One of the more fascinating things about digging around in old newsletters and publications from Walt Disney Productions is that even long after Walt had died, the company was still very much a family shop. Reading publications from the 1970s and even well into the 1980s, one is struck by the casual and unpolished tone. Sometime it’s like reading your own goofy office newsletter, or even your high school newspaper. With the company’s only real outposts at the time in Burbank, Anaheim and Orlando, one gets the weird sense that everyone tended to know everyone else. Maintenance staff got prominent retirement notices, intramural ball games were covered extensively, and there were the requisite blood drives and classified ads.
It was a completely different world from the uber-slick, professionally produced PR pieces that Cast Members receive today. Instead of glossy pictures of Hanna Montana or the latest ABC show, the cover story for Burbank’s Disney Newsreel from August 31st, 1979 was a series of caricatures of the studio’s staff. While it is amusing, when you consider how much times have changed and how thoroughly unthinkable something like this would be today, what makes these images newsworthy is their artist – most of them were drawn by John Musker, who would go on to direct The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog with his partner Ron Clements.
For two weeks recently, the Studio has had the opportunity (for the first time in our history) to take a humorous look at ourselves. Those of us who visited the Studio Library were delighted (and amazed!) by the humorous caricatures that were on display there. Drawn by some very talented Studio animators and artists, they depicted some of us the way others see us, the way, perhaps, we see ourselves…
I’d love to know the story of Nancy Beaver and Norm Corey.