Monday, July 25, 2011

New Orleans Square is Dedicated at Disneyland

July 24, 1966
New Orleans Square is Dedicated at Disneyland

When New Orleans Square opened in Disneyland, it was the first new land built since the opening of the park in 1955. New Orleans Square also has the distinction of being the only land in the magic kingdom to debut with no attractions. There were shops and restaurants, but the land's major attractions, Pirates of the Carribean and Haunted Mansion hadn't materialized yet. New Orleans Square took park Guests back to New Orleans a century ago, and boasted shops such as the One of a Kind shop where Guests could shop for rare antiques, and Mademoiselle Antoinette's Parfumerie welcomed ladies to blend their own exclusive brand of perfume. 1966 Disneyland Ambassador Connie Swanson Lane still remembers this day, forty three years ago, with great fondness, "I had the honor of standing next to Walt for the opening of New Orleans Square. His eyes missed no detail and he spoke of how he would improve on the concept. Accompanying us was the mayor of New Orleans. At lunch, Walt was continually making notes in the Blue Bayou, raise the tree five feet, lighten the sky… What a thrill to touch his shadow."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Disney Keeps the Magic in the Familly

Walt Disney and "The Boys" 

When Walt Disney took new talent under his wing, he built a strong sense of family felt throughout the Company today. Despite his demanding reputation, Walt was revered as an incredible mentor, leader, and beloved father figure – making those who worked for him firsthand want to please the boss with excellence and undying loyalty. Thanks to the pride imbued by Walt's spirit, it's not surprising to find employees with generations of family ties from every facet of the Company. We've selected the magic-making examples of a distinguished few to illustrate how the tradition's been upheld.

The Shermans

Disney Legends (and brothers) Richard and Robert Sherman started their own Disney dynasty that's still going strong – more than 50 years later. Responsible for creating classic Disney music like "It's a Small World," "Chim Chim Cheree," and "I Wan'na Be Like You," the prolific pair (more than 1,000 published songs and 50 film scores) remain the only staff songwriters ever hired in Company history. Richard's son Gregory and Robert's son Jeffrey followed in their famous dads' footsteps and reveal how "growing up Disney" affected their lives.

Writer, producer, director, and composer Jeff Sherman realized his destiny early on. "My childhood was absolutely magical ... I'd ride the rides at Disneyland before they'd open, see movies before anyone else, attend recording sessions, visit sets and sound stages. Being exposed to Disney culture was very important – I knew how privileged I was to have this family background. One of my goals was to work for Disney because there was a warmth that felt like home to me. That continues to this day."

Jeff met Walt several times and recalls one particular instance. "My dad brought me to the studio often, especially while filming 'Mary Poppins.' We were having lunch at the commissary and Walt walked in. After telling him that the 'London rooftops' set was only four feet tall (and NOT like real rooftops at all), Walt knelt down, framed his hands in front of me, and explained how the buildings would translate on camera. He called it 'movie magic' and said I could never tell my friends. From then on I felt challenged to think of my own ways of creating magic."

His brand of magic grew into creating, writing, and producing one of the first Disney Channel shows ("The Enchanted Musical Playhouse," which featured songs by his dad and uncle), and writing/producing various Disney-ABC television shows and movies (including the hit series "Boy Meets World" and top-rated "Au Pair III"). In 2008, Jeff and a partner founded their current entertainment development, production, and marketing firm – Traveling Light Partners – based on one of Disney's core values, teamwork. His sons Alex and Ryan (another generation of Sherman Brothers!) have both inherited the musical gene – Alex writes music and plays several instruments while Ryan plays the piano, particularly songs created by his grandfather and great-uncle.

The younger of the two cousins – writer, producer, show creator Gregg Sherman – also experienced an idyllic childhood, growing up in "an atmosphere of happiness, creativity, and constantly playing music." (Not hard with five pianos in the house!) He worked for years at Buena Vista Television (part of the Disney family) on award-winning game shows like "Debt" and "Win Ben Stein's Money." After working on numerous Disney shows and developing game shows for other studios throughout the mid-to-late 1990s and beyond, Gregg decided to focus on projects that were a bit more "substantial."

