Here we go with week one of Blogging Through the Alphabet. As I wrote earlier, my theme for this session will be Disney history through the alphabet so I thought I would begin with the Alice Comedies for A. This was an early project of Walt’s that combined live-action with animation.
Walt’s First Princess?
In an article dated Dec. 5, 2017, Alice is referred to as Walt Disney’s first princess. She did arrive long before the others, even before Mickey Mouse. A creation of Walt Disney with Ub Iwerks photographing at their Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, the Alice comedies were not enough to ward off bankruptcy for the two partners.
But that did not deter Walt from shopping his latest project to distributors. After making enough money to buy a one-way ticket to LA (where his uncle Robert and brother Roy lived), he packed up his film and headed west. His partner Ub followed him there where they continued to work together with Roy at the Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio (later named the Walt Disney Studios). Walt even convinced Virginia Davis’s parents to bring her out to LA to star in many of the Alice cartoons.
Walt finally found a distributor for his Alice Comedies. Winkler Pictures was run by Margaret Winkler who had begun in the business as personal secretary to Harry Warner (one of the Warner brothers of the studio fame). A deal was struck and Walt received a $1500 payment for each of his films. Aside from the original that had been made in Kansas City, there were a remaining 56 films made in Los Angeles. After Miss Winkler married her fiance Charles Mintz, he dealt with Walt on these pictures until they ended in 1927.
Developing his Style
The Alice Comedies were the first real marketable series of films to come from the creative genius of Walt Disney. This series built on the artistic talents Walt had begun to develop in Marceline as a young man who loved to sit beneath his dreaming tree and watch all of nature around him. This early power of observation served him well for all of his life.
He and Roy continued with the Alice Comedies until Walt grew tired of combining live-action with animation. He then turned to his Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons and then came the birth of Mickey Mouse!
There are several of the Alice Cartoons to be found online. I thought I would share the original one with you all that I found on The Classics Disney YouTube page. There are several that can be found on public domain sites as well.
I hope you enjoyed this little look into the beginnings of the Walt Disney Studios and the development of animation in the early 1920s. Next week I’ll be sharing our visit to his birthplace for the letter B.
We’d love to have you join us as we Blog Through the Alphabet. Just read through the simple rules and let yourself have fun.