Posted by: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe | December 11, 2009

Popular Culture: Good Guys, Bad Guys

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Timeline of events related to popular culture

1903 Twelve-year-old Carl Stalling (1891– 1972) was the principal piano accompanist in his hometown- Lexington, Missouri’s silent movie house (Goldmark 1997).

1913-02-17 Thomas A. Edison’s Kinetophone was on the bill at four of the Keith Theatres, the Union Square and the Fifth Avenue in New York. The first demonstration was of a man describing the technology by breaking a plate, blew a whistle and then brought in a pianist, violinist and soloist who performed “The Last Rose of Summer.” Edson, after inventing the motion picture and the talking machine dreamed of talking pictures. Edson found the solution to the perfect synchronization of record and film in his Kinetophone which was first successfully used in vaudeville (White 1975).

1914-02-13 The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) was founded by a group of prominent, visionary music creators at the Hotel Claridge in New York City, forever changing music history. ASCAP, a member-owned organization, is the world’s most powerful advocate for the rights of creators.

1917 Fifteen-year-old Frank Churchill (1901-1942) began his career playing piano in cinemas. “An instinctive musician, inspired by classical music and composer Franz Schubert, Frank won his first professional job as a pianist at 15 accompanying silent movies at a local theater in Ventura, California (Disney Legends).”

1923 In his early twenties Carl Stalling (1891– 1972)  was conducting his own orchestra and improvising on the organ at the legendary Isis Movie Theatre in Kansas City (Goldmark 1997).

1924 Twenty-Frank Churchill (1901-1942) became accompanist at the Los Angeles radio station KNX (AM).  He “played piano for honky-tonks in Tijuana, Mexico, followed by an orchestra in Tucson, Arizona. He returned to Hollywood in 1924, and despite his lack of formal education in music, Frank won a contract as an accompanist and soloist with radio station KNX and later recorded for RKO-Radio Pictures (Disney Legends).”

1924-05 The Max Fleischer’s series of animated short films with synchronized soundtracks entitled “Song Car-Tunes” made in DeForest Phonofilm were shown.

1926 An animated short film with synchronized soundtracks entitled “My Old Kentucky Home (1926)” was shown.

1927 The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, heralded the end of silent movies. It inspired Walt Disney to attempt to synchronize a soundtrack system with his animated films. “Produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, the movie stars thirty-year-old, Al Jolson, a Russian-born Jew who performed in blackface. Directed by Alan Crosland, it is based on a play by Samson Raphaelson. The story begins with young Jakie Rabinowitz defying the traditions of his devout Jewish family by singing popular tunes in a beer hall. Punished by his father, a cantor, Jakie runs away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer, but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.” wiki

1927-06 Producer Pat Powers attempted unsuccessfully to take over Lee DeForest’s Phonofilm Corporation. Phonofilm Corporation was financially weakened and did not sue Powers when he illegally cloned Lee DeForest’s innovative synchronized soundtrack technology.

1927 Producer Pat Powers hired a former DeForest technician, William Garrity, to illegally produce a cloned version of the Phonofilm system, which Powers dubbed “Powers Cinephone.” Producer Pat Powers convinced Disney to use Cinephone for a few sound cartoons such as Steamboat Willie, The Gallopin’ Gaucho, and Plane Crazy (all 1928) before Powers and Disney had a falling-out over money — and over Powers hiring away Disney animator Ub Iwerks — in 1930.

1928-09-01 Paul Terry’s animated short film with synchronized soundtracks entitled “Dinner Time” was released.

1928-05 The first Walt Disney Mickey Mouse animated cartoon entitled “Plane Crazy (1928)” was released with Carl Stalling’s musical scores. Goldmark claimed that Stalling introduced a new form of music that did not exist before

1928 (Goldmark 1997). Producer Pat Powers convinced Disney to use an illegally cloned version of the Lee DeForest’s Phonofilm Corporation synchronized soundtrack system, dubbed the “Powers Cinephone” in the production of “Plane Crazy (1928).”

1928 The second Walt Disney Mickey Mouse animated cartoon entitled “Gallopin’ Gaucho” was released with Carl Stalling’s musical scores. Goldmark claimed that Stalling introduced a new form of music that did not exist before

1928 (Goldmark 1997). Producer Pat Powers convinced Disney to use an illegally cloned version of the Lee DeForest’s Phonofilm Corporation synchronized soundtrack system, dubbed the “Powers Cinephone” in the production of “”Gallopin’ Gaucho (1928).”