"Ironically, I took a break from game shows and had the opportunity to attend the opening of the London stage production of 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' [the score was originally composed by his dad and uncle] where I met and spoke with my cousin Jeff for the first time. We discovered that we both wanted more lasting and meaningful work." That conversation ultimately led to their labor of love – "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story" (2009), a critically acclaimed film documenting their dads' lives, unique personal relationship, and career highlights.

"Jeff and I realized there was a story there and we're both storytellers ... we got to work for Disney in a totally different capacity than either of us had ever done before. It was really rewarding." Gregg points out that the contrast between their dads' differences and the style of music and lyrics that they wrote created a visceral reaction from audiences worldwide. Both Gregg and Jeff agree that putting their dads' legacy on the map is their most important work to date.

Gregg too has his own set of musically talented, third-generation Sherman Brothers – Matt "Third Rail" Sherman is an up 'n' coming rapper while William "The Super" Sherman is making a name for himself as a YouTube sensation. "Being a Disney kid meant my dad embodied the spirit that Walt imparted to his employees. It was a phenomenal way to live one's life, and I've tried to do the same with my two boys."

The Normans

Another Disney Legend, animator Floyd Norman, shares his love of all things Disney with wife Adrienne Brown, a senior staff artist at Disney Publishing (that's where they met back in 1993!). Floyd began his Disney career in 1956, eager to learn from the best (he still refers to himself back then as "this kid from Santa Barbara") and made his mark animating classic Disney films like "Sleeping Beauty," "101 Dalmatians," and "The Sword in the Stone." Floyd's tutelage under Walt came about 10 years later, after being drafted to the story department to rewrite "The Jungle Book."

While Floyd still works for Disney at age 75, wife Adrienne has been illustrating books for almost every animated film the Studio's produced since 1994. As modest and multitalented as her husband, Adrienne (who's also an accomplished photographer) has illustrated everything from Mickey Mouse to "Monsters, Inc.," but is most proud of her artwork for the Fairies books, a series about Tinker Bell and her Pixie Hollow pals. Flitter-iffic fans take note – Adrienne also painted the end credits for the animated feature "Tinker Bell" in 2008!

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell

Behind the scenes or in front of the camera, pixie dust (and the spell it casts) knows no bounds. In 1968, celebrity couple-to-be Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell met while filming Disney's "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band," Goldie's feature film debut as a dancer (she played the Giggly Girl, while Kurt portrayed Sidney Bower). Kurt went on to star in numerous Disney movies, including "The Barefoot Executive" (1971), "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1968), "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" (1969), "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" (TV, 1967-1972), and "The Fox and the Hound" (1981, as the voice of Copper).

Floyd lovingly asked, "What better boss could you work for than Walt Disney?" These are only a few of the many families who agree!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walt Before Mickey by Timothy Susanin

05.05.11 - D23 catches up with Timothy Susanin, the unlikely author who chronicled Walt Disney's early life in the new definitive biography, Walt Before Mickey.

  Young Walt Disney at an animator's desk in Kansas City.
Before taking a trip to Walt Disney World with his wife and family in 2004, Timothy Susanin wouldn't have considered himself much of a Disney fan let alone a candidate to write a biography about Walt Disney. "We went there for the kids and we ended up loving it," he recalls. Intrigued by the resort and in turn the man who dreamed up the idea for it, Susanin picked up Bob Thomas' Walt Disney: An American Original. "That biography is what got me hooked," he laughs. From there, he delved into just about anything written about Walt until he had soaked up all that was published. An investigative lawyer by trade, Susanin noticed there were some missing details about Walt's past in the years leading up to the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. Thus began his own search for Walt's missing decade and the rest is history, well, a very specific time in it. Walt Before Mickey transports you back in time, from 1919 to 1928, to meet the 17-year-old black-and-white version of Walt Disney who was just taking his first brush strokes at creating the wonderful world of Disney.

The idea was to come up with a timeline. "There was a whole decade there that I felt a need to put in order for myself," Susanin explains. He began searching through the trail of documents and details that Walt had left behind. From newspaper articles and interviews to correspondence, census records and obituaries, a life story began to take shape — not only of Walt's, but of those around him. "So the timeline turned into a chronology that turned into a draft that turned into a book," Susanin reveals. "I saw pictures of Walt with all these young kids and you wonder, 'Who are these people?' and 'Could they have ever imagined that they were at the start of this whole iconic saga?' I wanted to jump in and learn about the fun stuff in his glory years and focus on the Hollywood years. And then, as I joked with [Disney Legend] Dave Smith and a number of people, I got stuck in Kansas City."

