Monday, November 30, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 30, 2020

Birthdays: Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Jonathan Swift, Shirley Chisholm, Gordon Parks, G. Gordon Liddy, Alan Sherman, Abbie Hoffman, Virginia Mayo, Ephram Zimbalist Jr, Richard Crenna, Robert Guilliame, Rex Reason, Mandy Patinkin, Luther Ingram, Ridley Scott is 83, David Mamet, Shuggie Otis, Billy Idol, Joan Ganz Cooney the creator of Sesame Street, Dick Clark, Ben Stiller is 54, Henry Selick


1886- Paris’ famed naughty nightclub the Follies Bergere opened. The home of the Can-Can, Toulouse Lautrec, Josephine Baker, Bricktop, and Maurice Chevalier.


1900- Oscar Wilde died of meningitis in a hotel in Paris. He was 46. His last words; "This wallpaper is appalling! Either it goes or I do."


1922- The great actress Sarah Bernhardt made her last performance in Turin Italy. She was still considered sexy despite advanced age and a wooden leg.


1940- Actress Lucille Ball married Cuban band leader Dezi Arnez. Together they pioneered the new art of Television Situation Comedy. They divorced in 1960.


1966- Barbados got its independence from Britain.


1968- “Love Child” by Diana Ross and the Supremes hit #1 in the pop charts.


1970- First day shooting on William Freidkin’s film The French Connection.


1976- Australian tabloid king Rupert Murdoch turned his attention to America. Today he bought the New York Post. The Post, a newspaper originally started in 1794 by Alexander Hamilton, quickly gains notoriety as the trashiest newspaper in the U.S.  

1979- ESPN, the 24 hour sports channel began broadcasting.


1982- Nova Pictures is founded, but due to conflict with a PBS TV show of the same name they change theirs to TriStar Pictures. In 1994 TriStar was merged into Sony Pictures.


1985- Punk band The Dead Kennedys released their album Frankenchrist.


2003- Roy Disney Jr, the last serving member of the Disney family, was forced to resign from the Walt Disney Company. It was claimed to be the mandatory retirement policy, but more likely he was forced out by the exec he himself hired to run the company in 1984- Michael Eisner. Roy built a successful grass roots stockholders campaign In 2005 Eisner was compelled to retire. Roy Disney kept an emeritus board position until his death in 2009.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 29, 2020

Birthdays: Gaetano Donizetti, Busby Berkeley, C.S. Lewis (Carl Staples Lewis), Louisa May Alcott, Chuck Mangione, Yakima Canutt, Gary Shandling, Cathy Moriarity, Don Cheadle, Joel Coen is 64, Jacques Chirac, Howie Mandell, Susee “Chapstick” Chafee, Chadwick Boseman, Anna Faris is 44, Vin Scully is 93


1913- In the first years of animated films, one artist like Winsor McCay drew everything alone, and may have hired a cameraman or assistant. This day, John Randolph Bray's cartoon "Colonel Heeza Liar in Africa" debuted. Bray adapted Henry Ford's assembly line system to making animation, today known as the Production Pipeline. He created the job positions of layout, animator, inbetweener, background painter, inker, blackeners (cel painters), and camera. In the 1920s the job of gag man (storyboarder), cleanup and checkers. After 1919, Bray shifted his studio focus from entertainment to technical and training films. J.R. Bray started the careers of Paul Terry, Walter Lantz, Max & Dave Fleischer, Dick Heumer, and Shamus Culhane. 

1942- During WWII, the U.S. declared coffee would be rationed along with sugar, gasoline and rubber. And lots more. People put their cars up on blocks "for the duration". Gas Ration cards were listed as C, B & A. The C card meant essential defense worker so they had unlimited access to gasoline. B cards police & fire. An A card was the least important, i.e. us.


1959- The Second Grammy Awards, broadcast for the first time on television. Bobby Darin’s rendition of Mack the Knife won top honors.


1961- NASA sent Enos the Chimp into orbit.


1972- Atari announced Pong, the first popular mass-marketed interactive game. 


