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August 28th,2008 thur
August 28th, 2008

Last night the Academy we saw a Centennial Celebration of Animator/Producer George Pal.
Hungarian-born Pal is well known for his Puppetoons shorts, then in the 1950s went into producing popular sci-fi and fantasy films like DESTINATION MOON (1951), TOM THUMB (1958), WHEN WORLD'S COLLIDE (1951), THE SEVEN FACES OF DR LAO, The TIME MACINE (1960), The WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (1962) and the great WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), with those cool martian ships of Albert Nozaki's.

courtesy of Bob Baker Marionettes.

Director Joe Dante hosted a panel that included Barbara Eden (still looks good!),Bob Baker who passed on a job animating at Disney when he heard Pal was doing puppets; Anne Sullivan, and Russ Tamblyn (when you're a jet, you're a jet all the way..) I never got to ask him how he liked starring in the English parts of the Japanese film DESTROY ALL MONSTERS... Gene Barry wanted to make it but was too ill. Barbara Eden told how in the 60s a fire destroyed Pal's Bel Air home. Among the damage, his special Oscar for Destination Moon was melted. Even though it was replaced by the Academy, Pal kept the melted lump of metal in a cup on his desk. No one really had a bad story about Pal. I remember when the Animation Guild began a concerted drive to organize Hollywood animators, Walter Lantz and George Pal were the first employers to enthusiastically sign up.

There were two beautiful prints of puppetoons- RHYTHM IN THE RANKS, and JOHN HENRY AND THE INKY POO. Original puppets of Jasper and the Screwball Army were on display. I was amazed at how small they were. They also ran one of his rare 2D animated commercials from 1935. This one for radio tubes. The evening ended with a screening of WAR OF THE WORLDS in it's original 1:3:3 ratio. All the Paul Frees dialogue was great.

Happy 100th George Pal!

Question: Okay animation buffs, during World War Two, when Jack Mercer was drafted into the army, who supplied the voice for Popeye?

Yesterday’s Answer Below: What is the difference between Taiwan and Formosa?
History for 8/28/2008
Birthdays: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leo Tolstoy, George Villiers the Duke of Buckingham- minister of James I, O'Flagherty, Donald O'Connor, Charles Boyer, Karl Bohm, Bruno Bettleheim, Ben Gazzara, Jack "King" Kirby, Janet Evans, Ron 'Louisiana Lightning' Guidry, Jason Preistley, Daniel Stern, Shania Twain, Charles Solomon

79 a.d.- POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM DESTROYED BY MOUNT VERSUVIUS -The great volcano errupted burying the two Roman cities. The Emperor Titus rushed a fleet commanded by the natural scientist Pliny to rescue as many as he could. Pliny was overcome by the sulphurous fumes and died. His son, Pliny the Younger, watched it all and wrote a moving account of the tragedy in his 'letters'. Pliny is probably the first on-the-scene eyewitness account in world history. Scientists have been digging at the site of Pompeii since it's rediscovery in 1726, but estimates are there's as many as 30,000 skeletons still buried.

476 a.d. - The Last Roman Emperor of the West, the boy Romulus Augustulus, is deposed. It was done by his counselor and actual power behind the throne, a the barbarian warlord named Odoacer. Odoacer sent the Imperial diadem and insignia to the Zeno the Emperor of the East in Constantinople and declared himself King of the Germans in Italy.
The Roman Empire of the West ceased to exist. For historical clarity we begin to call the Eastern-Greek speaking half the Byzantine Empire, even though they continued to call themselves Romans. Odoacer was later chopped in half by Theodoric the Visigoth at a peace summit.

1296- The Ragman Roll- Scottish nobles in Parliament were forced to pledge allegiance to King Edward Ist of England. Edward Longshanks dropped his pretense of protection of the Scottish crown and instead moved for direct annexation to England. The only resistance came from peasant born leader William Wallace. The ceremony went on for so long such it coined a term for long inane formalities- Rigamarole.

1565 - Oldest city in the US, St Augustine Fla, established.

1830 - 1st locomotive in US, "Tom Thumb," runs from Baltimore to Ellicotts Mill.
.By 1835, the B &O was exclusively a steam affair.

1837 - Pharmacists John Leah & William Perrins invent Worcester Sauce.

1850- Lohengrin, the first opera written by Richard Wagner, premiered in Weimar. The Third Act chorus “Treulich Gefuhrt” became famous for weddings as “Here Comes the Bride, All Dressed in White”. Wagner asked his friend Franz Liszt to produce the opera because he was in exile for his political activities. Wagner did not see Lohengrin performed until 1861.