     Walt's business card while he was in Kansas City.
One of the things Susanin noticed was that most of what had been written about Walt's early years began with Steamboat Willie. And if an author dared to go earlier into his past, it usually began with Laugh-O-Gram Films in Kansas City. "Laugh-O-Gram Films is always the headliner when they talk about his Kansas City years, or his career there anyways," Susanin points out. "That was the second of the two studios he had there." The first was called Kaycee Studios. And most people incorrectly think he started doing those first fairytales — Little Red Riding Hood and The Four Musicians Bremen — at Laugh-O-Gram, but he really animated those while he was at Kaycee Studios."

As a reader you really get a sense of what it was like to be right there with Walt and his animators during the experimental days of animation and the birth of Hollywood. "The book starts out with a flashback, and putting that aside, I try to stay in the moment," Susanin says. "So I'm not referencing Winnie the Pooh or Disneyland. I'm not breaking the image that I am creating there." From photos and interviews, Susanin connects historical quotes with vivid descriptions. Readers learn about Walt's trek to California through his own words and, based on newspaper articles, ads and photos, Susanin describes the surroundings in vivid detail. The book also provides a rare glimpse at Walt's early struggles and his perseverance to go back to the drawing board when things didn't work out. "I was struck at how many years went by before he did hit it big," Susanin says. "One presumes it was an overnight thing."

Walt and Roy, brothers with their whole life ahead of them

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hibler and Reitherman Help Carry on Disney Cartoon Tradition, with New Pooh Film

07.18.11 - The last animated cartoon featurette to be approved for production by Walt Disney before his untimely death in December, 1966 was Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.

This is a sequel to the highly successful Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree which garnered some $6,000,000 in the United States and Canada when it was released in 1966 with the live-action Disney movie The Ugly Dachshund.

Wolfgang Reitherman was the director of the first Pooh picture and Winston Hibler was the producer of Dachshund Both are longtime Studio men, with over 60 years service between them in the special Disney way of making movies.

The credit in bringing in the completed Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day after Walt's death goes to Reitherman as its director and Hibler as story supervisor. Now they have both been named producers for a new and exciting feature cartoon project called The Aristocats, with Hibler concentrating on story and Reitherman handling the directorial reins in a streamlining of procedures that is designed to continue to produce animated features in the Disney tradition.

"Animation has a strong, interesting and exciting part in the future of Walt Disney Productions," said Hibler. "With the formation of our new animation production unit, we are dedicated to carry forward Walt's unmatched tradition in cartoon entertainment, and we will be staffed on every level by men who worked as many as 30 years with the master showman in this special art."

For Hibler, one of the Studio's seven live-action producers, the new role is pretty much like returning to an old one. He headed up animation story units on early features like Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Melody Time. With Disney since 1940, he was a long time writer, director and commentator of the True-Life Adventure series, and is the producer of the current feature comedy The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, starring Dean Jones and Diane Baker.

Reitherman began his Disney career 35 years ago as an animator and has moved up steadily to assistant supervisor and feature animation director. He has a great number of cartoon credits to his name, including The Jungle Book and The Sword in the Stone, when for the first time in Studio history, he was the overall director for an entire animated feature. Under the new unit setup the title of producer has been added.

In color by Technicolor, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day is released by Buena Vista.

From the original Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day press materials.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Virtual Tour of Walt Disney’s Apartment

"To enter the apartment we were taken backstage just alongside the firehouse on Main St.  We walked behind the guest relations building to a stairway that led up to the patio that overlooks Main St.  This used to be a VIP viewing area for the parade, but thanks to a large tree that grew to block the view, it’s no longer used for that."
 - Pete Werner

To read this completely amazing story, visit:

1955 - Celebrities, Officials Join Walt Disney To Dedicate New Era of Entertainment

07.17.11 - More than 50,000 visitors were attracted to Disneyland on Monday, July 18, when the Park officially opened its gates to the general public. Reactions were mixed but highly enthusiastic, ranging from exclamations of "fantastic" to "unbelievable" and "too terrific for words to describe." Governor Goodwin J. Knight of the State of California assisted Walt Disney and some 25,000 invited guests at the official dedication ceremonies of Disneyland on the preceding day, Sunday, July 17.