1981- Actress Natalie Wood drunkenly toppled off her yacht near Catalina Island and 

drowned. Her husband Robert Wagner, and friend Christopher Walken were onboard having an argument and unaware of her predicament. Wood had once confessed to a friend that she had a horror of drowning. 


2001- Beatle guitarist and composer George Harrison died of cancer. He was 58.


2018- The premiere of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 28, 2020

Birthdays: Jean Baptiste Lully, William Blake, Frederick Engels, Stefan Zweig, Ernst Roehm, Brooks Atkinson, Berry Gordy the founder of Motown Records, Anton Rubinstein, Gary Hart, Vern Den Herder, Paul Warfield, Hope Lange, Ed Harris is 70 Paul Schaefer, Joe Dante, Michael Ritchie, Anna Nicole-Smith, Randy Newman, John Stewart is 58


1870- Painter Jean Bazille was shot and killed while serving in the French Army fighting the Prussians. He was only 29. He had been one of the leaders of the new Impressionists painters. Had he lived he might have produced many masterpieces and would’ve been as famous as Degas, Monet or Cezanne.


1907- 23 year old Russian-Canadian scrap metal dealer Lazar Meir, now renamed Louis B. Mayer, bought an old burlesque house in Haverhill Massachusetts to show the new moving picture shows. Originally called The Gem, it was such a dump locals called it The Germ. Mayer renamed it The Orpheum and on Thanksgiving Day opened with the film “ From the Manger to the Cross”. L.B. Mayer grew his film business to become MGM, and at the time of his death in 1950 was the most powerful man in Hollywood. The Motion Picture Academy was his idea.


1925- First radio broadcast from the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville.


1946- During the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC, Hollywood cameras filmed the Macy Parade scenes for the movie “Miracle on 34th St.” At this time, Hollywood movies were rarely filmed on location.


1947- Disney's cartoon "Chip and Dale".


1948- Hopalong Cassidy premiered on television.


1953- Cartoonist & writer Milt Gross died.


1989- Opposites Attract, Paula Abdul dancing with cartoon MC Skat Kat, was released. It became one of the most popular R&B & dance-pop singles of 1990 and won a Grammy. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 27, 2020

Birthdays: Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jimi Hendrix would have been 78, Bruce Lee-original name Lee Jun Fan, would have been 80, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is 63, James Agee, Chaim Weizmann, Mobster Vito Genovese, Czech leader Alexander Dubcheck, David Merrick, Marshal Thompson, Robin Givens, Judd Nelson, Buffalo Bob Smith, William Fichtner, Kathryn Bigelow is 69


1582- William Shakespeare 18, married Ann Hathaway 26. They married quickly, and their first child Susannah was born after only six months. They had a son who died and two daughters. Three year later Will left Ann in Stratford on Avon, and by 1591 was known as an actor in London. 


1924- The First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The marvel of the parade were large displays that moved down the street thanks to small automobiles concealed under them. They seemed to "float", so they were called parade floats today.  The huge balloons were added in 1927. Originally after the parade the balloons were let go to float away into the sky. Macy’s offered a bounty to people who found them after they landed, usually in rural New Jersey. 


1932- Former Terrytoons animator Art Babbitt, now at Walt Disney's, wrote to fellow  animator Bill Tytla, encouraging him to come out to California. "Terry owes you a lot and Disney has plans for a full length color cartoon!"


1936- Max Fleischer's cartoon featurette, "Popeye meets Sinbad the Sailor".


1953- Playwright Eugene O'Neill died of pneumonia, Parkinson's Disease, and alcoholism at 65. He had been writing on cardboard laundry shirt boards because he needed something large to write on because his hands trembled so violently. When O’Neill realized his end was near he tore up six plays he was writing because he wanted no one else to complete them. He was staying at the Shelton Hotel in Boston. As his father was an actor his family traveled frequently. O'Neill's last words were : "I knew it! Born in a hotel room, and goddammit, I'm dying in a hotel room! "


1960 – Gordie Howe becomes the first NHL player to score 1000 goals.


1963- The Beatles release the single “ I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”


1967- The Beatles release Magical Mystery Tour.


