Sunday, February 13, 2011

Walt & RCA

Today's interesting post comes to us courtesy of blog reader Andrea, who was nice enough to pass along some wonderful photos and text.

Andrea says: Quick background: My Father-In-Law, Mickey McGuire, was a renowned car advertising photographer for 30 years. In 1997 a man named Jim Williams wrote a coffee table book, "Boulevards Photographic, The Art of Automobile Advertising", about Mickey, his partner and their company.

I wanted to share with you one of the pages in Mickey McGuire's section of the Shooter's Gallery. Attached are 2 photos from that page. The text on that page reads:

SUBJECT: Walt Disney
LOCATION: Disneyland
CAMERA/FILM: 8 X 10 View Camera, Ektachrome Transparency

This obviously isn't a car picture, but it was a result of some extra work I did while on an experimental shoot for Ford. J. Walter Thompson, which was Ford's advertising agency, also had the RCA Victor account. The people on the RCA business had come up with a theme line, "Color so real you think you're there," and asked for my help in finding a way to illustrate it. I ended up taking all of the guts out of a television set and used it to frame scenes which I set up at various locations.

The client loved the results and since it was my idea, I got the actual shooting assignment. And the first ad they wanted shot was to be in Disneyland with Walt Disney himself. I'd grown up with Walt Disney as one of my heroes. So when I was asked to take a picture of him, I was probably the most nervous photographer in the world. I shot him with his many colorful Disney characters. It was quite an experience to set it up and to control the background to emphasize what was going on behind the TV screen. I gelled everything but the picture tube area and used some grease to make the background a little bit softer.

Mr. Disney turned out to be a patient and understanding model. I was a young man in my mid-twenties and little did I know I'd be making history. This was one of the last pictures made of Walt Disney who died shortly after the ad ran. Disney characters (copyright) Disney Enterprises, Inc. / Used by permission from Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Here's the finished picture!

And here's a neat look at the early-morning preparations for the taking of that photo. There are lot of characters waiting around who never wound up in the final picture (particularly Snow White, Alice, and Peter Pan). I'll bet Mickey McGuire and his crew had been there since long before sunrise.

Andrea adds: Sadly, Mickey passed away about a month ago after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Thank you for letting me share a part of our McGuire family history with you.

No, Thank YOU, Andrea, for sharing these wonderful pictures and personal account from Mickey McGuire. Here's a closeup of Walt sitting in the comfy chair, reading to two little girls (I wonder if they still remember that day?).

Andrea wanted to be sure to credit Jim Williams for the text!


TokyoMagic! said...

Very nice! Thank you Andrea for sharing this....and to you too, Major for posting it.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Wow, I've always loved this advertisement and this rich history behind it is amazing. Thank you Andrea for sharing and thank you Major for showcasing this.

I always was curious if there was some cut and paste done here (and that Walt wasn't really even there) - looks like its a real TV with a hole in it, brilliant!

Connie Moreno said...

That was BEYOND fantastic! Thank you both for this post. WOW!!!! Mickey was a genius.

jedblau said...

One the best blog entries you've ever had. Fantastic.

mydisneycollection said...

I wonder if this postcard was taken on the same day / same time.

210Frwy said...

Wow. Look at that 8x10 view camera. That means they took a transparency that was 8 inches by 10 inches large. The photographer had to manually take an exposure reading, set the exposure, get down on his elbows, cover his head and the back of the camera with a dark cloth and focus the scene (it would be upside-down) on a focusing plate on the back of the camera. Once focused, he would load the film using a film holder. At this point he wouldn’t be able to see anything through the camera. He would remove the film holder cover (now the film is ready to be exposed), take the shot, replace the film holder cover, and then remove the film holder. That would be one exposure. Repeat for each exposure! And all the while Walt is sitting there waiting. No pressure! Of course you wouldn’t really know if you got the shot correct until it was developed. Great behind the scenes production shot of a classic photograph. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Major Pepperidge said...

I'm glad you guys liked today's post! I was lucky, since Andrea did all the work.

mydisneycollection, the same thing had occurred to me - I believe that it WAS taken the same day.

210Frwy, thanks for the insight into the work that went into using those 8X10 cameras. As far as I know, digital cameras still can't match the quality of an 8X10, but the ease of use sure makes up for a lot.

Rich T. said...

Wow. Awesome, awesome picture. I love the way the Hatter and his hat visually connect the outer and in-the-TV zones. Beautiful work--Thanks for posting this!

Sarah Kristine said...

Can anyone identify the character in the turban on the far right hand side of the second picture for me?

Major Pepperidge said...

Sarah, I believe that the character you asked about is not from any Disney film, but was strictly made to appear in various parades.

Of course, I could be wrong!

Chuck said...

Sarah - he reminds me a lot of one of the hunters from the "Peter and the Wolf" segment of "Make Mine Music," but the costume isn't right.

Chris Jepsen said...

I've always loved this print ad too. But there are indeed a number of mysterious characters here: Chickens, a horse, turban guy, upside-down elephant, pink roadrunners(?), etc.

In this day and age, it's hard to imagine Disney producing costumes for anything that didn't lend marketing support to movies, DVDs, and a huge line of licensed toys and other products.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, you and I had the same idea; but as you say, the costume is not correct.

Chris, I'm sure all of those crazy characters were created for parades. And I'm sure you're right... everything has to have a movie/TV tie-in these days.

JG said...

Thank you Major and Andrea for sharing this wonderful story.


Andrea aka StoryBookLand said...

Thank you, Major, for taking such an interest and allowing me to share on your fantastic blog. I am so glad to see all of the great comments and kind words. I can't wait to share them with my husband!

Another fascinating thing about this photo (thanx to my husband for this reminder :) is that, when viewed through the camera, it was upside down. So Mickey was able to set up the shot and get it just right while looking at it upside down! Ummmm... WHAT?!?!

Thanks again, Major!!!!

Wayne said...

Amazing!! I've never seen anything like this before. Thanks for sharing, Major!!

I notice Walt's hair doesn't look as gray as it did right before he died. Any idea of what year this was?

Major Pepperidge said...

Wayne, I believe that this was taken sometime in 1966. There are candid photos of Walt in which his hair was basically white (or very light gray)... it's pretty clear that his hair was colored when he appeared in public or on film.

Nancy said...

what a wonderful post! thanks so much :D

Tinker Bell said...

Wonderful photos!! :)