Laugh-O-Gram Studio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Laugh-O-Gram Studio
Industry Film studio
Fate Bankruptcy
Successor(s) The Walt Disney Company
Founded 1921
Defunct 1923
Headquarters Kansas City, Missouri
39°04′13″N 94°34′12″W / 39.070362°N 94.56994°W / 39.070362; -94.56994Coordinates: 39°04′13″N 94°34′12″W / 39.070362°N 94.56994°W / 39.070362; -94.56994
Key people Walt Disney

Laugh-O-Gram Studio was a short-lived film studio located on the second floor of the McConahay Building at 1127 East 31st in Kansas City, Missouri.

The studio played a role in the early years of animation: it was home to many of the pioneers of animation, brought there by Walt Disney, and is said to be the place to have provided Disney with the inspiration to create Mickey Mouse.

History[edit]

In 1921, Walt Disney was contracted by Milton Feld to animate twelve cartoons, which he called Newman's Laugh-O-grams. [ChWDC 1] On May 23, 1922, Laugh-O-gram Films was incorporated by Disney using the remaining assets of the defunct Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists company and addtional $15,000 from local investors. LOGF produced nine of the requested 12 films with little income.[ChWDC 2]

Among Disney's employees on the series were several pioneers of animation: Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Friz Freleng, and Carmen Maxwell. The company had problems making ends meet: by the end of 1922, Disney was living in the office and taking baths once a week at Union Station.

After the bankruptcy of Pictorial Clubs, Disney's staff left the studio. But when the local Kansas City dentist Thomas B. McCrum, from the Deener Dental Institute, contacted Disney and offered him the job of producing a short subject about dental hygiene intended for the Missouri school system,[1] he brought together some of his staff again and made Tommy Tucker's Tooth.[2][3] This earned the studio $500, which was invested in the live-action/animation demonstration film Alice's Wonderland, starring the teenaged Virginia Davis.[4]

Virginia Davis's contract with Laugh-O-Gram was signed by her parents on April 23, 1923 with term giving her 5% of the Alice's Wonderland film's receipts.[ChWDC 3] Looking for a distributor for Alice's Wonderland on May 14, Disney wrote to Margaret Winkler, a New York film distributor. [ChWDC 4]

After finishing the raw edits of Alice's Wonderland,[ChWDC 5] the studio filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 1923.[ChWDC 6] Disney sold his movie camera, earning enough money for a one-way train ticket, moving to Hollywood, California; he brought along an unfinished reel of Alice's Wonderland.

The bankruptcy trustee was able to force LOGF's erstwhile distributor and debtor, Pictorial Films, Inc., to pay LOGF's agents the sum owned while agreeing that Pictorial could exercise its contractual distribution rights for LOGF works and to purchase several of LOGF's films: The Four Musicians of Bremen, Jack the Giant Killer, the Lafflets series, and Alice's Wonderland.[5]

Fate of the building[edit]

Laugh-O-Gram Studio in 2004

The studio building fell to ruin and efforts were made to restore it by a non-profit group called "Thank You, Walt Disney". The Disney family promised $450,000 in matching funds for the restoration. The exterior was restored and the building stabilized in 2009. "Thank You, Walt Disney" is currently working to raise money to construct a museum (to show what the crew used to make Laugh-O-Grams and exhibit other Disney memorabilia and to tell the history of Walt Disney's life in Kansas City), a movie house (to exhibit original and restored Laugh-O-Grams), and an education center (to tell people and children about animation and to make their own animations) inside the building.

Inspiration for Mickey Mouse[edit]

Disney told interviewers later that he was inspired to draw Mickey by a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri.

They used to fight for crumbs in my waste-basket when I worked alone late at night. I lifted them out and kept them in wire cages on my desk. I grew particularly fond of one brown house mouse. He was a timid little guy. By tapping him on the nose with my pencil, I trained him to run inside a black circle I drew on my drawing board. When I left Kansas to try my luck at Hollywood, I hated to leave him behind. So I carefully carried him to a backyard, making sure it was a nice neighborhood, and the tame little fellow scampered to freedom.[6]

In 1928 during a train trip to New York he showed the drawing to his wife Lillian Marie Bounds and said he was going to call it "Mortimer Mouse." She replied that the name sounded "too sissified" and suggested Mickey Mouse instead.[6]

Filmography[edit]

Of the original seven Laugh-O-Grams fairy tales, four were long known to have survived, and have been restored for DVD: Little Red Riding Hood (1922), The Four Musicians of Bremen (1922), Puss in Boots (1922), and Cinderella (1922). These shorts later became available on Blu-ray Disc as bonus features for Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Tommy Tucker's Tooth (1922), and Alice's Wonderland (1923) are also available on DVD, and Alice's Wonderland eventually became a bonus feature for the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition of Alice in Wonderland. The original piece of filming/animation known as Newman Laugh-O-Grams (originally released theatrically on March 20, 1921[7]) is available on some DVDs too. Due to their date of publication, all 10 shorts produced by the studio have fallen in the public domain.

