lives. A spirited and inspiring read.

Friday 30 March 2018

Saturday 4 November 2017


Having recently posted a roundup of recent Disney books, I discovered I had missed one – or, rather, had not bothered to find out about one...

Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food 
by Marcy Carriker Smothers
Disney Editions, 2017 $35.00, discounted prices online.

To be honest, the title, Eat Like Walt had struck me as a bit gimmicky: in fact it sounded like one of those peripheral publications that would be very unlikely to render up anything particularly new or worthy of note beyond, probably, a handful of Disney-themed recipes – something along the lines of 'Snow White's Apple Pie' and 'Alice's Unbirthday Cake'.

How wrong can you be?!

Trusting the judgement of a couple of wise Disney friends who had read the book, I took the gamble and chanced an investment of £22+ to see what this volume actually had to offer...

And I could be more agreeably surprised and delighted: Marcy Carriker Smothers has produced a book that is far-reaching in its scope and offers a new perspective on Walt Disney, culinary life at his studio and how food figured in his planning of Disneyland.

Smothers' book begins with Walt at home: his favourite food and drink, recollections of his family about the domestic staff who cooked for them and various stratagems to tempt the palette or overcome objections of a man who had spent his early years of struggle subsisting on hash and beans and little else.

Later chapters explore the food options provided in the custom-built studio in Burbank from its elite Penthouse Club and the inkers and painters' Tea Room to the restaurant where Walt could some days be spotted standing in line to collect (and pay for!) his Chili con carne and fruit salad and the dining and snacking experiences that were a major part of any Disneyland visit.

All those Disney restaurants you remember (depending on your age) are fondly described and depicted: The Carnation Ice Cream Parlor, The Tahitian Terrace, The Chicken of the Sea... There are venues now long-gone, like Aunt Jemima's Kitchen and Swift's Red Wagon Inn, to places that can still be found on the Disneyland map such as The Candy Palace and the Golden Horseshoe.

There's mention of those places that Walt didn't live long enough to see: The Blue Bayou Restaurant and Club 33, a peep inside the Disney family hideaway over the Main Street Fire Station and mention of some of his favourite LA eateries, among them Chansen's (now closed) where he met Leopold Stokowski and discussed a project that became Fantasia and the Tam O'Shanter that is still in business and remembered as one of Walt's favourites. The book ends with a handful of recipes popular with Walt personally or by diners in the park.

The book is liberally illustrated with vintage artwork, facsimile menus and a great many  period photographs – some unseen for years, if ever. It seems mean to quibble about what is a delightful, enlightening read and a valuable addition to Disney history, but some of the rare images in this volume would have benefited from captioning – even as notes at the back of the book. Otherwise, this is a hugely satisfying repast!

Sunday 29 October 2017


It is a sign of how old I am that I can remember a time when the number of books on Disney and animation could just about be counted on the fingers of two hands. Nowadays, anyone interested in the life of Walt Disney and the achievements of his studio has enough books to chose from to fill a reasonably shelved room –– and there's always new volumes coming! Here's the most recent batch of titles: many or all of which Disney fans will undoubtedly want to add to their wish-list for Santa...

INK & PAINT The Women of Walt Disney's Animation by Mindy Johnson
Disney Editions (Deluxe), 2017 $60, discounted copies online.

With this weighty volume, Mindy Johnson has contributed a long-overdue contribution to the chronicling of Disney history by turning the spotlight on the largely overlooked work of women in the development of both the studio and the art of animation.

For too long animation has been portrayed as a medium that was solely the province of the male of the species ('The Nine Old Men' and their cohorts) with an occasional, condescending nod to the army of women of the studio's Ink & Paint Department who painstakingly transferred the animators' drawings onto celluloid – in the 'Golden Age' using an astonishing range of coloured inks – and then completed the labour-intenssive process by painting in the characters on the back of the cels. Johnson has now put names and faces to these women and given them the honour – long theirs by right – as being far more than just mechanical, assembly-line workers, but rather a group of artists (not unlike those who worked in the studios of the Renaissance Masters) whose skill and patience created the visual richness of the Disney classics.

The work of one particular woman concept artist, Mary Blair, has become widely recognised and appreciated in recent years, but as this book reveals, there were many other women who brought a feminine sensibility to the telling of story and styling of image. The book also shows how (as in many other walks of life) WWII provided women with the opportunity to take on roles within the studio that had formerly been 'male only' territories.

