Wednesday, June 10, 2009
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DONALD DUCK AND JUDY GARLAND
Today indeed is the 75th birthday of the most famous duck in animated history. For years he was voiced by dear Clarence Nash, who for me always brought him to life. Donald Duck made his debut in the Silly Symphony cartoon "The Wise Little Hen" on June 9, 1934. His fiery temper endeared him to audiences, and in the 1940s he surpassed Mickey Mouse in the number of cartoons reaching the theaters. Eventually, there were 128 Donald Duck cartoons, but he also appeared in a number of others with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto. His middle name, shown in a wartime cartoon, is Fauntleroy. The original voice of Donald was Clarence "Ducky" Nash, who was succeeded after 50 years by Disney artist Tony Anselmo. A daily Donald Duck newspaper comic strip began on February 7, 1938.Donald Duck has a good heart and always has good intentions. Well, almost always. Actually, it's his second or third intentions that are the good ones, but by the time they surface Donald's already off and running in the wrong direction. He refuses to let anyone or anything stand in his way. It doesn't matter how much humiliation the world dishes out to him, Donald will take it and come back for more. He's a loser, not a quitter, and he'll go down fighting. This is a duck with one short fuse, and an amazing (if unintelligible) command of language, and when things don't go right, he goes ballistic. Yet after the storm is over and the tantrum is through, when faithful Daisy soothes his brow or his conscience finally catches up with him, even Donald can admit that there must be a better way. If only he could figure out what it is.Hot-headed Donald is a little man in a big world that's trying to keep him down. Call it fate, or call it lack of self-control, nothing goes right for this duck: even his best intentions often go awry. Of course, by the time his best intentions surface he's probably already chasing after less noble pursuits. As stubborn as he is temperamental, he won't give in, even when he's up to his beak in trouble. Then watch out. Like a lot of people with a temper problem, he's blind to his own faults but quick to see them in others. He can't understand why life seems so much easier for pals Mickey and easy-going Goofy. It's not fair. Still, Donald will keep struggling to get what he deserves in the world. Favorite sayings: "Oh, yeah?" "Hiya, toots!" "Aw, phooey!" "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!" Today also is the birthday of dear Judy Garland. I learned a new story about her today. Judy was Oscar nominated for Best Actress in a "A Star Is Born" and she couldn't attend because she was busy giving birth. The cameras and the press were all camped outside of her hospital room. The announcement was made and of course it was Grace Kelly (the future princess of Monaco) who won the Oscar instead of dear Judy. Any one who has ever sen the complete uncut version of "A Star Is Born" will know she was robbed. In fact the new story that I heard was that dear Groucho Marx sent her a telegram the night that she lost that read "There hasn't been a robbery like this since Brinks!" I read today where "Guys And Dolls" is closing after only 143 productions leaving the restored Nederlander Theatre (who housed "Rent" for twelve years) empty again. And John and dear Tim Doran are exploring doing an "On the Road to Broadway" type concert at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in August to perform some of the jazzier songs that he and I have written over the years. I sure wish dear friend Tony Westbrook were still living here to be in this show. The Jazz Institute attracts a lot of celebrities and famous music folk-- so we shall see what develops. I did hit a milestone the other day. My official song count is now six hundred according to ASCAP. You can see that by going to www.ASCAP com. and looking at the Ace Data Base. Of course, there would have been no songwriting without dear Tim Doran and Randy Ames and most importantly John Nugent (who bar none is a musical genius) and Tony, God Love You because you made the songs come alive in those recordings first with solo recordings and then in collaboration with the amazing Terry Snyder. The musical "Little Bit of Broadway" is now re-written with a brand new opening and a new ending and a great improvement in the middle. And I thank Sarah Jane Marsh for writing me a great "wake up" letter the other day which really helped me re-write it. Sarah played Patricia Moore brilliantly in the show. She was a real strength. After her letter, I knew I had to really focus on what this show was about. Along with Brice Oates and Walter and Naama and Nick Sweet and Robert and dear Andy Sowers. And oh yes, Joey Vitale! -- he put the technical problems away! I gained wisdom and a new resolve to keep going. Of course my TW rooting squad in NYC is a big reason I do this still-- he's so amazing. What a blessing you have always been, Tony!