The preview of Disneyland was attended by many of the most familiar names in the world of entertainment, as well as civil and government officials, national magazine and newspaper editors and reporters, lessees and exhibitors from the Park itself, and local business, service club and Los Angeles and Orange County officials.

Stars Attend
The long list of names included such entertainers as Danny Thomas, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Art Linkletter, Irene Dunne, Jeff Chandler, Eve Arden, Marilyn Maxwell, Donald O'Connor, George Gobel, Margaret Whiting, Gale Storm, Ed Wynn and Charleton Heston, and the families and children of many of these and other stars.

In addition to Governor Knight and Lieutenant Governor Powers, government officials included Secretary of State Frank M. Jordan, Representative James B. Utt, Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson and the mayors and councilmen of all Orange County cities, Mayor Norris Poulson of Los Angeles and Mayor George Vermilion of Long Beach, and California Senator Thomas Kuchel.

Other Guests
Other personal guests of Disney were the public officials of Anaheim, members of Los Angeles and Long Beach Chambers of Commerce, leaders of industry in Anaheim, members of the Chambers of Commerce of Anaheim and each city in Orange County cities, the clergy of all churches and denominations in Orange County, and the Orange and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Foreign consuls of Southern California sent children in their native dress to share in the entire program as representatives of children of the world.

According to C.V. Wood, vice-president and general manager of Disneyland, the preview guest list was one of the largest in entertainment history.

ABC-TV carried the premier ceremonies over a national hook-up. The gala show spanned ninety minutes of air time, with Walt Disney and Art Linkletter, television show star, acting as masters of ceremony. Linkletter was assisted by Bob Cummings, Danny Thomas, and Ronald Reagan.

Television coverage began at 4:30pm, when the Santa Fe and Disneyland passenger train, with railway tracks that run completely around the 60-acre Park, making its first official trip. Disney and Governor Knight acted as co-engineers.

From the Plaza the center of attention turned toward Frontierland. The gates of the log stockade which surrounds this area opened to allow horsemen Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen, riding in from the Painted Desert, and an authentic model of a Wells Fargo express wagon to come forth.

Guests and following television cameras then entered Frontierland, the land of Davy Crockett. After inspecting the blacksmith shop, assay office, Golden Horseshoe Bar and other shops, guests and TV viewers saw Irene Dunne, motion picture star, launch the "Mark Twain," first river steamboat built in the United States in 50 years.

A visit to Tomorrowland was next on the preview agenda. As guests crossed the Plaza, hundreds of doves, symbols of peace and hope, were released from the entrance to the "world of the future." Viewed in this area, a city as it is expected to be in 1986, were exhibits of many of America's largest manufacturers, the TWA "Rocket to the Moon," the Autopia freeway of the future, Spaceport, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exhibit.

The dedication day was completed with a visit to Fantasyland, where all the characters that Walt Disney has brought to screen life were viewed.

From the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the entrance to Fantasyland, 16 knights in shining armour rode forth on splendid steeds to stand guard as the Black Knight approached and ordered the drawbridge of the castle lowered "in the name of the children of the world," to whom the castle is dedicated.

When the Black Knight lowered the drawbridge, approximately 500 children from Anaheim Church Schools entered the magic kingdom to enjoy such features as the King Arthur Carousel, the Peter Pan ride over moonlit London to Never Land, the Snow White ride past the Wicked Witch and the Seven Dwarfs, and the Mr. Toad Wild Ride.

The Mouseketeers, child stars of the "Mickey Mouse Club," which debuts in October for a daily television show, had an important part in the dedication of the Mickey Mouse Theater in Fantasyland.

From The Disneyland News July 1955.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Veteran Comic Gives Voice to Disney's Winnie the Pooh

07.16.11 - Sterling Holloway provided the first speaking voice for one of the most famous and beloved characters in children's literature.

Winnie the Pooh is given voice in Walt Disney's enchanting animated cartoon feature, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, by Sterling Holloway, speaking for one of the most famous and beloved characters in children's literature.

The veteran motion picture, television and radio performer was the personal choice of Disney, who found in Holloway's plaintive and unique voice the exact vocal quality he had envisioned for the roly-poly little bear.

