Saturday, May 4, 2013

From the Library of the Walt Disney Studio

When I saw the card paper-clipped inside the old Holiday magazine at the estate sale, it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at.

At first I thought the magazine must have been part of a public library's collection.  But why would it be available for check-out?  And why would the check-out dates span almost 20 years?

Then I noticed the front of the magazine:

"Library of the Walt Disney Studios," the stamp read.   So the people who signed the library check-out card, must have been Disney employees.  That got me started on a quest to find out what some of these people did for Disney, in the 1940s through 1960s.

Yale Gracey was the first to check out the magazine.  He was a writer, a layout artist and later an Imagineer for Disney.  He worked on The Three Caballeros and Fantasia, and designed many of the special effects for the Disneyland rides Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Milt Schaffer worked as a writer on more than 100 different titles for Disney and other companies.  Among his credits are some of my favorite Disney animated shorts, including many that starred Chip 'n' Dale.

George Goepper worked for Disney and later Hanna-Barbera as an animator.  His career spanned The Reluctant Dragon and Bambi (early 1940s) and Paul Bunyan (1958) at Disney, to classic TV cartoons including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, Magilla Gorilla, Jonny Quest, Secret Squirrel [are the theme songs running through your head yet?], Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Cattanooga Cats, Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, Where's Huddles? and more. 

Freeman Butts worked at Disney as a young man, then later relocated to Montana, where he was revered both as a landscape artist and as a community member.

Dorothy Esgate was an ink-and-painter at Disney from 1937 until her retirement in 1977.

John Mansbridge began his career as a draftsman on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane in 1942.  He was Art Director for many episodes of the TV classic The Adventures of Superman, then  served as Art Director on many episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.  Buried in the list of his work for Disney Studios is his credit as Art Director for The Incredible Journey (1963).  He was born in 1917, worked until 1991, and was twice nominated for Academy Awards.  Rather than retype more about his career, I'll quote from a press release posted online by the Art Directors Guild:  Legendary Production Designer John B. Mansbridge, a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Art Direction (for The Island at the Top of the World, 1975, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1972), will be presented with an honorary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Art Directors Guild at the Tenth Annual Art Directors Guild Awards ceremony on February 11, 2006....  He was a long-time supervising Art Director for live feature films at Walt Disney Studios and before that a 24-year veteran of the RKO art department. His filmography includes 102 theatrical film and 18 television productions during a prolific career that spanned four decades from the 1940s through the 1980s. At RKO he worked under the supervision of another legendary Production Designer, Van Nest Polglase, one of the initial inductees into ADG’s recently established Hall of Fame. In 1988 Mansbridge won a Primetime Emmy Award for his Production Designs on the pilot episode of Beauty and the Beast. He served as Production Designer on both the 1971 theatrical Superman film and the 1952 Adventures of Superman TV series. While not credited per se, Mansbridge also worked as a draftsman early in his career on the classic Citizen Kane.


Otto Englander was a "story man" for Disney and MGM.  His credits include adapting the story for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, story development for the "Pastoral Symphony" segment of Fantasia, story direction for Dumbo, and writing many episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.

And here's their magazine, sitting on my desk.  A lot of talent perused these pages.  Their work helped shape more than one generation of animation and Disneyana fans.

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