1928-11-18 The third and most popular Walt Disney Mickey Mouse animated cartoon entitled “Steamboat Willie (1928)” written and directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, was released with music put together by Wilfred Jackson, one of Disney’s animators, and included popular melodies including “Steamboat Bill” and “Turkey in the Straw”.. “Steamboat Willie (1928)” was the first Disney cartoon to feature synchronized sound. Disney used Pat Powers’ Cinephone system, created by Powers using Lee De Forest’s Phonofilm system without giving De Forest any credit. “Steamboat Willie” premiered at New York’s 79th Street Theatre, and played ahead of the independent film Gang War. The title “Steamboat Willie” is a parody of the Buster Keaton film “Steamboat Bill Jr.” Producer Pat Powers convinced Disney to use an illegally cloned version of the Lee DeForest’s Phonofilm Corporation synchronized soundtrack system, dubbed the “Powers Cinephone” in the production of “”Gallopin’ Gaucho (1928).” The film has been the center of a variety of controversies regarding copyright and is probably in the public domain due to technicalities related to the original copyright notice. In 1994, it was voted #13 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. (wiki) In the original “Steamboat Willie” (1928) Mickey Mouse displays violence against animals as he plays a nursing sow’s teats like an accordion keyboard, pulls a cats tail and swings it around his head, and used a goose as a bagpipe. Social behaviours considered acceptable and humourous in 1928 were censored in later years bur reinstated as part of authentic pop culture.

1928 In Kansas City Carl Stalling also composed several early cartoon scores for Walt Disney’s animated comedy shorts, including Plane Crazy and Gallopin’ Gaucho. Goldmark claimed that Stalling introduced a new form of music that did not exist before 1928 (Goldmark 1997).

1929 Walt Disney discouraged his studio from using copyrighted music in his films to avoid royalty payments (Kaufman 1997).

1929-1939 Walt Disney combined music from various traditions: classical, traditional folk, operatic and popular along with animation in his series entitled the Silly Symphonies (Kaufman 1997). His star composer composer and song-writer was Frank Churchill who worked on the Silly Symphonies for Disney studios from 1930-1939 when Churchill joined the musicians’ union to protect his rights. Frank Churchill continued to work for Disney but not as part of Silly Symphonies which Disney disbanded at the same time that Churchill joined the union. Churchill allegedly committed suicide in 1942. Churchill’s original music which was not protected by rights of the author went on to become “Disney” classics.

1929-30 Stalling claimed that on at least one occasion, Walt Disney told Stalling to “compose a tune that suggested a popular song without actually plagiarizing it (Barrier and Gray 1971 cited in Kaufman 1997).”

1930-12 Pianist, composer and song-writer Frank Churchill (1901-1942) began working as staff composer for The Walt Disney Studios where he scored nearly 65 animated shorts, including “Mickey’s Gala Premiere,” “Funny Little Bunnies,” and “Who Killed Cock Robin?” He also wrote music for the famous Pluto and the sticky flypaper sequence featured in “Playful Pluto (Disney Legends).” Disney’s Hollywood studios writing for the Silly Symphonies series eventually becoming Disney’s star composer. He composed and wrote “The World Owes Me a Living (1934)”, “Whistle While You Work”, “Some Day My Prince Will Come”, “I Bring You a Song”, “Love Is a Song”, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”, “Spring Is in the Air”, “Ain’t Nature Grand?”, “The Golden Youth”, “Slow but Sure”, “With a Smile and a Song”, “I’m Wishing”, “Heigh-Ho”, “Happy as a Lark”, “The Sunny Side of Things”, “One Song”, “Baby Mine.” Churchill won the Academy Award as composer and songwriter (“Whistle While You Work”, “Some Day My Prince Will Come”), Churchill Rumford, Maine then studied at the University of California then became a pianist in silent movie theatres in Ventura, California. He joined ASCAP in 1938, his chief musical collaborators included Ann Ronell and Larry Morey. He died at his ranch near Newhall, 40 miles north of Los Angeles of fatal gunshot wounds, an alleged suicide.

