About the Author

John Stanley Donaldson is uniquely qualified to tell many an intimate, Disney tale, having been of such inner circle over a period of thirty years. At age twelve, an ability for drawing was discovered by Herbert Ryman, and he became sole student of the legendary artist. Now found of privileged circumstance, he would meet, and closely know, many an animator and imagineer, as well as members of the Walt Disney family. He is author of Warp and Weft: Life Canvas of Herbert Ryman, the definitive biography of his mentor.

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Squeak of the Week

by John Stanley Donaldson

As, first, the protege of Disney Legend Herb Ryman, then a frequent companion of many other Disney animators and imagineers, and now Ryman's biographer, John Donaldson has much Disney lore to share, and share it he will each week in his unique, poetical style.

Laugh, and the World Laughs with You

AUG 12 John returns from a brief absence with a story about a date palm tree, which once figured in the life of author and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and which now is part of Disneyland's Jungle Cruise. Enjoy John's telling of how it got there.

Cricket... Croak... Cheep... Chirp...

JUL 22 In a short, fascinating look at the electronic mechanics behind Disneyland's early sound effects, John Donaldson introduces the inventor of that technique, Louis MacKenzie, and tells his tale, ulimately unhappy since it led Louis to jail.

Falsehood of Disneyland First Day Fiasco

JUL 15 Opening day at Disneyland was a fiasco. Right? That's what most everyone thinks, after having read the horrible stories written by 'those there'. But was it really so bad? John Donaldson presents a much different view of opening day.

Bill Walsh Shoos the Blue Suede Shoes

JUL 8 For some people, having Elvis Presley move in next door would be a dream come true. But not, as John Donaldson relates, Disney producer Bill Walsh, who wanted privacy in his Bel Air palazzo, whereas neighbor Presley wanted only to party.

From My Family Photo Album: Ryman at Random

JUL 1 You know you're in for a long night when the new couple from up the block invite you over for dinner and then ask whether you want to see their family photo album. What can you say? If you're in John Donaldson's house, you say: show me more!

Happy Trails Lead to South American Tales

JUN 17 During World War II, Walt Disney once rode south, with Los Rancheros Visitadores, to enjoy a week of 'wrangling and roping', as John Donaldson puts it, but also to ruminate upon the power of animation to win South American allegiance.

Walt Disney Takes Kid Skit to Vid Hit

JUN 10 Tracing something well-known to its roots often turns up the unexpected. Ideas typically don't fall to the earth like acorns; they roll, picking up scraps of ideas here, inspiration there, and where they stop, sometimes John Donaldson knows.

Want of Finer Phonics, Walt Finds Electronics

JUN 3 In a fascinating slice of history, John Donaldson tells the story of how Walt Disney - without ever knowing it! - started William Hewlett and David Packard in business with a purchase delivered to the Disney Studio on the back of a tomato truck.

There Was a Buzz Before "Buzz"

MAY 27 John Donaldson reveals a parcel (literally, as he puts it!) of untold Disneyland history, with his tale of how Doug Caruthers, not Bob Gurr, should have been the person hired by Walt Disney to build the Autopia cars - should have, but wasn't.

Was Walt About to Be Bamboozled by "Buzz"?

MAY 20 Trusting a man who likes to be called "Buzz" is probably never a smart idea, unless he happens to be an astronaut, but the "Buzz" who nearly bamboozled Walt Disney on a land deal (land intended as the site for Disneyland) was no astronaut, and no angel.

Is a Senseless Census Sketch a Disney Discovery?

MAY 13 Has John Donaldson discovered the earliest example of Walt Disney artwork? Circa 1910? When Walt was merely eight? Possibly! Someone doodled on a page of the 1910 census, and doodled near Disney's entry in that census. Was it Walt, wonders John?

Walt Disney and the Art of the Emotion Picture

MAY 6 Who has heard of Blanche Sewell, Walt Disney's sister-in-law, whose fame as a film cutter at MGM in the early years of cinema brought her to Walt's attention exactly when he needed her skills? No one? John Donaldson explains who, and why.

What is the Straight Skinny on Minnie?

APR 29 Mickey Mouse, mostly, has become mundane, the main milestones of his past no longer mysterious and mulled to a nattering nub by the media. But what of Minnie? From whence did she waltz into Walt Disney's world? Here's the skinny on Minnie.

How Walt Disney Really Went Plane Crazy

APR 22 Friday, for most, brings the last few hours of forced labor before weekend freedom, but around here, it brings a new story by John Donaldson, who today gives his lucidly lyrical take on Plane Crazy (by) Walt Disney.

How Walt Disney Was to Leave Missouri and Misery

APR 15 One of the many things I like about John Donaldson's writing is that he chronicles the early Walt Disney, the mere man who was many years and much luck away from his stale, familiar role as icon and idol. Today, we find Walt sans nickels in his knickers...

One Quarter, Two Dimes, and Three Nickels

APR 8 Imagine a Walt Disney without a park, without any films, without even spare change for a decent meal. That's how, one day in 1928, he and his wife Lillian came to New York City to meet Charles Mintz and discuss the fate of Oswald the Rabbit.