Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My new book documenting Walt Disney's time in France as a volunteer driver with the Red Cross at the end of World War I has just been released in soft-cover and e-book formats.

Check out my publisher's information page at this link for more information.

The book contains a lot of new information and photos including:

  • five never-before-published photos of Walt in his Red Cross uniform
  • the contents of a scrapbook of art Walt sent home to a school chum
  • two photographs of famous Parisian landmarks snapped by Walt himself
  • five postcards sent to friends back home
  • the contents of dozens of letters exchanged between Walt and his former canteen boss following the war, when they renewed their friendship
  • extensive use of journalist Pete Martin's landmark 1956 interview with Walt Disney - "hear" Walt speak about his many overseas adventures including the "charge of the cordwood brigade," the court martial that almost happened, doctored souvenirs, the picnic with a famous general's son, and much, much, more.

Join Walt as he celebrates his seventeenth birthday in a small French bistro, and learn about this exciting and formative time in his life that closed his childhood and set him on the path to the man he would become.

Walt stands atop an abandoned British tank overlooking the Hindenburg Line, a defensive barrier built by the Germans that ran across northeastern France. This image and many other never-before-published photos and research items make their debut in the book.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Disney and the war: Service With Character

My book on Disney's involvement in World War II is now available in both print and e-book formats on Amazon. It's a revised edition of the book Toons At War, which I self-published 13 years ago! The title of the updated and revised edition is: Service With Character. The Disney Studio and World War II.

The second edition contains a lot of new information on Disney's contributions to the home front, military training films, propaganda films, life at the studio during the war, and the Studio's creation of over 1,200 combat insignia. This book covers a huge variety of topics related to Disney during World War II.

Click on this link to check it out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Remember Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941. "A day which will live in infamy . . . "

Remember Pearl Harbor!

A December 9, 1941 editorial in The Oregonian newspaper claims to have been the first to use the catchphrase, "Remember Pearl Harbor!" In the months that followed the surprise attack, all manner of retail items were emblazoned with the phrase, and sold to Americans wanting revenge for what happened to her sailors, soldiers, and ordinary citizens that sunny Sunday morning on December 7.

Disney artist Hank Porter created all of the art found on the six Aircraft Warning Service posters in this thread. Five of the images come our way courtesy the Porter family, while the sixth is from The Walt Disney Archives.

One of the posters in the series features a caricature of a stereotyped Japanese soldier. This type of illustration is rare from the Disney Studio. While other Hollywood cartoon studios often portrayed enemy stereotypes in their cartoons, Disney rarely did. And for the amount of war-related combat insignia and home front items produced using Disney-created art, the number of "enemy" stereotypes depicted is an exceptionally small number.

As a side-note, I've been interviewing WW II veterans about their time in the military for many years now. In 2006 I interviewed a Pearl Harbor survivor named Donald Stratton. Donald not only witnessed the Japanese attack firsthand, he lived it - Donald was aboard USS Arizona the morning of December 7. My interview with Donald is one of the most emotional interviews I have ever conducted with a WW II veteran. Donald's recollections of that fateful day can be read here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

War Finance Committee - part 4

A recent addition to my collection - a war bond promotional booklet featuring two images of the Disney-designed "Bonds For Babies" certificate.

This booklet measures 6 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches and is in mint condition. There are eight pages. The back cover and one inside page picture the Disney certificate. The booklet was printed for the Los Angeles County War Finance Committee Women's Division "through the courtesy of the Sears Roebuck Foundation."

More info on the Disney certificate can be found in this blog's September 2006 and October 2006 archives.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Donald Gets Drafted - production animation drawing

From my collection, an animation production drawing from the 1942 Disney war short Donald Gets Drafted. This cartoon was one of several produced during the war that depicted Donald Duck as a member of the military.
Some of the other Donald Duck short films produced during the war included: The Vanishing Private; Sky Trooper; Fall In Fall Out; Commando Duck; and Home Defense. As a sidenote, as part of a publicity event during his 50th birthday party in 1984, Donald was promoted by Army officials to the rank of Sergeant as a sign of thanks for all he did for the war effort and he was given an honorable discharge.

I framed this animation drawing with a copy of Donald's draft notice, which appears in the film. The notice ordered Donald to report for duty on April 1st, 1941 (April Fool's Day), was notice number 13 (Donald's lucky number) and informed Donald he had to report to an address located on "Soldier's Walk and General's Drive."

Please excuse the glare from my camera's flash.

To see a larger, clearer image of the drawing, click on the picture in this post.

Friday, October 27, 2006

War Finance Committee - part 3

From my collection, a copy of the May 1944 issue of Playthings magazine. The cover of this issue promoted the Disney-designed war savings certificate. Playthings served those in the toy trade. The magazine was filled with advertisements representing various toy manufacturers and their lines of merchandise.

New York promoter Kay Kamen (who licensed Our Gang merchandise before being hired by Walt Disney), became Disney's sole merchandise licensing representative in the early 1930s. Kamen was an astute businessman who earned the Disney brothers millions of dollars during the Great Depression by granting merchandise rights to such giants as Ingersoll, Lionel and General Mills.

Kamen created and developed several phenomenal merchandise campaigns. Bakeries, gas stations and dairies used Disney merchandise and promotional material developed by Kamen and his staff to successfully promote their own products. Kamen produced several merchandise catalogs in the thirties that showcased Disney licensed products and he created amazing Christmas department store toyland promotions.
Kamen, his wife and several others died in a plane crash near the Azores in 1949.

Several different issues of Playthings magazine can be found with Disney illustrations on the cover. Kamen often paid for the advertising space on the magazine's front cover and used that space to promote the latest products or films.