January 13, 2009

Ward Kimball and Groucho Marx

I put this in my links for yesterday, but then I thought it deserved its own post. This video shows Disney animator Ward Kimball on the Groucho Marx game show “You Bet Your Life” in 1954. Ward was one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” his close circle of talented animators that he trusted all of his important films with. Ward started on the early films like Snow White, then became a directing animator for many of the features in the 1940s and 50s. He then moved to the “Disneyland” TV show, directing many of the segments to promote Disneyland park while it was being built.

Ward was also a huge train buff. He came to Carson City several times to ride the V&T, which I’ve written about before, and was so into trains that he built a full-size railroad, with a couple of working steam locomotives, in his backyard. It was his backyard railroad that inspired and encouraged Walt Disney to build a backyard railroad, and that provided the genesis of the idea for Disneyland. Ward kept his railroad operating until his death in 2002.

In his appearance on You Bet Your Life, Ward misses quite a few questions, but there is one he does get right: a question about Pinocchio. That question is so obvious it seems like a plant. It’s like asking Steven Spielberg to name the movie with the killer shark.

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