Tribute to Walt Disney

American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur and entertainer “Walt” Disney was born December 5th, 1901. In 1906, when Walt was four, Elias and his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri, where his brother Roy had recently purchased farmland. In Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing a family with a neighbor  named “Doc” Sherwood, paying him to draw pictures of Sherwood’s horse, Rupert. The Disney family moved to Kansas City in 1911 where Walt and his younger sister Ruth attended the Benton Grammar School. At school he met Walter Pfeiffer who introduced Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Before long Walt was spending more time at the Pfeiffers’ than at home. Walt also attended Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1917, The Disney family moved to Chicago. Walt went to McKinley High School and took night courses at the Chicago Art Institute. He became the cartoonist for the school newspaper, drawing patriotic topics and focusing on World War I. in 1919 Walt moved back to Kansas City to begin his artistic career. He decided on a career as a newspaper artist, drawing political caricatures or comic strips. Walt also worked briefly at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio where he met cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks and they decided to start their own company together called, “Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists”. However Disney left temporarily to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, and was soon joined by Iwerks who was not able to run their business alone. While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he made commercials based on cutout animations, Disney became interested in animation, and decided to become an animator.

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After reading the Edwin G. Lutz book Animated Cartoons: How They Are Made, Their Origin and Development, Disney considered cel animation instead of cutout animation &  opened his own animation business, and recruited a fellow co-worker Fred Harman, as his first employee. Walt and Harman then secured a deal with local theater owner Frank L. Newman, to screen their cartoons at his local theater, which they titled Laugh-O-Grams, these soon became widely popular in the Kansas City area and through their success, he was able to acquire his own studio, also called Laugh-O-Gram. Disney and his brother Roy pooled their money and set up a cartoon studio in Hollywood. Disney sent an unfinished print of his Alice Comedies to a New York distributor, who was keen on a distribution deal for more live-action/animated shorts based upon Alice’s Wonderland.  These, proved reasonably successful & By the time the series ended in 1927, its focus was more on the animated characters and in particular a cat named Julius who resembled Felix the Cat, rather than the live-action Alice. In 1927 Disney created a new animated series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was an almost instant success, and the character, Oswald  became a popular figure. Sadly Disney lost the rights to Oswald and After this he  developed a new character to replace him, which was based on a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in his Laugh-O-Gram studio in Kansas City. Ub Iwerks reworked the sketches made by Disney to make the character easier to animate although Mickey’s voice and personality were provided by Disney himself until 1947. In the words of one Disney employee, “Ub designed Mickey’s physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul.” Besides Oswald and Mickey, a similar mouse-character is seen in the Alice Comedies, which featured “Ike the Mouse”. Moreover, the first Flip the Frog cartoon called Fiddlesticks showed a Mickey Mouse look-alike playing fiddle.

Originally named “Mortimer”, the mouse was later re-christened “Mickey”. Mortimer later became the name of Mickey’s rival for Minnie – taller than Mickey and speaking with a Brooklyn accent. The first animated short to feature Mickey, Plane Crazy was a silent film as was the follow-up, The Gallopin’ Gaucho. Disney then created a Mickey cartoon with sound called Steamboat Willie, which became an instant success. Plane Crazy, The Galloping Gaucho, and all future Mickey cartoons were released with soundtracks and Mickey’s popularity skyrocketed during the early 1930s. Following in the footsteps of Mickey Mouse series, a series of musical shorts titled, Silly Symphonies were released in 1929. The first, The Skeleton Dance was entirely drawn and animated by Iwerks. By 1932,the popularity of Silly Symphonies was decreasing. and Max Fleischer’s flapper cartoon character, Betty Boop, was also gaining popularity among theater audiences.  The black and white cartoon Flowers and Trees was reshot in three-strip Technicolor, and went on to be a phenomenal success as well as winning the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons in 1932. Through Silly Symphonies, Disney also created his most successful cartoon short of all time, The Three Little Pigs, which ran in theaters for many months and featured the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”.

In 1932, Disney received a special Academy Award for the creation of “Mickey Mouse”, a series which switched to color in 1935 and soon launched spin-offs for supporting characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. Pluto and Donald became standalone cartoons in 1937, with Goofy following in 1939. Of all Mickey’s partners, Donald Duck, who first teamed up with Mickey in the 1934 cartoon, Orphan’s Benefit, was the most popular & became Disney’s second most successful cartoon character of all time. in 1934 Disney began planning a full-length animated feature-length version of Snow White, using the Silly Symphonies as a platform for experiments in realistic human animation, distinctive character animation, special effects, and the use of specialized processes and apparatus.Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs went into full production in 1934 & premiered on December 21, 1937 . At its conclusion  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs received a standing ovation & went on to become the most successful motion picture of 1938, Following the success of Snow White, Disney received one full-size, and seven miniature Oscar statuettes. The success of Snow White ushered in a period known as the Golden Age of Animation. Pinocchio Bambi and Fantasia followed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into the movie theaters in 1940 and Dumbo was released in 1941 followed by The Three Caballeros In 1945. Meanwhile the shorts staff carried on working on the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto cartoon series. Disney was also asked to make an educational film about the Amazon Basin, which resulted in the 1944 animated short, The Amazon Awakens. During this period, Disney also ventured into full-length dramatic films that mixed live action and animated scenes, including Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart. In the late 1940s, work began on Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and Peter Pan. In 1948 the studio also made a series of live-action nature films, titled True-Life Adventures.

