Two memories from when I was nine-years old. The first one was when I started to learn about "REAL SPACE TRAVEL" from WALTER ELIAS DISNEY on his television anthology program "DISNEYLAND", March 9, 1955, watching our big 21-inch black and white television set.
The second was on July 17, 1955, when Walt's park "DISNEYLAND" opened and in November I received a one-month delayed birthday present trip to "THE MAGIC KINGDOM".
For those of my readers who want to take a magic carpet ride back to the opening of "Disneyland". My article, "DISNEYLAND 1955: A Childhood Memory of WALT DISNEY'S Original 'MAGIC KINGDOM", speaks to the creation of the television program and the park of the same name. It is found at:
THREE MEN COME TOGETHER:
The following are short biographies of the three men who came together to create the first of three fun filled educational programs to teach the Disneyland audience why they needed to go into outer space and how they would travel to the planets of our solar system.
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois.
From my article, "The Walt Disney, Max Fleischer Animation Feud", about Walt's start:
His artistic career began in Kansas City, Kansas in 1919 drawing political cartoons for a local newspaper. At that time, he was still thinking about becoming an Actor. Imagine the loss had that happened?
Walt’s determination to succeed took hold, or maybe a little stubbornness and he convinced Roy (Disney) that they were located in the wrong place. He believed that like the movie industry the future for the animation industry was Hollywood, California. Walt would also convince Virginia Davis the star of the “Alice Shorts” and her mother to come along too. So also did (Ub) Iweks and (Rudolf) Ising after their own failed attempt to start a studio when “Laugh-O-Gram” went bankrupt. The Harmon Brothers (Fred and Hugh) decided they would go west with Walt and Roy. So, the entire group left Kansas City for Los Angeles. The end result was the establishment of “The Disney Brother’s Studio” on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district.
Luckily from the ticket sales for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Walt was able to build and complete the Disney Studio on Buena Vista Street in Burbank, California. Where the Disney Company still resides, --------
"WALT DISNEY'S DISNEYLAND" television anthology series premiered on October 27, 1954, with "THE DISNEYLAND STORY". The first of many plugs for the Anaheim, California, theme park Walt would do within his programs to come. A description of that very first program will be found at:
Below is a Los Angeles television ad for that first program:
According to Ley in his "Random House" book, "Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology", while attending the University of Berlin, his studies included astronomy, physics, zoology, and paleontology. He wrote that:
I was never quite sure whether my studies would earn me the title of 'zoologist' or 'geologist', but I kept exploring, in a manner of speaking, looking especially into such corners as others had neglected.
At this time, Ley discovered Transylvanian-Austria-Hungarian physicist and engineer Herman Oberth's book "Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space)",
After reading that book, at the age of 19, Willy Ley became both a rocket and interplanetary space proponent. In 1926, Ley published "Die Fahrt ins Weltall (Travel in Outer Space)".
Speaking to film maker and director Fritz Lang, 1927's "Metropolis", and 1931's "M", for his 1929, "Frau im mond (Woman in the Moon)". Both Willy Ley and Herman Oberth were Lang's technical advisors on building a space craft and the flight to the moon. Fritz Lang and his wife at the time, Thea von Harbou, to increase tension for the space craft's launch in a silent movie, created the "Count-Down".
According to Fritz Lang, in a July 27, 1969 interview, in the "Los Angeles Times", about Willy Ley's work on the picture:
The work he had done as consultant and advisor ... was amazing. The models of the spaceship, really a highly advanced model of a rocket, the trajectories and the orbits of the modular capsule from the earth, around the earth and to the moon and back ... were so accurate that in 1937 the Gestapo confiscated not only all models of the spaceship but also all foreign prints of the picture.
For more information on the motion picture and the work of Fritz Lang will be found in my article, "Fritz Lang and Leni Riefensthal: Their Films", at:
When National Socialism and Hitler started to rise in Germany, Ley would leave with others such as Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre. However, Willy Ley's exit was more prosaic, in January 1935, he used the stationary of the company he was working for as their office manager, to authorize his own vacation in London and left Germany. In 1940, he wrote a short science fiction story "Fog", using the name of Robert Willy, for John W. Campbell, Jr's, "Astounding Stories". The story was a somewhat autobiographical tale of an office manager dealing with totalitarianism.
Earlier his work, "The Dawn of the Conquest of Space", appeared in the March 1937 issue of "Astounding Stories". Willy Ley's science fiction was based upon scientific fact as known at the time.
