Sundays With Snyder - Number 11

This is mostly a “Nightside” hour of listener calls, but it does contain the end of an interview with Sarah Purcell. The reason so many segments are joined in progress is the haphazard nature in which cassette tapes were either saved or discarded. (I used to tape The Radio Show and listen to it in the car on the following day). Sarah Purcell co-hosted “A.M. Los Angeles” with Regis Phibin from ‘75 to ‘83.

In this clip, we learn about Tom’s primary source material vis-à-vis the facts of life; we hear Tom’s warning about how not to visit Disneyland; and some comments about the impending last episode of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show

Listen or download.

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All Abaord!

At left, one of six replica cloth patches sent by Disney as a complimentary gift to those who joined D23. Take a close look.

It’s either a) proof that when it opened in 1959, the train was referred to as a monroail, or 2) a rigorous attention to historic detail, reproducing a mistake made 50 years ago, or c) a brand-new mistake attributable either to really sloppy proofreading – or no proofreading at all.

Hey, at least it doesn’t say “Disnyeland ‘59!”

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The Art Of Banksy, With A Nod to Flora

I met a very interesting chap up at the Floratorium* by the name of Chris Wildman, who suggested that my online life would not be complete without a visit to the site of an English artist named Banksy.

Turns out he was right. Very clever; very conceptual. Some of Banksy’s art is pushing at the boundaries of good taste, but then, that’s what art is supposed to do, right? Here’s a link to a page on the site suitable for viewing by the whole family: Outdoor Work.

Disney fans may know Banksy from some ‘outdoor work’ he once did at Disneyland, placing an inflatable figure representing a Guantanamo detainee as an little extra added attraction for the riders of the Big Thunder Railroad attraction. That little prank is documented on Banksy’s site in a three-minute video on his films page. His works have also been on display at New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art – don’t miss the hilarious video, also on the films page, that tells the story.

If you decide to snoop around elsewhere on the site, be forewarned that some images might not be appropriate for all ages and political persuasions.


*What’s the Floratorium? It’s the hidden fortress where the collected original works of the great Jim Flora are stored. Original paintings and drawings, layouts for children’s books, catalogs and commercial work, incredible sketchbooks that reveal one mini-masterpiece after another, each time the page is turned. The picture below is nothing more nor less than what happened to be out on a table during a previous visit.

The Flora family is making limited edition prints available of a few of Flora’s finest works, and during my recent visit I was able to compare some of these new prints directly with the originals. The new prints are astonishing works of art in their own right, losing absolutely nothing in translation, thanks to the dedicated, painstaking work of Barb Economon, digital media specialist at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Amazing and recommended.

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Suzanne Pleshette at Disneyland

She was one of those people who lit up the screen; one of those people you felt as if you knew; one of those people that could make a mediocre film worth watching simply because she was in it. She could be sexy and funny at the same time; her dramatic roles were effortlessly natural and believable.

Sad to say, I wasn’t shocked when I read that Suzanne Pleshette had died. Supermarket checkout lines put all those ratty scandal-and-sensation newspapers at eye-level, and sometimes it’s pretty hard to avoid noticing a headline. The one I happened to catch a few weeks ago was “Suzanne Pleshette Planning Her Funeral.” I hoped it wasn’t true, but I’ve seen those kinds of “soon to die” headlines before, and unfortunately, they’re often correct.

It’s no secret that Walt Disney himself had a major crush on Pleshette. Suzanne flirted with Disney when she was on the lot, something Disney seemed to enjoy. I guess the empire would have crumbled if Disney ended his less-than-fulfilling marriage, but it’s interesting to speculate about the ways in which history might have changed…

She made three pictures at Disney’s: The Ugly Dachshund, which one might reasonably expect to be a major Disney dud, but is delightful and funny; Blackbeard’s Ghost, which I’ve never seen; and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, which is far from a great movie, but a wonderful showcase for Pleshette.

Suzanne Pleshette appeared in two films released in 1963.

  • One, of course, was Hitchcock’s The Birds, where her Annie Hayworth had ten times the life and appeal of Tippi Hedrin’s Melanie Daniels.
  • The other ‘63 film, Wall of Noise, is a hoot. Suzanne gets to play the (very) bad girl in a horse racing saga. (‘Wall of noise,’ for those who may not know, is the expression for the roar of the crowd as the horses make the turn into the home stretch. The ‘wall of noise’ sometimes spooks even experienced horses).

Wall of Noise is not out on DVD; I’m not even sure if it was ever out on VHS.

It’s one of those mid-sixties Warner Brothers black and white programmers where they’d grab a few of their TV stars (in this case, Suzanne, Ty Hardin, and Dorothy Provine) and make a quick picture and a quick buck. If you see Wall Of Sound pop up on TCM, set the Tivo. I have an old 16mm print of the film, and it’s a huge hit with friends whenever I run it.

