Monday, December 05, 2011

Disney Studio Signed Menu, 1950's

Today's Disney item comes to us from reader Steve Stuart, and OH MAN, I'm sure there are more than a few of you out there who dream of being able to have something like this! I know I do.

The Walt Disney Studio commissary is still going strong today. It's all buffet-style now, but back in the good old days (1940's and 50's, and into the 1960's), there were actual waitresses to take your order and bring it to you. And just like any other restaurant, there were menus. Take a look at this great menu cover; Donald Duck looks like he is trying to recover from a wild night! Or maybe he's just not a morning duck. While cover seems to indicate that this is a breakfast menu, the fare offered inside is definitely of the lunch variety.

Oh, and did I mention that this menu was autographed to Steve by Walt Disney?!? Holy mackerel! More on how that happened in just a bit! I love the illustrations inside; the fact that Lady and the Tramp are featured dates this to post-1955, although there seems to be some debate among the experts about how long these menus were used, according to Steve. I think I could eat in the studio restaurant very happily, day after day. My needs are simple! Note the beer selection; those animators loved to imbibe. "Heineken's" must have been fairly exotic for the 1950's (as Steve pointed out to me). What, no Pabst Blue Ribbon?

OK, now for the story of that amazing, big BOLD signature from Walt Disney, from Steve: How did I get it, I hear you asking-?? In 1962, a "new student" came to school, whose Dad worked previously at the Disney NY office - now transferred to Burbank - in the marketing dept, and was responsible in no small way for the Davy Crockett hat, etc. Any-who-hah, Billy and I became fast friends, which as you can imagine included many things Disney. My favorite was for one Halloween, Billy's dad was actually able to borrow a Mickey character costume for him to wear-!! Yes, those were simpler times. We're talking probably around 1963 or 1964, here. Then there were the trips to "the park" as it was always referred, proceeded by a phone call to Disneyland to place their name on a list at the gate and then raiding the hall closet, where many Magic Key Ticket Books were kept in a shoe box, allowing us the needed access to all of Disneyland's rides & attractions. Anyway, when Billy asked if I wanted an autograph, I said sure. (And, oh yeah, thru my friendship with Billy, I was able to meet Walt on the set of That Darn Cat).

Frankly the more amazing aspect of the story is the fact I STILL have it. You would have thought sometime between 1964 and the late 70's, when my interest in things Disney reignited, the menu would have somehow found its way into the trash, but thankfully, that was not to be. The authenticity of Walt's signature has been verified by Dave Smith and many others in the know, so it's the real deal.

Isn't that cool? Not only did he get an autograph, but actually got to meet Walt. How many of you wish that you could have experienced the same thing! My hand is raised. MANY THANKS to Steve Stuart for sharing this amazing treasure!


TokyoMagic! said...


D ticket said...

"today's SPECIAL" indeed.

Nancy said...

what a great story!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Thanks Steve for sharing this amazing item. A "real" Walt signature is the ultimate for any Disney fan! And what a super back story as well.

Thanks for showcasing this Major!

Tom Taylor aka DonaldTDuck said...

Eat your heart out. In 1964 at DL ny family was walking down Main Street when the door of the Cinema opened right in front of us and Walt stepped out. I have about 17 seconds of Walt on tape(7 mm transferred ato VHS) of Walt shaking hands.

olddisneylandfan said...

I got to eat at the Studio a few years back while doing a project for Disney--a lifelong dream fulfilled.

I met Walt at the official opening of It's A Small World. After the ceremonies ended, my younger brother and I pressed into the crowd eager to board the boats -- when I was abruptly bumped by a grown-up. I looked up as a friendly hand rubbed my little head (I was 9), saw Walt's iconic face and THAT VOICE said "Excuse me, son." I was absolutely stunned.

My friends at Disney call that my "papal blessing." And I remain thrilled at the memory.

Douglas McEwan said...

The autograph is fantastic, but the real highlight of that menu are the PRICES! The price of a huge meal on this menu wouldn't buy you a toothpick at the park nowadays. And for that money, you might be eating your lunch at a studio table next to Zorro!

Nanook said...

It was evidently not an uncommon event during Disneyland's formative years for guests at the park to see Walt walking through "his" kingdom, as many, many pictures (and autographs) can attest. I never saw Walt at the park, but saw Roy Williams and Jimmy Dodd - both of whom also made many in-park appearances, along with the Mouseketeers.

And as to the menu, thanks to Dave, I can share it with many others. It definitely strikes a chord on many levels: the signature; the menu and its graphics, and then those impossibly low prices-! And as Douglas noted, that may be the bonus highlight of the menu.

A Grilled Minute Steak for $1.65 eh-? Assuming the menu is from 1956, in today's dollars, that's about $13.09. Oh - and the federal minimum wage back then: $1.00/hour. Don't spend it all in one place, kids.

Chuck said...

I had a boss who, as a little boy in 1965, was given a personal tour of Main Street by Walt in either the horseless carriage or fire engine (he used the term "golf cart," but he was four when the event happened). Sadly, the event was a result of his father's being one of the first American airmen killed in Vietnam. Despite the reason for the event, he said that Walt's kindness and the way he related to him on the level of a child stayed with him all those years.

SundayNight said...


Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, D ticket, Nancy, VDT, and SundayNight, I know! I am very jealous.

Tom Taylor, that is a pretty great experience! I wish there was some way to see your footage.

olddidsneylandfan, I worked at the studio for just over a year, and got to eat in the commissary all the time. One funny thing is watching some of those Kurt Russell movies and seeing the kids sitting at the outdoor tables right where I used to eat! And your Walt encounter story is awesome!

Douglas, I guess the prices were reasonable because, after all, it was employees who were eating there, and not the general public.

Nanook, there are many stories of Walt's "hands on" management of Disneyland, personally overseeing so many details. Walt's knack for knowing what was right was pretty incredible (though not always perfect!). And I think the beer on the menu is the bonus highlight.

Chuck, that is a neat story, although as you point out, sad too. The fact that Walt would take the time to give a tour to a little boy says a lot about the kind of person he was.

Douglas McEwan said...

I did indeed see Walt in the park, in 1956. I met Roy Williams at the park once also, and he drew me a little picture of Donald Duck with "Hi Doug" as Donald's speech bubble. Sadly, my Mother threw it away many, many years ago. Moms sometimes have no clue to what is valuable and what is not. (I had my revenge. Two nights after she died, I burned her Bible and all her religious books and literature. I knew what was worthless and what was not.)

I never got to see Jimmy Dodd there though. I would have loved that.

Major Pepperidge said...

Doug, I have seen the kind of sketches that Roy did for kids, and while I'm sure children cherished them, I can certainly understand a mom thinking that maybe it would be OK to toss it at some point.

Jimmy Dodd, didn't he die fairly young? It's a shame that he wasn't around to enjoy his newfound fame a bit more.