1931 Twenty-nine-year-old “Walt Disney suffered a breakdown that left him emotionally fragile. Often despondent, he would retreat to his home to play with toy trains. At the office, he terrorized workers with harsh criticisms as he impatiently drummed his fingers.”

1933 Frank Churchill’s hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)” in Disney Studio’s “Three Little Pigs (1933) in the Silly Symphonies series contributed to the success of “Three Little Pigs (1933) which is considered by some to be the most successful cartoon short of all time running in theaters for many months. Churchill’s irresistible hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)”  became the unofficial anthem of the Great Depression. The two carefree brothers sang it to tease their hard-working and more cautious brother (Kaufman 1997).” Empowered by the extraordinary success of Franklin’s song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”, Disney launched a new phase of his musical productions in which he had his staff composers produce original music for all his productions. Virtually every subsequent Silly Symphony film from then on included an original song of some kind, written by either Churchill or Harline. [Frank Churchill, was not credited with his own work until after he joined the The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1939?]

1933 Frank Churchill’s “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)” in “Three Little Pigs (1933) appeared in sheet-music form, published by Irving Berlin, Inc. and embellished with additional lyrics by Ann Ronell. (In recent years her contribution has been disputed–inexplicably, since the “additional lyrics” attributed to her are embarrassing at best.) (Kaufman 1997).

1933 “By the end of 1933, at least a dozen recordings of Frank Churchill’s “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)” in “Three Little Pigs (1933) had been issued by various record labels, and several of those recordings were further “milked” by recoupling with alternate B-sides or on subsidiary labels. One side by Harry Reser and His Eskimos, recorded in October 1933, was used on seven different records!(Kaufman 1997).

1933 After Frank Churchill’s song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)”  became such a hit, Walt Disney studios injected even more original songs by staff composers Frank Churchill and Leigh Harline into the Silly Symphonies. Walt Disney encouraged his staff composers to write for the popular music market not just as musical dialogue.

1933 Walt Disney studios staff composer Frank Churchill wrote the theme song “Lullaby Land of Nowhere”  for the animated short entitled Lullaby Land” one of the films of the “Silly Symphonies” series produced in the spring and summer of 1933 as Three Little Pigs was first appearing in theaters. Most of the rest of the Lullaby Land score was composed by Leigh Harline. It was Churchill’s song “Lullaby Land of Nowhere” that set the mood of the film but was also a pleasant tune in its own right, and enjoyed a modest life of its own apart from the film (Kaufman 1997).

1934 Wilfred Jackson directed the 8:25 minute animated short entitled “The Grasshopper and the Ants” for Walt Disney studios’ Silly Symphonies series. The story written by Bill Cottrell and based on Aesop’s fable entitled “The Ants and the Grasshopper” was animated by Albert Hurter and Art Babbitt for Disney studios.  The Grasshopper (voice-over by Pinto Colvig) who plays the fiddle and dances in the summer finds himself in the cold hard winter without food and shelter while the ants who worked hard during the rest of the year under the rule of the Queen Ant were safe, warm and well-fed in winter. When the homeless Grasshopper comes the their door begging for food and shelter, the Queen Ant takes him in and lets him literally sing for his supper. The moral lesson in the story is that it is necessary to follow the ruler’s plan working hard to prepare for periods of future difficulties instead of wasting your time on music and enjoyment of life.

1934 Frank Churchill’s song “The World Owes Me a Living (1933) theme song sung by the grasshopper in “The Grasshopper and the Ants” was the result of much scrutiny by Walt Disney studios who wanted to repeat the success of Churchill’s “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)”. Although “The World Owes Me a Living (1933) was not as popular as “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” it eventually Goofy’s unofficial theme song (voice-over by gag man/vocalist Pinto Colvig) used in in Disney films over the next fifteen years (1935-1950). Goofy-Pinto Colvig first sang Churchill’s “The World Owes Me a Living” in 1935 and as late as 1950, in Lion Down (Kaufman 1997).” “The World Owes Me a Living (1933) was also published and recorded.

1935 The orchestral score quotes a few bars of Frank Churchill’s song “The World Owes Me a Living (1933) during a nightmare sequence in Mickey’s Garden (1935), when Mickey Mouse discovers he is menaced by a giant grasshopper!

1935 Goofy (voiced by gag man/vocalist Pinto Colvig) made his first appearance in Disney productions in On Ice singing Frank Churchill’s song “The World Owes Me a Living (1933).

