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Before the Mouse: Walt Disney’s Alice Comedies
The Music House film series present shorts that will be fun for the whole family for our August selection. Red Wings organist Dave Calendine has chosen to bring some of Walt Disney’s first films out to the vault. Before Mickey, there was Alice and her friends in one of Disney’s first series of films, the Alice Comedies.
The first of the “Alice Comedies”, Alice’s Wonderland, was made by Disney and his staff in 1923 at his failing Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, MO. While it was never release, Disney took it with him to Los Angeles, CA, where he sent proposals for an Alice series to several studios. A deal was finally arranged with Winkler Pictures where Disney made 57 films in the series between 1923 and 1928.
The Alice Comedies are live-action animation where Alice, played by 4 young actresses over the course of the series, interacts with cartoon characters in a cartoon world. The comedies take Alice and her cartoon friends on many adventures and mysteries. Disney did almost all of the animation himself with some help from staff.
While many of these shorts have been lost, there are still some remaining in collections. Calendine is choosing some of his favorites to share. This is a rare opportunity to see these amazing Disney works with live accompaniment!
Dave Calendine is an amazingly talented organist and pianist and a great entertainer. As a young organ student, Dave visited the Akron Civic Theater, where organist Lyn Larsen performed on The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Dave was wowed by this incredible pipe organ. By l6, his skills were so impressive that he was offered a job playing the Wurlitzer at the theater. He played there for three years and eventually went on to perform on several theatre organs around Ohio, the US and overseas. Now a resident of the Detroit area, Dave is a staff organist at The Fox Theater, is the organist for The Detroit Red Wings, performs at The Redford Theater and at his church as well as concerts at the Sanfillipo Foundation in Illinois, and at the national Music Box Society International conventions.
Dave is a frequent performer for our silent film series at the Music House Museum on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which made its way “up north”.