Thursday, June 30, 2011

Horse, Motor Car Share Main Street, U.S.A.'s Thoroughfare

06.01.11 - WED Enterprises, Walt's planning and designing firm, built the horse drawn streetcars by working from photographs of earlier authentic vehicles.

Streetcar travel of a bygone era is relived on Main Street, U.S.A.
An almost forgotten era of America's history is relived by guests entering Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. The feeling of a typical small thoroughfare of the 1900 era will be experienced by guests strolling down Main Street, U.S.A.

Walt Disney, who was reared in a small mid-western town of Marcelline, Missouri, worked with his staff in building Main Street, U.S.A. so that the uniqueness of this street would he authentic to the smallest detail.

The same demand for detail is designed into the Main Street vehicles. Many types of unique con-veyances are represented on Main Street, U.S.A.

The four horse-drawn streetcars on Main Street are composite reproductions of 19th century streetcars you might have found in such late 1800 cities as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia or New York.

WED Enterprises, Walt's planning and designing firm, built the horse drawn streetcars by working from photographs of earlier authentic vehicles.

The large horses, which pull the streetcars, are either Percheron, Belgian, Clydesdale, or a cross between Shire and Percheron. These horses each receive a minimum of 30 hours special training before going "on stage." Each works a four-hour day, five-day week, and is given taxi service to and from the stables — it sure beats our work week!!

The horseless carriages on Main Street, U.S.A. are a composite of the design and size of many gas-driven cars of that early period of automobile history.

The three horseless carriages that carry guests entering and exiting the Park run on two-cylinder water pump engines that chug and snort just like the originals. But riot everything is a reproduction. The external parts, such as the horns, lights and wheels, are authentic.

The green and yellow double decker Omnibus is as authentic as any bus you might have found on the main streets of New York, Chicago or Boston at the turn of the century. An old electric English klaxon horn is the only original part used in the building of the two Disneyland Omnibuses. The Studio designers built the Omnibuses or for that matter, all the vehicles, so that guests would have greater comfort, safety, and convenience. The drop frame chassis is from a modern day truck. Having a modern clay engine, the buses also include power steering and power brakes. On your next visit to the Magic Kingdom, leave the hustle and bustle of today's streamlined transportation and travel down Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. The years will roll back until there is only the sound of a casual clop-clop of a horse-drawn streetcar and the chug-chug of the horseless carriages.

From Disney News (Fall 1968).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Autopia Car Built Special for Freeway of Future

06.28.11 - Disney Legend Bob Gurr talks through the nuts and bolts of Disneyland's Autopia.

Hey, Abott-T-T! Christine Costello and Bud Abbott, Jr. give fathers Lou and Bud, Sr. a driving lesson on the Autopia Freeway. The famous comedy pair, recent visitors here, found the Autopia a top attraction as do most Disneyland guests.
For the Highway of the Future the Car of the Future was needed.

Disneyland's "Autopia," the Tomorrowland ride sponsored by the Richfield Oil Company, was planned as the Freeway of 1986. Built to scale so that it would be safe and practical for youngsters to a minimum age, Walt Disney assigned the job of designing a car for the miniature freeway to Bob Gurr, longtime Disney studio design artist and construction specialist.

"The Autopia Car," Bob relates, "was designed and built just about the same way a Detroit model is built.

Full Size Model
"First we made sketches. Naturally there were a lot of ideas about what the car of the future should look like. Then there was a question about materials, and we finally decided to use fiberglass, since it had great advantages in lightweight, strength and pliability for design.

After the sketches became finished drawings, the studio craftsmen made a full size clay "mock up" model. The model was modified a few times until Walt approved the final version. From this mock up the plastic mold was made which allowed the bodies for the cars to be built in quantity.

Glasspar Company of Newport Beach manufactured the bodies for the cars.

The problem of a chassis to carry the fiberglass bodies was then the next problem to be solved. Even on the Freeway of the Future, the designers knew, the cars would be subject to tremendous wear and would have to be extremely sturdy for the use they were to receive.

A two-inch square tubular steel chassis was developed and passed the rigid tests for strength the designers gave it. When aluminum wraparound bumpers were added, the car was ready for the road with only one problem remaining to be solved: the powerplant.

Same Type Engine
Several alternative types were tested until the Gladden engine was tried by Gurr and his co-workers.