1935 After late 1935 the use of original songs in Walt Disney studios’ Silly Symphonies series (1929-1939) suddenly declined with Disney using outside sources for songs.

1935 The cartoon series, “Popeye the Sailor,” produced by Max Fleischer, was more popular than Disney Studio’s “Mickey Mouse.”

1936-1958 Carl Stalling composed cartoon music in Hollywood created scores to hundreds of Warner Bros. cartoons (Goldmark 1997).

1950 Goofy sang Frank Churchill’s song “The World Owes Me a Living (1933) for the last time in Lion Down.

1934 Walt Disney studios produced “The Tortoise and the Hare” in the Silly Symphonies series. Disney insisted that his staff composer-songwriters like Frank Churchill compose tunes “that suggested popular songs without actually plagiarizing (Barrier and Gray 1971 cited in Kaufman 1997).” The original theme song by staff composer Frank Churchill entitled “Battin’ the Balls Around (1934)” suggested but did not plagiarize Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth’s “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The song “Battin’ the Balls Around (1934)” accompanied the antics of the speedy Hare “playing” baseball to taunt the Tortoise’s slow pace.  Kaufman explained that this is one of the best examples of the way in which Disney avoided paying royalties to musicians in his film productions (Kaufman 1997). Disney staff composers, Churchill and Morey wrote the the song “Slow But Sure” for “The Tortoise and the Hare” but it was never sung in the finished version. It was only used as an instrumental theme (Kaufman 1997).

1934-1939 Following the huge popularity of Frank Churchill’s original music in “The Grasshopper and the Ants” virtually every subsequent Silly Symphony included an original song of some kind, written by either Frank Churchill or Harline (Kaufman 1997). Walt Disney combined music from various traditions: classical, traditional folk, operatic and popular along with animation in his series entitled the Silly Symphonies (Kaufman 1997). His star composer composer and song-writer was Frank Churchill who worked on the Silly Symphonies for Disney studios from 1930-1939 when Churchill joined the musicians’ union to protect his rights. Frank Churchill continued to work for Disney but not as part of Silly Symphonies which Disney disbanded at the same time that Churchill joined the union. Churchill allegedly committed suicide in 1942. Churchill’s original music which was not protected by rights of the author went on to become “Disney” classics. Virtually every subsequent 1934 Symphony included an original song of some kind, written by either Churchill or Harline.

1935 Walt Disney studios staff composers wrote “Dirty Bill” for the animated short entitled “The Robber Kitten” in the Silly Symphonies series. Disney insisted that his staff composer-songwriters like Frank Churchill compose tunes “that suggested popular songs without actually plagiarizing (Barrier and Gray 1971 cited in Kaufman 1997).”

1935 Walt Disney studios staff composers wrote “The Sweetest One of All” for the animated short entitled “The Cookie Carnival” in the Silly Symphonies series (Kaufman 1997).

1935 Walt Disney studios staff composers wrote “We’re Gonna Get Out of the Dumps” for the animated short entitled “Broken Toys” in the Silly Symphonies series (Kaufman 1997).

1935 Walt Disney studios staff composers wrote the title “Slow But Sure” for the animated short entitled “Water Babies” in the Silly Symphonies series. It was written as a vocal song but was heard in the film only in instrumental form (Kaufman 1997).

1935 Walt Disney studios staff composer Frank Churchill wrote the song “Somebody Rubbed Out My Robin”  for the animated short entitled “Who Killed Cock Robin?” one of the most brilliant films of the Silly Symphonies series. “In a key sequence Jenny Wren, designed as a caricature of Mae West, struts into the courtroom singing Churchill’s “Somebody Rubbed Out My Robin,” a canny and hilarious sendup of Mae West’s own songs (Kaufman 1997).

1936 Serious work was under way on Disney Studio’s first full-length feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney Studios “absorbed” Silly Symphonies’ top talents including its composers like Churchill. Disney then used Churchill’s original compositions for Silly Symphonies like “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Whistle While You Work,” “When You Wish Upon a Star” in Disney’s new full-length features with Churchill’s music which set standards for Disney songs (Kaufman 1997). Silly Symphonies had led the way but what really happened to the musical genius Churchill?