1973- Conjunction Junction, by Jack Sheldon, first played on the TV show Schoolhouse Rock.

2002- Disney’s animated feature Treasure Planet opened in theaters.


2009- Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer of his time and could have been the greatest in history. He didn’t just win tournaments, he dominated the entire sport. While other athletes were tainted with drugs and scandal, Tiger had a squeaky clean image.

This Thanksgiving night at 2:30AM, Tiger Woods crashed his SUV into a tree as a result of an argument with his Swedish bikini model wife, who chased him from their home waving one of his golf clubs. This incident revealed Woods as a compulsive philanderer. More than a dozen women- cocktail waitresses, bimbos and porn stars came forward to admit riding the Tiger. His reputation in tatters, Tiger Woods’ game suffered as well and it took many years to regain his champion form. 


2013- Disney film Frozen premiered. Let it Go! Let it Go!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 26, 2020

Birthdays: John Harvard 1607(founder of Harvard University), Bat Masterson, Eugene Ionesco, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, Marian Mercer, Charles Schulz, Cyril Cusak, Eric Severaid, Rich Little, Wendy Turnbull, Robert Goulet, Don Hahn.


HAPPY U.S. THANKSGIVING  Since the earliest times societies have had harvest festivals to give thanks to the appropriate deities that they're not going to starve that winter. A letter written in 1621 by pilgrim Edward Winslow described how Pilgrim Gov. Bradford and Miles Standish invited Massasoit and 90 of his Wampanoag people to a feast to celebrate their first successful harvest. The Indians brought several deer they killed. Gov. Bradford, who wrote a detailed history of the colony, does not mention the event. The custom of Thanksgiving was a New England custom for decades thereafter. Abe Lincoln made it a national celebration in 1864.



1716- In Boston, the first African lion ever seen in America was put on exhibit.


1825-Kappa Alpha of Union College NY is established. The first college Greek Letter fraternity house.


1865- Lewis Carroll sent a copy of the completed manuscript of his fantasy Alice in Wonderland to his 12 year old friend and inspiration Alice Liddell. Carroll later published the book with his own money. This is one of the first books written solely to amuse children, and not to educate or discipline them.


1868- At first baseball games were played in a convenient cow pasture. Today the baseball game was played in an enclosed field. It was in San Francisco at Folsom & 25th St.


1917- The National Hockey League-NHL, was founded in Montreal. The first teams The Quebec Bulldogs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas, and Montreal Maroons.


1940- Woody Woodpecker first appeared in an Andy Panda cartoon "Knock-Knock.’


1945- Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie recorded KoKo, the first bebop Jazz single. Instead of big bands as was the fashion, they used a smaller quintet. The pianist at the session didn’t have his New York union card, so after his solo, Dizzy dropped his trumpet and did the piano backup to Birds’ solo. The term Bop came from an earlier Lionel Hampton hit “Hey-Bop-A-ReBop”. Jazz critic Ira Gitler picked up on the witty interplay between musicians, and began wrote of the new sound as BeBop.


1976- Sex Pistols Punk single “Anarchy in the UK” released.


1990- Acting on the example of Sony’s purchase of MGM-Columbia studios, Matushita (Panasonic) bought MCA- Universal studios for $6.6 billion. After a few fruitless years they sold it to the Bronfman’s group, the distillers of Seagram’s Whiskey. 



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov. 25, 2020

Birthdays: Lope de Vega, St. Pope John XXIII, Andrew Carnegie, Tina Turner, Joe Dimaggio, Carl Benz of Mercedes Benz, Virgil Thompson, Jeffrey Hunter, John Kennedy,Jr., Percy Sledge, Ben Stein, Ricardo Montalban, Bob Matheson, John Larroquette, Gloria Steinem, General Augusto Pinochet, Christina Applegate, Bucky Dent, Bill Kroyer



1795- English architect Henry Latrobe left Europe for a life in the U.S. 

Latrobe was the architect who built the U.S. Capitol building.


1817- First sword swallower performed in the US.


1864- In a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at New York’s Winter garden Theater the three Booth brothers- John Wilkes, Edwin and Junius Booth appeared together for the only time. Other famous acting families of the time included the Powers, whose descendant was the movie star Tyrone Power, and the Barrymores, who’s line continues down today from John to John Drew to Drew Barrymore.


