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MichaelBarrier.com Exploring the World of Animation and Comic Art

"What's New" Archives: June 2017

 

June 13, 2017:

When Mickey Mouse Turned Five

 

June 5, 2017:

A Museum Tour with Will Eisner (2000)

 

June 13, 2017:

When Mickey Mouse Turned Five

Dave Mason wrote in response to an item I posted last fall, a guest post by Garry Apgar about the unsettled question of exactly when Mickey Mouse can be said to have been "born."

Someone else may have stumbled onto this little nugget already… but I thought I'd pass along my findings in connection with your September 1, 2016, item providing a brief mention of the fifth birthday party for Mickey Mouse (September 30, 1933).

 Mickey1  While the accompanying photo with Mickey and Bela Lugosi has been widely associated with Mickey's fifth birthday since it was first published in the Motion Picture Herald (October 7, 1933), most Disney historians since that time have been unaware of the true location of the event and of the other individuals pictured in the photo.

Those pictured with Mickey Mouse include (left to right):  Joe Penner (comedian), Mrs. Joe (Eleanor Vogt) Penner, Olga Baclanova (actress), Bela Lugosi (actor), Mrs. Bela (Lillian Arch) Lugosi (mother of Bela Lugosi's only child, Bela George Lugosi), and Paul Gerrits (actor, comedian).

The confusion with subsequent descriptions of the photo might be rooted in the Saturday, September 30, 1933, column by "Phil M. Daly" in The Film Daily.  In referencing "THE Mickey Mouse Birthday Party tonight at the Hollywood restaurant…" his lack of specificity may have led researchers to assume he was writing about a celebration in Hollywood, California.

Mickey2However, the event was actually held at the Hollywood Restaurant (aka Hollywood Cabaret Restaurant) at 47th and Broadway in New York City.  The event was hosted by Mickey's new film distributor, United Artists.

 The assembly of these individuals at New York's Hollywood Restaurant makes a bit more sense when it is understood that Lugosi, Baclanova, and Gerrits had just opened on September 12 in Earl Carroll's "Murder at the Vanities" at the New Amsterdam Theatre (only five blocks from the restaurant).

This performance also represented Lugosi's first return to the stage since starring as "Dracula" (1931) and as such, it would have been unlikely that he would show up in California that weekend to honor Mickey.

Mickey3

In addition, the two comedians would have been well aware of the New York party's emcee, comedian and fellow performer Jerry Lester (who also provided several of the celebrity voices for Mickey's Gala Premiere).Prior reports on Mickey's fifth birthday party have also mentioned Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers and Mary Pickford being in attendance. However, that appears unlikely as the entire group had just gathered on September 28 at the Writers Club (6700 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood) to honor Walt and his smash success with Three Little Pigs.

It seems reasonable that if Walt wasn't going to travel to New York for the east coast party, neither would the other attendees of the event in Los Angeles.

Film Daily

Garry Apgar, author of two books on The Mouse, adds the following: Great stuff from Dave Mason. The more you dig into Disney or Mickey, the more you find. One thread always leads to another—not to mention the occasional twisted knot. And wonderful photos, too. All that’s missing is a La Martinique matchbook on the table in front of Mickey and friends. 

The Hollywood restaurant, at 47th and Broadway, was located not far from the Broadway Theatre, formerly Universal’s Colony Theatre, at 53rd and Broadway. The Colony, of course, is where Mickey Mouse debuted in November 1928 in Steamboat Willie. If there has been any modern-day confusion about the restaurant’s location that’s because Film Daily was published in the Big Apple. Back then, the paper’s readership (show biz folk mainly, and New Yorkers especially) would generally be familiar with the restaurant mentioned by “Phil M. Daly.” Anyone in Tinseltown would certainly know that the Hollywood was not one of their local hangouts. I might also point out that Jack Alicoate, the editor-in-chief of Film Daily, was a big Disney booster. As early as 1922 and running through 1929 after Mickey hit it big, Walt was written up twelve times in the self-styled “Newspaper of Filmdom.”

Dave’s post does pose two questions, however. What was Joe (“Wanna buy a duck?”) Penner doing in a promotional shot for a stuffed mouse? Once Donald Duck hit it big that would have been unthinkable. Penner, incidentally, was briefly caricatured in the last of the Silly Symphonies, Mother Goose Goes to Hollywood in 1938.

The second question is: what is in those two bottles on the table? Can’t be wine or champagne. They are not standard size bottles for vino, much less the bubbly. Besides, there is no stemware in sight. Maybe it’s sparkling mineral water. It looks like there’s ice in the otherwise empty highball glasses. Bela, Joe, and company may have been ready for a bottle of bonded whiskey to be brought to their table … but only after the Mickey Mouse business of taking the publicity photo was done. Then the party would really begin!

Comments

From John McElwee: Saw and very much enjoyed your posting about Mickey's fifth birthday celebration. Based on ads I've come across, this seems to have a landmark observed by theatres right through the 30's and ... who knows how long after? I seem to recall a big recognition in 1977 for the Mouse's fiftieth. Anyway, I'm attaching two of the vintage ads, one for the seventh birthday, another for the twelfth.

Mickey's 7th

Mickey's 12th

[Posted July 8, 2017]

 

June 5, 2017:

A Museum Tour with Will Eisner (2000)

Back in December 2000, I caught up with the great cartoonist Will Eisner at the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida, of which he was a trustee. We talked about his own career and the work of some of his peers over lunch and then as we walked through the museum and looked at the comic art on its walls, with my tape recorder running the whole time. My informal record of that visit—published here in the centennial year of Eisner's birth—is at this link.

Comments

From Mark Mayerson: Thank you for the Eisner quotes.  There is material there I haven't read elsewhere, particularly Eisner's attitude about his father's accent and his comments about Kurtzman.  I'm from a later generation than those men, but I grew up in the same city, and the urge to assimilate into the larger society was very strong for the children of immigrants.

I believe that by the time Stan Lee wanted to go to Hollywood and approached Eisner, Goodman had already sold Marvel.  Jack Kirby left Marvel after the sale, and Lee left New York not very long after Kirby left the company.  My impression of Lee's relationship with Goodman is that Goodman kept Lee employed due to family loyalty, but never let him grow beyond his job as editor.  I seriously doubt that Goodman thought enough of Lee to entrust him with making business deals.

[Posted June 8, 2017]

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