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USAF Museum: Disney Insignia From WWII


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#26 kammo-man

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Posted 21 November 2016 - 01:31 PM

Great report.

I had fun reading this.

owen



#27 gwb123

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Posted 21 November 2016 - 01:46 PM

Thanks!  I think I have a few more to add from some of the other displays in the museum.  



#28 67Rally

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 01:57 PM

Dave,

I have a slightly off-topic question I'm hoping you may be able to answer.

 

The majority of Walt Disney's success was achieved in Southern California, so how did the Disney Family Museum end up in San Francisco?

 

Not a major issue, just one I've always been curious about.

 

Thanks,

Bob

 

Bob,

 

Walt's daughter (Diane) and her husband moved to wine country after they married and were raising their family. When Walt died, his personal archive was immense and she inherited much of it. She required storage and the large empty buildings at the Presidio were available for inexpensive storage where it was transferred to and sat for decades. Diane decided that it was time to share their family archive (which by then included much of Roy's archive and several preceding generations of items) with the public. The museum is, in no way, tied to the Disney Corporation. The museum is well worth the admission and will take the better part of a day to view. As a photography buff, that alone was worth it. The pioneering in camera technology and filming techniques were incredible. If you are familiar with "story boarding," this common business-development process was developed by Walt.



#29 R. Watkins

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 02:14 PM

 

Bob,

 

Walt's daughter (Diane) and her husband moved to wine country after they married and were raising their family. When Walt died, his personal archive was immense and she inherited much of it. She required storage and the large empty buildings at the Presidio were available for inexpensive storage where it was transferred to and sat for decades. Diane decided that it was time to share their family archive (which by then included much of Roy's archive and several preceding generations of items) with the public. The museum is, in no way, tied to the Disney Corporation. The museum is well worth the admission and will take the better part of a day to view. As a photography buff, that alone was worth it. The pioneering in camera technology and filming techniques were incredible. If you are familiar with "story boarding," this common business-development process was developed by Walt.

Excellent background information, and now the 'why' of this museum being located 'up-north' makes perfect sense.

 

Much obliged for clearing this up for me.

Bob



#30 67Rally

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 03:37 PM

Excellent background information, and now the 'why' of this museum being located 'up-north' makes perfect sense.

 

Much obliged for clearing this up for me.

Bob

 

My pleasure!

I will dig out the photos and share.



#31 R. Watkins

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 03:46 PM

 

My pleasure!

I will dig out the photos and share.

Looking forward to seeing them.



#32 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:36 AM

In the mid-1970s Diane Disney Miller (Walt's oldest daughter), and her husband Ron Miller, purchased just over 80 acres of land in Younteville, Napa County. Two years later they purchased the 90-acre Silverado vineyard in the Stag's Leap area of Napa. Since then they have purchased around 150 additional acres.

 

Diane and Ron owned a gorgeous penthouse unit in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The unit has commanding views of the Golden gate out one window and Alcatraz out another (I've been there.) The Miller's constructed a gorgeous wine-making facility at Silverado that also included their primary residence as well as a home built for Diane's mother Lillian, which became a guest house after Lillian's passing.

 

When Walt Disney was alive he formed a private company called Walt Disney Inc., which became WED Ent., which became Retlaw. This company managed the rights to his name and likeness. This entity received royalties from the Walt Disney Company for the Disneyland Railroad and the monorail as well as a royalty for all merchandise sold at the park. Walt's brother Roy fought with Walt about this as he believed the deal was unfairly giving Walt's family money due the company and Roy feared a stockholder lawsuit.

 

The formation of Walt's company came about because initially the company did not want to be part of the amusement park Walt was designing - he took out personal loans, mortgages on his property and life insurance in order to finance the initial development of what would become Disneyland. Through Retlaw, Walt was also allowed to purchase an interest in any films he produced. He took advantage of this clause and according to a site I found tonight, he purchased a 10% investment in twenty-six 1960s live-action films. This investment generated $600 million in annual revenue by 1990.

 

The family later sold the rights to Walt's name and likeness as well as the railroad and monorail to the company in the early 1980s. Retlaw also owned TV and radio stations as well as real estate. In the 1990s most of Retlaw's assets were sold and in 2005 Retlaw was closed down and assimilated into The Walt Disney Family Foundation, which was headed by Walt's daughter Diane.

 

After the Retlaw offices were closed, I think they were located in Calabasa, near Malibu, most of that company's holdings were put into storage. Now, this is where it sort of gets stinky. When Walt passed away, he and his wife Lillian were in the midst of renovating their home. A lot of his personal mementos and personal belongings were put into storage on Walt Disney Company property. When he died, the company kept most of that material. Why? I have no idea. It's interesting because when I spoke with Diane about his she became very upset as the company clearly had items that belonged to Walt personally but the company claimed ownership.

 

The family requested all of Walt's personal awards be returned to them, which they were. There were over 600 awards including some 31 Oscars. In the 1980s, Lillian Disney, asked that all of the family's personal belongings that were in Walt and Lillian's private apartment above the Fire Hall on main Street be returned to her, which they were.

