Introducing our newest series here at 2719 Hyperion: Vintage Headlines. Similar to our popular Windows to the Past series that showcases Disney-related archival photographs, Vintage Headlines will explore and uncover newspaper articles from the past that reveal heretofore largely forgotten Disney history.
It was fifty years ago this week that a young man named Gary Drapala had quite an adventure just outside the Disney Studios in Burbank, California. This story has it all: a pink stuffed poodle, a self-inflicted injury and even an arm wrestling policeman. Read on:
BURBANK. Calif. (AP) -With a pink poodle, a pocket-knife and his own red blood, Gary Drapala tried to storm the gates of the Walt Disney Studio to see actress Annette Funicello. Gary, 16, ended up arm-wrestling a policeman, and then telling this teen-age tale of unrequited love.
He left his home in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, N.Y. with a borrowed $100 and a burning desire to see Annette, onetime Mouseketeer on TV. "But I couldn't get past the gate," he said. "So I made a plan."
"I cut myself a little in a washroom of a service station near the studio. Then I went over to see the guard and ask him to give the poodle (a stuffed poodle he'd bought for $5) to Annette.
"I was going to double over, moaning. The guard would see the blood, and I wouldn't leave untilI saw Annette."
Gary gave himself a superficial 6-inch abdominal slash and faced the guard's suspicions glance Wednesday.
"But I lost my nerve." he said. "I just gave the poodle to him and walked off to the hospital." But at St. Joseph Hospital, across the street from Disney's, Gary's imagination started working again. Attendants called police when Gary informed them he'd been attacked by a knife-wielding stranger. Then at the police station, Gary became strangely silent. He finally agreed to tell all, though, if one of the officers could defeat him in Indian wrestling.
Juvenile Officer M.O. Daily's ham-sized hand reached across the interrogation table. There was a brief straining of muscles. Then Gary, his knuckles mashed against the mahogany, was talking like the proverbial magpie.
Police asked him what he'd planned to do if the guard had summoned Annette to view his slightly bleeding body, as planned. "I thought I'd fall on the floor and keep muttering her name over and over, "Annette, Annette, Annette. . ."
"I suppose I'd have gotten up, given her the poodle, and left. All I wanted was to see her."
The studio said Annette was busy preparing for a personal appearance tour—in New York, of all places—and wouldn't have time to see Gary.
The article was written by Dial Torgerson, a reporter for the Associated Press.