“Forgotten Hollywood”- Great Moments with Royal Dano…

Posted on April 16, 2016 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

   This week, I visited the Golden Ears group, an exclusive membership of retirees, who helped develop the Disneyland theme park. They seemed to enjoy my Forgotten Hollywood oral presentation. The meeting was held at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland. The book-signing that followed was quite a success.

great-moments-mr-lincoln   After the genial meeting, I was chaperoned around  the park to various rides and attractions. I concluded my fun visit at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Literally, the first place you see as you enter Main Street USA, the stage show at the Opera House features an audio-animatronic version of Honest Abe. It was initially created for the State of Illinois Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The 1965 attraction was unveiled as part of Disneyland’s 10th anniversary.

ill46   Walt Disney was always fascinated with the life of Abraham Lincoln. He even recited the Gettysburg Address to his elementary school class as a small boy. Disney decided to design attractions for the World’s Fair, because he could promote the technology, knowledge, and engineering skill, which would help the theme park industry. Also, these companies agreed to allow Disney to ship the attraction to Disneyland after the Fair’s completion. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln performed very well, and became one of the big draws at the Fair. It was the first human audio-animatronics figure ever attempted by Walt Disney. Under his personal supervision, Lincoln’s speech was compiled by James Algar (a company legend), who was also the writer and producer of the show.

   At this week’s visit, I noticed something fascinating about the attraction; Abraham Lincoln on the big screen, and his animatronic narration, was voiced by the wonderful character actor — Royal Dano. The introduction was made by voice actor-extraordinaire, Paul Frees. Dano and Frees are the type of actors I’d surely feature in my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series. Royal has joined such fine thespians as Henry Fonda, Raymond Massey, Daniel Day Lewis, and other notables to have played our 16th president. In this case, Dano continues to play Lincoln over two dozen times a day, seven-days-a-week; quite an enduring legacy!



   Royal Dano was prolific in Westerns films and television, co-starring in Bend of the River,  The Red Badge of Courage, The Far Country, Johnny Guitar, Tribute to a Bad Man, Man of the West, The Undefeated, Death of a Gunfighter, The Culpepper Cattle Co., Cahill U.S. Marshal, and The Outlaw Josey Wales on the big screen; and Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Cimarron, Bonanza, Daniel Boone, The Big Valley, and Little House on the Prairie on the small screen. He often collaborated with director Anthony Mann, and actors James Stewart and Chuck Connors. Of course, Dano was memorable in other genres of cinema, including The Trouble with Harry7 Faces of Dr. Lao, King of Kings, Moby DickElectra Glide in Blue, and Twin Peaks.

DSC_7159   Walt Disney personally chose Dano, because he felt the actor came the closest to historical descriptions of Lincoln’s voice. When Great Moments moved to Disneyland, Dano’s vocals continued to be a part of the program (until 2001). In 1971, his audio was also used in the Hall of Presidents show with an updated Abe Lincoln speech along Main Street at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, which ran until 1993. His revised narration (with the addition of video) returned to Disneyland in 2009. This was the version I enjoyed on Tuesday.

   And though Royal Dano died in 1994, his folksy persona lives on in Anaheim, CA at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 16th, 2016 at 12:14 am and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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