The 1950’s were an era in which it seemed that anything could be accomplished. As the dawn of the space era beckoned, the United States had embarked on a massive push to expand and improve its infrastructure. The country’s large investment would lead to unparalleled economic expansion, which led to ever larger private investments, one of which was Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Anaheim- DISNEYLAND.
It was an eagerness to show off these efforts to the world and a desire to jumpstart an underperforming ski resort that led to the Winter Olympics arriving near Lake Tahoe in 1960.
That a small, underperforming winter resort could rise from relative obscurity to a world renowned Olympic host city in such a small amount of time was unheard of. It could have only happened in California in the 1950’s. After Squaw Valley’s Olympic organizers realized how large a project staging the games would be, they ramped up construction and turned to the one person who they felt could assist them in accomplishing the impossible- Walt Disney.
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Pinocchio premiered on this day in 1940. Happy Birthday to Geppetto’s little wooden head!
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One of Disney’s most versatile villains actually pre-dates Mickey Mouse himself. Peg Leg Pete got his first role before The Walt Disney Company officially existed- in one of the Alice Comedies.
He eventually took a role in Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon Steamboat Willie. He was frequently seen committing kidnappings, often taking Minnie Mouse hostage, who would then need to be saved by Mickey Mouse.
As the Disney family of characters grew, Pete found himself working alongside Donald Duck and more importantly, Goofy.
It was his tie to Goofy that would give Pete his most visible role- in the Disney Afternoon cartoon Goof Troop, where he served as an aggressive, though not villainous, neighbor to Goofy.
Today, the oldest still active Disney character continues his 90+ year “career” on the Disney Junior show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
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One of Disney’s most prolific composers was also one of its first. Frank Churchill was hired as a staff writer and provided the scores for most of the cartoon shorts produced between 1930 and 1940, including the mammoth hit The Three Little Pigs. The song he wrote for the film- Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? became a huge success, cementing Frank’s place in Hollywood legend.
When Walt Disney decided to take on his biggest challenge up to that point- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Frank wrote most of the music for the film. The success of the movie led to him getting further assignments on The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, Peter Pan, Bambi and Dumbo. One of his songs became a modern lullaby- Baby Mine, which earned him an Oscar nomination.
Despite his huge success, Mr. Churchill suffered from severe depression and sadly committed suicide in 1942. He never saw how successful his arguably greatest song- Baby Mine- would become.
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