1869- Ned Buntline was a hack dime novelist who understood that selling stories about gunfighters of the west would be easier if you could occasionally produce one in the flesh. So on a trip to Nebraska he found among the cavalry scouts an accommodatingly colorful rogue named William Cody, who everybody called Buffalo Bill. This day Ned Buntline announced in the New York Weekly the first installment of a serial series “Buffalo Bill, King of the Bordermen”. Buntline and Cody collaborated to make Buffalo Bill the first true American media star, entertaining millions, from crowned heads to street kids, until his retirement in 1916..


1929- Alfred Hitchcock’s film Blackmail opened in London. It was the first full length talkie in Britain.


1949- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sung by Gene Autry hit number one on the musical charts.


1952- The stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery the Mousetrap opened in London’s West End and became one of the longest running plays in history.


1960- CBS canceled its remaining five radio soap operas, most of them now on television. 


1963- THE FUNERAL OF JOHN F. KENNEDY. The massed muffled drums, bagpipes, bands blaring Chopin’s Funeral March, the riderless horse named BlackJack with the boots in the stirrups turned inward, a tradition that went back to Genghis Khan, the black horse drawn artillery caisson modeled on Abraham Lincoln's. 

This day was also John Kennedy, Jr.'s birthday, and a big party had been planned with lots of little tots.  Jackie knew that John-john didn't understand the gravity of what had transpired, so after the funeral she changed out of her widow’s weeds and ran a kiddie party.


1963- In his family home in Queens NY, young songwriter Paul Simon was deeply depressed by the assassination of President Kennedy. He locked himself in his bathroom and kicked around chords on his guitar. That night, he wrote “ Hello darkness, my old friend….”


1970- Japan's greatest modern poet-playwright Yukio Mishima committed suicide(seppuku) after attempting a coup at a military base. He had it all filmed as it happened. He felt Japan was losing her spiritual soul to crass materialism and the ancient Bushido warrior code was the only way back. The Japanese Defense Force soldiers he appealed to join his cause, just laughed at him.

  In a poll conducted in a magazine at the time, about 75% of Japanese women said they would rather commit suicide than sleep with Yukio Mishima.

1975- According to the movie Rocky, this was the date of the first prizefight portrayed in the film where we first meet Rocky Balboa.


1992- Walt Disney’s Aladdin opened wide in theaters.


1995- Legendary Corporate CEO Akio Morita resigned as the leader of Sony. Under his guidance Sony went from a little postwar maker of electric rice cookers to the largest electronics giant in the world. His official reason was he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while playing tennis. Some insiders said he was dealing with the stress of managing Sony's Hollywood studios -MGM, Columbia, TriStar losing $2 billion. By the time Morita died in 1999, the Sony movie studios had pulled out of their slump and were on top with movies like Titanic and Men in Black.


1997- Pixar’s A Bugs Life and the short Geri’s Game premiered. 


2009- Disney’s Princess and the Frog released.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Animation Fun Facts for Nov 24, 2020

Birthdays: Spinoza, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Scott Joplin, Zachary Taylor, Carrie Nation, Dick Powell, Garson Kanin, Cass Gilbert-the architect of the first skyscraper, Alvan Barkley-Truman’s VP, William F. Buckley, John Lindsay, Dale Carnegie- author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Steve Yeager, Denise Crosby, Billy Connolly is 79


1789- The first issue of France’s national newspaper Le Moniteur.

1859- Charles Darwin published his book on evolution, The Origin of the Species.


1904- Alfred Steiglitz and Edward Steichen opened 291, the first art gallery dedicated exclusively to the art of photography.


1922- Irish writer Erskine Childers was the writer of the Riddle of the Sands, one of the first true spy novels, but he was also a leader of the IRA, and after Irelands Treaty with Britain he sided with the anti-treaty rebels in the Irish Civil War. This day Erskine Childers was executed by an Irish Army firing squad. His son became President of Ireland in 1973.