During the past 35 years, Holloway's voice has often been heard in Disney's animated-cartoon productions. He spoke for the stork in Dumbo, the zany Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and the little mouse, Amos, in Ben and Me." He also did the voice for Kaa, the snake, in Jungle Book and Roquefort, the mouse, in The Aristocats, as well as many characters in Disney short subjects.

Born in Cedartown, Georgia, Holloway was educated at Cedartown schools and at Georgia Military Academy, Atlanta. His father was Sterling Price Holloway, a wholesale grocer and cotton broker.

From an early age Sterling wanted to he an actor and participated in many amateur theatricals. At the age of 15 he entered the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York City. His classmates included Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, and Allen Jenkins, all destined to win fame on the screen.

Before he was 18, Holloway had appeared on the stage traveling with a touring company of The Shepherd of the Hills, playing one-night stands throughout the West. He later joined the Theater Guild and appeared in The Failures, four editions of the Garrick Gaieties, and in Donna Magana.

While visiting in Pasadena he made his movie debut in two-reel comedies and was featured with Wallace Beery in Casey at the Bat.

He returned then to New York to appear in a number of musical revues, vaudeville, and supper clubs. He embarked on a successful career in radio.

Brought West again by the Pasadena Playhouse to star in the musical-comedy, Hullabaloo, he remained to resume his movie career. In addition to being heard in the aforementioned Disney animated cartoons, Holloway has been seen in a great number of screen hits, including Elmer the Great, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, and A Walk in the Sun.

One of the finest comedians and character creators in show business, Holloway has etched many memorable screen portrayals with a distinct voice and wistful, boyish appeal that he combines with an air of diffidence and gentle awkwardness.

Holloway lives quietly in Laguna Beach, a quaint art colony south of Los Angeles, and spends much of his free time reading and gardening.

Filmed in brilliant Technicolor and co-directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and John Lounsbery, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is re-released in feature form by Buena Vista.
From the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh press materials.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Disney’s Wedding Pavilion Marks Crystal Celebration

Disney's Wedding Pavilion
This Day in History: Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion opened its doors on July 15, 1995 as the first permanent wedding destination at the Walt Disney World Resort. Over the past 15 years, tens of thousands of couples from all over the world have held their happily-ever-after moments in this very special place. We’ve had the pleasure of bringing fairy tales to life in a magical location that offers a breathtaking view of Cinderella Castle.
Disney's Wedding Pavilion

As we look back at the last 15 years, we would like to say a very special thank you to all of our past and future couples. Stay tuned in the months to come as we celebrate our anniversary with exceptional surprises for you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do Bears Belong in an Enchanting Magic Kingdom?

07.14.11 - The Imagineering geniuses behind Walt Disney World knew perfectly well what they were doing when they included a Country Bear Jamboree among the attractions of the Magic Kingdom—theme park focal point of central Florida's Vacation Kingdom.

As any child can tell you (and Theodore Bear's adult admirers will agree), bears and good times just naturally go together.

At Walt Disney World, the good times revolve around a show of bearfoot music—the kind of country and western tunes that drove the west wild—presented by a troupe of 20 Country Bears. This latest phase of man's affair with the hear—an affectionate relationship that's just about as old as the history of organized entertainment—involves the use of Disney s sophisticated Audio-Animatronics® system.

In this case, the electronic approach that brought President Lincoln to "life" at Disneyland, and gives to all 36 American Presidents in the hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World, is used purely for entertainment purposes, with continuous shows daily at: Grizzly Hall, in the Frontierland area of the Magic Kingdom.

The result is a happy mix of America's favorite music and the best-loved friend of the young at heart. The fact is that Teddy, Dora, Theo, and Tad—not to mention Mr. Edward Sanders and the one-and-only Pooh—rule over an empire of the heart that knows no boundaries of language, background, age, or sex.

From the time that Theodore Roosevelt's name was adopted by the first stuffed Teddy, bears have adventured around the world. One even climbed the Matterhorn—with his Alpinist owner. Equally adventurous is Mr. Woppit; the fastest Teddy in the world, he broke all land and sea speed records in the company of his master, Donald Campbell.

Nor are bears at all shy about making friends in the highest places. A Teddy sits on the windowsill of John F. Kennedy's childhood nursery; President Johnson's Teddy remains in residence at his Texas ranch. Even Nashville—home of the Country Bear Jamboree sound—has its famous bear, living with his old friend, Elvis Presley.

