Little Bits of History

Who’s Afraid

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 27, 2015
The Three Little Pigs poster *

The Three Little Pigs poster *

May 27, 1933: Walt Disney releases a cartoon. Disney produced the short animated film directed by Burt Gillett. It was based on the fairy tale of the same name: The Three Little Pigs. The United Artists film cost $22,000 to create and the Technicolor cartoon ran for eight minutes. Animation was provided by Fred Moore, Art Babbitt, Dick Lundy, and Norm Ferguson. Voices were provided by Pinto Colvig, Billy Bletcher, Mary Moder, and Dorothy Compton. Music was by Carl W. Stalling and Frank Churchill. The film grossed $250,000 and in 1994 was listed as #11 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The Three Little Pigs was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Both the cartoon and the fairy tale tell the story of three little pigs. Practical Pig is practical and in the cartoon plays a piano and builds his sturdy house of bricks. Fiddler Pig plays a fiddle and dances after quickly building his stick house. Fifer Pig plays a flute after his shoddy construction on his straw house is complete. The pigs play and then the antagonist shows up – the Big Bad Wolf. He destroys the sloppily built houses in turn with each pig making it safely to the next house to hide until he comes to the brick house. When his prior method of blowing down the house fails, he tries to climb down the chimney. The pigs play a catchy tune between being pursued and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” was a musical hit from the film.

The cartoon was a big hit with the audiences of the day. Instead of a short run, it played for months and continued to bring in revenue. It remains one of the most successful animated shorts ever made. It was one of the first attempts to bring cartoon characters to life. Each of the pigs looked the same but each had a particular personality and behaved in a particular way. Even at this early stage in his career, Disney had already learned that successful cartooning depended on telling emotionally gripping stories. Because of this, while this short was in production, a “story department” separate from the animators was created. The storyboard artists worked on story development rather than cartooning.

Frank Churchill’s song became a single and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” gave those living through the Great Depression a rallying cry. When Hitler’s Germany began expanding pre-World War II, the song was used to bring focus to the complacency about the invasions in Europe. Disney went on to create more cartoons with another of his stars – Mickey Mouse. His first appearance pre-dated this cartoon. This film made it possible for Disney to parley his success into making Mickey a top merchandise item by the end of 1934. Mickey appeared in over 130 films and became known worldwide.

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

I never called my work an ‘art’ It’s part of show business, the business of building entertainment.

People don’t care what you know. They just want to know that you care.

A man should never neglect his family for business. – all from Walt Disney

Also on this day: No More Burnt Toast – In 1919, a toaster with a timer was patented.
St. Pete – In 1703, St. Petersburg, Russia was founded.
Model T & A – In 1927, Ford Motor Co. began the switch from Model T to Model A.
Centralia – In 1962, a fire that is still burning was started.
Le Paradis Massacre – In 1940, the massacre took place.

* “Three Little Pigs poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

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