Meticulously researched, engagingly written, smartly designed (with numerous features and side-bars) and lavishly illustrated, the book also features the women in the Walt's life from his mother and his wife to his Hollywood connections such as Mary Pickford, the writers whose work he brought to the screen and the voice talents who helped bring his characters alive.

No serious scholar of Disney animation should be without this authoritative volume.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons
by David A Bossert, Archival Editor David Gerstein
Disney Editions (Deluxe) 2017 $40, discounted copies online.

Here is the tale of Walt's first animated star: how he was created and helped establish the Disney name, how he was lost to his creator and handed over to others and how unexpectedly, in 2006, Oswald was finally brought back into the Disney family.

Illustrated with animation sketches, posters and facsimiles of telegrams that chart Oswald's rise to fame and his split from Walt that would, in turn, prompt the creation of the star that eclipsed the Rabbit's fame – Mickey Mouse.

In addition to providing this vitally important historical perspective on Oswald's life and times, the book recounts the equally fascinating story of the quest to find the 'long lost' episodes of his film career.

They Drew As They Pleased: Volume 3 – The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age: The 1940s (Part Two) by Didier Ghez
Chronicle Books, 2017 $45.00, discounted copies online.

With two volumes already in print, Didier Ghez's They Drew As They Pleased series has created high expectations and they are fully realised in this third installment which examines the Disney careers of six more artists. Once again the book is crammed with stunning original art (story sketches, layouts, storyboard drawings and concept art) the majority of which is previously unseen.

From the days of yore when – as a youngster obsessed with Disney films – I read R. D. Feild's seminal The Art of Walt Disney, I have had an insatiable appetite  for the drawings and paintings that formed the genesis of the studio's  movie classics – especially since there are not only so many examples of brilliant interpretations that never made it onto the screen but also highly elaborate explorations into stories that never got beyond the development stage. This art provides a portal to an amazing parallel universe where unmade Disney films and variants of the films we know are screened in our imagination.

What wouldn't we have given to have seen Walt Disney's take on Cervantes Don Quixote as interpreted in dramatic designed by the Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Solá Franco? Or those abandoned stories of Hootsie the Owl and Roland XIII (an acrophobic carrier pigeon) as depicted by famed illustrator Martin Provensen. Work by other artists in this volume includes Campbell Grant's Bald Mountain demons and James Bodrero Pastoral creatures for Fantasia, Jack Miller's witty sketches for the 'Baby Weems' section of The Reluctant Dragon, and Johnny Walridge's cavalcade of clowns for Dumbo.

Didier Ghez's impeccable research into the careers of these often uncredited artists makes this another historically important – as well as visually exciting – Disney book.

Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Disney Beauty and the Beast
by Charles Solomon
Disney Editions, 2017 $50, discounted copies online.

Charles Solomon has revisited his 2011 book on the making of the animated Beauty and the Beast, thoroughly remaking it to bring the story up to date.

Beginning with the mythic and literary origins of the fairy-tale, the book follows its Disney evolution, first to the screen as what proved to be a totally 'new' style of animated film with the feel of a big Broadway musical, through its natural adaptation for the stage before focusing on the most recent transformation of Belle and the Beast's romance as a lavishly conceived and realised live-action movie.

Disney Pirates – The Definitive Collector's Anthology
by Michael Singer, Disney Editions 2017 $50, discounted prices online.

Who knew – without a good deal of thinking – just how many Disney pirates have swashbuckled their way through the studio's history? I presumed this would be a volume devoted to the phenomenally successful Jerry Bruckheimer Pirates of the Caribbean  franchise (especially since the book's foreword is by Johnny Depp) but those films only account for about a third of the 145 pages.

The story begins with a resume of Disney pirates before Jack Sparrow took to the high seas beginning (I bet this will come as a surprise to most of you) in 1927 with Alice Foils the Pirates! There's a fleeting reference to the 1932 Silly Symphony, King Neptune, and then – avast and belay! – it's 1950 and Robert Newton is giving his unforgettable performance as the one-legged Sea Cook, Long John Silver, in Disney's first British live action movie, Treasure Island – a tale subsequently revisited in the Muppet Treasure Island and the animated feature Treasure Planet with its cyborg Silver.

Captain Hook is here in Peter Pan, Return to Never Land and (news to me) Jake and the Never Land Pirates and The Pirate Fairy. There's also the low down on Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, the buccaneers encountered by the Swiss Family Robinson and that roistering nautical spectre, Blackbeard's Ghost.

There's an extensive history of the pre-movie, theme-park lives of the Pirates of the Caribbean before the book focuses on the adventures (and misadventures of Jack Sparrow and crew) and wraps up with a feature on Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland. All in all, a total joy!

