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Lady Di
August 31st, 2007

The Tenth Anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana has me thinking of my own memories.

Pat and I were in Spain when the accident happened and then were in England during the funeral. The grief and shock were evident on the streets of London in a way not seen since the days of Lord Nelson. People queued up in long lines to sign condolence books and lay flowers. It was not planned, it all came about spontaneously because the people wanted it that way. Originally, the Palace announced there would be no big state funeral, but just a quick private service. Then, slowly, the event grew to major proportions, each day you saw another shop announce they would close the day of the funeral- Harrods, Selfridges, Tesco, Wembly and the British Soccer Confederation announced no football matches that day, and then no horseracing. By weds it was finally made an official state holiday..

One evening after a night in Soho my animation friends and I went down to where the coffin was lying in state in a small chapel off St.James. Near midnight, in a cool summer drizzle there were people as far as your eyes could see lined up and down the Strand waiting their turn to pay their respects. Harrods' provided mobile kitchens to pass out tea and donuts for free.

The day of the funeral the silence of the hundreds of thousands was palpable. Despite the crowd being six deep pressing against the barriers you could hear the leaves rustling in the wind and the heavy clop of the Horse Guards drawing the caisson bearing the coffin.

My favorite anecdote was not even mine. I was once talking to Disney animator Mark Henn when I was visiting the Orlando Studio. He said Princess Di and her two boys had come in for a tour the previous week. While she walked among the animation desks politely listening to the details of production, the princes ran up and down the aisles playing tag with each other “ Got ya last!” He said he was struck by the wonderful normalcy of it all. Di didn’t look like a Royal or a Society superstar then, she was just another mom at Disneyland with two out of control young boys.

I think that’s a nice way to keep her in mind.


August 31st, 2007 fri
August 31st, 2007

Michael Sporn has given my AWN interview with Bill Littlejohn a nice plug, and is posting some of his animation drawings from the classic Hubley short films. Bill did a lot of this animation "straight ahead" instead of the more conventional key-frame poses method.

from Cockaboody, which I rmember first seeing in 1974 at the NY Animation Film Festival

http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/
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Birthdays: Caligula 12AD, Amilcare Ponchielli, Eldridge Cleaver, Buddy Hackett, James Coburn, Itshak Perleman, Van Morrison, Arthur Godfrey, Debbie Gibson, Richard Baseheart, Rocky Marciano. Alan J. Lerner, Dan Rather, Maria Montressori (of the Montressori Method of education), Daniel Saroyan, Richard Gere, Chris Tucker

1829- Giacomo’s Opera Guglielmo Tell debuted in Paris. The William Tell overture was heard for the first time- Hi Ho Silver!

1887- Thomas Edison patented the plans for a Kinetoscope, his original version of Motion Pictures using George Eastmans new celluloid roll film. Most of the actual grunt work was done by Canadian technician W.K.L. Dickson. He drove himself sick designing, building and improving the device as well as the camera and studio, but Edison gets all the credit. Edison wrote Edweard Muybridge at the time that he doubted the Kinetoscope would have much monetary value beyond the lab.

1888-THE FIRST JACK THE RIPPER MURDER. Then called the Whitechapel Murders. The unique detail was that the Ripper killed his victim Mary Ann Nichols with a simple throat cut, then proceeded to remove her internal organs with the precision of a surgeon. Was the sadist murderer of London prostitutes the syphilitic Duke of Clarence? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suggested it was a woman, a psychotic midwife. An anti-Semetic issue appeared when a cryptic clue at the murder scene was interpreted by some to think the Ripper was Jewish. Then the message was thought to be a freemasons symbol. After six ghastly killings the murders stopped as mysteriously as they had started. In 1891 an Australian-born abortionist named Dr. Edward Cream was hanged for poisoning a prostitute. As he dropped through the trapdoor and the rope snapped he shouted: "I AM JAC-...!"

1919- The American Communist Party founded in Chicago with John Reed and Carlos Tresca. This was distinct from Socialist Party tickets. Socialists had been active for years before and around 1912 Socialist Eugene Debs polled over a million votes in his run at the Presidency. In 1945 the CP/USA was outlawed but reinstated in the 1960s. Black militant professor Angela Davis once ran for president on the Communist ticket. She didn’t win.