 

The family then rented space in some warehouses on Gorgas Street on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco. They opened a very small museum that showcased some of the more important items: his awards, the miniature train he built and rode around the backyard of his Holmby Hills home, an Autopia car, a restored WW I ambulance like the type he drove while in France, and numerous other items. This facility was open to school children in the San Francisco area and many a field trip were made to this small museum.

 

Diane’s son, Walter Elisas Disney Miller, named after his grandpa, convinced his mom that her father and his grandfather deserved a more appropriate facility to showcase his achievements and act as inspiration for others. This was the genesis of The Walt Disney Family Museum, which was built in two renovated barracks and the gymnasium on the grounds of the Presidio. The other spark for the museum was the fact many people did not know Walt Disney was a real man. As incredulous as this sounds, many people think Disney is just a trademark. Diane was also tired of all the scurrilous vitriol being spouted about her dad in several books and she wanted to use the Museum as a tool to show people her dad was just a human like everyone else and he had his foibles like each of us has.

 

My understanding is that around $110-million was raised through the issue of municipal bonds, and the family and/or the Foundation donated another $25-$50 million to the budget. The museum covers around 80,000 square feet and has literally thousands of artifacts. I’m happy to say forty-eight items from my own collection have been displayed in Gallery 6, The War Years. I have given a guest lecture at the Museum, have done writing for them, and I also did personal research for Diane over the course of the five or six years I knew her (she passed away three years ago).

 

Why did the family pick San Francisco? Several reasons. The main one: they had a penthouse apartment in San Francisco and a primary residence an hour or so away in Napa. The second: they did not want to be in Los Angeles because they wanted to maintain their distance from the Company. They did not want to be seen as part of the Company and wanted to operate at arm’s length from them. Third, and a tenuous reason at best but one nonetheless: Walt’s idol was Blackjack Pershing, and Pershing was stationed at the Presidio for a short while (as a matter of fact Pershing’s wife and daughters were killed when their home on the grounds of the Presidio caught fire. Pershing was away and his son Warren was the only family member to have survived).

 

I think the primary reason for the Presidio was the first one I listed” proximity to the Miller’s residences. Diane took a very active role in the operation of the Museum. She attended many of the Museum’s special events and lectures and loved to interact with the guests.



#33 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:49 AM

Here is a photo I took of one of three display cases at the original Gorgas facility that contained Walt's awards. Notice the special Snow White award at the middle bottom with the seven smaller Oscar statuettes.

 

gorgas 2 e.JPG



#34 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:51 AM

Here is a photo I took of Walt's miniature train that was at the Gorgas facility.

 

gorgas 1 ed.JPG



#35 67Rally

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 01:12 AM

Disneydave,

Thank you for your personal insight and experience. I read you post to my wife and she asks is Diane's children maintain involvement in the museum and foundation.

We absolutely loved the museum when we visited a few months back. We want to spend more time (1 day isn't enough). Walt clearly was a proud American and was proud of his ambulance service and Roy's naval service.

#36 Bluehawk

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 08:18 AM

Thank you, for that magnificent summary!

 

Most enlightening.

 

As a CalArts graduate, Critical Studies/Class of '71, and member of their LA Chapter of Alumni, I can say that to this day, the name of Walt Disney was and is rarely, rarely so much as mentioned at the art university he played so great a role in founding and financing in Valencia. I was associated with CalArts (as a work-study student on full-ride scholarship) from the time its headquarters was located on 7th Street in Los Angeles, prior to its temporary quarters at Villa Cabrini in Burbank.  Apart from some rather sarcastic quips now and then, the only decently appropriate tribute I recall being given to him was to name the student snack bar at Villa Cabrini, "Walt's Malt Shop" - There was even a silk-screened poster created for it.



#37 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 01:00 PM

Thank you, for that magnificent summary!

 

Most enlightening.

 

As a CalArts graduate, Critical Studies/Class of '71, and member of their LA Chapter of Alumni, I can say that to this day, the name of Walt Disney was and is rarely, rarely so much as mentioned at the art university he played so great a role in founding and financing in Valencia. I was associated with CalArts (as a work-study student on full-ride scholarship) from the time its headquarters was located on 7th Street in Los Angeles, prior to its temporary quarters at Villa Cabrini in Burbank.  Apart from some rather sarcastic quips now and then, the only decently appropriate tribute I recall being given to him was to name the student snack bar at Villa Cabrini, "Walt's Malt Shop" - There was even a silk-screened poster created for it.

 

Very interesting post...thanks for sharing! I think the fact Walt's name is rarely mentioned at CalArts is a travesty because if it weren't for him and his brother Roy, that facility would be a shadow of it has become.

 

I'll try and post some images later today of the Walt Disney Family Museum Gallery that featured items from my collection.



#38 Bluehawk

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 02:37 PM

Looking forward to further postings.

 

Roy, was absolutely villified in those early days.



