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August 8, 2006
August 8th, 2006

coutresy Michael Sporn Animation.

Recently my friend Mike Sporn posted on his blog, or Splog, as he puts it, a reminiscence of the great Walt Disney Studio retrospective show at New York’s Lincoln Center way back in the Watergate year of 1973. It was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Disney studio in 1923. All the famous Disney classics were screened “ Fantasia, Bambi, Pinnochio, and Sleeping Beauty in Scope, and some rarely shown films Victory through Air Power, Make Mine Music, Saludos Amigos”. Remember back in that ancient time there were no Blockbusters or downloads, this was our only chance to see these films all at once.

One schoolmate of mine liked to go behind the band shell in Leopold Damrosch Park, smoke some hash, buy a ticket for Fantasia and get in the front row just in time for the Toccata & Fugue sequence when his high hit. This was the early 1970s, after all.

But the real gem for all us young animation fans, was the seminars given at the Lincoln Center Library by the Disney animators. Woolie Reitherman, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Ken Andersen. In time I would come to call all these men my friends, but back then, for a skinny, zitty kid from East Flatbush these guys were gods! I was terrified to say anything more than a how do you do. Part of their show was to run the work reels of their work-in-progress Robin Hood. This was the first time I had ever seen rough pencil test animation and rough layouts. Milt Kahl animation and Ken O’Conner layouts. The experience was an epiphany. I never looked at animation the same again, and finished color animation never seemed as alive and vibrant to me as those rough drawings, pure thought in shorthand. Someday you should see Glen Keanes rough Ariel scenes from Little Mermaid.

I wish I had a camera to photograph the waiting line outside the library to get in. It would look like a veritable Who-would-be-Who of animation. Michael Sporn, Eric Goldberg, Kevin Petrilak, Russell Calabrese, Yvette Kaplan, John Canemaker, Jerry Beck, Mark Mayerson, Dan Haskett, Lou Scarborough, Joe Adamson, Howard Beckerman and many more. Remember Darryl McNeill and his Green Hornet hat and utility belt? The friends I made that summer on that long cue in the hot sun would stay with me throughout my career.

I recall a fun lesson in Visual Continuity. Frank, Woolie and Ollie ran a scene from Robin Hood where the little boy fox Toby shoots his toy arrow over the palace wall. He goes after it, squeezes through the bars and on the inside is befriended by Maid Marian and Lady Cluck. The child boldly waves his toy sword as he expresses his desire to be like his hero Robin Hood.

When the lights came up, Frank smiled his trademark grin: “ Any questions?” A young boy, no older than the child in the film, stood up and asked:” HOW COME THE BOY HAS NO SWORD WHEN HE SHOOTS THE ARROW, BUT WHEN HE IS IN TALKING TO MAID MARION HE SUDDENLY HAS A WOODEN SWORD, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOW HE WAS CARRYING?”

Frank thought and smiled…” next question….” He said.


History for 8/8/2006
Birthdays: Emiliano Zapata. Esther Williams, UPA/ Terrytoons director Gene Deitch, Dino DeLaurentis, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Keith Carradine, Dustin Hoffman is 69, Martin Brest, Peter Weir, Patricia Arquette

1811- THE IRON CROSS- Before medals common soldiers were rewarded for gallantry with a few gold coins.George Washington and Napoleon made medals the things soldiers dreamed of. General Gerhard von Gneisenau urged the King of Prussia to create a medal like the French Legion d'Honneur to reward all ranks in the German Army. At first the sulky King was against anything that led common soldiers to believe they were better than the common schweinhunts he felt they were, but he finally was made to give in. The new medal was based on the heraldic symbol of the Crusader order of the Teutonic Knights, a black cross formed by four arrowheads. The "Iron Cross" medal was created. Goths, Surfer dudes and Hells Angels rejoiced.
courtesy drac in a box.

1876 - Thomas Edison patented the mimeograph, a forerunner of the Xerox process.

1944 - Smokey the Bear, named after NYC fireman Smokey Joe Martin born .

1960 – Brian Hyland’s song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-dot Bikini" hits #1.

1963 – The Kingsmen release the song "Louie, Louie,". Many labeled it obscene, although no one is quite sure just what the song lyrics mean. In the 1980s Northwestern University staged Louie-Louie Marathons- 44 straight hours of Louie-Louie, played by punk bands, polka bands, marching bands, folk trios, and singing water glasses.

1973-Vice President Spiro Agnew vows not to resign. He resigned shortly afterwards.