75 years ago Fantasia premiered in movie theaters throughout the country. While it was not an instant critical success at the time like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was, Fantasia eventually earned a very respectable income and place in cinematic history upon re-release. It seems most Disney fans have his or her favorite Fantasia segment and as I continue to read and study this film, it’s incredible the amount of care and planning that went into each one. Of course, while researching I’ve come across some fun and interesting bits of Fantasia trivia. I kept the list to a respectable top ten even though I could easily have gone on and on!
1. Mickey Mouse was redesigned for his grand appearance in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Animator Fred Moore added pupils to Mickey’s eyes for the first time in order to give the mouse a greater range of expression.
2. Vladimir “Bill” Tytla animated the sorcerer Yensid and his wide range of emotions. Tytla even gave Yensid Walt Disney’s hallmarked raised eyebrow of disapproval. Look for it when Yensid takes his magic hat back from Mickey Mouse.
3. Originally, Walt Disney planned to develop Beethoven’s Toccata and Fugue segment into 3D. This would have marked the first time 3D was used in a commercial film.
4. Animator Art Babbitt created the Three Stooges as his guide for the mushrooms in the Chinese Dance
5. Originally the Chinese Dance or The Dance of the Chinese Mushrooms was to be performed by lizards dancing for a frog mandarin.
6. Dance of the Reed Flutes, part of the Nutcracker Suite, required a considerable amount of live-action film to be captured. Disney hired professional danced Joyce Coles and Marjorie Belcher. The latter already a Disney veteran as she modeled for both Snow White and Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy.
7. Director Samuel Armstrong arranged for a live action shoot of an Arabian dance to assist animator in visualizing the Arabian Dance There is some debate as to who this dancer was. Some accounts claim it was a dance by the name of Princess Omar while other accounts claim it was Marjorie Belcher.
8. John Hench of Imagineering fame began his long Disney career by painting backgrounds for The Nutcracker Suite.
9. Igor Stravinsky, composer of Rite of Spring, spent time at the Disney Studios collaborating with animator on his work.
10. In order to properly animate the physicality of Hyacinth the Hippo in Dance of the Hours, Hattie Noel, a woman of considerable girth, was contracted for live action reference.