1937 Disney Studios released his first full-length animated feature “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Most of the music for the film was composed by Frank Churchill (1901-1942) including “Whistle While You Work” and “Some Day My Prince Will Come”. Frank Churchill’s (1901-1942) Ultimately,  “musical genius that helped bridge the Studio’s daring transition from animated shorts to features in 1937.” His “catchy, artfully written songs played a large part in the film’s initial success and continuing popularity (wiki).” “Some Day My Prince Will Come” (without the Larry Morey lyrics) became a jazz standard covered by various jazz greats including Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck. Churchill became supervisor of music at Disney.

1939 Walt Disney’s most brilliant pianist, composer and song-writer Frank Churchill (1901-1942) joined the The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

1940 Jiminy Cricket AKA Cliff Edwards sang “When You Wish Upon a Star” in the 1940 Walt Disney film Pinocchio. The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” written by Disney staff writers Ned Washington and Leigh Harline was introduced in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio, where it is sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket, over the opening credits and again in the final scene of the film. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.

1941 “Walt Disney was a hated figure at his own Burbank studio. When the Screen Cartoonists Guild gathered petitions to organize a union, the man who gave America Mickey Mouse and Snow White brought in armed guards to intimidate employees. He fired organizers, slashed pay, and even instituted austerity measures that included cutting hours at the coffee shop. On one occasion, when pickets gathered outside the studio gates, every parent’s best friend charged from his Packard and had to be restrained from attacking the ringleader (Business Week 2006).” Walt Disney Studio began to make propaganda WWII films for the United States.

1942-05-14 Walt Disney’s most brilliant pianist, composer and song-writer Frank Churchill (1901-1942) allegedly committed suicide. “Frank Churchill committed suicide on May 14, 1942 at his ranch north of Los Angeles in Castaic, CA. He is purportedly to have died “at the piano” of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Although there is some speculation that his suicide was a result of negative discourse with Walt Disney regarding his latest scores for Bambi, it was more likely due to his deep depression and bout with heavy drinking after the deaths of two of his closest friends and fellow Disney orchestra members who had died earlier that year within a month of each other. He was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.”

1942-08-13 Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi was released. In Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that talking animals with cute eyes bonded between species as close friends, shared human feelings and values. The Inuk hunter, Nanook, and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

1942 Frank Churchill (1901-1942-05-14) and fellow composer Oliver Wallace won an Oscar in the category “Scoring of a Musical Picture” for cowriting the score for Dumbo. He also shared an Oscar nomination with Ned Washington for the song “Baby Mine” from Dumbo for Best Song.

1943 Frank Churchill (1901-1942-05-14) received two posthumous Oscar nominations; the first for cowriting the score to Bambi with Edward Plumb, and the second for cowriting the song “Love is a Song” from Bambi with lyricist Larry Morey (1905-1971).

1945 – 1972 Rev. Wilbert Awdry wrote a series of 41 childrens story books entitled The Railway Series about an anthropomorphised railway engines in a railway system on the fictional Island of Sodor. Twenty-six were written by Rev. Wilbert Awdry, up to 1972. Although the stories were fiction Awdry based them on real-life events so they would seem more realistic. The engines themselves were based on real classes of British locomotives and real railway lines in the British Isles.

1947-1960 The pioneer children’s television program entitled “Howdy Doody” with a frontier/western theme, created and produced by E. Roger Muir and broadcast on NBC, became the template for many similar shows. TV manufacturer RCA had just begun to sell colour television sets in the 1950s also owned NBC. Howdy Doody was one of the first productions in colour. Howdy Doody’s characters included Buffalo Bob Smith, the puppets Howdy (How are you doing?) and Heidi Doody, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, Dilly Dally, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, and the curious Flub-a-Dub. In an interview with journalist Val Adams (1954) Buffalo Bob commented on the popular Howdy Doody show whose target audience was children from three to five-years-old. “Some people say our show is silly [. . .] and I am not going to argue with them. [ But it is geared for young children and we] “do constructive things. We talk about good manners and encourage the kids to go to their place of worship on Sunday. And the show is an emotional outlet for children. They like to see Clarabell chase me with a seltzer bottle because it’s something they’d like to do.” Journalist Val Adams reminds readers however that, “Howdy Doody” was not conceived as a public service. Buffalo Bob, in fact, has turned his pal Howdy into one of the hardest-working pitchmen in television. They frequently discuss a sponsor’s product and encourage the children to influence parents to purchase it (Adams 1954-05-30).”