1928- In Berlin the ThreePenny Opera premiered, music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Bertholdt Brecht with Lotte Lenya as Pirate Jenny. Mackie Messer or Mack the Knife is born

1939- Adolph Hitler sent out "Wartime Order #1-Force White" calling for the attack on Poland to begin on schedule and war to commence without a formal declaration or warning. It also told all German ships at sea to be on alert for the news of hostilities with Britain and France.

1939- In Saint Moritz, exiled King of Spain Alfonso XI doubted there was going to be a world war. Even if one did break out, he predicted, it will all be over within a year.

1941 –The Great Gildersleeve, a spin-off of Fibber McGee & Molly debuts on NBC radio.

1946- Looney Toon short 'Walky Talky Hawky' the first Foghorn Leghorn. The character was based on a Fred Allen radio character Senator Clayton Langhorn that poked fun at bombastic Southern conservative politicians.

1948- Disney's 'Melody Time' premiered, featuring Willie the Operatic Whale.

1948- Movie star Robert Mitchum was busted for smoking pot with a blonde in the Hollywood Hills. This would have normally smoked his career but the new postwar outlaw, noir attitude was in vogue and bad-boy Mitchum emerged from jail more popular than ever.

1955 - 1st microwave TV station operated in Lufkin, Texas.

1955-1st sun-powered automobile demonstrated, Chicago, Ill. Ed Begley didn’t buy it.

1954- Make a note of it, the US Census Bureau founded.

1957- Malaysia gained independence from Britain.

1964 - Ground is broken for Anaheim Stadium, future home of the California Angels

1969- Former Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano died in a plane crash in Newton Iowa. He had been hurrying home to attend a birthday party in his honor. He was 45.

1972-Russian Olga Korbut won a gold medal in gymnastics at the Olympics. She was the first of the cutsey little 15 year old girl gymnasts with the bright smile to catch the world’s attention.

1997- PRINCESS DIANA OF WALES died after a high speed car crash in Paris. Her Mercedes had been trying to avoid paparrazzi hounding her and her current boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed, the son of the Egyptian tycoon owner of Harrods. The drivers body tested above normal for alcohol and drugs. Princess Di was 36. Britain reacted with an outpouring of grief not seen since the death of Nelson. The rapacious British paparazzi worked overtime to absolve themselves of hounding the poor woman to death. Rupert Murdoch personally flew to London to direct the spin campaign defending his papers. Part of their tactics was to point out that the Queen didn’t make a true statement of regret until the following Thursday, almost a week after the accident. I was in Spain on the day of the crash and the late edition London Evening Standard printed before news of the tragedy had the headline: DI & DODI’S BONKING BONANZA!

2001- The NY Stock Exchange tries to avoid a Recession and bolster growth by getting Michael Jackson and Jerry Lewis to ceremonially open trading sessions. Didn’t work.


August 30th, 2007 thurs
August 30th, 2007

Birthdays: Mary Shelley, Jacques Louis David, Huey Long, Fred MacMurray, Raymond Massey, Ted Williams, John Blondell, Timothy Bottoms, Jean-Claude Killy, Shirley Booth, John Landis, Tug McGraw Ya Gotta Believe!, cartoonist R. Crumb, Cameron Diaz is 34


30 BC- Cleopatra committed suicide at age 39. Some accounts have her allowing herself to be bitten by a poison asp concealed in a basket, another said she took poison concealed on a hairpin. It was said she killed herself to join her lover Marc Anthony, more likely it was because the victorious Augustus planned to have her dragged through the streets of Rome in a cage for the crowd's amusement, then quietly strangled. The snakebite was thought by Egyptians to bestow immortality. After Julius Caesar's murder Marc Anthony and Augustus had divided up the Roman Empire east and west. Cleopatra fell in love with Anthony and governed with him from 41 to 31BC. Augustus conquered them in the naval battle of Actium. Octavian Augustus was only Julius Caesar's nephew. Cleopatra had borne Caesar a natural son, Caesarion. Augustus discovered the boy during this turmoil and had him quietly killed. Octavia, Anthony’s jilted wife, took Cleo’s two other children by Anthony and raised them as her own.