On a business trip to Chicago in the late-1940s, Disney drew sketches of his ideas for an amusement park where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. The idea for a children’s theme park came after a visit to Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California. It also said that Disney may have been inspired to create Disneyland in the park Republic of the Children, Argentina. The theme park was originally intended to be built on a plot located across the street to the south of the studio. These original ideas developed into a concept for a larger enterprise that would become Disneyland, and On Sunday, July 17, 1955, Disneyland was officially opened to the public. As Walt Disney Productions began work on Disneyland, it also began expanding its other entertainment operations. In 1950, Treasure Island became the studio’s first all-live-action feature, soon followed by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent-Minded Professor, and The Parent Trap. The studio also produced its first TV special, One Hour in Wonderland. During the 1960’s Disney made Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone. In early 1964, Disney announced plans to develop another theme park to be called Disney World a few miles southwest of Orlando, Florida. Disney World was to include “the Magic Kingdom”, a larger, more elaborate version of Disneyland. It would also feature a number of golf courses and resort hotels. The heart of Disney World, however, was to be the Experimental Prototype City (or Community) of Tomorrow, known as EPCOT for short.

Walt Disney was a chain smoker his entire adult life, during pre-operative X-rays, doctors discovered a tumor in his left lung. Five days later a biopsy showed the tumor to be malignant and to have spread throughout the entire left lung. After removal of the lung, doctors informed Disney that his life expectancy was six months to two years. After several chemotherapy sessions, Disney and his wife spent a short amount of time in Palm Springs, California. On November 30, Disney collapsed at his home and rushed to St. Joseph’s where on December 15, 1966, at 9:30 am, ten days after his 65th birthday, Disney died of acute circulatory collapse, caused by lung cancer in Burbank, California. The final productions in which Disney played an active role were the animated feature The Jungle Book and the animated short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, as well as the live-action musical feature The Happiest Millionaire, all released in 1967. During his lifetime he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history. Disney also won seven Emmy Awards. In 1967 construction began on Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. His brother Roy Disney inaugurated the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971. and he also gave his name to the Disneyland  in the U.S., as well as the international resorts Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom – Happy Birthday Little Richard

Often cited as “the architect of rock and roll”, American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) was born on this day December 5 in 1932. He is considered key in music’s transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s, and was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat which contributed significantly to the development of soul music.

Like the late great Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off Fifties music, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as “Tutti Frutti“, “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll.   Little Richard began performing on stage and on the road in 1945, when he was in his early teens, and began his recording career on October 16, 1951 by imitating the gospel- influenced style of late-1940s jump blues artist Billy Wright, who was a friend who gave him the opportunity to record his first song.

However His early fifties recordings, did not achieve remarkable commercial success, and it was not until 1955, under the guidance of Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, that he began recording in a style he had been performing onstage for years, which featured a varied rhythm (derived from everything from drum beats he would hear in his voice to the sounds of trains he would hear thundering by him as a child), a heavy backbeat, funky saxophone grooves, over-the-top gospel-style singing, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections, accompanied by a combination of boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues music.

This new music, which also included an original injection of funk into the rock and roll beat, also inspired many of the greatest recording artists of the twentieth century, including James Brown, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and many other rhythm & blues, rock, and soul music artists. During the height of his stardom He charted seventeen original hits in less than three years and in 1986 He became one of the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of only four (along with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Fats Domino) to also receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame In 2007, and in 2010 The United States of America’s Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the groundbreaking recording of his original 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti”to its registry, claiming that the hit, with its original “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!” a cappella introduction, heralded a new era in music. It has also been voted Number 1 by an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists on Mojo’s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.”

Tribute to Claude Monet

impressionist French  painter Claude Monet sadly passed away on 5 December 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. His home, garden and waterlily pond were bequeathed by his son Michel, & then to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966, his house and gardens at Giverny are also open to the public. Born November 14th 1840. He was a founder of French impressionist painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant). In 1851, Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Locals knew him well for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs. Monet also undertook his first drawing lessons from Jacques- François Ochard, a former student of Jacques-Louis David. On the beaches of Normandy in about 1856/1857, he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin, who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints. Boudin taught Monet “en plein air” (outdoor) techniques for painting.