The Gladden is a one-cylinder, vertical, aircooled "L" head engine. It is essentially the same engine that powers the conventional passenger car in that it is a 4-cycle, gasoline burning powerplant. Its rated horsepower development is just under ten, and is capable of driving the one fourth ton Autopia Cars at a speed up to 25 m.p.h. without a governer.

As they are actually used on the Autopia, the cars are limited to 11 miles per hour by a mechanical control.

Power from the engine is transmitted to the rear axel by a Gilmer belt feeding to a link chain. One wheel drives the car. Since the engine is mounted in the rear very little power is lost through a long driveshaft.

Safety factors loomed as major considerations in the designer's plans. Since the cars were built to be driven by youngsters with no experience, an extremely simple braking-accelerating arrange-ment was necessary.

Gurr and his fellow craftsmen assured this by attaching both operations to a single pedal. De-pressing the pedal feeds gas to the motor. Release of the pedal operates the braking mechanism so that the car automatically slows to a stop.

Other safety factors offered in the "car of the future" include the so-called "deep-dish" steering wheel and safety belts, both items now offered on several popular makes of American motor cars. An additional safety factor on the Autopia car is the steering wheel itself, made of a firm, yet yielding rubber, so that a sudden contact presents no bodily hazard.

Steering of the Autopia Car is eonvential rack and pinion type with a close sports car-like ratio. Tires are pneumatic.

Since finishing his work on the cars Bob has gone on to many other projects for Walt Disney. But he's reminded constantly of his association with the Autopia by youngsters, who have been to Disneyland and have been inspired by the miniature autos.

"We get calls from kids who are building their own Autopia cars at home. They get stumped on a problem and call us for advice. So far no one's finished one yet, but anyday we expect to see a proud owner at the Studio gates with his own car, built in his back yard with scrap parts."

"We wish them a lot of luck," Bob adds as he goes back to his latest assignment for Walt.

From the February 10, 1956 issue of The Disneyland News.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Herbie Joins The Mad Mad Race

06.26.11 - The biggest names in racing, including Andy Granatelli, Max Balchowsky, Bob Bondurant, and Joe Playan, teamed up for the driving stunts in The Love Bug.

"Hold on for dear life!" shouts Michele Lee to Buddy Hackett in this uproarious scene from Walt Disney Productions' The Love Bug.
It looked like a gathering for the Indy 500. Some of the greatest names in race driving were present, but not with the idea of setting new speed records. They were helping in the filming of Walt Disney Productions' latest comedy film The Love Bug, in which a VW named Herbie shows his exhaust pipe to a passel of Corvettes, Porsches, Alfas and Ferraris. Along the way Herbie scoots across a stream, rides in a mine shaft elevator, skids, careens and nearly flies.

Andy Granatelli, Max Balchowsky, Bob Bondurant and Joe Playan all took part in the film. Balchowsky is famed for his Old Yeller Buick of the 1950's. In fact, Old Yeller No. 5 took part in the film. Second unit director Art Vitarelli mounted two Mitchell cameras on it (one front and one rear), and it raced along at 150 mph. Playan is a well known amateur driver, and Bondurant won the World Manufacturer's Championship in 1965 in a Shelby Cobra. Vitarelli ex-plained that he preferred to use old timers in his racing sequences: "I didn't want to use the young guy who's ambitious — he'll want to grandstand, and he's going to have a wreck. I want the old experienced hands who've gone through the mill. They know how to do things safely — nothing phases 'em."

Granatelli didn't drive in the film — he played the part of a race starter. Vitarelli laughed and said, "It was kind of an inside joke. You know, Andy's cars were banned at Indianapolis because their intake was too large. We have a thing in the film where the VW won't run at Indianapolis because the intake is too small."

The man who did most of the driving and stunt work was veteran (since 1933) Carey Loftin. "When you've got a tough job, you start with Carey Loftin and work your way down," was the way Vitarelli explained it.

Loftin has "doubled" for Robert Mitchum (Thunder Road), Fred Astaire (On the Beach), Lee Marvin (Point Black) and posed as the woman who wildly drove the motorcycle in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. For The Love Bug, he collected many of the same drivers who had worked on Grand Prix.

In 1963, Loftin was filming a scene in which he was to lose control on a turn, spin across the track and turn the car over just off the track. Another driver was to follow right behind him and drive through a dust cloud, past Loftin. During the filming Carey hit a soft shoulder and flipped over in the middle of the track.