1873- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police- The Mounties formed. Ninety years later Jay Ward invented the Snidley Mounties.

1935- “Top Hat” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers premiered.

1939- The last peacetime voyage of the HMS Queen Mary evacuated Americans fleeing the impending war in Europe. Among the crowd was a large contingent of Hollywood stars like Bob Hope and Jack Warner who planned to attend the first Cannes Film Festival (postponed until 1946). The Queen Mary kept radio silence across the ocean to hide from U-Boats. This was a wise because her sister ship HMS Athenia was torpedoed.

1945- THE AMERICAN SHOGUN- Gen. Douglas MacArthur lands on mainland Japan as military governor. After the ceasefire was announced, there still was a lot of distrust on both sides, and in the streets of Japan gangs of outraged youths and kamikaze pilots fought loyal troops trying to restart the war. Into this turmoil General MacArthur and his staff flew in alone ahead of any other allied occupying troops. He even ordered his staff to leave their pistols behind to show their fearlessness to the Japanese. He also wanted to get there before Admiral Nimitz and the Navy got there first and stole his spotlight.
In a sight that alarmed his staff as MacArthur drove to Yokohama the road was lined on both sides with 30,000 crack Japanese troops standing silent with fixed bayonets.
They were not threatening but saluting their new Shogun. They even faced backwards from the road not looking at MacArthur, a gesture of respect reserved only for the Emperor.
While the still new Truman administration concentrated on Stalin and postwar Europe MacArthur was left with a free hand to reshape Japanese society as he saw fit. He used the power of unquestioning Japanese social discipline to give women the vote, form labor unions and rewrite their constitution, setting the basis of Japanese democracy.

1963- The HOT LINE is set up between the White House and the Kremlin. It was never really a red telephone, more a coded teletype machine. It was to prevent misunderstandings like the Cuban Missile Crisis. We know now that in 1973 Nixon had put U.S. forces on red alert war footing to prevent the Soviets from intervening in the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War. In 1980 the Fail Safe system failed and reported 12,000 Soviet missiles were coming at us over the North Pole .Jimmy Carter had 5 minutes to decide whether it was a mistake or the first strike warranting our full retaliation. We're all still here so I guess you know how Carter chose.


1968- The first 7-11 store opened in Palmdale California. Have a Slurpee !

1975- Ralph Bakshi's film "Coonskin". Bad boy Bakshi's portrayal of African-American urban violence was deemed so offensive that it caused the first riot ever at the Museum of Modern Art, and died at the boxoffice. The film was retitled on video "Streetfight".
When Ralph resurfaced he turned his attention to Sword and Fantasy films.

1979- President Jimmy Carter claimed that while boating on vacation in Georgia he was attacked by an enraged rabbitt.

1980- Willie Nelson released his hit “On the Road Again.”

1993-The David Letterman Show premiered on CBS. Letterman was wooed away from NBC for 42 million bucks.


August 29, 2007 weds
August 29th, 2007

Birthdays: King James II Stuart, John Locke, Ingres, Charlie Parker would have been 86, Preston Sturges, Ingrid Bergman, William Friedkin, Dinah Washington, George Montgomery, Slobodan Milosevic, Robin Leach, Richard Attenborough is 84, Donald O’Connor, Elliot Gould, Rebecca DeMornay is 48, Joel Schumacher, choreographer Mark Morris, Charles Kettering inventor of the automobile ignition,Sen. John McCain is 71, Michael Jackson The King of Pop is 49.

1885 - Boxing's 1st heavyweight title fight with regulation 3-oz gloves & 3-minute rounds was fought between John L Sullivan & Dominick McCaffrey. Before this, bareknuckle fights could go on for 75 rounds and only be stopped when one of the other opponent was too bloody to continue.

1893- Whitcomb Judson invented the zipper.

1896- Chop Suey invented in New York City.

1908 - NY gives a parade to returning US Olympians from London. Wall Street brokers come up with the idea of throwing shredded stock ticker tape out the windows. The first ticker tape parade.

1925 - After a night on the town, Babe Ruth shows up late for batting practice Yankee manager Miller Huggins suspended Ruth & slapped a $5,000 fine on him. Whenever the Yankees were on the road and were safely winning a game Ruth would take himself out of the lineup early so he could scout out a good bar for the team to go to later.