There's even a library full of bear books—most notably, the histories of Winnie-the-Pooh. Some forty years old, he's younger than ever—and is even thriving in Latin and Russian (where the hero is called Vinni-Pukh). Graceful old age seems to be the furthest thing from Pooh's mind. British actor Peter Bull, official historian of the bear facts—his Teddy Bear Book is a current best-seller—reports that an original Pooh drawing was recently auctioned for some $3,000, which isn't bad for a bear with nothing more than a pot of honey to call his own.

At that, Teddy and Pooh—and their contemporary colleague, Smokey the Bear—are latecomers to the business of keeping people happy.

Way back when, the real article was the center of attention in all kinds of popular attractions. The Greek writer Plutarch tells of British bears transported to Rome for circus performances—and that was back in the first century. In the more recent past, trained bears traveled Europe, entertaining villagers by dancing, wrestling and boxing with their keepers.

Even today, the same Russian bears—the most adaptable and trustworthy of the species—play regular circus performances, executing remarkable feats of skill and daring. So far as the public is concerned, a Russian circus isn't worth its name without a troupe of bears roaring around the ring on motorcycles and driving through hoops of fire with uncannily human skill.

As a matter of fact, to some of us bears are human. Many American Indians look on the bear as a sort of supernatural brother. The Ainu tribesmen of Japan even have a bear cult—in which they bring up cubs with the care and affection normally given to a child.

As fascinating as real bears may be to man, the stuffed article, though, has the lead in the love department. And now the whole marvelous mystique is getting still another new dimension in the form of the down-home country bear.

What's more, Big Al, and Henry the emcee, glamorous Teddi Barra and Wendell of the grizzly bearitone... the whole 20-bear club making up the Country Bear Jamboree bids fair to rival Teddy and Pooh in popularity.

Even before their formal debut, there was a waiting list for country bear replicas. The Pepsi-Cola/Frito-Lay people, who are presenting the Country Bear Jamboree at Walt Disney World, report a mounting list of requests for traveling bearfoot musicians—the kind a visitor can take home and love.

Is the traditional Teddy worried about the competition?

Interviewed by an inquiring arctophilist (that's a friend of bears), the long-reigning boss-bear could only Pooh-Pooh the suggestion that rivalry was causing trouble.

"The bear fact," he is reported to have said, is that what's good for one bear is good for the entire Magic Kingdom."
From the 1971 Country Bear Jamboree (WDW) press materials.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Walt Disney's Heralded Bear Country

07.12.11 - Walt Disney's Academy® Award-winning True-Life Adventure, Bear Country is an exciting portrait of wilderness world.

The adjustments of animal life, large and small, savage and timid, as they are found in the western wilds of the United States, give meaning and excitement to Walt Disney's Academy® Award-winning True-Life Adventure, Bear Country, a Technicolor featurette.

The lion and the lamb have never lain down together. It's against nature. But there is strange fellowship and tolerance in the aboriginal wilderness where many species of beast and bird work out their destiny together in close proximity and competition for survival.

While the major wildlife drama in Disney's fascinating film is devoted to the North American black bear and his family affairs, many other creatures, bird and beast, are seen in the spectacular camera records of Alfred and Elma Milotte, James R. Simon and Tom McHugh.

Interspersed with scenes of violent bruin courtship, of discipline and training of the young, of prowling for food and comical antic in the black bear's private and social life, are revealing glimpses of squirrels, of hunting birds and fleeing mice, of an encounter between curious little bear cubs and helpless little coyote puppies. There are scenes of a startled rattlesnake whipping into defensive coil, of "gophers and other little earth dwellers, of a slinking mountain lion on the hunt, of marmot in a whistled greeting to spring, a gangling, young moose, hawk and swan and creatures of the air and mountain cliffs.

Bear Country looks at this interrelated life with unadorned realism to discover its wondrous patterns in the every-day life and death concerns of creation in operation. Magnificent beauty of forest and mountain in remote regions of Montana and Wyoming is an integral part of the wildlife it harbors for this impressive chapter in the much-honored True- Life Adventure series of natural subjects, released by Buena Vista.
From the original 1953 Bear Country press materials.
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