The missing fairy tale cartoons were Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Killer, and Goldie Locks and the Three Bears (all 1922). On October 14, 2010, animation historian David Gerstein announced that copies of all three had been found.[8][9] For many years the two Jack cartoons were believed to be one, until researcher John Kenworthy located old studio assets sheets confirming that they were separate shorts.[10]

Year Film Surviving Notes
1921 Newman Laugh-O-Grams Yes Old newsreel series that was only seen at Newman Theater, the only one surviving.
1922 Little Red Riding Hood Yes Walt Disney's first "real" cartoon. Briefly features Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "Grandma Steps Out."
1922 The Four Musicians of Bremen Yes Featuring Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "The Four Jazz Boys."
1922 Jack and the Beanstalk Yes Featuring Jack and Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "On the Up and Up."
1922 Jack the Giant Killer Yes Featuring Jack, Susie, and Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "The K-O Kid."
1922 Goldie Locks and the Three Bears Yes Featuring Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "The Peroxide Kid."
1922 Puss in Boots Yes Featuring Jack, Susie, and Julius the Cat, here unnamed. The king in the cartoon also made a cameo in the 1922 Laugh-O-Gram Cinderella. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "The Cat's Whiskers."
1922 Cinderella Yes Featuring Susie (as Cinderella), Jack (as the Prince), and Julius the Cat, here unnamed. Later reissued with synchronized sound in 1929/30 as a "Whoopee Sketches" (USA) and "Peter the Puss" (UK) cartoon, retitled "The Slipper-y Kid."
1922 Tommy Tucker's Tooth Yes Mostly live-action
1923 Alice's Wonderland Yes Pilot film in Alice Comedies

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life by Pat Williams ISBN 0-7573-0231-9
  2. ^ Tommy Tucker's Tooth at The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts
  3. ^ Tommy Tucker's Tooth at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Walt Disney: A Biography - Page 24
  5. ^ Page 143. Walt Before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928. Timothy S. Susanin University Press of Mississippi, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Walt Disney: Conversations (Conversations With Comic Artists Series) by Kathy Merlock Jackson with Walt Disney " ISBN 1-57806-713-8 page 120
  7. ^ Walt in Wonderland : the Silent Films of Walt Disney, Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman, page 125
  8. ^ http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/lost-laugh-o-grams-foundand-shown.html
  9. ^ http://www.cartoonbrew.com/classic/lost-disney-laugh-o-grams-at-moma.html?
  10. ^ The Hand Behind the Mouse by John Kenworthy ISBN 978-0-7868-5320-5 page 18
  • Polsson, Ken. "Chronology of the Walt Disney Company". KPolsson.com. 
  1. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013.  Source: Page 67. "Disney's World", by Leonard Mosley, 1985.
  2. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
    Source:
    • The Disney Studio Story, by Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley, 1988.
    • The Art of Walt Disney - From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms, by Christopher Finch, 1973.
    • Disney's Art of Animation - From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast, by Bob Thomas, 1991.
    • Page 19. Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot, 1993.
    • Page 67. "Disney's World", by Leonard Mosley, 1985.
    • Page 140. The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers: Volume II - Directors/Filmmakers, by Christopher Lyon, 1984.
    • Page 62. Walt Disney - An American Original, by Bob Thomas, 1994.
    • Page 40. Walt in Wonderland - The Silent Films of Walt Disney, by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman, 1993.
    • Page 41. Walt Disney, by Jim Fanning, 1994.
    • Page 9. Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse - His Life and Times, by Richard Holliss, 1986.
    • Page 41. Walt Disney - Pop Culture Legends, by Jim Fanning, 1994.
    • Page 42. Building a Company - Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, by Bob Thomas, 1998.
    • Page 13. Disney - The First 100 Years, updated edition, by Dave Smith and Steven Clark, 2002.
    • Page 61. Walt Disney - The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler, 2006.
  3. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013.  Source: page 49. Walt in Wonderland - The Silent Films of Walt Disney, by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman, 1993.
  4. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
    Sources:
    • Page 22. Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot, 1993.
    • Page 52. Walt in Wonderland - The Silent Films of Walt Disney, by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman, 1993.
    • Page 79. Walt Disney - The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler, 2006.
  5. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
    Sources: [16] [23] [24] [40.69] [63.50]
  6. ^ "1919-1924". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
    Sources: [1] [34.22] [1102.72] (spring [40.71]) (August [63.51])

External links[edit]