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courtesy of Cartoon
Jenny LaRew has a great piece on her Blackwing Diaries for August 8th.(see my links page) An unabashed fan of the great Disney animator Fred Moore, she tried to dispel many of the rumors surrounding his death in an auto accident in 1953. This story is one of the more mysterious myths in Animation History. It demonstrates the problem all historians share of interpreting what really transpired at an event. When the full story of something as unexpected and tragic as Moore’s death is kept from the curious, the rumors and stories arise and assume a life of their own. Accounts come from people who heard from someone who heard from someone, people with an agenda, some who just like a good story. Sometimes even the main characters themselves in their old age try to repaint history to correct old mistakes, or opinions no longer believed in. Case in point, read the memoirs of General Blood & Guts Patton- War as I Knew It.. He makes himself out to be a really reasonable, level headed guy. For someone so interesting it’s a really boring read.

Hollywood Animation loves it’s legends as much as the live action world does. So, did composer Frank Churchill really shoot himself over the piano saying as his last words” How’s this Walt?” Or did he walk out into a Valencia onion field to kill himself, where the future site of Cal Arts would be? Did an animator jump off the studio water tower in 1935? Did Walt call Art Babbitt a “fag” when Art told him he was taking dancing lessons to better animate his sections of Fantasia? Did Disney at his death really leave behind a memo listing the stories never to be made into animated features, and heading the list were the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast? We’ll never know for sure.

In my book Drawing the Line I examine a few celebrated incidents- When Babbitt and Walt almost came to fisticuffs outside the Buena Vista Gate during the 1941 strike, did Bill Tytla join the strikers only because he and Babbitt were friends? and what did Winsor McCay really say that was such a buzzkill at the testimonial dinner given for him by the Animation community?

History for 8/9/2006
Birthdays: King Henry V of England, John Dryden, Sir Issac Walton-author of the Compleat Angler, Melanie Griffith, Whitney Houston, David Steinberg,Bob Cousy, Jill St. John, Robert Shaw, Robert Aldrich, Sam Elliot, Gillian Anderson, Pamela Lyndon Travers –the creator of Mary Poppins, Eric Bana, Audrey Tautou

1929- Hollywood theater mogul Alexander Pantages was convicted of assaulting a young woman in a broom closet. The conviction was later overturned. It was the first successful defense case of attorney Jerry Geisler, who became famous for getting movie stars and other Hollywood hoi poloi out of trouble with the law. The word in the studios when a movie star was naughty was “Get Geisler!”

1930- Max Fleischer's cartoon "Dizzy Dishes" introduces Betty Boop. A singing star named Helen Kane sued Fleischer claiming that they stole her distinctive Boop-Ooop-a-Doop from her, but the case was thrown out when it was revealed Kane had stolen it herself from another singer. Betty was supposed to be a dog character to match her male couterpart Bimbo. But Animator Grim Natwick had done a lot of drawing of girls in Paris and New York and turned the character into a saucy little flapper.

1942- Walt Disney's "Bambi" premiered.

1944- Antoine Du Saint-Exupery, the author of the Little Prince, died when he crashed his fighter plane. He was not shot down by the Germans, he was just a terrible pilot. The main protaganist of the little prince is an aviator who crashes his plane.

1945- President Harry Truman was reporting to Congress and the nation about his trip to Potsdam and plan for post war Germany. He said among other things that it was vital for democracy in Germany to break up the huge centralized corporations and foster the rights of workers to form unions. Hmmm…we could use a plan like that in the US today….

1947 -The British government in an attempt to bolster revenue for their shattered postwar economy, announced a 300% import tariff on Hollywood films. The Big Eight-Hollywood studios retaliate by stopping the export of movies to Britain. The British film industry has a heyday and Disney starts producing films locally in Britain like 'Rob Roy Highland Rogue' and such.

1963 - Britains rock & roll TV show, Ready Steady Go, premieres.

1974- “KNEEL WITH ME, HENRY.” Richard Nixon, aka Tricky Dick, resigned and left the Presidency of the United States in disgrace. I was a young zitty cartoonist in the offices of Penthouse Magazine in New York trying to sell some spot cartoons when I heard the news. A secretary burst out of the back yelling " HE RESIGNED! HE RESIGNED!!" New President Gerald Ford of whom Lyndon Johnson once said "Sometimes I think Jerry played football once too often with his helmet off" assumed office. Gerald Ford’s real name was Leslie Lynch King. His parents divorced when he was two and his mom’s second husband Gerald Ford Sr renamed him. Sharing in the humiliation of the presidency was Ford's chief of staff, Dick Cheney.