1964 In his influential book entitled One-Dimensional Man (1964) Marcuse expresses his concerns that industrialization had decreased opposition towards capitalism, restricted the possibility of opposition and was creating a one-dimensional way of thought and behaviour.

1969 In his book entitled Negation (1969), Marcuse  argued that “sociology that is only interested in the dependent and limited nature of consciousness has nothing to do with truth. While useful in many ways it has falsified the interest and goal of any critical theory” (Marcuse 1969 152). As opposed to merely debunking criticism, “a critical theory is concerned with preventing the loss of truth that past knowledge has labored to attain.”

“According to this conception of materialism, Critical Theory could operate with a theoretical division of labor in which philosophy’s normative stance could criticize the embodiments of reason and morality according to their internal criteria. At least for modern societies, such an enterprise of “immanent critique” was possible (see, for example, Horkheimer 1993, 39). However, Horkheimer and Marcuse saw the skeptical and relativist stance of the emerging sociology of knowledge, particularly that of Karl Mannheim, as precisely opposed to that of Critical Theory. As Marcuse puts it, “sociology that is only interested in the dependent and limited nature of consciousness has nothing to do with truth. While useful in many ways it has falsified the interest and goal of any critical theory” (Marcuse 1969 152). As opposed to merely debunking criticism, “a critical theory is concerned with preventing the loss of truth that past knowledge has labored to attain.” Given Critical Theory’s orientation to human emancipation, it seeks to contextualize philosophical claims to truth and moral universality without reducing them to social and historical conditions. Horkheimer formulates this skeptical fallacy that informed much of the sociologically informed relativism of his time in this way: “That all our thoughts, true or false, depend on conditions that can change in no way affects the validity of science. It is not clear why the conditioned character of thought should affect the truth of a judgment—why shouldn’t insight be just as conditioned as error?” (Horkheimer 1993, 141). The core claim here is that fallibilism is different from relativism, suggesting that it is possible to distinguish between truth and the context of justification of claims to truth.” [edit]

1983-2007 Christopher Awdry continued to write stories for The Railway Series. Audio adaptations of the The Railway Series were made and the children’s television series Thomas and Friends is also based on  The Railway Series.

1984 First episode of the British children’s TV show Thomas and Friends was aired. It was based on Awdry’s The Railway Series was aired. The target audience was three- to x -year-old. Thomas the train and his friends live on a fictional island.

2006-12-04 A review in Business Week. described the other side of Sunday evening family television icon, Walt Disney in an article entitled “Walt’s Not-So-Wonderful World: Review of Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.”  Biographer Neal Gabler’s book entitled Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.” was described as an  “impeccably researched if somewhat plodding” presented “a different picture of Disney also emerges–a distant and often despotic leader who became something of a figurehead, often dependent on others to turn out the later animated films that bore his name.” In 1941 “Walt Disney was a hated figure at his own Burbank studio. When the Screen Cartoonists Guild gathered petitions to organize a union, the man who gave America Mickey Mouse and Snow White brought in armed guards to intimidate employees. He fired organizers, slashed pay, and even instituted austerity measures that included cutting hours at the coffee shop. On one occasion, when pickets gathered outside the studio gates, every parent’s best friend charged from his Packard and had to be restrained from attacking the ringleader [ . . .] Gabler’s Disney, the son of an emotionally distant father, tries desperately to create a fantasy version of his boyhood in the small town of Marceline, Mo. Yet he has difficulty connecting with his true-life family, even his brother Roy’s newborn son. When Walt’s father dies, he decides not to cut short a business trip to attend the funeral.” In reality Walt Disney’s world was “a universe marked by profligate gambles and by the brilliant management of Walt’s older brother Roy, who worked in the shadows to build and maintain a company that often operated on the edges of bankruptcy. When Walt went over-budget making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Roy prevented Bank of America from shutting things down by shipping them a copy of what would soon win accolades as the first full-length animated film in color. But even Roy wasn’t spared the wrath of Walt, as the two brothers frequently warred.” [. . .] In 1931 twenty-nine-year-old Walt Disney suffered a breakdown that left him emotionally fragile. Often despondent, he would retreat to his home to play with toy trains. At the office, he terrorized workers with harsh criticisms as he impatiently drummed his fingers. Gabler doesn’t dwell on well-known allegations, such as the idea that Disney was a racist (he thought hiring African Americans would “have spoiled the illusion at Disneyland”) and anti-Semitic (a reputation due largely to his membership in an executive organization that was famously hostile to Jews). More attention is paid to his anger toward union activists, including an account of how he contacted the FBI and the red-hunting House Committee on Un-American Activities to finger several as Communists (Business Week 2006).”

