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Walt Disney Features of the 1950, 60s, 70s & 80s
Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959. Everyone on Aroostook County had a chance to meet the characters Flora Queen Leah, Merryweather and King Hubert.
In 1961, to the delight of all dog-people the studio released One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which used xerography during the process of inking and painting traditional animation cels. Using xerography, animation drawings could be photo-chemically transferred rather than traced from paper drawings to the clear acetate sheets ("cels") used in final cartoon production. One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a success, being the tenth highest grossing film of 1961. Aroostook County viewers were introduced to Pongo, Queenie, Jasper Badun and Rolly.
The Sword in the Stone was released in 1963, and was the sixth highest grossing film of the year in North America with estimated rentals of $4.75 million. Families in Aroostook County met onscreen Archimedes, Sir Kay and Black Bart.
Then in 1966 the best animated film of all time (in our opinion) premiered – an adaptation of one of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, was released in 1966, to be followed by several other Pooh featurettes over the years and a full-length compilation feature, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which was released in 1977. What would the world be like without the friends of Christopher Robin Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore and of course Pooh’s other friends Rabbit, Kanga and Roo, Owl and we can’t forget Gopher (but he’s not in the book you know….).
Sadly Disney died in December 1966, ten months before the studio's next film, The Jungle Book, was completed and released. So, Walt never got to see Baloo or Akela on the big screen.
The studio began the 1970s with the premier of The Aristocats, the last film project to be approved by Disney himself. The cartoon introduced Aroostook County viewers to characters including Thomas O'Malley, Scat Cat and Shun Gon.
The next cartoon that came out in 1973 was Robin Hood. Moms, dads and girls and boys met the animal versions of Maid Marian, Prince John and Trigger.
The Rescuers, released in 1977, was a success exceeding the achievements of the previous two Disney features and received an Academy Award nomination. The Rescuers and the cast including Madame Medusa, Penny and Ellie Mae ended up as the third highest grossing film in 1977 and the most successful Disney animated film since The Jungle Book. The film was re-released in 1983, along with a new Disney cartoon, Mickey's Christmas Carol.
Continuing into the 1980 Aroostook County cartoon lover met the cast of character in The Fox and the Hound. We were introduced to Tod, Amos Slade and Dinky. The cartoon film was considered a financial success by the studio.
It wasn’t until 1988 that the US and people in Aroostook County were entertained by the characters in Oliver & Company. This animated film featured an all-star cast including Billy Joel as the voice of Dodger and Bette Midler as the voice of Georgette and had an emphasis on a modern pop soundtrack. We also met Oliver and Rita. Oliver & Company went on to become the most successful animated film to that date.
For the production of Roger Rabbit, Disney collaborated with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and master animator Richard Williams a groundbreaking live action/animation hybrid directed by Robert Zemeckis which featured licensed animated characters from other animation studios. Big-screen viewers and the families in Aroostook County were introduced to Dolores, Psycho and Augie. The Roger Rabbit gang won three Academy Awards for technical achievements.
In 1989 to the delight of moms and little girls in Aroostook County, the studio released The Little Mermaid, which became Disney's largest success in decades earning $84 million - a record for the studio. We met Mermaid characters including Vanessa, Sebastian and film won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Song and for Best Original Score.