1859-In Titusville Pennsylvania the first U.S.oil well strikes oil. Before the industrial revolution crude oil or coal tar was considered a smelly nuisance. It was called Indian-Oil because Indians wore it as black warpaint, it was great for tarring and feathering rapscallions. Some entrepreneurs even tried to bottle it as health tonic. By this era it was refined into kerosene which was seen as a cheap plentiful substitute for whale-oil lamps. Unemployed railroad conductor Edwin Drake built the first oil well drilling apparatus out of components of a steam engine. By 1939 America exported 80% of the world’s crude oil. Today she is the worlds largest importer, producing domestically only 6%.

1922- The first broadcast commercial. It was for a real estate firm Queensboro Realty lasting ten minutes and cost $100 dollars. The firm selling suburban homes in Queens NY immediately did $100,000 worth of business. The Business world took note of the new method of advertising.

1934-Upton Sinclair the writer is nominated for Governor of California on the Democratic ticket by over half a million votes. This shocked the California power-elite because Sinclair was a radical whose grass roots organization EPIC (End Poverty in California) advocated socialist solutions to the Depression. Even FDR kept his distance from Sinclair.
Powerful forces enlisted Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg and other Hollywood conservatives to ensure Sinclair's defeat by creating the first modern media negative campaign. This included phony newsreels of actors dressed as hobos saying how they're going to California to sponge off the taxpayers. Walt Disney's lawyer, Gunther Lessing, demanded Ward Kimball take the "Sinclair for Governor" sign off his car window.
Governor Frank Merriam who earlier that year had ordered troops to shoot down striking San Francisco longshoremen and their families won re-election.

1938- Northwestern University conferred an honorary degree upon the ventriloquist puppet Charlie McCarthy- Edgar Bergen’s famed dummy. The Dean of the School of Speech conferred a Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback upon the wooden celebrity.

1963- Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the climax of the first ' Poor People's March 'on Washington”. Organizer A. Phillip Randolph conceived a poor people’s march taking weeks not unlike the Bonus Marchers of 1929. The sympathetic John F. Kennedy administration prevailed upon them to keep it to one day to reduce the chance of violence and maximize media exposure. They had planned for 100,000 but they got 400,000. Movie stars like Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, even Charlton Heston attended. Young CBS reporter Roger Mudd was so excited he confessed he threw up behind the Jefferson Memorial

1968- THE CHICAGO DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION- While thousands of anti-war hippie and yippie protestors battled the Chicago Police in Grant Park the Democrats nominated Hubert Horatio Humphrey, the "Happy Warrior" their candidate to replace the assassinated Bobby Kennedy. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the Yippie and SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) leaders tried to get a live 100 pound pig into the convention and get it nominated for President. The Chairman of the DNC decried Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's "Gestapo Tactics" from the rostrum. Ironically Boss Daley opposed the Vietnam War, but he would not tolerate kids making him look bad on national TV.. Newsman Dan Rather was gut-punched by a Chicago cop on camera on the convention floor. My friend writer John Culhane was clubbed down by police despite wearing all his press credentials and a baby blue army helmet with Newsweek painted on it. While the police and demonstrators battled poet Alan Ginsburg and Timothy Leary grabbed a loudspeaker and chanted the Buddist "Ohhhmmmmm" to calm people down. The student leaders -the Chicago 7 in reality 8, were put on trial for incitement to riot but after a year long media circus all the charges were overturned. Republican Richard Nixon won the election. The Democrats wouldn't go near Chicago again for thirty years.

1990- Computer pioneer Sandy Lerner was fired from the company she founded- Cisco Systems.

1996- The Prince and Princess of Wales Charles & Diana got divorced. This was the first Royal divorce since Henry VIII annuled Anne of Cleves in the 1530's, not counting George IV's secret marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert which was hushed up and his later cavorting with Lady Cunningham who was nicknamed "the Vice-Queen" and Edward VII's sleeping with every woman in Europe but his wife, etc.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What is the difference between Taiwan and Formosa?

Answer: They are the same place. Taiwan is the original name of the island in Mandarin Chinese. Formosa was the name given it by Portuguese mariners, and was so noted in European maps and atlases. Ilha Formosa means Beautiful Island. Taiwanese call themselves ROC, Republic of China. For the anti-Communist Nationalist forces that were driven off shore by Mao in 1949. Mainland China considers Taiwan a renegade province.