#39 R. Watkins

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 03:06 PM

Fascinating topic. Really looking forward to future posts.

 

Bob



#40 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 10:37 PM

The following three images show the display cases in Gallery 6, The War Years, at The Walt Disney Family Museum. Most of the items in the three cases belong to me.

 

Case 1a.jpg



#41 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 10:38 PM

Case 2a.jpg



#42 disneydave

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 10:39 PM

Case 3a.jpg



#43 Bluehawk

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 04:17 AM

Wonderful!

 

May I ask, if it would not impose in any way - Over what period of time did it require for you to gather the above collection of artifacts? For example, when did you begin, and what might (if it can be shared) have been a highlight or two along the way?



#44 67Rally

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:34 AM

I'll add a few close up images from the Walt Disney Family Museum.

 

14370363_10208222753499627_8193666959430278177_n.jpg 14359224_10208222753859636_1192414497893768462_n.jpg


Edited by 67Rally, 27 November 2016 - 10:36 AM.


#45 67Rally

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:36 AM

14390622_10208222754099642_8725374693033266953_n.jpg 14390744_10208222754499652_6088522530205572259_n.jpg



#46 67Rally

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:37 AM

14450015_10208222754899662_4718397076747047035_n.jpg

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#47 67Rally

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:38 AM

14446150_10208222755499677_783879146652767264_n.jpg 14470425_10208222752979614_7950630296274281979_n.jpg



#48 disneydave

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 08:59 PM

Disneydave,

Thank you for your personal insight and experience. I read you post to my wife and she asks is Diane's children maintain involvement in the museum and foundation.

We absolutely loved the museum when we visited a few months back. We want to spend more time (1 day isn't enough). Walt clearly was a proud American and was proud of his ambulance service and Roy's naval service.

 

Diane's husband Ron assumed the head position at The Walt Disney Family Foundation after Diane's passing three years ago. Several of their children and two of their grandchildren are members of the Museum's board of directors.



#49 disneydave

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 09:23 PM

Wonderful!

 

May I ask, if it would not impose in any way - Over what period of time did it require for you to gather the above collection of artifacts? For example, when did you begin, and what might (if it can be shared) have been a highlight or two along the way?

 

No imposition at all...

 

I started collecting 1930s Disneyana in about 1981.I started collecting Disney World War II artifacts in about 1990. The first collection numbers around 350 items while the second collection numbers around 300 items and is, in my humble opinion, one of the largest private collections of Disney WW II-related artifacts.

 

I have given guest lectures about Disney history at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and several Disney fan events. Every year I do a special exhibit of artifacts from my collection at the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet - a convention held in Lynnwood WA that has around 450 attendees. Last year I displayed around 50 items from the WW II collection and two years ago I did a big display or my original Disney WW II insignia art.

 

I have a Diploma in Broadcast Communications Journalism and have written dozens of articles on Disney history and 1930-1945 Disney collectibles for a variety of newspapers and magazine, as well as two Disney-themed books. (I'm currently in the process of writing three more books.) I have also written for World War II magazine when it was owned by Primedia. I wrote cover and feature stories, veteran interviews, and contributed to a column. I've probably interviewed 40-50 WW II veterans.

 

Highlights along the way:

 

Working for and getting to become friends with Walt Disney's daughter, the late Diane Disney Miller.

 

Interviewing veterans about not only their WW II experiences but also their pre-war (Great Depression) and post war lives. Most emotional interview: Donald Stratton who was aboard USS Arizona when the forward magazine exploded. Other highlight interviews: five Rangers who landed at Omaha Beach on D-day; an RCAF Typhoon pilot who flew 50 ops and was shot down several times, once while flying in support of the Americans at the Battle of the Bulge; a recon platoon Sgt. who helped arrest number two Nazi Herman Goering before war's end; several POWs who were incarcerated at Stalag Luft III - home of the so-called Great Escape.

 

Collecting highlights: several veterans have gifted items to me (I never ask for anything). One was a postcard with Donald Duck behind bars drawn on one side that the vet sent from Stalag Luft III in June 1943 to his mother. Another sent me the original art for his fast fleet refueler: USS Escambia - the finished, Disney watercolor art, features Jose Caricoa atop a floating gas pump - this vet also sent me the first issue of his base newsletter (USNRAB Hutchinson) that featured the base Disney-designed Jiminy Cricket insignia on the cover.

 

Other collecting highlights include the rush of finding a rare, one-of-a-kind Disney WW II item - the last one was a poster created by Disney artist Hank Porter for the State of California's Chief Forester - the poster depicts a forest on fire in the background and a stereotyped Japanese "firebug" with the caption, "A careless fire is sabotage" in the foreground. I scooped this poster for the amazing low price of $50. Two week's before I found the poster, I found a photo of Walt Disney presenting the art to the Chief Forester. I have never seen another copy of the poster so it is ultra rare in the truest sense.



#50 disneydave

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 09:23 PM

 

Great images! Thanks for posting them!




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