Notes

Anthropomorphism is the give animals, objects, phenomena, etc human characteristics such as the ability to reason, think, imagine, feel, make ethical decisions and unethical decisions, inherit and develop character and personality, form relationships, and talk like humans. In stories, myths and legends anthropomorphised entities represent commonly recognised types of human characters and behaviour. Because they are endowed with human qualities of reason, imagination, memory, creativity they are also responsible for their actions and can be judged by the human standards. Anthropomorphised entities have an ancient long-standing tradition in most cultures handed down through oral traditions. Multiple and varied versions of these later appeared in print.

Who’s Who

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 370,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership. ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. ASCAP’s licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. ASCAP makes giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and users of music (ASCAP).
Researchers XXX explore how kids interpret and understand what they see on television.

Carl W. Stalling (1891– 1972) “was an American composer and arranger for animated films. He is most closely associated with the Looney Tunes shorts produced by Warner Bros., where he worked, averaging one complete score each week, for 22 years.” (wiki) His “origins as a silent movie accompanist reveal a great deal about his character as a musician. Accompanists, more often than not, had to create spontaneous scores for films, assisted only by thematic musical catalogs. These books would have well-known material arranged for piano and indexed according to the mood or ideas with which they were most often associated. Stalling’s job was more of a pastiche artist than a composer, as he had to create a musical narrative with a wide array of genres, including folk, classical, Tin Pan Alley, and big band, among others. When he went to Warner Bros., this skill came in very handy. (Let’s not forget the fact that Stalling started his cartoon career with Disney, scoring two of the first three Mickey cartoons, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho, as well as writing Mickey’s first theme song (with Disney), “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo.” He then worked at Iwerks’ studio for a while before going to Warner Bros.) One of the original stipulations made by the Warner Brothers to Leon Schlesinger was that each cartoon had to have some portion (the usual consensus is at least one verse and the chorus) of a Warner Bros.-owned song. The studio’s catalog at this time was enormous; yet, it was still rather restricting for the writers to have to construct a story around the idea of a song. By the time Stalling got to the studio, the demand for song-based cartoons seemed to be slowing, yet Stalling immediately saw the advantage of having such an extensive catalog of music at his disposal. Thus, his musical vocabulary extended immensely, and he had a song for literally every occasion (Goldmark 1997).” Carl Stalling introduced a new form of music that did not exist before 1928. From 1936 to 1958 Carl Stalling composed cartoon music in Hollywood creating scores to hundreds of Warner Bros. cartoons (Goldmark 1997).

Daniel Goldmark is a musicologist who investigates the role of music in animated cartoons.

Frank Churchill (1901-1942) was a pianist, composer and song-writer who began working for Disney’s Hollywood studios in 1930 eventually becoming Disney’s star composer. He composed and wrote “The World Owes Me a Living”, “Whistle While You Work”, “Some Day My Prince Will Come”,  “I Bring You a Song”, “Love Is a Song”, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (1933)”, “Spring Is in the Air”, “Ain’t Nature Grand?”, “The Golden Youth”, “Slow but Sure”, “With a Smile and a Song”, “I’m Wishing”, “Heigh-Ho”, “Happy as a Lark”, “The Sunny Side of Things”, “One Song”, “Baby Mine.” Churchill won the Academy Award as composer and songwriter (“Whistle While You Work”, “Some Day My Prince Will Come”), Churchill Rumford, Maine then studied at the University of California then became a pianist in silent movie theatres in Ventura, California. He joined ASCAP in 1938, his chief musical collaborators included Ann Ronell and Larry Morey. He died at his ranch near Newhall, 40 miles north of Los Angeles of fatal gunshot wounds, an alleged suicide.

Leigh Harline was a staff composer for Walt Disney studios.

Larry Morey was a staff composer for Walt Disney studios.