The other car entered the turn and crashed into Carey — at 100 mph. The impact knocked Carey's car upright and tore out the motor. The other driver was unhurt, but Carey received a punctured lung, broken jaw, cracked ribs and, for the third time, a dislocated left shoulder.

Loftin survived this stunt and hundreds of others because of meticulous "preparation." He plans to turn over, to roll, to plow through a brick wall at 75 mph, and he spends hours considering every eventuality and programs every minute detail of the stunt. As Loftin says, "We test and retest all of the mechanical things, made sure every safety precaution is taken and every device operates properly. Then we walk over and over the route. We make sure that the stunt is exactly planned, and our complete attention is devoted to making it work."

For The Love Bug, Loftin and Vitarelli held "previews" with the drivers to explain what was expected in each scene. In addition, Vitarelli constructed a folding blackboard and a complete set of miniature cars. At the "driver meeting" the two men showed each driver, via miniature car, exactly what he was to do.

Herbie, the VW, had a bus engine for some scenes; and for hot-running, Herbie had a Porsche engine that could do 90 mph in third and 115 in top. "Don't forget — you don't just start, you've also got to stop safely," added Vitarelli, "so we also had Porsche brakes, Koney shocks, a stabilizer, and wide-base wheels with Indianapolis race tires."

Vitarelli headed a 127-man crew for the racing sequences, which were shot at Riverside Grand Prix Raceway, Monterey Raceway, Willow Springs Raceway and Big and Little Tujunga Canyons outside Los Angeles.

While Vitarelli worked with cars, director Robert Stevenson worked with stars Dean Jones, Michele Lee, Buddy Hackett and David Tomlinson. The script for the screwball racing picture was written by producer Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi. Buena Vista releases.

From the original The Love Bug press materials.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tomorrow evening the Main Street Electrical Parade Premieres


06.17.09 - Tomorrow evening at 9 p.m., the most ambitious outdoor spectacular since last year's "America On Parade" will premiere in the Magic Kingdom: Our Main Street Electrical Parade!

The Main Street Electrical Parade will be made up of nearly 100 performers and 30 fanciful float units using new techniques of "piping" light through fiber optics and outlining figures with micro-neon "threads" of light to create entirely new visual effects, all interspersed with row after row of twinkling lights.
With the cool evening air shrouding Main Street, the scene will be set for a pageant of enormous proportions, which will combine the latest in Disney "imagineering" to excite your eyes with sights of light in motion, and your ears with an incredible soundtrack.

As Main Street's lights dim, you will be confronted with Mickey Mouse atop the world's largest electrified drum, an eye-blinking hippopotamus, and 33 of our characters outlined in micro-neon light-swirls! The sparkling cavalcade of twinkling lights... over 500,000 strong... along with animation and musical entertainment will take place twice each night in the Magic Kingdom this summer at 9 pm and 11:30 pm.

The Main Street Electrical Parade will be made up of nearly 100 performers and 30 fanciful float units using new techniques of "piping" light through fiber optics and outlining figures with micro-neon "threads" of light to create entirely new visual effects, all interspersed with row after row of twinkling lights.

Winding down Main Street and through the Magic Kingdom in ten divisions, the parade features Alice in Wonderland riding atop one of three giant 15-foot high mushrooms. Huge snails and colorful ladybugs twist and turn along the parade route.

Cinderella rides in her magical pumpkin coach, while her fairy godmother changes the coach's color with a wave of her wand. In a spectacular underwater scene, called the Briny Deep, fiber optics are used to create an underwater set where fish, coral and colorful sea creatures perform a marine ballet followed by Monstro the Whale, spouting a sparkling shower of lights!

The spectacular finale has 33 Disney characters traced in sparkling lights and reflected in a myriad of rotating mirrors, a fitting end to the 30-minute parade.

Other parade units include the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio, whose gown stretches 15-feet to the street below; King Lion's Circus Parade with an elephant rotating merrily in a shower bath; all Seven Dwarfs in fully lighted mining regalia; and "It's A Small World" with child-like figures from many lands.

An electronic Moog Synthesizer produces a unique and lively musical score filled with original and familiar Disney tunes to "theme" each division in the parade. The exciting and unusual Moog music, similar to our popular "Electric Water Pageant" soundtrack, will actually be transmitted from atop Cinderella Castle to individual floats, where the radio signals will be amplified and broadcast from onboard sound systems. The basic musical theme is interwoven with counter-themes to produce a special song for each of the patade's divisions. Because all of the music is broadcast from a single transmitter, all of the tunes are heard in time with one another, and in tune with all the others!