Before there was the television program "Disneyland", young boys and girls of my generation watched some great science fiction television adventures. Perhaps not accurate about space travel and future life, but fun. My article on these television programs including, "Space Patrol", the program that Gene Roddenberry said was his influence for "Star Trek", "Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock: 1950's TV Science Fiction", will be found at:
However, there was a program that was in many respects the exception to the rule for 1950's television space operas. The following is from article:
Of the five programs I used to watch each week. "Tom Corbett Space Cadet" was the only one scientifically accurate in every detail about Space Travel and what scientists believed the solar system was like when it premiered.
The reason for this accuracy was that unlike the previous two programs "Tom Corbett Space Cadet" had a scientific adviser named Willy Ley. Who would also co-author, under a pen name, some of the scripts and all eight novels between 1952 and 1956 which are still available.
Back in 1949, scientific writer Willy Ley, and painter, designer, and illustrator Chesley Bonestell, ----
Above, "Collier's Magazine", to illustrate a 1952 article written by Dr. Wernher von Braun, used a painting from the 1949 Ley/Bonestell book. Below, is how producer George Pal turned the same picture into an actual scene from his 1955 motion picture, "Conquest of Space".
Nineteen-years after Willy Ley wrote the text for the non-fiction book "The Conquest of Space", and thirteen years after George Pal made the motion picture based upon that work. The only accurate change to the science of space travel, as was seen in director Stanley Kubrick's, 1968, "2001: A Space Odyssey", was the type of food the astronauts ate. In 1955 it was in pill form and in 1968, it was a synthetic flavored paste.
WERNHER VON BRAUN:
Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun was born on March 23, 1912, in Wirsitz, Posen, Prussia, German Empire.
Unlike Willy Ley who left Germany with the rise of Hitler, Dr. Wernher von Braun either joined, or because of his work was made a member without choice, of the Nazi Party. A membership that is still debated as of this writing, and he began a very complex time in his life.
This is a very, very brief overview of the future NASA head.
In 1931, during his studies at the Technical Institute of Switzerland, von Braun crossed paths with Professor Herman Oberth, and the two wrote a book on the possibility of making liquid-propellent rockets. Shortly after the book, Von Braun started his own private rocket development business. He would design and build the first rocket fired by a combination of gasoline and liquid oxygen.
In 1932, the German Army learned of von Braun's rocket experiments and the government financed the building of test stands and facilities for him to develop rockets in Darmstadt, Germany.
In 1933, the Nazi party came to power and rocketry was moved onto a national agenda. That same year, von Braun designed the Aggregat One, the first in a series of his rocket designs for the German Army.
On July 27, 1934, Wernher von Braun was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychics from the University of Berlin. In 1936, von Braun started experimentation with liquid-fueled airplanes, in short he was attempting to create a jet plane. In June 1937, Wernher von Braun tested such aircraft, but the German Army was still more interested in his rocket development. By 1939, von Braun was appointed as a technical advisor at the Peenemunde Proving Ground on the Baltic Sea.
Below, in March 1941, is Wernher von Braun wearing the suit, standing with German army officers connected to the rocket program.
On October 3, 1942, the first successful test of the von Braun designed Aggreat Four took place. After Hitler gave the word to use it against the United Kingdom on December 22, 1942, the new name given to the rocket was the "V-2".
In October 1943, Werhner von Braun came under surveillance by the "SD", the intelligence service of the "SS" run by Heinrich Himmler. However, Himmler had plans, that his underlings did not know, to consolidate his own power base. In February 1944, Heinrich Himmler had von Braun come to his Field Command Headquarters to discuss the problems with the rocket program at Peenemunde. Himmler believed that Dr, Wernher von Braun might be sabotaging the rocket program, but did not apparently tell him that was his true purpose for their meeting.
Then just into March 1944, von Braun and two other German scientists, Klaus Riedel, and Helmit Grottrup, expressed regret they weren't working on a space ship to the moon and agreed the war wasn't going well for Germany. Their defeatist attitude somehow was picked-up by a female dentist who was an "SS" spy. On either March 14th, or 15th, the "SS" detained Dr. Wernher von Braun and he was taken to the Gestapo and held for two-weeks without knowing the charges against him. It took Major Hans Georg Klamroth, head of military intelligence at Peenemunde, Major General Dr. Walter Dornberger, head of Germany's anti-aircraft rocket development, and Albert Speer, Reichsminister for Munitions and War Production, to convince Adolph Hitler to reinstates Wernher von Braun.
However, in early 1945, the Soviet Army was within a 100-miles of Peenemunde, and von Braun held a staff meeting and the scientists decided they would not surrender to the Soviets, but to the Americans. Wernher von Braun hid in a mineshaft hundreds of real documents and blueprints, set up a ruse with fakes and volunteers to confuse the German military in charge of the Peenemunde rocket development. On May 2, 1945, von Braun's brother found a private from the U.S. 44th Infantry Division, and in broken English told the surprised soldier:
My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender.Dr. Werhner von Braun, his family, his staff and their families surrendered to the Americans. The real documents would be retrieved on May 15th. Below is von Braun and members of his staff on May 3rd. During the previous March, he had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car and had a complicated fracture of this left arm and shoulder.