1929- New York City was having competitions between builders for who could build the tallest office building. The Chrysler Building had recently surpassed the Bank of Manhattan Building. On this day William Ratzengauer and former Presidential candidate Al Smith announced they would build a monster building, much higher than any other. It would be on the site of the old Waldorf Astoria Hotel and they would call it the Empire State Building.

1953-Warner's "Cat Tails for Two" introduces Speedy Gonzales. Years ago I met an old animator named Frank Gonzales who claimed the character was named for him. Warners had a drawing quota for assistants and Frank was always first done and out of his chair to go flirt with the ink & paint girls. The other guys would say:" There goes "Speedy" Gonzales again.When Chuck Jones & designer Hawley Pratt were thinking of new characters, the rest as they say, was history.

1954 – San Francisco International Airport (SFO) opened.

1958 - George Harrison joins the Quarrymen -Lennon-McCartney and Sutcliffe. The later rename themselves the Beatles.

1962- The Kennedy State Department sent poet laureate Robert Frost on a goodwill tour of Soviet Russia.

1967- Final Episode of the television series "The Fugitive". Dr. Richard Kimble catches the one-armed-man and clears his name.

1974- THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE- Prizefighter Mohammed Ali wins back his heavyweight crown from George Foreman in a wild showbiz event set up in Kinshasa, Zaire. While the African government was trying to use the press attention to highlight the modern society they had developed, Ali was making jokes about witchdoctors, missionaries in stewpots and other cliches. "Tonight they'll be a thousand guys named Mohammed out there rooting for me, and another thousand guys named Ali rooting for me, but their won't be anybody else out there named George Foreman!" Foreman left boxing, became a minister, then returned in his 40’s to win the heavyweight crown and a fortune when most athletes are retired.

1976 - Anissa Jones, the child actress who played Buffy on the television show Family Affair), died of a drug overdose at age 18.

1989 -Hotel millionaire Leona Helmsley had said : "Only little people pay taxes". This day she was sentenced to four years in prison and fined two million dollars for 33 counts of income tax evasion. According to a London newspaper one servant under oath admitted he hated The Queen of Mean so much that whenever he had to bring her a Perrier, he would unzip his fly and use a rather unique stirrer for her drink. Leona died in 2007 and left the bulk of her estate to her dog.

2002- Peep-O-Rama, Times Square’s last remaining peep show, closed.

2005- HURRICANE KATRINA destroyed the cities of New Orleans, Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi. Tidal surges up to 30 feet collapsed levees, sending walls of water across the Big Easy. Thousands died, 800,000 homeless and billions of dollars in damage. The tragedy proved to the world that for all the talk about preparedness after 9-11, America was woefully unprepared in a real crisis. While people drowned in their attics waiting for rescue and critical care patients were abandoned on the sidewalks to die, government fumbled for almost a week. Mounties from Canada arrived before the US authorities. Long lines of ambulances were kept waiting outside the city with no permission to move in. Meanwhile President Bush played air guitar at a Navy base in San Diego and compared himself to Franklin Roosevelt, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff attended a Bird Flu seminar and FEMA head David Brown was sending e-mails to friends like “Did you see me on camera with my new tie? -Fabulous!”


August 28th, 2007 tues.
August 28th, 2007

one of Bill's scenes from John & Faith Hubley's A Doonesbury Special

Check out a new article I have today in Animation World Network. It is an interview with 93 year young Bill Littlejohn. Bill animated for John Hubley, and did some of my favorite Snoopy scenes in the Charlie Brown TV specials, as well as a great impersonation of Pope John Paul II.

http://awn.com



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Birthdays: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leo Tolstoy, Donald O'Connor, Charles Boyer, Karl Bohm, Bruno Bettleheim, Ben Gazzara, Jack "King" Kirby, Janet Evans, Jason Preistley, Daniel Stern, Shania Twain, Jack Black is 34, animation author and critic Charles Solomon

In Hong Kong today is the Festival is the Festival of Hungry Ghosts.

