Wednesday, March 06, 2024

The Golden Horseshoe

I sure wish I'd seen the classic Revue at the Golden Horseshoe, back in the days when Wally Boag was doing the show. But... no such luck. Today I have two fairly early photos from the Golden Horseshoe Revue - undated, but almost certainly from the 1950s.

Look at how young Wally Boag appears! Though he was a seasoned veteran of the stage by the time he worked at Disneyland. With him is Donald Novis, who co-created the script for the original show, and performed from 1955 until his retirement (due to illness) in 1964. I think that's Novis' hat hanging from the steer's horn in the background - but maybe not. As many of you know, after Novis retired, Fulton Burley replaced him, and was with the Revue for 25 years.

I'm sure somebody out there knows the name of the pianist! I thought that the painting in the background might be a copy of a Frederic Remington piece, but if so, I could not find a match on Google Image Search.


Nanook said...

I'm going to guess based on the microphones seen in each image, the first image is from 1956 (Altec 633A), and the second image is probably from 1959 (Shure "Unidyne" 55A, etc.) Other dated images reveal the 'parade' of different microphones employed in that venue which were used in comparison for dating the images.

Thanks, Major.

JB said...

Whoever the photographer was, he knew what he was doing; these photos turned out really well for indoor, stage-lit pictures. Not blurry, and bright enough to see faces and lots of detail.

Of course, the photographer could've been a "she", rather than a "he". But most picture-takers are male, it seems. Wonder why that is?

Major, I'm not even sure what that painting is showing. A bucking bronco with a cowboy rider? A matador fighting a bull? An 'Indian' wrestling an elephant?

A change of pace from what we usually see in Disneyland photos. Thanks, Major.

DBenson said...

I have memories of seeing Wally Boag and the original revue. I recall the show was preceded by old nickelodeon slides, some of them spurious (a illustration of a Gay 90s couple with the caption "Mother will love your maxi") and odd announcements ("Mrs Irving Smith, your house is being robbed! The Lone Ranger is in the parlor looking for Silver!"). Pepsi Cola was generously plugged.

The program included an Irving Berlin song, "The Girl on the Police Gazette", featuring the can can girls emerging from a giant magazine cover in old-fashioned pinup outfits. It's featured in the Ritz Brothers musical "On the Avenue", if you want to hear it. Wally Boag had a beard by this time. He wasn't as wildly athletic as he is in vintage film clips, but he did all his gags with the seemingly effortless grace of a sleight of hand artist.

We have the World of Color episode that captures his salesman routine and Pecos Bill, but Mr. Burley and much of the music (including "Police Gazette") were replaced by Annette, Ed Wynn, Gene Sheldon, and an elaborate slapstick brawl.

"You'll be reading about me in the news. I smoke in bed."

"When they operated on Father they opened Mother's male ..."

Bu said...

I have many memories of the Golden Horseshoe and Wally Boag/Fulton Burley/Betty Taylor. I'm not sure how many shows I saw: but way more than I could count of fingers and toes. Wally was a sweet guy: I didn't have too much interaction with him: but we did have "Walt talk" in a post show reception after his last show. He signed something for my sweeper friend, and the press was loving the moment: and (oddly) many photos were taken of that moment, as we were rather surrounded by cameras: NONE of which I have ever seen. We had the "Walt talk" as Wally: seeing the cameras/reporters around us: was doing his show biz thing: dragging it out a bit more than if we were solo in the corner of the room. I'd have to dig deep on what was actually said: something about being hired...or maybe about Flubber?. Betty Taylor often picked me out of the audience with her "magic mirror" looking for her "Beau"...which I kind of thought at the moment was embarrassing: me there in my plaid suit...when she usually picked out a "large and in charge" bald guy: for some sight humor. Betty would often come into the Inn-Between...and would stand at the entrance with this "I'm here" kind of look: she was very glamourous: and then she'd step into the line with the rest of us :) The hat on the horn was Wally's. However in my was cut out at the top that it would go through the horn as a sight gag. Note that I had never gone to the Golden Horseshoe as a guest: until later after my Disneyland career had and I was taking my own guests. A "good" VIP tour always included a reservation at the Golden Horseshoe. The best was: "4 hour tour: Horseshoe/lunch at the Club". Both of those things together take about 2 1/2 + basically: you went on Pirates/Mansion/Jungle: saw a show, had lunch: and you were done. "Perfect". The guys in the band were not young guys: this piano player could possibly be the same one...who knows...but somebody does. With all the history around The Golden Horseshoe Theatre I find it very disheartening that it has stooped to a quick service restaurant. After all, this is the place that opened days before the Park opened with Walt and Lillians anniversary party. Also: it was home of the ever popular "Tour Guide Fashion Show". Which oddly to me: was always well attended. We used the admission fees to support our "Tour Guide Fund". Which would basically fund the TG banquet and other social things: or perhaps brick a brac for the lounge. We also sold T-shirts/etc etc....that Creative Services would design for us. Not sure that ANY of this would be Kosher today. The fashion show: we would be modeling fashions from the UNOCO shops, and styling by (forget his name)...but some guy in Newport: celebrity stylist. We all got free hairstyling/cuts/color: and I became a blond. Thanks Major!