But Suzanne Pleshette’s major – and often overlooked – claim to Disney fame is that she appeared in the first feature film ever to be shot in Disneyland: 40 Pounds of Trouble. Who would have thought that Disney would allow Universal to use Disneyland as a background for a chase scene? But he did, and the footage of Disneyland seen in 40 Pounds is like a time capsule from the park circa 1961-2, featuring many scenes of many now-extinct attractions… as well as fabulous footage of nearly the entire park. It’s terrific.

Suzanne looks lovely, as always. Walt Disney wasn’t the only guy who had a crush on her. We miss you already, Suzanne.

Part 1

Part 2

A couple of questions about the clip:
  • Did they really think that they could get away with re-arranging Disneyland geography? Did they think no one would notice that they have the monorail drop Tony Curtis, Suzanne Pleshette, and Claire Wilcox off at the Main Street U.S.A. train station?
  • Did they ever sell masks of JFK, Castro and Krushchev at somewhere near Hook’s Pirate Ship in Fantasyland?
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Disneyland Home Movie Excerpts

A brief clip (about 30 seconds) from some home movies shot at Disneyland.

Of interest because Walt is accompanying Hayley Mills on a tour of the park, taking her for a spin in the teacups and a ride on a Matterhorn bobsled.

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Non-Disney Disney Songs About Disney

Not songs by Disney; songs about Disney. Carefully selected for your listening pleasure:

  • Song 1 is about Walt Disney World and the lyrics contain “I got my annual pass”
  • Song 2 is about Randy Newman, Elton John, Phil Collins and the lyrics contain “If you love LA, but the rent is late…/ Write yourself a Disney Song”
  • Song 3 is about Times Square in New York City and the lyrics contain “Welcome to Disney World New York City zone”
  • Song 4 is about shopping, and the lyrics contain “We will remove Starbucks and Disney”
  • Song 5 is about McDonald’s, and the lyrics contain “Can’t you see they’re in cahoots with Walt Disney?”
  • Song 6 – Contains the lyric “日本 迪士尼 “
  • Tracks 7, 8, 9, are not songs and thus contain no lyrics
  • Track 10 is Song 7 and includes the chilling lyric “When they thaw out Uncle Disney/ gonna be some changes made/ pointin’ fingers/ askin’ questions/ 40 years of decisions made.”

Link: Non-Disney Disney Songs.

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Death At Disneyland

I think we’re due a break from the sad Disney Studio stories that have monopolized this blog for the past 48 hours or so. I say we move on to sad Disney Theme Park stories.

Well, you and I might find them sad. John Marr finds them fascinating.

So fascinating that he’s taken “Death at Disneyland,” the lead story from issue #13 of his uniquely titled fanzine, Murder Can Be Fun, and updated it to include the tragic events that have taken place at Disneyland in the sixteen years since issue #13 was published. The rewritten results are available in Murder Can Be Fun #20, the ‘zine’s final issue, released earlier this month.

Vanity Fair it’s not, but Marr is an excellent writer with an ear for florid overstatement, i.e. “…beneath [Disneyland's] glittering facade lurks something malevolent, something lethal.” He details the true stories of those who met an unexpected end in The Happiest Place on Earth. For those of you scoring at home, the Matterhorn, Monorail, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the sailing ship Columbia have each claimed a victim, as has the Carousel of Progress. The PeopleMover has claimed two lives, two others were lost in the Rivers of America, and two people met their maker, rather than the Snow Monster, on the Matterhorn.

A copy of #20 (which includes “The Phantom High Roller of Glitter Gulch,” “The Denture Murder Case,” and lots of other non-Disney true-crime stories in its 48 pages) will be sent to you postpaid if you send $2 (in cash, postage stamps, a check or money order) to John Marr, P.O. Box 640111, San Francisco, CA 94164. Sure to be a collectible someday, if it isn’t already.

And be careful out there. At the park.

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Michael Iceberg on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson

Michael Iceberg played his “Iceberg Machine” (synthesizers of all varieties, tweaked, customized, and modded) at Disneyland and at Walt Disney World. Michael was way ahead of the curve, producing sounds no one else was getting in the early 1980’s. Couple these sounds with Michael’s immense musical talent and wacky stage persona, and you’ve got the makings of an E-ticket park attraction. The Tomorrowland Terrace was huge, yet there was nary an empty seat when Michael was playing.

The Disney Channel created a special showcasing Michael Iceberg at the park, and you can find that on YouTube. This great performance comes from “The Tonight Show” just after the opening of Epcot, which should be celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary at the moment, but hasn’t really done much to mark the milestone. A 3/4″ U-Matic video of Iceberg’s Carson appearance survived in my collection – and here it is.

Johnny Carson occasionally had bad nights on his show – when the audience didn’t laugh, guests didn’t talk – everything seemed to go wrong. This happened to be one of those terrible nights, as you’ll hear in Johnny’s introduction. I’m guessing that Michael overdid the fog just a little bit, because it’s a l-o-n-g time before we see anything other than the wide shot – one can practically sense the panic in the control room as they waited for the fog to clear so that they could get a medium shot or close-up.

But then, things start going right. It’s remarkable how different Johnny sounds at the conclusion of Michael’s performance – listen at the very end of the clip for his succinct review. Michael has that effect on nearly everybody.

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