On June 20, 1945, U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinus Jr., authorized the transfer of Werhner von Braun, his staff and families to the United States. Between 1952 and 1956, von Braun led the U.S. Army's rocket development team at Redstone Arnsenal near Huntsville, Alabama. The was known as the "Huntsville- Decatur Combined Statistical Area" and developed the Redstone rocket.
The following is an excerpt from an article by the NASA: Marshall Space Flight Center Historian, Mike Wright.
Wright quotes "The Encyclopedia Americana", 1990, "Colliers, v.s. Television", about a series of articles, already mentioned, the magazine asked Dr. Wernher von Braun to write:
The articles, illustrated by leading space artists, seemed to accomplish more than any other seriously respected cultural or artistic medium had done in the early 1950s to suggest that the future of space exploration would emerge indebted to both science fiction and science fact. At its highest point, Collier's attained a circulation of approximately 4 million and these readers were excited by von Braun's vision of the future. Even so, there were already more than 15 million television sets in America by 1952 and von Braun recognized that this change in American culture had the potential to fundamentally reshape American past perceptions.
THREE TELEVISION PROGRAMS:
The Twentieth program of "Disneyland's" First Season, was the first program, and the only program from "Tomorrowland" that season.
Below is a title card from the combined 1959 release of all three episodes of the series adapted for showing in schools by Willy Ley.
The program was based upon a book by German rocket scientist, Heinz Haber, entitled, "Man in Space". Like Dr. Wernher von Braun, Dr. Haber came to the United States under the "Operation Paper Clip" program. A secret United States intelligence program bringing more than 1,600 German scientists, technicians, engineers, from what had been Nazi Germany to the United States, before the Soviet Union could get them.
Haber wrote another book, "Our Friend the Atom", that would become another of Walt's television programs.
The script for "Man in Space" was co-written by producer, animator and director Ward Kimball.
Kimball's first animation position was the 1930, "Fiddling Around", starring Mickey Mouse, who was voiced by Walt Disney. His first writing position was the 1936, "Toby Tortoise Returns", his first directing assignment was Walt's 3-D short, 1953's, "Melody", the first animated 3-D cartoon. Ward Kimball also appeared as himself in "Man in Space".
Ward Kimball's co-writer was William Bosche. This was Bosche's first writing position, also in 1955, he was the layout artist for Walt's, "Lady and the Tramp".
To be sure the screenplay and animation was scientific accurate, Walt Disney employed as his scientific advisors, Dr. Heinz Haber, Dr. Werhner von Braun, and Willy Ley.
Walt Disney was the "Host" of each episode of "Disneyland" and opened and closed each program. Although I saw it on our black and white television set, Walt thinking ahead, filmed each episode in Technicolor.
Dick Tufeld was the narrator of the program, a radio announcer turned voice actor. Don't know Tufeld? He was the opening narrator of televisions "Space Patrol", his was the opening voice on Irwin Allen's television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", the voice of the announcer and mission control for Allen's "The Time Tunnel", and most of all, Dick Tufeld, was the voice of "The Robot" on televisions "Lost in Space". Not forgetting to mention introducing both the Judy Garland, and Julie Andrews, weekly television programs. His voice was heard on such animated television series as 1978's,"The Fantastic Four", 1979's, "Spider Woman", and 1980's, "Thundarr the Barbarian".
Dr. Heinz Haber appeared as himself.
Willy Ley appeared as himself.
Dr. Wernher von Braun appeared as himself.
As a technical consultant for Disney, von Braun would join Heinz Haber, a specialist in the emerging field of space. medicine, and Willy Ley, a famous rocket historian. All three space experts had authored the Collier's series. Disney personally introduced the first television show, "Man in Space," which aired on ABC on March 9, 1955. The objective, he said, was to combine "the tools of our trade with the knowledge of the scientists to give a factual picture of the latest plans for man's newest adventure." He later called the show "science factual." The show represented something new in its approach to science. But it also relied on Disney's trademark animation techniques.
