Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walt Disney and Animation Artists in South America - 1941



Did you think yesterday's article about New York 1964 World Fair was good? Well, you ain't see nothing yet, as i have today another fantastic post for you and this time it's all about Disney's animation history.

In early 1941, before U.S. entry into World War II, the United States Department of State commissioned both a Disney goodwill tour of South America, intended to lead to a movie to be shown in Central and South America as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. The tour took during ten weeks Walt Disney, his wife Lilly and a group of sixteen great artists from Walt Disney Animation as well as composers from the Walt Disney Studios to South America, mainly to Brazil and Argentina, but also to Chile and Peru. The movie, of course, now known as "Saludos Amigos" was made up of four different segments. Donald Duck stars in two of them and Goofy stars in one. It also features the first appearance of the character José Carioca.

But the Disney group was not alone, as LIFE photographer Hart Preston was there too and did a fantastic photographic report for LIFE magazine. It is these very rare pictures that you will see today, probably for the first time.

We will begin by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. On the top, Walt and WDA artist Mary Blair going for a tandem bike ride in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, June 1941. Below Frank Thomas, on the left, is standing with Walt Disney on a beach of Rio de Janeiro.



Precisely, in the next pictures we'll see Disney and his group going on a Brazilian beach...




Where Walt with his camera filmed some young cariocas...





Another great picture of Walt filming on a beach of Rio de Janeiro.



Meanwhile, Disney artists like Lee and Mary Blair created great watercolours that will serve as inspiration for the future movie.






They've also study the brazilian vegetation in botanical gardens...









And even waterfalls...



..And animals like this parrot - who knows, may be his painting by Lee Blair was the one who inspired the character of Jose Carioca?




Or may be it was this parrot?




Near a beach of Rio, Lee and Mary Blair meet and greet young cariocas...







...while on the other side of the road Disney artist Herb Ryman was doing sketches of animals.





The group went also in mountain villages...



...where Herb Ryman did some interesting paintings.




Here are two sketches of Frank Thomas, in the first one Pluto meet an armadillo...



And this one shows Dopey with a Brazilian monkey.



After the work the Disney group is relaxing...




...and for Walt, it's lunch time!...



...before some party later in the evening.



The Brazilian premiere of Fantasia also happened when they were in Rio de Janeiro.



And Walt Disney gave a presentation about animation with the help of three of his animators.



In a Brazilian nightclub performers entertained an audience which included Walt Disney.



And in the Urca Casino nightclub, dancers put on a floor show for the benefit of Walt Disney and his movie crew.



The group then moved to other countries, in Argentina to see the famous "gauchos"...



Or in Peru to see peruvians villagers...



While in Peru, they went also on Lake Titicaca to film sequences that will serve as inspiration for the Donald segment in Saludos Amigos. On the pictures, Walt is the one who holds the camera.








Hope you enjoyed this pictorial article with these rare LIFE pictures of the Disney South-American tour. All of them are coming from the fantastic LIFE photographic archives which are now avalaible to anyone in a special section of Google Images HERE and where you will find dozens of other rare and gorgeous pictures of Walt Disney.

All pictures: copyright Time-Life - All rights reserved

8 comments:

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Wow - this is all new to me. Really incredible, Alain. You keep outdoing yourself. Thanks

Jessica said...

This was such an outstanding post! I have been reading your blog for some time (it is always great) but such a rare an in depth look at the South American tour was incredible. Thanks for all the hard work!

Court said...

I actually tried to email you about the Time/Life archives yesterday but couldn't find your address anywhere on the blog. Glad to see you found it on your own.

What's even more impressive, is that when it's done being uploaded, only 10 percent of the pictures in the archive will have seen print in the magazines. Most of these pictures have never been seen by the public until now.

Bruno Rodrigues said...

Wow! I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a few steps of half of the places that appear on the brazilian pics...

Anonymous said...

marvelous stuff, thank you.

Kristina said...

Hello, I work at the Walt Disney Family Museum and I believe the first photo has been mis-tagged. The woman on the tandem bike with Walt is in fact Mary Blair and not Lillian Disney. Lilly was much shorter than Walt and if you look closely, it's very clear that those are Mary Blair's facial features. Also, Mary had straight bangs and Lilly did not.

Just want to make sure the correct information is getting to the public.

Alain Littaye said...

Thanks to have let me know, Kristina! I did the change in the text.

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Great post. Never saw the Frank Thomas Dopey drawing before.