Designed at Disneyland by some 20 artists under the direction, of Bob Jani, Vice President of Entertainment Division, the 30 float units were constructed by a crew of 70 workers who attached each individual light to its assigned spot on the facades.

About 20 craftspeople in our Walt Disney World Wardrobe Department produced the electric powered costumes. And more than 200 cast members are involved in each nightly performance!

A special low-voltage direct current (DC) system using 1,200 batteries transmits energy to more than 500,000 lightbulbs dotted across the 30 floats with 20 silent electric drive units powering them along. Over 12 miles of miniature electric cable is used in our Main Street Electrical Parade.

In addition to fiber optics, the parade also makes use of a new king of multicolored low voltage system of neon tubing, the only one of its kind.

And for those concerned with the energy output of our dazzling parade, the 500,000 parade lights will use approximately the same amount of energy as that which is saved by turning out the lights along the parade route as it passes by. The special electric drive units engineered by Disney technicians for the parade eliminates the need for gasoline powered floats as in conventional parades.

The Wardrobe Department used special safety materials so that lights could be installed along the outlines of performers' costumes. Some of the performers carry their own batteries, while others are designed to plug into the float units they walk along with.

Similar to "America On Parade", the Main Street Electrical Parade will be produced simultaneously at Walt Disney World and Disneyland throughout the summer months.

With some float units reaching almost to the ceiling, the Production Center lately has been the scene of over 200 cast members... both back stage technicians and on stage performers... preparing for tomorrow night's 9 pm premiere.

Although the 30 parade units were constructed in California, each had to be shipped to Florida, unloaded, assembled, tested and declared "ready" to go on stage for tomorrow night's premiere. This enormous task was given to the Entertainment Support Department, which is based at the Production Center complex. Pictured above is a scene typical for the 16 men of Entertainment Support ... they first carefully uncrate a huge wooden container carried from California on the back of a semi-truck rig, and remove the delicate parade parts enclosed. Then a heavy duty crane from the Reedy Creek Drainage Department lifts the main float structure from the trailer bed. While suspended in the air by the crane, an electric drive unit (as seen here being driven by Dewey Rewis, Entertainment Support Supervisor) is carefully positioned beneath the dangling structure and it is gently lowered until contact is made. Long bolts connect them together, electrical connections are made, and the float unit is driven into the Production Center for final readying.

From the June 10, 1977 edition of the Eyes and Ears employee newsletter, published by Walt Disney World.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Model "T" Turns in High Performance for Hilarious Disney Motion Picture

06.08.11 - With a gelatinous goo called Flubber, the alchemist in The Absent-Minded Professor transformed a Model "T" into a high-flying fantasy.

Science teacher Ned Brainard (Fred MacMurray) and his pretty fiancee (Nancy Olson) swoop over the nation's capitol aboard their flubberized flivver in this scene from the Walt Disney feature-length comedy, The Absent-Minded Professor.
Many old timers will attest to the durability of Mr. Ford's delightful Model "T." "It could do anything," say some. "And you could fix it with a pair of players and a piece of bailing wire," say others.

But there's never been a Leapin' Lena that could fly until Walt Disney called for one in the script to his hilarious feature motion picture, The Absent-Minded Professor, to be released in combination with another Walt Disney laugh-hit, The Shaggy Dog.

For Professor, Disney's technical experts, who specialize in doing the impossible, got a 1912 vintage airbound for several hilarious scenes in the film. How they did it we'll leave to your own imagination, but the flying flivver, gleefully guided through the cumulo-nimbus by Fred MacMurray, makes for great fun in a way-out comedy which also stars Nancy Olson, Keenan Wynn and Tommy Kirk.

When the forgetful prof, portrayed by MacMurray, accidentally discovers an anti-gravity goo that can bounce a man or a car to great heights, he dubs it "flubber" and substitutes it for the motor in his Model "T." Thus inventing the world's first flying flivver — the neatest hot rod of our age — the happy inventor stirs up quite a commotion at the Pentagon, especially when he lands Lena smack on the White House lawn.

The Absent-Minded Professor is a Buena Vista release, and was directed by Robert Stevenson from a screenplay by associate producer Bill Walsh.