For example, a portion of the show was devoted to explaining basic scientific principles using an animated bust of Sir Isaac Newton. In one scene, an animated puppy sneezes and moves backward across a sheet of graph paper to illustrate that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Disney also filled "Man in Space" with stereo-typical images of learning and science. For example, Disney appears on camera against a bookcase backdrop and introduces producer Ward Kimball complete with a sketch pencil behind his ear. In turn, Kimball introduces the German scientists whose accents add more style to the show. Kimball then offers viewers the privilege to go behind the scenes to see the scientists conferring with the Disney artists. Chalk-talk technical explanations soon break into humorous animation. Haber begins explaining weightlessness in space. His points are illustrated by a cigar puffing, slightly clad animated character called "homo sapiens extra terrestrials," whose movements are set against a graph-like grid. Although the Disney producers employed humor and cartoon animation in the first part of "Man in Space," von Braun's on-camera segment was much more straightforward. "If we were to start today on an organized, well supported space program, I believe a practical passenger rocket could be built and tested within ten years," von Braun said. "Now here is my design for a four-stage orbital rocket ship... First we would design and build the fourth stage and then tow it into the air to test it as glider... This is the section that must ultimately return the men to the earth safely.
Below are more of the animation from "Man in Space".
On July 18, 1956, the two-episode edited version of the television mini-series "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates" was released. As an extra, Walt Disney had Willy Ley edited down to a featurette size, "Man in Space", and it was released with the edited "River Pirates" to motion picture theaters.
The fourteenth program of "Disneyland's" Second Season was:
MAN AND THE MOON was first shown on December 28, 1955, with a running time of 53-minutes.
The only scientific technical advisor of this production was Wernher von Braun.
The live action rocket ship segment had:
Frank Gerstle as the commander.
The program can be broken down into three-distinct-sections about the moon. They followed Walt's introduction speaking to the building of "Tomorrowland" at his park.
This is an entirely animated segment narrated by Edgar Barrier and goes into the relationship of mankind to the moon.
Kimball speaks to the view about the moon's origin, the phases of the moon, how gravity works on the tides, and why the moon always has a dark side. Which also influenced those myths mentioned in the first part of "Man and the Moon".
This is a live-action segment also introduced by Wernher von Braun. Who starts by showing a model of a possible space craft to go to the moon.
"Mars and Beyond" was under the directing and co-writing hands of Ward Kimball, but he did not appear in the program itself.
The script for "Mars and Beyond" was once more co-written by William Bosche, and John W. Dunn. However, added were Charles "Chuck" Downs, this was the first of only three writing assignments. Downs was mainly a story board artist for Disney. The fifth writer was Con Pederson, a 2-D, 3-D artist and visual technician. He worked on 1968's, "2001: A Space Odyssey" as the special photographic effects supervisor.
There were three technical advisors, Dr. Wernher von Braun, was joined by American astronomer and Arizona Senator, Earl C. Slipher, , and German-American atomic, and rocket scientist Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger.
Walt Disney opened and closed the program with his co-host, "Garco, the Robot".
Paul Frees was the narrator on this program. His was a varied career starting in Vaudeville and switching to voice acting. Frees provided varied voices, among many others, were "Woody Woodpecker", "Dr. Ludwig von Drake", "Boris Badenov", and "Frosty the Snowman". Along with the voices of "John Lennon" and "George Harrison" in "The Beatles" cartoon series, and "The Thing" in the 1967, "Fantastic Four" animated series. As a live actor, Paul Frees was "Dr. Vorhees" in Howard Hawks', 1951, "The Thing from Another World", and was a reporter in George Pal's, 1953, "War of the Worlds", among other roles.
"Mars and Beyond" starts with an overview of mankind seeking to understand the world he lives in, beginning with the cave man and woman.
Ptolemy's theories are compared to the accurate and confirmed heliocentric model of Nicolaus Copernicus, with the sun as the center of the solar system.
---- American science fiction writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs' and his "Barsoom" series, aka: "John Carter on Mars", also gets played by Kimball.
Two examples of the animal life on "Barsoom" as depicted by the Disney animators from Burroughs' descriptions.
Dr. Slipher speculates to possible Martian life, IF there is sufficient water on the planet. His speculations were animated by Ward Kimball and the Disney animators.
The outer umbrella ring revolves to keep gravity within the habitat ring for the 20-crew-members of each craft. The space craft is powered by a sodium-potassium reactor that sends power to the electric/ion drive. The landing boat is a chemically-fueled winged tail-lander.
From the "Disney Parks Blog", dated February 9, 2020, by Jeff Kurtii,
The series of programs created a cultural phenomenon with the public, and its clear presentation of complex subject matter piqued the interest of another influential viewer. “That’s why [President] Eisenhower, when he happened to see our ‘Man in Space’ program, was absorbed by it,” Kimball said. “He realized that he had generals in the Pentagon who didn’t understand or accept these ideas. At first, the military did not support America’s program for space exploration. He flew them all in, and for two weeks, he screened our program for his top Generals. Walt was very proud when Eisenhower called him about the program, and was so glad to accommodate him. The call came into the Studio, and I guess at first the switchboard didn’t believe it was the President of the United States!”
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