K. Martinez said...

I remember seeing Wally Boag and the Golden Horseshoe Revue show back in the old days. They can never replicate that early entertainment history of Disneyland, the era when big bands still played and Wally Boag and Betty Taylor were at the Golden Horseshoe. What a great era.

I also saw the Golden Horseshoe Jamboree, which was a good show, but it couldn't match the original show it replaced. At least for us old timers.
Thanks, Major.

JG said...

Major, you definitely have a piece of the Old Park here!

I only saw the Horseshoe show once, when I was with my high school friends on the scholarship trip. Late 1970’s.

DBenson’s outline sounds familiar but the only part I really recall in detail was Wally Boag spitting teeth. I think I knew a little about the show from maybe Disney News? I think it was fun, but when I returned years later, the show had changed.

Usually we were in a hurry to get to those E ticket rides, that and my strait-laced parents refused to go into any establishment resembling a saloon, even non-alcoholic. This is also why I went in the Calico Saloon at Knotts only once.

Thanks for the pics, and everyone for memories.


Melissa said...

The Muppet Show was my introduction to both Wally Boag and Alice Cooper. The twentieth century was wild, kids!

"I'm sure somebody out there knows the name of the pianist!"

Aren't all saloon piano players named "Perfesser?"

There's just not enough live entertainment in the parks. It's sad. There's nothing makes me sadder than a disused theater. Every time I watch an urban exploration video of some old theater in ruins, my inner director is jumping up and down like a little yappy dog, yelling, "You could still put on a show in there!" with the ghosts of Mickey and Judy egging him on.


THE POLICE GAZETTE REVUE ( …”a salute to the American Beauty”) was a special show performed in the Golden Horseshoe & The Diamond Horseshoe by the cast … in the 1970’s. This special performance was similar to the CLASS OF ‘26 ( a salute to the roaring 20’s) also performed during the 1970’s at both parks. The traditional GOLDEN / DIAMOND HORSESHOE shows were performed for 1/2 the day while one of the special shows was rotated in for the remainder of the day’s showtimes.

When I worked at the park and became a lead , I was cross trained in almost all lands …the first day of my week in Adventureland was being the longest senority amongst the closing crew of the Adventureland shops … everyone else was brand new ! I had to figure out myself how to close all the Adventureland tarps and awnings …. And how to lock them to the ground rings … anyway , there was an Adventureland break room that had once been a Golden Horseshoe office … and it was connected to the original dressing rooms ( then being used for storage ) and those rooms lead to the Golden Horseshoe stage!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures which look to be of professional quality. I didn't know that Don Novis was a pivotal individual in the creation of the revue. This from

"In 1955, Donald Novis approached Wally about co-creating and starring in the new Disneyland show, but Wally was only offered a 2-week contract. With nothing to lose and experience to gain, he brought his own talents to the stage and knocked the socks off of Walt and the opening week audiences. The contract went out the window, and he was offered a permanent position to play the traveling salesman and Pecos Bill. Wally Boag remained with the Golden Horseshoe year after year from its conception until 1982. While working at the park each day, Wally met young Steve Martin who was working as a magician in the park. Wally quickly became one of Steve’s great comedic heroes. “My hero, the first comedian I ever saw live, my influence, a man to whom I aspire…” — Steve Martin on Wally Boag

And of course Betty. How odd it was for them to work together as a pair for so long and to pass literally within 24 hours of each other. The abrupt close of an era.