Disney Aladdin: A Whole New World – The Road to Broadway and Beyond
by Michael Lassell
Disney Editions, 2017 $40, discounted prices online.

Looking like an artifact from the Cave of Wonders – all gold-edged pages and padded silk cover – this sumptuous volume, created by Welcome Enterprises (responsible for the previous book on the making of the Poppins musical by Michael Lassell and myself), takes the reader, as the title suggests, on the theatrical journey that led Tom Schumacher and his creative colleagues to bring the popular animated film with its Broadway-style score by Menken, Ashman and Rice to Broadway itself.

Lassell introduces us to everyone involved in the process from the set, costume, make-up and lighting designers via the wizardry responsible for a magically-appearing Genii and a flying carpet to the cast who brought Aladdin and his friends and foes to life on stage

Poster Art of Cars: Collecting more than a hundred posters and graphics from Pixar Animations Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering
by Victoria Saxon
Disney Editions Deluxe, 2017 $40.00, discounted prices online.

I have to start with a confession: I am not really a fan of the Cars franchise (heresy and blasphemy!) but this collection of 'posters' – for and from the movies (as well as for the theme park attraction) – is a complete delight. The rich detailing of Pixar films is well known and justly appreciated and the opportunity to study these examples of incidental and background art is most rewarding.

Many of these posters are lovingly conceived pastiches of various styles of vintage poster and advertising art that – by their sheer wittiness – surprise and please.

This is a book that will obviously be a 'must-have' for the millions of Cars fans, but it will also amuse and entertain anyone who admires classic poster art – especially that of bygone decades.


The Art of Tennessee Loveless 
The Mickey Mouse TEN x TEN x TEN contemporary pop art series
by David Bossert
Disney Editions Deluxe, 2017 $50, discounted prices online.

Tennessee Loveless is a Los Angeles-based contemporary pop artist noted for his dynamic use of bold colours and vivid patterns to create images that celebrate cultural icons from Marilyn, Judy and Bowie to Mickey Mouse who is featured on the 100 paintings on 10 x 10 canvas  collected in this book.

What makes Loveless' achievement so remarkable is that the artist is severely colourblind and only understands colour from a formulaic concept based on color theory as opposed to the actual colours themselves.

As this deluxe volume makes clear, Tennessee Loveless – despite the numerous obstacles he has had to overcome in his life and career – has heroically pursued his art, motivated by a passion for painting people and fictional characters such as the Disney Mouse in a ways that make a strong connection with our nostalgic memories using the power of colours unseen by the artist who painted them.

You may feel that 100 Mickey Mice is a few dozen more than you truly need, but the cumulative effect of this extraordinary array of paintings – many of them with an ironic tip of the mouse-ears to, among others, those celebrated Mickey-takers Andy Warhol and Keith Haring – is an unquestioned artistic tour de force.

And here's one just for the Brits!


A Kiss Goodnight
Written by Richard M. Sherman and Brittany Rubiano Illustrated by Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown Norman
Disney Editions, 2017 $19.99, discounted prices online.

An entrancing gift from Richard M. Sherman (one half of the legendary Sherman Brothers song-writing partnership) and veteran Disney animator, Floyd Norman: a delightful song and story about Walt Disney's determination to end every day at his Disneyland park with an unforgettable firework display that would serve as a loving and rewarding 'kiss goodnight'.

Richard explains the motivation for writing his song with a recollection of an end of the day conversation with Walt as the last visitors were leaving the park after the firework display and Brittany Rubiano narrates the back-story of how Walt came to fall under the spell of firework magic, illustrated with charming illustrations by Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown Norman.

The book will be treasured by Disney families and the song will be enjoyed again and again by all with the enclosed CD recording by Broadway's 'Mary Poppins', Ashley Brown.
"A kiss goodnight
Is the doorway to Dreamland.
A kiss goodnight
Is where memories begin.
Just close your eyes,
And you’ll see where your fantasies dwell.
To your surprise,
What a fabulous tale they tell.
A kiss goodnight
Is the start of a journey
To deep in your heart,
Where your memories shine..."

Tuesday 10 October 2017


Poster for Disney's October 1955 release, Music Land: comprising four sequences from Make Mine Music and five from Melody Time.


My mother gave most of my childhood toys away to visiting cousins and the 'deserving poor' and, as a result, has much to answer for: whenever I see an item like this (currently up for auction), I so want to own it ––– in order to recover a few fragments of what I once had but have no more!

Sunday 1 October 2017

Monday 25 September 2017


A beautiful period French poster for Bambi...