Thursday, October 15, 2009

Walt Disney and Animation Artists in South America - 1941

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 Lilian Disney 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.

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All pictures: copyright Time-Life - All rights reserved


Mario said...

wow, AMAZING pictures!
I love seeing Walt out and about with his camera. It's really weird seeing him in Brazil....I'm brazilian

alban said...

Tres interessant. Je trouve le travail de Mary Blair vraiment remarquable. D'ailleurs pour info, je rentre de Tokyo où a eu lieu jusqu'au 5 octobre au musée d'art moderne une expo The world of colors of Mary Blair. L'expo etait grandiose et tres complete.

DisWedWay said...

I was going through an estate sale, when someone showed me a box of old record albums, many 78's. Among them I found the "Saludos Amigos" Jacketed record collection from Disney. It contained all the records in the pockets which made it even better. Many times I have almost given it away as a Disney gift. This article helps me appreciate it even more and I love the Album cover. It's great to see Walt having fun and taking a break.

Dreamer said...

I just love Zé Carioca *-*
my favourite character. And Rio is one of the best places in the world.
ps: I'm Brazilian, from Rio, and I'm really proud of it. *.*

shelley said...

Great photos! I think it's funny that the men wear suits and ties to a river expedition - how formal!

Henrique said...

The photos over Brazil are wonderfull:

Photo 1: Rio de Janeiro - Gávea Stone and São Conrado Beach

Photo 2: Rio de Janeiro - early Barra da Tijuca beach

Photo3: Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana Beach

Photos 4/5/6/7: idem for Copacabana Beach

Photo 8: Blairs on Glória Hotel, Pão de Açucar and Flamengo Beach

Photos 12/13/14/16: Rio de Janeiro - Botanical Garden

Photos 18/19: Rio de Janeiro - Urban Tijuca Forrest

Photo 21: Rio de Janeiro - Downtown - in old "Market Municipal", later demolished.

Photos 22/23/24/25: Rio de Janeiro - view from the promontory Pão de Açucar (Sugar Bread) at the bottom - early Flamengo Beach, the beach was grounded and now there is the Flamengo Park

Photos 27/28: Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana Beach - Atlântica Avenue - the front yard of the Stone House or House of pets

Photo 30: Rio de Janeiro - in early largo of Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, at background is the "Morro do Joá"

Photos 35/36/37/38: Rio de Janeiro - rest on the Paquetá Island - Guanabara Bay

Photos 39/40: Rio de Janeiro - premiere in Brazil - Cine Pathé - Cinelândia - Downtown

Photos 41/42: Rio de Janeiro - Urca Casino - was closed in 1946 with the prohibition of gambling - was later a TV studio - now the building has been restored and will be occupied by a design institute

Photos: 45/46/47/48/49/50: Rio de Janeiro - early Barra da Tijuca neighborhood - crossing the Barra da Tijuca channel to the beach

Henrique said...

For my fix, the first photo is the photo 0: Rio de Janeiro - cycling - rest on the Paquetá Island - Guanabara Bay

Anonymous said...

I have read that it was August (not June) 1941.