It’s not uncommon for Disney to be featured in magazines. Walt and Mickey have graced the covers of countless periodicals over the years. This one comes to us from 1978 when Disney animation was struggling to keep an audience. So it’s strange that Disney managed to snag a feature cover in LIFE Magazine at a time when some thought hand-drawn animation was on its way out!
However, the article covers more animation studios than just Disney and tries hard to paint a rosier picture for animation.
This middle-aged mouse is laughing because it’s his 50th birthday! This is the real reason he managed to snag the cover when the article inside about ‘him’ is only four pages long. In a 122-page magazine, that’s not a lot of coverage!
Although short, the article on animation gets a feature spot in the contents with Tod from The Fox and the Hound.
The article starts with more than a nod to The Lord of the Rings film along with other more adult cartoons.
Next we touch on what Disney is planning on to compete in this new tone for animation with some concept art from the Black Cauldron, still five years off at the time of the writing. We know now just how much this film missed the mark for Disney!
Indeed, Disney was floundering after the loss of the Nine Old Men, the best of Walt’s original animation crew. We would have to wait until 1989 with the release of The Little Mermaid to see the renaissance of Disney animation.
The Fox and the Hound tried to keep the Disney tradition going and was fairly successful upon its release in 1981. But not successful enough to assure Disney’s place at the top! The next feature was The Black Cauldron which failed hard, and The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver & Company, the next two features to be released, did little to change things.
But we know that the Disney Renaissance did happen and all ended well, as Disney continues to create great animated stories. And then there’s Pixar!
All in all, this magazine is a nice little addition to my collection.
To conclude, I’d like to share an image from the back of the magazine about a man (and a dummy) who have a Disney connection:
So when were Bergen & McCarthy in a Disney film? It was back in the 1947 package effort called Fun and Fancy Free. It consisted of a few individual stories linked together by live-action ‘bits’. The second story, Mickey and the Beanstalk, is narrated by Edgar Bergen and is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk featuring Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.
Bergen died on September 30th, 1978. This double spread was a touching tribute to a man (and a dummy) that spent over 56 years entertaining people, including his share of Disney fans!
Last Word: If you liked seeing this issue of LIFE Magazine, why not check out this bunch of magazines, all with a Disney theme!