Every now and then comes a rush project that is so crazed I just want to get it finished and move on. Then after it's all over, I usually kick myself for not taking pictures!
In 1991, I was one of four artists making figures for Disneyland's Main Street windows. It was the year of Beauty and the Beast, and the miniature displays debuted the same day the film arrived in theaters.
Belle, book and sheep by me.
None of us had yet seen the movie or were even very familiar with the characters, but we had reference sketches provided by Disney Feature Animation. Figures with movement were sculpted directly over internal mechanisms, and doll-sized costuming was added last. Disneyland's decorating department dressed the characters and was responsible for the beautiful miniature sets.
Rich Collins sculpts a large figure of the Beast.
Apparently there wasn't time to spend making molds, so our "one-and-only" handmade sculptures were painted and placed in the windows without back-ups. Artist Rich Collins created a little Gaston (in the first photo) that had an unfortunate mishap. We didn't know it at the time, but the Emporium windows are constantly changing temperature. The alternating warm days and cool damp nights actually caused Gaston's wrist to crack, and after a month on display, he performed a fatal swan dive off the roof leaving his hand behind - still attached to the building! The pieces were sent back for repairs, and we all learned a valuable lesson on the importance of a well-made armature.
The famous dancing figures of Belle and the Beast were sculpted by Jackie Perreault (Gonzales), and can be seen today as part of a display of historic Emporium figures at Disneyland. Considering that beneath the clothes and flocked "fur" are Jackie's actual sculpts, they've held up surprisingly well over the years.
Jackie Perreault with dancing couple in progress.
Jackie, herself, has also held up extremely well! After Disneyland, she went on to sculpt full-scale dinosaurs for the Jurassic Park films, and movie creatures for Stan Winston. In recent years, her exquisite sculptures for the Walt Disney Classics Collection have attracted a devoted following of fans - me included!
Big Potts by Jackie... little Potts by me.
The final figures created for the windows were two versions of Mrs. Potts for different scenes in two scales. Jackie and I worked straight through the day and night before the windows were to debut the next morning. We speed-dried the paint with a hair blower, attached the false eyelashes, and delivered them to the park an hour before opening.
The images above, blurry and grainy, are the only record I have of Disneyland's Beauty and the Beast windows. Jackie believes she may have a few more stashed somewhere, and I'll share them in a future post if any turn up.