I’m so sad to report that Larry Billman has passed away. Larry was not only a very important of Disney live entertainment history, but a HUGE supporter of my Mouse Clubhouse. He was responsible for my interviews with people such as Chuck Corson (early Disneyland/Disney World director of entertainment), Miriam Nelson (Disneyland’s opening day choreographer) and Alyja Kalinich (Disney costume designer extraordinaire). As a historian of American Dance on Film, Larry was more than once there for me when I felt that my Mouse Clubhouse work was too overwhelming with little gratification, and he inspired me to keep going.
After I posted an interview with a friend of Larry’s who passed away, Larry wrote me the following, “…I am gratified that you have captured some of his memories for eternity. In my life now I find that most of my energies are spent writing about the dancers and choreographers of the Hollywood musicals. I write for a newsletter which is distributed by the Professional Dancers Society in California. I am currently writing 12 obituaries for the next issue – including Marc Breaux. As painful as it can be when I am writing about people I know well, I am happy that their accomplishments are being documented. After my theme park career ended, I became a “Dance Archivist” with books and articles about them and that may be my finest hour. My mission is that they (and the art they created) are remembered.”
It’s been nearly 30 years since I had the honor of being the assistant producer on a bunch of TaleSpin episodes! Thanks to those of you who write me about your memories of the show! It means a lot! Hope you enjoy the artwork below!!
Here’s some pages from the TaleSpin comic books, given to me by my friend and neighbor, the late Joe Messerli, who inked the art! What a coincidence that the man who lived just two doors down from me for my childhood ended up working on the comic books for the TV series I worked on!
I took this photo somewhere in the Disneyland Resort. Who can guess where? (ANSWER IS BELOW)
Did you know… back in the ’90s, Shani and I did two books of Disneyland photography? The books were sold in Disneyland for years and featured closeups of things in Disneyland Park, so readers could try to guess where it is and then turn the page for the answers.
These eyes can be found in The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Disney California Adventure. (One reader was confused because I said this attraction is in the Disneyland Resort… don’t forget there are two parks in the Disneyland Resort.)
Mother Nature was so nice to me when I took this photo of Peter Pan’s Flight in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World! Look at how she placed those beautiful clouds perfectly to complement this marquee!
Jamie Gunyuz in front of Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World, still under constructionEnjoyed interviewing Jamie Gunyuz, head engineer for the opening of Walt Disney World. I’m looking forward to sharing the fascinating conversation with you. Here’s a photo of Jamie in front of Cinderella Castle, still under construction.
Since today is the 50th anniversary of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland, I thought I’d post some photos I took back at the 25th anniversary celebration in 1992.
Disneyland executive vice president Norm Doerges was on hand along with two of the attraction’s contributors X Atencio and Marc Davis, both of whom I interviewed for Mouse Clubhouse! X wrote the script and the lyrics to the Yo Ho song and Marc designed the scenes you see as you ride by.
Pirates of the Caribbean contributors X Atencio and Marc Davis christen one of the boatsA boy was pulled up from the audience to help out as X and Marc christened one of the Pirates boats, with celebratory streamers, too.
A display of Marc Davis’ concept art for Pirates of the Caribbean was presented in the Disney GalleryAfter that, we were all invited to the Disney Gallery, above the attraction, for a display of some of Marc’s concept artwork for the attraction, such as the Jolly Roger pictured below. By the way, when you ride through, that’s X’s voice as the Jolly Roger, who asks, “Ye come seeking adventure in salty old pirates, eh?” and warns you, “Dead men tell no tales.”