From the original Absent-Minded Professor press materials.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Pirates of the Caribbean Arrive at Walt Disney World

06.04.11 - Avast there, ye lubbers, for the saltiest adventure ever to shake your sails!

Pirates, pirates everywhere! And guests will find themselves part of the swashbuckling action when they "take to the high seas," in Walt Disney World's newest attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean.
Swaggering, singing, brawling, and bawling "it's a pirate's life for me!!' the rowdiest crew of swashbucklers ever to cheat Davy Jones's locker finally have made a spectacle of themselves at Walt Disney World.

Pirates of the Caribbean, long one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland, opened its doors in Florida for the first time last December. Located in the brand-new Caribbean Plaza in Adventureland, the new show literally plunges adventurers into the 17th-century world of a Spanish seaport besieged by marauding buccaneers.

Setting the mood for the adventure to come, the Caribbean Plaza marketplace invites guests to wander in and out of tiny shops settled under red-tile roofs reminiscent of old Spanish architecture. Once through the portals of the new attraction, guests find themselves in the musty dungeons of "El Castillo" — an old Spanish fortress. As they wander past arsenals en route to the landing dock where their flat-bottomed boats await them, the clank of steel and the occasional cry of a pirate echoes through the passageways.

Flickering lights on the walls of shadowy coves and an ancient ship riding at anchor on a moonlit bay greet seafarers as they prepare to cast off from the dock. The gentle sound of the surf and the lilting cries of seabirds are punctuated by the raucous laughter of unseen pirate crews, undoubtedly burying their ill-gotten loot.

Once underway, guests immediately find themselves in a misty grotto where a ghostly voice warns: "Dead men tell no tales!" And so it seems to be, for everywhere the eye can see rest skeletons in various stages of repose, some skewered through bony ribs with rusty knives of battles past, others collapsed alongside emptied treasure chests. A seagull, nesting on the cranium of his eyeless host, squawks angrily at the passing spectators.

As the boats pass into Hurricane Lagoon, howling winds, rain, and flashes of lightning startle even the most intrepid seafarers. And, as the eye adjusts to the spasmodically illuminated scene, a figure emerges at the wheel of a ship — steering no doubt into eternity, for his bones have lost all earthly thrust.

Suddenly, without warning, passengers plummet into a subterranean grotto and, as they disappear through a narrow cave-like passage, sinister voices warn them to "proceed at your own risk" for "ye may not survive to pass this way again!"

Once done cannot be undone, however. And for better or for worse, visitors who have ventured thus far soon will experience eye-to-eye confrontations with the rowdiest assembly of plundering blackguards since Blackbeard twirled his whiskers in ports of the Spanish Main.

Brought to life through the genius of the Disney-invented Audio-Animatronics® (an electronic system for animating three-dimensional figures), pirates of every description, Spanish grandees and winsome damsels, and a bevy of barnyard and domesticated beasts join together in an incredible re-creation of the sack of a portside town.

Guns thunder and pirates roar as a pirate galleon attacks a Spanish fort. With shells whistling around their heads and fizzles of steam escaping where hot shots hit the water near boats, guests drift through the initial battle for the taking of the town.

"Strike yer colors, ya bloomin' cockroaches!" yells the pirate captain from the afterdeck of his ship. "Aye! Take that you greengo peegs, you!" answers the Spanish defender of the fort.

The battle still rages as guests pass on to the next scene, where the magistrate of the town is being dunked unceremoniously in a well by pirates who want him to tell where the treasure is hidden.

"Do not tell heem, Carlos!" screams his wife from an upstairs window, hastily closing the shutters as pirates let go a shot in her direction.

Other pirates guard bound townsmen, still in their nightclothes, and one boisterous buccaneer pipes away at his flute, keeping time as the mayor bobs up and down in the town-square well. In other parts of the city, the pirates are engaged in commerce of a dubious sort and other sport involving the fairer denizens of the city. One scene depicts a gaily bedecked rogue, blithely auctioning off the none-too-reluctant maidens of the town. In the foreground, a gorgeous redhead advertises her own charms, much to the chagrin of her less-endowed sisters.

"Strike yer colors ya brazen wench, no need to expose yer superstructure!" orders the pirate auctioneer, anxious to unload his less-attractive cargo.

"We wants the redhead! Pipe the redhead aboard!" yell his revelous mates, while goats, chickens, and a donkey add their comments to the occasion.