Shauna Wilton is a Political Studies professor at the University of Alberta, undertook a content analysis of the message behind the children’s TV show Thomas and Friends. Wilton found that all the “show’s characters submit to authority without criticism and with fear, and are discouraged from leaving their designated roles in the community’s social hierarchy.” Also only “eight of the show’s 49 characters are female and all of the female characters are relegated to supportive roles. Kids “get the impression that women are somehow sidelined in this world, they are on the benches watching the action, as opposed to the main movers.” Her upcoming book is on pop culture and politics.

J.B. Kaufman is an independent film historian who has written extensively on early Disney animation. He is co-author, with Russell Merritt, of Walt in Wonderland, and the two are currently completing a second book on the Silly Symphonies, to be published by La Cineteca del Friuli in 1998.

Webliography and Bibliography

Adams, Val. 1954-05-30. “Bob Smith: Idol of the Peanut Gallery Set.”

Awdry,Rev. Wilbert and Awdry, Christopher. 1945-2006. The Railway Series.

Bohman, James. 2005-03-08. “Critical Theory.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/

Business Week. 2006-12-04. “Walt’s Not-So-Wonderful World: Review of Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.”

The Railway Series. Audio adaptations on radioThomas and Friends.

Gabler, Neal. 2006. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Knopf.

Goldmark, Daniel. 1997. “Carl Stalling and Humor in Cartoons.” Animation World Magazine. 2:1:April.Iltan, Cigdem. 2009-12-09. ““TV show railroads young minds: prof”.” Edmonton Journal.

Jackson, Wilfed. Director. 1934-02-10.Jackson, Wilfed. Director. 1934-02-10. “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” Disney Animated Shorts also Silly Symphonies 8:25 minutes.” Disney Animated Shorts also Silly Symphonies 8:25 minutes.

Kaufman,  J. B. 1997. “Kaufman, J. B. 1997. “Who’s Afraid of ASCAP? Popular Songs in the Silly Symphonies.” Animation World Network..” Animation World Network.

Wilton, Shauna. 2009. Thomas and Friends. In print.

Barrier, Mike; Gray, Milt. 1971. Funnyworld. 13:Spring:22.

Musicology

Churchill, Frank.1931. “Egyptian Melodies” Walt Disney Studio.  Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “Ye Olden Days.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank.1933. “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” in Three Little Pigs. Walt Disney Studio’s Silly Symphonies. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “Mickey’s Gala Premier.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “Old King Cole.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “Lullaby Land.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “Puppy Love.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “The Steeplechase.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1933. “The World Owes Me a Living.” in Grasshopper and the Ants (1933). Kauffman mistakenly attributed this composition to Leigh Harline and Larry Morey.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “Shanghaied.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “Playful Pluto.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “Funny Little Bunnies.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “The Big Bad Wolf .” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “Gulliver Mickey.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “The Flying Mouse.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “Orphan’s Benefit.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1934. “The Dognapper.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “Mickey’s Man Friday.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “The Golden Touch.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “The Robber Kitten.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “Pluto’s Judgement Day.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “On Ice.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “Three Orphan Kittens.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1935. “Cock o’ the Walk.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1936. “Thru the Mirror.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1936. “Toby Tortoise Returns.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1936. “Donald and Pluto.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1936. “More Kittens.” Walt Disney Studio. Uncredited.

Churchill, Frank. 1937. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “The Lamplighter.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Yokel Boy Makes Good.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Boy Meets Dog.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Feed the Kitty.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Nellie the Sewing Machine Girl or Honest Hearts & Willing Hands .” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Tail End.” Walt Disney Studio.

Churchill, Frank. 1938. “Problem Child.” Walt Disney Studio.

Sky Trooper (1942)
Dumbo (1941)
… aka Walt Disney’s Dumbo (USA: poster title)
The Reluctant Dragon (1941)
… aka A Day at Disneys (USA: TV title)
… aka Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney Studio
Mouse Trappers (1941) (uncredited)
Bone Trouble (1940)
Kittens’ Mittens (1940)
Snuffy’s Party (1939)
The One-Armed Bandit (1939) (uncredited)
The Practical Pig (1939) (uncredited)
Hollywood Bowl (1938)
Silly Seals (1938)
Voodoo in Harlem (1938)
Happy Scouts (1938)
The Cheese Nappers (1938)
Nellie, the Indian Chief’s Daughter (1938)
Movie Phony News (1938)

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