Monday, February 09, 2009

Windows to the Past: Pinocchio's Hollywood Premiere

On February 9, 1940, Walt Disney's second full length animated feature Pinocchio had its Hollywood premiere at the Pantages Hollywood Theatre. Studio veteran Jack Kinney remembered:

"When Pinocchio was in the can and ready for distribution, there was a gala premiere at the Hollywood Pantages Theater, with searchlights, stars, press, red carpets, the whole shebang. Everyone who worked on the picture was given free ducats to the command performance, so we all rushed out to rent tuxedos.

"Of course, none of them really fit, and you've never seen a more uncomfortable-looking group of slobs, except for Bruce Bushman (son of Francis X. Bushman, heartthrob of silent movies and a star of the original Ben Hur). He made a grand entrance in his very own tails. He was 'to the manor born' and looked it, while the rest of us tried to keep our stiff shirts and collars in place, sweating out the whole ordeal."

Kinney refers to Bruce Bushman, who was another Disney Studio veteran. Bushman began his career at the studio doing layouts for cartoon shorts. He later served as an art director on the original Mickey Mouse Club series and was a key designer for many of Disneyland's earliest attractions. Outside of Disney, he created design concepts for two interesting but unrealized theme parks--Bible Storyland, and a park themed around 1960s-era Hanna Barbera characters.