Laughing, singing, and shooting their guns into the air in sheer exuberance, the roistering pirates chase squealing maidens, harmonize with pigs, and try to tempt hissing cats to join in the fun. As the boats pass through the burning city, the pirates join with a braying donkey and a howling dog to render their rollicking chantey at the top of their lungs.

"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!" they bellow, as flames crackle and piles of booty litter the street.

But not all the pirates are so fortunate. As the strain of the pirates' theme song fades with the view of the burning city, guests find themselves in the dungeon area. Here, while charred beams overhead threaten to collapse, a group of jailed brigands attempt to get the keys from a friendly dog, which wags his tail and stands his ground, key ring held firmly in his mouth.

Swiftly, the boats pass through the town's arsenal and into the brightest scene of all. For here, where two Spanish guards sit firmly trussed together, is the enormous treasure of the town. Triumphant pirates sit midst towering heaps of glittering jewels, golden coins, and ropes of milky pearls.

Gleeful and inebriated with success, the plundering pirates scatter the treasure about and fire their weapons into the air. Ricocheting bullets zing off walls, falling dangerously near the passing boats, as a drunken parrot perched on a trunk sings his own version of the pirate song: "Yo ho, yo ho, a parrot's life for me... so, drink up me 'earties, yo ho!"

The pirate's expedition has ended in triumph, and as guests depart the final scene, a peg-legged, one-eyed pirate parrot with a tattoo on his close-clipped chest, warns disembarking adventurers to "keep a lookout for the movin' gangplank! Steady as she goes, lubbers! Ye'll be needin' yer sea legs on that rollin' gangplank!'

Premiered last December as the climax of Walt Disney Productions' 50th Anniversary Year, the Pirates of the Caribbean will remain the high point for visitors to Walt Disney World for years to come.

From Walt Disney World Vacationland Magazine, Spring 1974.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Disney Producer Walsh Shows Approach to Comedy with Blackbeard's Ghost

06.02.11 - If a much sought after formula for successful motion pictures really exists, then Disney producer-writer Bill Walsh, whose current offering is Blackbeard's Ghost, has found it.

Track coach Steve Walker (Dean Jones) tells Peter Ustinov he wants no part of his weird, wild and "spirited" antics after accidentally conjuring up the rotund pirate's ghost in Blackbeard's Ghost, Walt Disney's newest comedy-fantasy in color by Technicolor.
When examining the greatest successes in Walsh's 22-year Disney career — films like The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, Mary Poppins, That Darn Cat, and Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. — his approach to comedy-fantasy becomes evident.

"The first portion of each film," comments Walsh, "takes time to establish characters and to delineate situation. Although this initial part may move more slowly than the rest of the film, it is a necessary and deliberate movement. Walt used to call this part of the picture winding the clock." Once the stage is set, the action picks up momentum as the picture unfolds.

"Too often comedies begin at a nervous clip, moving at a fast pace until they run out of gas, without having told a good story. The most important single consideration of any picture is the script," explains Walsh who has co-scripted 13 of his 16 features. "We are always on the lookout for fresh material that would be suitable for screen adaptation. Blackbeard's Ghost was developed from a very funny novel by noted illustrator Ben Stahl which tells the exploits of a long-dead pirate's spirit who is cursed to wander in limbo until he performs a good deed."

The second most important consideration is the cast. "Comedy-fantasies require actors who can play un-believable situations for real. Fred MacMurray and Dean Jones are that type of actor. Peter Ustinov, who has the title role in Blackbeard's Ghost, is another marvelous example."

"The success of Dean Jones, who has starred in three of my productions, including Blackbeard, lies in his sincerity. The nuttier the situation gets, the more he believes in it. Actors often go wrong in fantasy. They become cute with the material and lose audience contact.

"The supporting cast and secondary parts must also be all topnotch people who understand comedy. For example, Joby Baker, Elsa Lanchester and Richard Deacon beautifully complement the headline stars, Dean, Ustinov and Suzanne Pleshette, in Blackbeard."

Blackbeard's Ghost, filmed in color, stars Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette. Robert Stevenson directed the Bill Walsh-Don DaGradi screenplay, which is based on a novel by the noted illustrator, Ben Stahl. Walsh is co-producer of the Buena Vista release.

From the original 1968 Blackbeard's Ghost press materials.
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