I recall their dressing rooms above Aunt Jemima's in the Adventureland break area. We'd see them come and go. Wally could always be counted on for a laugh or two. Betty was, yes, the 'glamor gal' lacking the stuffiness of a star but always carrying herself in a manner fitting her role. Pleasant and more reserved. KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I wonder how Wally Boag wound up on The Muppet Show? Perhaps somebody in the Henson organization was a fan? It’s not like he was a household name.I’d really love to know. They do still do live entertainment at Disneyland, though it’s greatly reduced from the good old days.

Mike Cozart, I would love to see an actual copy of the Police Gazette - it must have been “racy” (1890’s style). I remember some Bugs Bunny cartoons showed characters reading that publication as well. They probably read it for the articles and interviews! Funny that you were left to your own devices while training in Adventureland - isn’t the point of “training” to have somebody show you how it’s done? I would have had a hard time resisting walking out onto the Golden Horseshoe stage - as long as nobody saw me do it.

KS, I am sure I read that account about Donald Novis from Steve Martin, but I always assume that Wally Boag was the driving force behind that show. There’s a great recorded speech by Walt Disney in which he talks about planning the Revue with Wally, and how Wally said he could use a lot of his old bits - “I can clean them up!”. Hilarious. I agree, Betty and Wally passing within hours of each other is just spooky. It’s fun to hear Wally’s voice in old Disney TV shows and movies, it’s distinctive.

JB said...

Great stories today! Thanks to all.

Melissa said...

"Melissa, I wonder how Wally Boag wound up on The Muppet Show? Perhaps somebody in the Henson organization was a fan?"

I recently read Brian Jay Jones's biography of Jim Henson, and he writes that after the first season of The Muppet Show aired, a lot of celebrities were asking to guest star, especially as word got around how well they treated their guests. It wouldn't surprise me if Wally had seen the show and it appealed to his vaudeville sensibilities. Also, Jim was a huge Disney fan long before he considered selling the Muppets, and he saw Wally at the Golden Horseshoe sometime in the 1960s. His Muppet Show appearance was in Season 5, in 1981, so he still would have been at Disneyland at the time.

DBenson said...

Re Flubber: Wally Boag had a minor part in "Son of Flubber". Some promoters show Fred MacMurray a filmed commercial for a flubber-based floor covering. Wally is in the commercial, a suburban dad who takes pratfalls on old-fashioned hard floors but bounces back to his feet on Flubberoleum. Wally also appeared on the original Mickey Mouse Club and wrote/voiced much of the Tiki Room. Maybe it was here somebody reported that Wally also produced some official newsletters for cast members, filling them with wacky articles.

Recall reading somewhere that Walt Disney wanted to use Wally's talents beyond the parks, but after Walt's death nobody was promoting him for movie parts and such. Wondering if Wally himself really pursued career advancement. He seemed to welcome opportunities when they came, such as the Muppet Show and moving to Florida to launch the show there, but otherwise embraced his steady, non-traveling gig. Kind of a throwback to performers in vaudeville and British music hall, who'd successfully tour the same successful act for years or even decades.

Re the Muppet Show: Recall reading somewhere else that Steve Martin, then doing big arena shows, invited Wally and the missus to a performance and starry reception. Jim Henson was a fellow guest, recognized Wally and quickly invited him to be a guest star.

On my last visit, just before Galaxy's Edge opened, the Golden Horseshoe had a little show several times daily. Four western performers, one on a piano, would recruit audience members to play parts in a skit. Hardly classic, but cheerfully silly and it livened up the joint.

Lou and Sue said...

I enjoyed all the stories and info shared today. Though I’ve experienced the shows many times in the 60s and 70s, I learned so much from today’s comments. GDB Gold.

Thanks, Major.