Happy to present to you the Institute’s second Guest Disney Historian essay, again, from another longtime good friend (starting back in 1992). This historian has probably done more for Disney history since the founding of the Disney Archives, and I can honestly say he was the main inspiration for the Disney History Institute. I speak of course of Didier Ghez. If you are not familiar with his blog, I highly recommend it as a central location for finding out what is going on in the world of Disney history. Visit Didier at: Disney History. I have very much enjoyed Didier’s first contribution here at the Institute, and it brought back some old memories. His first paragraph reminds me of how I was as a youth. You see, like him, when I was in High School and my friends were out admiring cars, chasing girls, or being teenagers, I was spending my weekends at the University of Wyoming Coe Library. There, I would go through the Periodicals Index, month by month…year by year, and gathered every citation for Walt Disney I could find. Then, with notes in hand, off to the basement where all the periodicals were stored. Once several were found, it was back up three flights of stairs to the copy machine, where I laboriously over a two-year period copied every article on Walt Disney. Then, once at home, they were pasted into notebooks (see photo) and cross referenced (the old 3″x5″ card way–this was the 1970s!). The result was over twenty of these notebooks that I still use today! So, after reading Didier’s first paragraph, I decided that being a Disney Historian must be genetic–the old Nature vs. Nurture question. Didier and I have discussed at great length why we became Disney historians, and seemingly there is no one “tipping point” in our childhood to suggest our destiny. Certainly not location, I was in Wyoming (the cultural center of nothing) and Didier was in Paris. I guess we just got the “Disney History Gene”. Nonetheless, I am quite happy to present Didier’s first genetic contribution to the Institute. Enjoy! -Paul F. Anderson

by Didier Ghez

When I lived for the first time in Madrid, sixteen years ago, the city was still full of small traditional shops, which have now disappeared: cobblers, tailors, fried chicken stores,… and small antique stores. One of those small antique stores in the historic center of Madrid used to be one of my favorite destinations on weekends, when my friends were having their siestas or gathered for a drink. I spent almost all of my very limited student budget on the some of the items that it sold: Disney related, of course, pre-1945 obviously.

One of the magazines I picked up at the time was not from Spain, but from neighboring Portugal. It was dated August 19, 1933 and I loved its cover featuring a caricature of Mickey and Greta Garbo. No article about Walt inside, unfortunately. I would not have been able to read it anyway as I did not speak Portuguese at the time. A rare magazine with a very unusual cover. That’s all I knew about this item. I did not notice the almost unreadable signature at the top right of the image.

We are now in 2007, fourteen years later, in New York at John Canemaker’s place. I am meeting John – whose work I have admired and respected for years – for the first time and can not help but ask him about his upcoming book, Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft. Always the gentleman John takes the opportunity to show me the illustrations he has selected for it. Among them a Portuguese magazine called Cinéfilo featuring a caricature of Mickey and Greta. Yes, the small signature that I could not read did say “Joe Grant” when you looked at it carefully.

This cover is particularly interesting as Joe Grant had not yet joined the Disney Studio in 1933. He had only been hired by Walt on a freelance basis to tackle the caricatures on Mickey’s Gala Premier. Which is probably also why the Studio commissioned him to create this exclusive cover for Cinéfilo. Why the Studio would want to create a special cover for magazine in such a small country as Portugal is puzzling, but is also the sign that for Disney at the time all markets were equally worth of his attention. Believe me, I like this philosophy and why I believe this cover is a worthwhile tribute to both Walt and Joe.

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