Monday, August 11, 2008

Disneyland 1984 - Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Celebration - Press Kit Materials


The Olympics Summer. The summer of Ghostbusters. The year when George Orwell's "Big Brother" was supposed to be watching us. The year before Disneyland would celebrate its 30th anniversary.

The year Donald Duck turned 50.

even had a parade for him.

While not exactly pulling out all the stops---after all, he isn't exactly Mickey Mouse---Walt Disney Productions did make something of Donald's 50th birthday, as found within the pages of the press kit that WDP distributed in advance of the big event (the cover of which is pictured here to the left---click on these photographs to see the large-sized scan in its entirety).

These press kit pages are fairly rare, I imagine. I hung onto them after they were sent to me in my capacity as the editor of our school's newspaper in 1983-84.

Frankly, I don't know how many newsrooms kept their kits, but I suspect most tossed them at some point during the last 24 years.

Anyway, here are the contents of the press kit, as distributed by Disneyland's Supervisor of Publicity in 1983, Lorraine Santoli. We begin with black and white photographs that were to accompany articles on Donald's birthday.

I particularly like the photographs of Walt Disney and of Clarence "Ducky" Nash, both of whom had a pretty close working relationship with Donald over the years.Without Mr. Nash's amazing vocal skills, I doubt strongly that Donald would today be counted among the "Fab Five" of Disney's most famous cartoon characters (and we're not talking about Pocahontas, Quasimodo, Brother Bear, Milo James Thatch -- of Atlantis fame---and Maggie---from Home on the Range, if you know what I mean).

The kit included was a 4-page background entiteld "Donald Duck Celebrates 50th Birthday," which is reproduced for you below in its entirety.

It provides a host of information on Donald in a fairly short amount of copy.

Click on the scans for a better view and read for yourself Donald's "official" story that WDP caused to be distributed for general release in 1983. Donald's "Official" birthday was linked to the June 9, 1934 release date of The Wise Little Hen, one of the famous Silly Symphonies that Disney produced in the 1930s. 1935's The Band Concert is still my personal all-time favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon and was also released during the same general era---it shows a somewhat evolved Donal Duck who has most all the elements of his "character" firmly in place only about a year after his debut.

Disneyland held a daytime parade for Donald's 50th. It was a pretty stock "character" parade, as I recall. I think you might even be able to see snippets of it on (search "Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Parade" and you should find it).

I remember being part of the post-parade clean up crew on Main Street. We would gather at the Hub with a group of sweepers and a couple of motorized vacuums (they looked like big lawnmowers). Two or three sweepers with push brooms would strike out ahead of the vacuums and begin sweeping confetti or parade debria from the curbs toward the middle of the street. The vacuum operators would follow along and pick up the debris.

We were kind of our own little "parade" after the Parade. It was noisy and created quite a commotion, but old Main Street was cleaned up in less than half an hour and back to its "pre-parade" spotlessness.

This past June our friend Donald turned 74 and we wish him many happy returns.

Sadly, "Ducky" Nash passed away in February 1985, only a few short months after Donald's 50th birthday year ended. Thanks to Mr. Nash for brightening our lives with his talent.

I hope that you devoted Jungle readers have enjoyed the chance to peek at this press kit.