1933- The RKO movie Flying Down to Rio released, meant as a starring vehicle for Dolores Del Rio, but what we remember is it is the first pairing of the famous dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.


1937- The Andrew Sisters record their Boogie-Woogie version of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon”, an old Yiddish Klezmer song that was updated by Bennie Goodman.


1938- LENI DOES TINSELTOWN -Hitler's top filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl arrived in Hollywood to meet the film community and show off her new documentary 'Olympia". Nazis charges de’ affaires in L.A. Gerhard Gyssling had bragged to the press that all Hollywood was dying to meet Germany’s top film artist. But Hollywood had different ideas. Paramount, Warner Bros., Columbia, Fox and Goldwyn refused to speak to her and picketers hounded her every step. Well known Conservatives like Louis B. Mayer and Gary Cooper were polite but begged off the bad publicity.

 The only studio heads who would meet Leni Reifenstahl were Hal Roach and Walt Disney. Uncle Walt gave her a tour of the studio but begged off running her film, saying the union projectionist would make trouble. ( uh-huh....) Years later Disney said he didn't really know who she was. (uh-huh......) In her 90s, Leni told LA historian Robert Nudleman that she thought Walt met her because his professional curiosity got the better of him. That he wanted to see Olympia, because it was the only film to beat his Snow White at the Venice Film Festival, then the world’s most prestigious film festival.


1941- After suffering a strike and declining revenue because of the war in Europe, Walt Disney’s studio was in trouble.  Animator Ward Kimball noted in his diary for this day: “ 100 layoffs announced. Studio personnel from 1600 down to a Hyperion level of 300. Geez, It this the writing on the wall?”


1947- THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST- 50 Hollywood moguls like Harry Cohn, Jack Warner and Dori Charey meet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to formulate a group response to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee anti-commie hearings that were targeting Hollywood. Besides the heat from the feds their stockholders were clamoring for them to get the Reds out! They agreed to enforce an industry-wide blacklisting of anyone refusing to cooperate with the HUAC Committee. Nothing was ever officially written down or published, if you were blacklisted you suddenly were unable to find any work. 

Out of an estimated 15,000 entertainment workers only around 300 were ever actually proven to be Communists. Famous blacklist victims included Zero Mostel, Lillian Hellman, Lloyd Bridges, Dashell Hammett, Gale Sondergaard, Edward G. Robinson, Sterling Hayden & Dalton Trumbo. Sidney Poitier was blacklisted for no other reason than he was friends with black activist-actor Canada Lee; 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' composer Yip Harburg was blacklisted for writing a song: “Happiness is a thing called Joe" which the committee took to mean Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. 


1948- Hib Johnson, the President of Johnson's Wax had just moved into a home designed for him by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Called Wingspread, it was considered the culmination of Wrights Prairie style. But there was a problem. Johnson called Frank Lloyd Wright to complain that the roof was leaking rainwater onto his Thanksgiving dinner! The water was leaking right on Hib's head as he sat at the head of the table. He refused to budge, had the phone cord stretched so he could make the

call, and spoke to Wright with the drops splashing off his bald head. What was Frank Lloyd Wright’s response?   " So move your table..." 


1950- Gen. Douglas MacArthur announced his "Home by Christmas Offensive" to finish off the North Korean army and end the Korean War. The following day he was attacked by 180,000 Red Chinese. MacArthur was fired and the war dragged on until 1953.


1950- The musical Guys & Dolls opened. “ I got da horse right here, his name is Paul Revere, I know a jock who tells me Never Fear, Can Do- Can Do..The Jock sez da horse can –do ”


1958- The musical film Gigi opened, music by Lerner & Lowe. Based on the writings of French author Collette, Collette herself had insisted young unknown Dutch actress Audrey Hepburn play the lead.


1968- Hey Jude by the Beatles topped the pop charts while Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man headed the Country & Western listing.


1991- Freddy Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, died of AIDS. He was 45.


1998- America On Line bought their chief competitor Netscape.


1999- Pixar’s Toy Story 2. in theaters. 


2000- Catherine Zeta-Jones married Michael Douglas. 


2010- Disney’s Tangled released.