Last Monday evening I attended a birthday party where we watched the birthday woman open gifts, then we all indulged in ice cream and watched a DVD–“Saving Mr. Banks”. I had never seen the movie before. If you are unfamiliar with it as well, I will simply say that it is a movie about how Walt Disney acquired the right to Mary Poppins, who was already a character in multiple stories written by P. L. Travers.
Since I am a writer, I found this story completely fascinating and engaging for several reasons and I was extremely interested in P. L. Travers. The movie also piqued my curiosity in many ways: 1) I now want to read the Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers because, even though I have never seen Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, I want to experience Mary Poppins as her creator intended her to be; 2) I was curious as to why Walt Disney, a talented cartoonist, would be so interested in obtaining the creations of other writers; and 3) I wanted to know how many Disney characters were based on literary characters.
So, I spent some time doing some research on the computer, and here is what I found: 1) Walt Disney had an early cartoon character he created, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whose rights had been stolen from Walt Disney a few years after 1923. (This again made me wonder why, then, he would be so eager to obtain the rights to characters who were created by other writers). Not long after Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was stolen from Walt Disney, he, along with his brother Roy, their wives, and Ub Iwerks produced three cartoons featuring a new character Walt had been developing–Mickey Mouse. In 1929, Walt Disney created “Silly Symphonies”, which featured Mickey’s newly created friends: Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. 2) According to the research I did online, I found that Walt Disney Studios, which continues Walt’s legacy, created movies from more than 71 books that were written and created by other people, several of which were based on English Literary works and one French novel. Some of these were produced by Walt himself. Walt’s last major success that he produced himself was “Mary Poppins” in 1964. Walt died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966.
The most interesting thing I found was that P. L. Travers continued writing Mary Poppins stories even after Disney’s film, and in the late 1980s worked with a Disney screenwriter on a film sequel that never materialized.
What do I plan to do with my newfound information? Read the literary works written by others that Disney used to create movies because Disney also changed many things from the way the original creator created his or her work and I am interested in the original characters and their stories the way their creators meant them to be.
If you are interested in a list of the books many Disney movies are based on and any of the other websites I used for this post, here are the links: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16838.Disney_movies_based_off_books, https://d23.com/disney-films-that-started-out-as-childrens-books/, https://www.biography.com/people/walt-disney-9275533, and http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-might-not-know-about-walt-disney