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May 15, 2007 tues.
May 15th, 2007

Today would have been Joe Grant's 99th birthday.

Joe Grant was a great Disney artist and designer who was the son of a William Randolph Hearst newspaper cartoonist. He was on the verge of launching his own syndicated comic strip when he caught the eye of Walt Disney in 1933. Walt put him to work on doing caricatures for the short Mickey's Gala Premiere. During Disney's golden age he was a department head and wielded great influence. Joe left the studio in 1949 after contributing (uncredited) to Lady and the Tramp.

After many years of running his own graphics company, Joe Grant returned to animation to help the second Disney Renaissance. His sense of the gentle charm of Disney humor contributed to Aladdin, Lion King, Muhlan, Pocahontas, Toy Story I and II. He was the only artist who worked on Fantasia I (1940) and Fantasia 2000. He named the Pixar hit Monsters Inc and worked on the Incredibles.

I was proud to call Joe my friend. We worked on a few pictures and always stayed in touch afterwards. We used to have a weekly lunch with a few artists at Genios Restaurant on Olive Blvd. in Burbank, just up from NBC. Burny Mattinson, Sue Goldberg, Mike Gabriel, Burt and Jennifer Klein. Joe usually didn't like to talk to me about old Disney, What was it like When.... He liked to talk politics with me and enjoyed my grasp of history. At his memorial I was impressed with how many people considered him a close friend.

Today Joe is gone, Genios is gone, but the memories linger. The Ancient Egyptians felt that after we die if we are well thought of we have achieved immortality; if we are forgotten we die a second time.

If that is the criteria then I think Joe has achieved that immortality. Happy Birthday Joe.

Birthdays: Gabriel Fahrenheight-inventor of the thermometer, Lyman Frank Baum creator of the Wizard of Oz, Claudio Monteverdi, Richard Avedon, James Mason, Joseph Cotten, George Brett, Jasper Johns, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Jean Renoir, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley Sr., Trini Lopez, Charles Lamont- director of Abbott & Costello Go to Mars, C&W singer Eddy Arnold, Chaz Palmintieri, Lainie Kazan.

1702- Charles Perrault, who wrote stories under the name Mother Goose, died.

1800-At a performance at London's Old Drury Lane Theatre, a man rose from the audience and fired two pistols at King George III. They both miss and the assassin was dragged off. The King not only insists that the show go on but even doses off during the second act.

1863- Edouard Manet first displayed his Dejeuner sur l’Herbe at the Salon des Refuses in Paris. The painting is of two modern clothed men having a picnic with two nude women by a river bank. The women aren’t mythical goddesses or muses but just naked ladies. This shocked Paris society. Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugene called it “Immodest and obscene”.It’s revolutionary simple subject matter heralded the rise of Impressionism.

1940- The first Nylon stockings go on sale in the US.

1942- The U.S. initiated a program of wartime gas rationing. Slogans like “Is this Trip Really Necessary?” and a system of ratings vehicles with A,B & C cards pop up in a lot of movies and cartoons of the period. C meant a war-essential worker who got first dibs for gas. An A card was the lowest status. When Sir Thomas Beecham got in a New York City cab and asked to be taken to the Philharmonic the cabby told him he couldn’t take him because it was a pleasure trip. “Young man,” Sir Thomas replied:” A trip to the Philharmonic is not done for pleasure but for Penance.”
Canadian windshield card

1947- Future President George Bush Sr. was initiated into the elite secret society at Yale University called Skull & Bones. It’s so named because initiates pledge to remain loyal until “I die and nothing remains but skull and bones.” His sponsor-Charles Whitehouse later became big in the CIA. So many Bonesmen men went into the CIA that they nicknamed the agency “ The Front Office.”

1963 - Peter, Paul & Mary win their 1st Grammy for “ If I Had a Hammer”.

1967- Paul McCartney first met his first wife Linda Eastman.

1970 - Beatles' last LP, "Let It Be," is released in US