This photo from 2007 shows the excitement Sophie had for Donald Duck!
On June 9, 1934, Donald Duck made his debut in The Wise Little Hen, one of the Silly Symphony productions that Walt Disney did back in those days. Donald Duck was created as a companion character for Mickey Mouse; according to Wikipedia, there is a rumor that Donald Duck got his name from Australian cricket legend Donald Bradman, who, the story goes, was dismissed for a “duck” in a match. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I could certainly see that happening! Interestingly enough, a bit of trivia for you — did you know that Donald Duck has been in more films than any other Disney character, and that he is the most published comic book character outside of the superhero genre?
For me, my enjoyment of Donald Duck really stems from two things: my daughter and the Gran Fiesta Tour attraction in the Mexico Pavilion. The picture at the top of this post is an old one — back then, Sophie was so excited for Donald Duck! She was so excited during this meet and greet that she started bouncing, so of course Donald had to do the same! Another time, we saw Donald in the Mexico Pavilion, where Sophie gave him a big hug. She really enjoyed Donald back in the early days of our visits to Walt Disney World.
Now that she’s almost 15, I think her fascination with the characters has kind of waned a bit, and she’s more all about the adventures she makes with her friends.
The second thing that has caused me a lot of enjoyment with Donald is his role in the Gran Fiesta Tour. That simple little boat ride, which I’ve written about before, is just one of my favorite attractions at Epcot. I love all of the different scenes as we go looking for Donald!
So, happy birthday Donald! If you wish, take a look at the start of it all — The Wise Little Hen!
Who is Tubby the Tuba you ask? Well, if you were into collecting very obscure Disneyland Records releases in 1963, you’d recognize this character as a one-off musical instrument used to teach children about, what else: music.
But I’m guessing that doesn’t clear anything up for you, so I think this would be a good time to show you the LP cover:
I love his socks!
This LP from Disneyland Records follows the pattern of most similar releases in that the main title is confined to the A Side, with filler or stock music of a related theme confined to the B Side. So as you may gather from that, Tubby the Tuba and his story only appears on the A Side of this LP.
Annette does a fantastic job of narrating the story doing many character voices and even singing a very funny character song for a bullfrog.
FUN FACT:Even though Walt talked her out of changing her last name, with the argument that she would be unique and remembered for it, she is often billed as simply ‘Annette’. What’s up with that?
The story of Tubby the Tuba follows, you guessed it, a tuba as he tries to be taken seriously by the snobbish instruments of the orchestra he is a part of. While they get to play beautiful melodies he only gets to go ‘Uumpa! Uumpa!’ and is shouted down if he tries to do anything else.
After a rehearsal Tubby goes off by himself and sits down beside a pond where he meets a large bullfrog. The bullfrog is a happy and courteous fellow and greets the tuba and soon they are swapping life stories which turn out to be very similar. It seems the bullfrog’s singing isn’t appreciated by his pond friends either. He sings a tune for Tubby that both cheers him up and gives him something to play for his band mates!
Tubby returns to the orchestra for another rehearsal and tries to sneak the bullfrog’s tune in but is again shouted down by the other instruments. But the Conductor hears it and asks Tubby to play it again. He does so and it is so good that all of the other instruments join in and Tubby is now a respected part of the orchestra!
NOT-SO FUN FACT:Back in 1963 society still wasn’t very sensitive to anything that was different. Movies and television were filled with stereotypical depictions of heavy-set people. Usually every plucky protagonist had an overweight friend constantly munching on junk food for comic relief. I always wondered how those (usually) younger actors felt about being hired solely to be laughed at?
My contention is with the naming of this character: Tubby the Tuba. With the root word so obvious and the tuba’s size as an instrument, it’s not hard to see why the writers took the easy way out in naming him. But although arguably not as cute, couldn’t he have been named Thomas the Tuba or Terry the Tuba or Tony the Tuba?
This may be a stretch, but it comes close to fat shaming a tuba because of its size.
Now back to 2016 and the B Side of the LP:
This was a Short from 1953 and provided a history of music through the ages, from prehistoric man to the modern symphony orchestra.
An old standard given a new musical twist.
A medley featuring five things kids might sing about.
Jimmie Dodd sings a quasi-religious song based on the Bible book of Proverbs to the Mouseketeers.
This song was written by Dodd but sung by an ensemble.
It was great to hear Jimmie Dodd again as he was such a great talent and a very good man all around. It’s always interesting to see him outside of his Mickey Mouse Club role.
These old LPs are great collectors items and very inexpensive to obtain. I picked this one up a local flea market for just a dollar. The music is well done and the artwork is fun!
Whitman Publishing wasa subsidiary of Western Publishing that produced a popular line of children’s books the early 1900s to the mid-1970s. Whitman published a variety of genres including westerns, mysteries, science fiction, and adventure stories. Eventually they also published authorized editions of popular television shows and book adaptions of many Walt Disney films.
Among the most popular Disney adaptions were a series of mystery novels featuring Annette Funicello. And although I don’t have one of those, yet, I do have two Disney-related titles to share with you today:
Toby Tyler is a film produced by Walt Disney Productions and was released January 21, 1960. The book version above is copyrighted the same year. The story is based on the 1880 children’s book Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis Kaler.
Film Synopsis: Ten year old Toby runs away from his foster home to join the circus. There he soon befriends Mr. Stubbs, a chimpanzee. However, the circus isn’t all fun and he has some rough times. At one point, he departs the circus for home but is brought back to the circus against his will. His family is in attendance during one particular performance and a reunion ensues. Along with his chimpanzee sidekick, he creates a new act and is a big hit at the Big Top!
