Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Richfield Oil Brochure

It's time for more Disneyland paper ephemera. My favorite! This time I have an undated (but certainly early) brochure from the Tomorrowland exhibit sponsored by Richfield Oil, called "The World Beneath Us" (1955 - 1960). Most of you know that Tomorrowland wasn't finished by July 17th, 1955, and Walt needed attractions for people to visit. The sponsored exhibits were glorified ads, but that doesn't mean that they weren't wonderful! I would give anything to be able to see what they were like in person.

The cover shows an unnamed "professor" character, drawn in the classic 50's industrial film style; at first I thought it was possible that the film could have been made by another studio, but after some research I learned that it was indeed produced by Disney. We also see natural gas (the little yellow flame), and water (the blue sailor) being used to push a blob of oil up to the surface.

I'd sure love to know if this Technicolor, Cinemascope film has survived; could the Disney Archives have this in a salt mine in Arkansas?

An ad in an issue of "Vacationland" magazine tells us that the Richfield exhibit "... helps explain the story of man and the forces with have shaped 'the world beneath us'. Mr. Professor narrates a... cartoon depicting the ages when torrential rains flooded the earth, when driving winds and glaciers tore up the face of the land, and monster dinosaurs dominated the Earth's surface". So... the 1920's?

A Fall 1958 issue of "Vacationland" magazine tells us that the Richfield exhibit had "...a Diorama model of the entire Los Angeles Basin area, together with a working model of an underground oil reservoir". Cool!  One interesting thing to note is that Disneyland is never mentioned. Perhaps Richfield distributed these brochures outside of the park, but they aren't common, so it seems unlikely.

I hope you have enjoyed this vintage brochure!


Nanook said...

What a 'fun' brochure, that somehow managed to combine teamwork, faux pro-environment, capitalism, economics, and entertainment, all in the same package - 1950's Disneyland at its best... perhaps.

-And fill up wth the official gasoline of Disneyland - New Richfield Ethyl - only gasoline guaranteed best.

Thanks, Major - I gotta go fill 'er up.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, more wonderful graphics from the Disney artists! I really hope Tomorrowland had costumed walk-around characters of the professor, the gas flame, water/sailor man, and oil blob guy!

Melissa said...

I love how they turn the oil pipeline into a cornucopia!

"I really hope Tomorrowland had costumed walk-around characters of the professor, the gas flame, water/sailor man, and oil blob guy!"

Perfesser Petrol, Hothead Hank, C.P.O. Drippy, and Captain Crude will be greeting guests in Disneyland's boiler room.

TokyoMagic! said...

That's too perfect, Melissa! And did you notice that lady in the car in the last panel, is wearing a babushka?

Chuck said...

"Everything depends on teamwork, as you can see....This is the only possible way to get all the oil possible out of the provide more of the good things of life for all Californians. This is conservation at its best, and conservation is true peacetime patriotism."

Using our own oil to maintain the highest standard of living on Earth - that'll show those Commies!

To most members of a 1950s audience, the word conservation probably would have meant "prevention of wasteful use of a resource" rather than "preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife." For people who lived through WWII rationing and consumer product shortages, the idea of conserving natural resources like oil would have resonated as a patriotic duty.

I find it interesting that I have latent warm feelings towards 1950s industrialism, even though many aspects of it have proven to be detrimental to the environment. I think I can trace that feeling to this sort of corporate propaganda, wrapped up with the comfortable nostalgia of a Disneyland association that I never even experienced in person. It's fascinating how it all works together so well to sell a concept and a product even today.

Thanks again for a wonderful glimpse into the World Beneath Us!

stu29573 said...

They should make a "Treasures" edition featuring the old films that were played at Disneyland...and Walt Disnwy World, for that matter! Hey, I'd buy it!

JC Shannon said...

Ah the good old days, when you could drive a gas guzzler, smoke anywhere you liked, and of course burn leaves in the fall. But seriously, I have never seen this brochure before. The art is of course, amazing. Mid century coolness plus. Thanks Major.

Anonymous said...

Those little guys on the first page look familiar, I'm almost certain I've seen the professor, the flame and the water guy before. Oil guy not so much. Maybe this is a suppressed memory or something like that.

Major, thanks for finding and posting this work of art.

Now, I'm going out to burn some leaves. I had totally forgotten that we used to do that and I can smell them now, thanks Jonathan.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I am a fan of 50’s industrial-style films, like the kind that you might see at the Prelinger Archives (, and this one looks like it would fit in nicely. Big industry is good for everybody!

TokyoMagic!, I wish we had more information about this film… who worked on it, etc. It doesn’t appear on IMDB. Those characters would make for some awesome cosplay - if they weren’t so obscure.

Melissa, “C.P.O. Drippy”… Pixar, are you listening??

TokyoMagic!, the lady had to wear a bubushka in that sweet convertible.

Chuck, any Russian who saw this would be so jealous! All of their ugly little cars ran on beets. Your mention of the way “conserving natural resources… would have resonated as a patriotic duty” reminds me of when I lived in an apartment - during a drought, the landlord left each tenant a note saying that we were using too much water, and that it was “un-American”. I agree with your assessment of 50’s industrialism, but in that post-war era, everyone was thrilled to have a good job, and the problems of things like limited resources and pollution weren’t thought about, generally. It seemed like things could only go up, up, UP.

stu29573, that is an excellent idea!

Jonathan, burning leaves in the fall… I remember my grandparents actually had an incinerator (sort of a rectangular cement trash can) on their property just for burning garden waste. Even during my childhood that practice had become a no-no. We liked to drop firecrackers into it.

JG, the Professor (riding on a wooly mammoth) showed up on another Richfield brochure that I posted back in 2015 - Even though I know that burning a pile of leaves isn’t good for the air, I still wish I could do it on a cool Autumn day.

Andrew said...

Yeah! Someone should cosplay as the professor at the D23 Expo! About five hard-core old Disneyland fans would get it, but it would be totally rad!

I agree... when reading old promotional materials like this, you almost find yourself automatically nodding in agreement with the company.

Major Pepperidge said...

Penna. Andrew, I love the idea! But... I'm not even sure I would get it without something to give me a hint. It's easy to get into the spirit of these old flyers - that optimism that so much of the country was experiencing at that time.