Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps Vulture Original Production Cels from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cels of Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Numbered E55, D37, F19, and A229; Disney seal lower left; Set on a lithographic copy of an original Jungle Book production background; Size - Vultures: 6" x 13 1/4", Image: 10" x 14", Mat: 16" x 20"; Double matted.

The vultures (Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps) are very memorable characters in Walt Disney's "The Jungle Book" and appear close to the end of the film.  After Mowgli escapes from Kaa, the four vultures are bored and trying to think of something to do (a running gag consists of Buzzie asking Flaps "So what are we gonna do?", only to get an "I don't know" in response).  They eventually see Mowgli and decide to investigate him, by first poking fun at his "stork"-like legs.  Mowgli walks away, not caring if they laughed and the vultures, feeling sorry for him; end up sympathizing with him since they themselves aren't always the most popular animals in the jungle.  To help lift Mowgli's spirits, they sing "That's What Friends Are For", accidentally giving Shere Khan, the tiger, enough time to discover and corner Mowgli.  As Baloo the bear holds off Shere Khan, the vultures take Mowgli to safety and then help him scare the fierce tiger away with fire.  In the end, they remark how dull it's going to be without Mowgli around, and go back to wondering what they should do to pass the time.

Stacked Set of four cels without the background.

The vulture's number, appearance, hair, look, and talk are freely based on the British pop group; The Beatles.  During production, the development staff had thoughts of the famous band voicing the four vultures -- and it appears Disney actually tried to book the real deal.  Walt Disney met with the Beatles in 1965 to discuss the possibility of the group voicing the birds, but according to movie composer Richard Sherman, "John (Lennon) was running the show at the time, and he said [dismissively] 'I don’t wanna do an animated film.'  Three years later they did "Yellow Submarine"; so you can see how things change."  The vulture's song "That's What Friends are For" is a barbershop-style song rather than the 60's classic rock, that one would expect from their Liverpool accents.  The 60's rock sound was dismissed because Walt Disney thought it would be too dated for the longevity of the film.

Close up of Ziggy and Buzzie

The appearance for the four vultures and their Fab Four models is listed below:
Buzzie: Slightly obese vulture, bald, black feathers (based on Ringo Starr)
Flaps: Slender vulture, blonde hair, black feathers (based on Paul McCartney)
Dizzy: Slender vulture, black hair, black feathers, hair over his eyes (based on George Harrison)
Ziggy: Slender vulture, brown hair, black feathers (based on John Lennon)

Close up of Flaps and Dizzy.

The voices of the four vultures were J. Pat O'Malley, Lord Tim Hudson, Chad Stuart, and Digby Wolfe.  James Patrick O'Malley was an English singer and character actor.  Walt Disney engaged O'Malley to provide voices for animated films such as the Cockney coster in the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" sequence in "Mary Poppins" (1964); Cyril Proudbottom, Winkie and a policeman in "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (1949); and the role of Colonel Hathi and the vulture Buzzie in "The Jungle Book" (1967).  His voice can be heard in Alice in Wonderland (1951), in which he performs all the character voices in the "The Walrus and the Carpenter" segment (besides Alice), including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Walrus, the Carpenter, and Mother Oyster.  In addition, he performed the roles of the Colonel and Jasper in "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961) and in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction in several roles including the original voice of the Pirate Captain dunking the magistrate into the well.

Matted vultures production cels with lithographic background.

This is a rare and wonderful four cel setup of all four of the vultures: Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps.  Each vulture is full figure and they are all set on a lithographic background.