The book basically follows this plot with less detail than the movie version. Here are a few pages to show the artwork. The crude one-color printing is indicative of the period in publishing for children’s books:
Inside leaf, front and back
The next book that I have does co-star Annette along with Tommy Kirk as the title character, Merlin Jones:
Inside leaf, front and back
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones is a 1964 Walt Disney production where Kirk plays a college student who experiments with mind-reading and hypnotism, leading to run-ins with a local judge. Funicello plays his girlfriend (and sings the film’s title song written by brothers Robert and Richard Sherman). This film led to a 1965 sequel called The Monkey’s Uncle which featured another title song sung by Annette but this time with The Beach Boys. The book version is also copyrighted 1964.
Film Synopsis: Midvale College student Merlin designs a helmet that connects to an electroencephalographic tape that records mental activity. He is brought before a Judge for wearing the helmet while driving and his license is suspended. Merlin returns to the lab and discovers accidentally that his new invention enables him to read minds. This leads to a misunderstanding between himself and the judge, with hilarity ensuing!
Merlin’s next experiment uses hypnotism which he uses on lab chimp. Merlin gets into a fight over this and ends up in front of the same judge as before. After some explaining, Merlin and the judge enter into an experiment involving dishonesty with hilarity ensuing!
Let’s have a look at the artwork, which is again one-color renderings of key scenes:
I would give these two books, and the series from Whitman in general, a 4 out of 5 Stars. I think they are a great way to get your tween into reading but being as the series was discontinued in 1970’s it may be hard to interest them in the subject matter.
These books are very common and so can be found at almost any flea market. I paid only a few dollars for each of these. Condition issues are usually prevalent as the clear protective film that covers the hardcover binding tends to peel off, and the spines are often cracked.
Page yellowing is another common issue due to the cheap grade of paper used in printing, but this is expected and so doesn’t affect the price as much. Still, be careful what you pay, and only pay more for a copy that is in absolute mint condition.
I’ve reviewed the Special Souvenir Edition (SSE) of this book, but in this post I will focus on the regular edition, as it were.
This book was compiled by Keith Keller and published by Grosset & Dunlap of New York.
This version of the scrapbook is essentially the same but does contain some more interesting pictures than its SSE sibling. The regular version starts out with an introduction to the Producer of the show, Bill Walsh. This is new to this version. He spends a few pages telling the story of how the Mickey Mouse Club got on the air. Remember, this was about the same time that Disneyland was being built, as seen below:
There are many wonderful full-page spreads of vintage ads and bulletin pages that were distributed to fan clubs:
Next we meet the Mouseketeers, and see how they spent some of their off-screen time, and the rehearsal process:
Next we learn about the production of the show, its format, about the Serials, and then about Mouseketeer Mania! There were jumpsuits, ring promotions, records, and:
And who was everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer?
Who’s the little lady that we never will forget? – Annette!
The book closely follows the SSE version from here. There is the songbook, the Mouseketeers today (or at least, as of 1975), a call to find a few missing Mouseketeers, and a final dedication to Jimmie Dodd (1910-1964).
Here is what two Mouseketeers thought of the book:
“It’s such a thrill to see a book like this. It’s like reliving my childhood.” – Annette Funicello
“A terrific record of the good times!” – Bobby Burgess (later, of the Lawerence Welk Show)
I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars for being so full of nostalgia, just like its SSE sibling! Any fan of the show, Annette, or early Disney lore will love it!
The Parent Trap was released in 1961 and stars Hayley Mills (in her second of six Disney films), Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith in a story about teenage twins who try to reunite their divorced parents.
The screenplay was based on the 1949 book Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kästner. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards, was broadcast on television, saw three television sequels (The Parent Trap II, made in 1986, starred an adult Hayley Mills), was remade in 1998 with Lindsay Lohan, and, back to 1961, was made into a comic book by Dell:
Dell Comics was the comic book publishing arm of Dell Publishing, which got its start in pulp magazines. It published comics from 1929 to 1973. At its peak, it was the most prominent and successful American company in the medium. In 1953 Dell claimed to be the world’s largest comics publisher, selling 26 million copies each month.
At 15 cents per copy, at least they were affordable! Dell Comics was best known for its licensed material, most notably the animated characters from Walt Disney Productions.
Let’s have a look inside the book:
Above and on the left is the inside cover featuring stills from the film covering the main plot points. Above and on the right is the first page which sets up the story with the arrival of the twins at Miss Inch’s Summer Camp for Girls.
The girls finally realize they are twins!
The infamous ‘sock in the eye’ scene between the parents
As was typical of Dell Publishing, the writer and artists don’t get any credit, so it is likely that they used staff artists and not Disney animators. Although other Dell titles, usually depicting animated characters, sometimes did use Disney staff for the artwork.
This comic has two more unique features. First, on the inside back cover there is a nice spread explaining how twins were viewed and treated in the past:
“A sure cure for colic in an animal was to have a twin kick it seven times.” Boy, I’m sure glad that practice never made it into modern pediatrics!
The second unique feature is on the back cover. Instead of advertising (which this entire comic book is void of) there is a one-page gag strip based on The Parent Trap twins:
The only drawback of reading the comic book over viewing the movie is that you don’t get to hear the great songs written by Richard and Robert Sherman which included “The Parent Trap”, “For Now, For Always”, and “Let’s Get Together”. “Let’s Get Together” (sung by Annette Funicello) is heard playing from a record player at the summer camp with the tune being reprised by the twins when they restage their parents’ first date.
The title song was performed by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello, who were both on the studio lot shooting Babes in Toyland at the time.
So I guess in the end, everyone was able to ‘get together’ to make this film magical!