When Monet traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre, he saw painters copying from the old masters. Having brought his paints and other tools with him, he would  go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. He also met other young painters who would become friends and fellow impressionists; among them was Édouard Manet. Disillusioned with the traditional art taught at art schools, in 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille and Alfred Sisley. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light en plein air with broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism. Monet’s Camille or The Woman in the Green Dress (La femme à la robe verte), painted in 1866, brought him recognition and was one of many works featuring his future wife, Camille Doncieux; she was the model for the figures in Women in the Garden of the following year, as well as for On the Bank of the Seine, After the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War , Monet took refuge in England in September 1870, where he studied the works of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner, both of whose landscapes would serve to inspire Monet’s innovations in the study of color.  In May 1871, he left London to live in Zaandam, in the Netherlands. He also paid a first visit to nearby Amsterdam. In 1871, Monet moved to Argenteuil, on the bank of the Seine near Paris, and this was where he painted some of his best known works. Including “Boulevard des Capucines” and “Impression, Sunrise” (Impression, soleil levant)  which is on display in the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Monet married Camille Doncieux and, after visiting London and Zaandam, they moved to Argenteuil. It was during this time that Monet painted various works of modern life. In 1878 Monet moved to the village of Vétheuil. in March 1878 Camille gave birth to her second child Michel Monet, Sadly though On 5 September 1879, she of died tuberculosis. Monet painted her on her death bed & After several difficult months following the death of Camille  a grief-stricken Monet  began to create some of his best paintings. In April 1883, whilst  looking out the window of the little train between Vernon and Gasny, he discovered Giverny, and in 1883, he moved to Vernon, then to a house in Giverny in Normandy, where he lived the rest of his life, the barn doubled  as a painting studio, and it was here that he painted several groups of landscapes and seascapes in what he considered to be campaigns to document the French countryside. His extensive campaigns evolved into his series’ paintings.   with the surrounding landscape offering many suitable motifs for Monet’s work  and Monet’s fortunes began to change for the better and Monet became prosperous enough to buy the house, the surrounding buildings and the land for his gardens.

During the 1890s, Monet built a greenhouse and a second studio & from the 1880s  through the end of his life in 1926, Monet worked on “series” paintings, in which a subject was depicted in varying light and weather conditions. His first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. He later produced several series of paintings including: Rouen Cathedral, Poplars, the Parliament, Mornings on the Seine, and the Water Lilies that were painted on his property at Giverny, with its water lilies, pond, and bridge. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine, producing paintings such as Break-up of the ice on the Seine.  Between 1883 and 1908, Monet traveled to the Mediterranean, where he painted landmarks, landscapes, and seascapes, such as Bordighera. He painted some paintings in Venice, Italy, and in London he painted two important series—views of Parliament and views of Charing Cross Bridge. During World War I,  Monet also painted a series of weeping willow trees as homage to the French fallen soldiers.

Tribute to Alexandre Dumas

-Count-Monte-CristoBest known for his historical novels of high adventure The French Author Alexandre Dumas sadly passed away on 5 December 1870. Born 24 July 1802 and raised in poverty, Dumas father tragically died when he was four, and he faced discrimination because of his ethnic African ancestry, although he was more than three-quarters French. Through his father, who was born in Saint-Domingue, he was also the grandson of a French nobleman and a mixed-race slave. His mother was French.

As a young man, Dumas’ aristocratic rank helped him acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans. He began his career by writing plays, he also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages.In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.

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COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

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MITIM_ADIn 1851, Dumas left France for Belgium. After several years, he moved on to Russia for a few years, before going to Italy. In 1861 he founded and published the newspaper, L’ Indipendente, which supported the Italian unification effort. In 1864 he returned to Paris. Married, Dumas also had numerous affairs. He was known to have at least four illegitimate children, including a boy named Alexandre Dumas who also became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son), while the elder Dumas became known as Alexandre Dumas, père (father).

Prolific in several genres, His novels have been Translated into nearly 100 languages, these have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas’ last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.

International Volunteer Day 2012

International Volunteer Day takes place on 5th December 2012. The main aim of IVD is to raise awareness and recognise the commitment of volunteers and volunteer Organisations and inform people about the impact of volunteering and applaud volunteers for their dedication and contributions.International Volunteer Day also provides volunteer organisations and individual volunteers with a unique opportunity to promote their work & contributions to peace, sustainable human development, combatting poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women at local, national and international levels. Through the Online Volunteering service, volunteers can also take action by supporting the activities of development organizations over the Internet too.