Chuck Corson (left), Chuck and jazz legend Pete Fountain (right)
I just posted my interview with Chuck Corson on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Chuck discusses his days with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, Big Bands at Disneyland, and the beginning of Disneyland’s nighttime entertainment. CLICK HERE for the interview
I just posted my interview with Cicely Rigdon on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Cicely Rigdon discusses her times with Walt Disney, and her days as a Disneyland ticket seller and tour guide. CLICK HERE for the interview
I just posted my interview with Cicely Rigdon on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Cicely discusses her times at Disneyland from ticket seller to running the Disneyland Ambassador program. CLICK HERE for the interview
I just posted my interview with Bill Farmer on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Bill discusses his start as a voice actor and performing the voice of Goofy. CLICK HERE for the interview
I just posted my interview with Bill Farmer on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Bill discusses the recording process for Goofy, and some of his other voice work including Horace Horsecollar. CLICK HERE for the interview
Valerie Watson was a Disneyland hostess, who had escorted numerous noted personalities, including three presidents, a prime minister, three kings, two queens, three princes and four princesses. To begin this conversation from 2010, I asked Valerie about her reign as the first “Miss Disneyland,” in 1962.
Valerie Watson: How that happened is I joined Disney in 1959, because I took a break from college to rethink my major. I took guided tours and then I had the good fortune to be selected to greet King Hussein of Jordan on his visit, April, 1959, for no special talent other than my height. I was 5’3 ½” and it was protocol that somebody should greet him that could look him in the eye – not overpower him. So that began a real wonderful career for me that lasted thirteen years.
After greeting King Hussein, I was made a VIP hostess along with a very good friend of mine, Donna Clark. She and I were in Guest Relations together. We were assigned to take the king and queen of Thailand through Disneyland, we were the hostesses, but always the U.S. State Department representatives were with us, and we were given protocol instructions before royalty arrived. And the crown prince and princess of Japan, and Thailand, and the three heirs to the throne of Scandinavian countries.
Among the VIPs that I took on tour was a man named Russell Downing and his wife Sally, and I spent two days with them, showing them every part of Disneyland. I had no idea why they were there, but he was president of Radio City Music Hall in New York and he was on a confidential visit to meet with Walt Disney on how best to market a new film that was going to be released, called “Moon Pilot.” They wanted to release it at Radio City Music Hall, and in the east coast there was no real familiarity with Pluto and Mickey and Donald Duck and so forth, the “live” characters, so a stage production was in the works to launch Disney in the east, this was long before Walt Disney World.
They decided, “How can we get the interest of the press in New York?” who was considered very jaded, having seen everything, so they came up with a tag of “Miss Disneyland.” They weren’t looking for a beauty queen. They were looking for someone who had knowledge of the organization and enthusiasm, and Russell Downing proposed by name, so he gave that idea to Walt Disney. It was quite a Cinderella story.
I worked for Disney in three different states. First of all California, then the New York World’s Fair, and then of all my jobs with Disney, my very favorite was working with WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering.) The best was at WED, I worked for the master planners of Walt Disney World and it was all secret. It was called Project X. At that time, at WED, under one roof were animators, sculptors, painters, model makers, the most incredible assembly of creative people you can imagine, and I worked there for three years.
It broke my heart to be promoted and sent to Florida. I didn’t even want to go. It was a great opportunity to start the Guest Relations department at Walt Disney World, but my heart was really always at WED.
I just posted my interview with Carole Tully on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Carole discusses her time representing Walt Disney and Disneyland around the world as Miss Disneyland 1964. CLICK HERE for the interview and more photos
Stan Freese with Mickey Mouse; Stan conducts the orchestra at a Disneyland Ambassador ceremony
I just posted my interview with Stan Freese on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Stan discusses his 43 years with Disney starting as leader of the Walt Disney World band, performing on Hee Haw and the Lawrence Welk Show, and becoming the beloved director of talent booking for Disneyland. CLICK HERE for the interview
Born on this day in 1922, Jazz pianist Page Cavanaugh was the special guest in a concert I went to at the Greek Theater back in the 1980s. They mentioned that he performs at a club in Burbank, and that began a wonderful friendship. Every week I would go see Page, listen to him play and talk with him about music, learning about the great composers and performers of American music.
Page worked with everybody! Frank Sinatra, Chico Marx, Louis Armstrong and on and on. I miss Page and I miss his stories.
I had known Page for awhile before I learned that he provided his musical talents for a Disney cartoon short entitled “The Truth About Mother Goose.”
This animated short, featured segments explaining the story behind Mother Goose stories. Page and his trio introduced each segment in song. Here’s a clip from the opening of the film:
Although “The Truth About Mother Goose” was the only animated film Page appeared in, he was in a number of other movies including “A Song is Born,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “Romance on the High Seas.” In the latter, he accompanied Doris Day on piano and in voice for the song, “Put ‘Em in a Box.”
The big song “Romance on the High Seas” was “It’s Magic,” written by Jule Styne, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. That song was nominated for an Oscar that year.
One of the last times I saw Page, I recorded him singing this parody, “It’s Tragic.”
I just posted my interview with Kathryn Beaumont on my Mouse Clubhouse website. In this conversation, Kathryn, the voice of Disney’s Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Wendy in Peter Pan, discusses the animated film process and working with Ed Wynn and Jerry Colonna. CLICK HERE for the interview.