Friday, October 31, 2008

Ronald Searle Gets Bewitched

Bewitched Illustration by Ronald Searle

To set the stage for a day of spooks and spirits, I'm excited to share with you some really rare illustrations by artist Ronald Searle. In 1966 Searle was commissioned by TV Guide magazine to conjure up a series of images based on the Screen Gems television show Bewitched.  The tableaux above of Elizabeth Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead, and baby Tabitha appeared on the cover of TV Guide for the week of June 18-24.

Bewitched Illustration by Ronald Searle
The technical staff on Bewitched conspires to inspire.

Bewitched Illustration by Ronald Searle 
Dick York as the original - and best -Darrin!

In spite of the obvious fun Searle had with these, the show itself apparently failed to cast a spell over the artist. "I know that the canned laughter underscoring those mournful lines in Bewitched is the laughter of lost souls," Searle wrote. "Who else would applaud so hysterically the words: "What's for breakfast, Sam?"

Bewitched Illustration by Ronald Searle
An extreme makeover!

Nevertheless, Searle knew his craft so well. His sense of humor and skill at caricature really sparkle in these illustrations.

Bewitched Illustration by Ronald Searle

And now, as you prepare to head out the door this evening with treat bag in tow... 
twitch your nose, and click the YouTube window below, for a musical send-off by Samantha Stevens herself... 
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Angus MacBadger Day

Today, October 29th 2008, marks the twentieth anniversary of Angus MacBadger Day! To those of you out there who celebrate the occasion (the number grows every year) I raise my glass to you with pride and plaid unfurled. Happy A. Mac B. Day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Annette!

Win a Phone Call From Annette, 1958

Good golly, I almost forgot to wish Annette Funicello a happy birthday this week. Yesterday was the day, October 22, and I hope it was a special one for her.

Do I love Annette? Oh you bet! And what's not to admire about this living treasure of pop-Americana, who is also one of the most lovely and sincerely nice people you'd ever have the privilege to meet? Absolutely nothing, that's what, so today let's enjoy some fun images in honor of Annette.

Annette at home, 1958
From a 1958 article in "Walt Disney's Magazine":
 "Annette listens to records in the living room with her brothers, Mike, 6, and Joey, 12. Her record collection includes Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Little Richard, and her own recordings such as the 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' story-teller album seen here. Her littlest brother, Mike, likes show business, and would like to follow in Annette's footsteps. However, brother Joey pretends to be unimpressed by his popular sister. He snorts, "You should see her when she gets up in the morning!" "

(Do I even need to point out that sofa? I mean, look at that SOFA!!)

Phone Call from Annette - Winners, 1958

By the time she had reached her mid teens, Annette was a total phenomenon.  In 1958 the Disney Studios held a contest in which ten lucky kids received a personal phone call from the 15 year old brunette, with publicity designed to whip young fans into a frenzy: 
"If Annette were to call you on the telephone, what would you say?  Would you ask her about Hollywood or about herself?  Would you talk about hobbies, movies, TV or the Mouseketeers?
This is your chance. Be the first in your town to talk personally with Annette.  Act now!"

Annette the Ballerina, 1950s

Annette's talent first became apparent at Carpenter Grade School in the San Fernando Valley, where the principal suggested she take up drums. From drumming she went to dancing. Walt Disney first saw Annette in a special performance of Swan Lake in Burbank's Starlight Bowl.

Her millions of fans seemed to want to know everything about her, and the Disney studio was happy to oblige.

On October 22, 1992, Annette's 50th birthday coincided with her being named a Disney Legend by the Walt Disney Company. At the ceremony, Annette and other honorees pressed their handprints into cement and received a special Disney Legend award. I was the art department coordinator for the event that year and got to wish her a happy birthday in person. It's a great memory for me!

So, Annette, if you're reading this, love and cheers to you this week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Paper Parade

I've been relentlessly busy the past month with a mix of projects, but here's a peep at one currently in the works.  The happy elephant is a detail cropped from a bigger piece I'm doing for an approaching-way-too-fast gallery show.  The full image to be revealed when I decide to quit fussing with it...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ghosts in my Neighborhood

There are ghosts in my neighborhood. They’re invisible, but they’re everywhere, all around. Everyday I walk right through bunches of them – I even drive my car through them. And, as I live in an old house, I know that their ghost furniture fills my rooms... their vaporous ghost clothing hangs in the closet with my shirts and jeans.

My favorite thing about living in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles is that the past lies beneath a wax paper-thin overlay of the present. I wonder especially about those long-gone citizens who once occupied our space. They were certainly different – if you doubt it, look at what they were wearing on a summer day in 1909! – but these strange people breathed the same air we’re breathing now.

I enjoy looking for any connection between our time and theirs. My friends wearily endure conversations with me hung on hypothetical musings, such as: “If an Angelino of 1929 were to suddenly quantum leap into 2009, don’t you think it’s neat that he or she would still be able to give you directions from South Pasadena to the Hollywood Bowl?”

This photo from 1909 depicts the then-brand-new electric incline railway that once lifted residents and visitors to the summit of Mount Washington in Los Angeles. The hillside streets were too steep for most automobiles of the period to climb without overheating, so a cablecar system run by a 40-horse power induction motor (built by Westinghouse) was installed.

That's all gone now.

My current home is near the top of Mt Washington, and several times a week I jog down this same street to catch the Metro Rail at the bottom of the hill. As I hike back up, panting, I sometimes imagine I'm being passed by one of the iron cars of the Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway. Inside, the passengers in their colorless hats and collars sit on wooden benches gazing out at the passing front yards. And as they go by, I realize not one of them can see me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Country Bear Jamboree...90¢

Tucked just around the bend at the entrance to Disneyland's Bear Country was the Ticket and Information Booth. The friendly person sweltering inside would be happy to provide you with a ticket to see the Country Bears for 90¢. Or, for 75¢, you can paddle a Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe and do some sweltering yourself. This image is from the late 1970s.Disneyland's version of the Pacific Northwest -Bear Country - opened in 1972 - and it's star attraction was the Country Bear Jamboree, an Audio-Animatronic stage musical originally planned for Walt Disney's Sky Crown Resort in California's Mineral King Valley.

Just as the other "Lands" at Disneyland had special marquees, Bear Country was to have had an iconic statue and dedication plaque at its entrance.  Imagineer Marc Davis painted these watercolor concepts in 1971, but the statues were never built.  

Monday, October 06, 2008

Swiss Family Treehouse...25¢

Disneyland Adventureland Ticket Signs, 1960s

The ticket and information kiosks that had dispensed pastel attraction tickets to Disneyland visitors for nearly 30 years,  permanently shuttered their little windows in 1982.  Though a few of the original ticket booths still exist in the park (Alice in Wonderland's giant mushroom, for instance) others, like this beautiful little thatched hut, have disappeared forever. 

Disneyland Adventureland Ticket Booth, 1960s

I really like these compact microcosms of themed architecture.  Did you notice the Tiki Room drum attached to the pole in the photos above? Branching out from the drum are two gas torches to spread a flickering glow over the area after sundown.

Disneyland Adventureland Ticket sign 1960s

Disneyland Adventureland Ticket Sign, 1970s

Ten attractions for $3.75!

Disneyland Adventureland Ticket Window, 1970s

I'd like to buy $10 worth of Swiss Family Treehouse, please.