79 a.d.- POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM DESTROYED BY MOUNT VERSUVIUS -The great volcano errupted burying the two Roman cities. The Emperor Titus rushed a fleet commanded by the natural scientist Pliny to rescue as many as he could. Pliny was overcome by the sulphurous fumes and died. His son, Pliny the Younger, eyewitnesses it all and wrote a moving account of the tragedy in his 'letters'. Scientists have been digging at the site of Pompeii since it's rediscovery in 1726, but estimates are there's as many as 30,000 skeletons still buried.

476 a.d. - The Last Roman Emperor of the West, the boy Romulus Augustulus, is deposed. It was done by his counselor and actual power behind the throne, a the barbarian warlord named Odoacer. Odoacer sent the Imperial diadem and insignia to the Zeno the Emperor of the East in Constantinople and declared himself King of the Germans in Italy. The Roman Empire of the West ceased to exist and for historical clarity we begin to call the Eastern-Greek speaking half the Byzantine Empire. This even though they continued to call themselves Romans. Odoacer was later chopped in half by Theodoric the Visigoth at a peace summit.

1837 - Pharmacists John Leah & William Perrins invent Worcester Sauce.

1922- The first broadcast commercial. It was for a real estate firm Queensboro Realty lasting ten minutes and cost 100 dollars. The firm selling suburban homes in Queens NY immediately did $100,000 worth of business. The Business world took note of the new method of advertising.

1934-Upton Sinclair the writer is nominated for Governor of California on the Democratic ticket by over half a million votes. This shocked the California power-elite because Sinclair was a radical whose grass roots organization EPIC (End Poverty in California) advocated socialist solutions to the Depression. Even FDR kept his distance from Sinclair.Powerful forces enlisted Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg and other Hollywood conservatives to ensure Sinclair's defeat by creating the first modern media negative campaign. This included phony newsreels of actors dressed as hobos saying how they're going to California to sponge off the taxpayers. Walt Disney's lawyer, Gunther Lessing, demanded Ward Kimball take the "Sinclair for Governor" sign off his car window. Governor Frank Merriam who earlier that year had ordered troops to shoot down striking San Francisco longshoremen and their families won re-election.

1963- Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the climax of the first ' Poor People's March 'on Washington”. Organizer A. Phillip Randolph conceived a poor people’s march taking weeks not unlike the Bonus Marchers of 1929. The sympathetic John F. Kennedy administration prevailed upon them to keep it to one day to reduce the chance of violence and maximize media exposure. They had planned for 100,000 but they got 400,000. Movie stars like Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, even Charlton Heston attended. Young CBS reporter Roger Mudd was so excited he confessed he threw up behind the Jefferson Memorial

1968- THE CHICAGO DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION- While thousands of anti-war hippie and yippie protestors battled the Chicago Police in Grant Park the Democrats nominated Hubert Horatio Humphrey, the "Happy Warrior" their candidate to replace the assassinated Bobby Kennedy. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the Yippie and SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) leaders tried to get a live 100 pound pig into the convention and get it nominated for President. The Chairman of the DNC decried Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's "Gestapo Tactics" from the rostrum. Ironically Boss Daley opposed the Vietnam War, but he would not tolerate hippie kids making him look bad on national TV.. Newsman Dan Rather was gut-punched by a Chicago cop on camera on the convention floor. My friend writer John Culhane was clubbed down by police despite wearing all his press credentials and a baby blue army helmet with Newsweek painted on it. While the police and demonstrators battled poet Alan Ginsburg and Timothy Leary grabbed a loudspeaker and chanted the Buddist "Ohhhmmmmm" to calm people down. The student leaders -the Chicago 7 in reality 8, were put on trial for incitement to riot but after a year long media circus all the charges were overturned. Republican Richard Nixon won the election. The Democrats wouldn't go near Chicago again for thirty years.

1990- Computer pioneer Sandy Lerner was fired from the company she founded- Cisco Systems.

1996- The Prince and Princess of Wales Charles & Diana got divorced. This was the first Royal divorce since Henry VIII annuled Anne of Cleves in the 1530's, not counting George IV's secret marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert which was hushed up and his later cavorting with Lady Cunningham who was nicknamed "the Vice-Queen" and Edward VII's sleeping with every woman in Europe but his wife, etc.


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