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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Peter Pan As Big Chief Flying Eagle from "Peter Pan," 1953


Original production drawing of Peter Pan as Big Chief Flying Eagle in red, blue, green, black, and graphite pencils from "Peter Pan," 1953; Numbered 48 in pencil lower right; Size - Peter Pan 7 x 6 1/4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.


“He flies without wings. His shadow leads a merry little life of its own. Face-to-face with the terrible Captain Hook, Peter dispatches that pirate with jaunty ease. Peter is at home with mermaids and understands their language. He is twelve years old forever simply because he refuses to grow up beyond that comfortable age. Most remarkable of all, he knows where Never Land is and how to get there.” ―Walt Disney

The author J. M. Barrie first used Peter Pan as a character in a section of the adult novel "The Little White Bird" in 1902. He returned to that character with his stage play entitled "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up," which premiered in London on December 27, 1904. The play ran until 1913, and it was later adapted by Walt Disney for the animated feature film entitled, "Peter Pan," in 1953.


Close up of the original Peter Pan production drawing.

The main character of Peter Pan was animated by Milt Kahl and Eric Larson. Kahl did the majority of the animation sequences with Larson working mainly on the flying to London sequence, as well as some animation work on both Wendy Darling and Captain Hook.

Milt Kahl was not very excited about his assignment for Peter Pan. He had to animate both Peter Pan and Wendy Darling; two characters that had to be handled like real human beings and therefore would be a great challenge. “Peter was interesting in that you had to make him fly but after that was over he became a chore,” said Kahl. "Peter Pan's" supervising animator, Ron Clements, remembered that for years Milt Kahl resented the fact that animator Frank Thomas was assigned the character of Captain Hook instead of him. It is interesting to note that Peter Pan is one of the most interesting male protagonists of the early Walt Disney films because he is very heroic, opinionated, and has a zeal for life. Kahl’s animation of him totally embraces those characteristics as well as his great grace, expert timing, all combined with a very appealing artistic design.

Bobby Driscoll was the first actor Walt Disney ever put under contract, and was cast to play the lead character in the 1946 film "Song of the South." The film would introduce live action into an extensive animation based film. The film was very successful and turned Driscoll, and his co-star Luana Patten, into overnight child stars! The pair were even discussed for a special Academy Award as the best child actors of the year.

Driscoll went on to appear in a large number of specials and to star in some of The Walt Disney Company's most popular live-action pictures of that period, such as "So Dear to My Heart" in 1948, and in the role of Jim Hawkins in "Treasure Island" in 1950. This last role earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1953, he served as animation model and provided the voice for the title role in "Peter Pan," Driscoll's last major success. Driscoll was cast opposite Disney's "Little British Lady" Kathryn Beaumont, who was in the role of Wendy Darling. Driscoll was the model for all the close up Peter Pan scenes and the dancer and choreographer Roland Dupree was the model for the character's motion sequences. All the live action model scenes were played out on an almost empty sound stage with only the most essential props, and filmed for use by the animators.


Close up of the production number.

After Peter Pan rescues Princess Tiger Lily from Captain Hook and Mr. Smee; Tiger Lily's father the Indian Chief, places a feather war bonnet on Peter Pan's head and declares that he is now Big Chief Flying Eagle. The song "What Made the Red Man Red?" follows, and during the performance Tiger Lily kisses Peter Pan. Peter turns a bright red, leans back, and does an Indian war cry. This drawing is from that scene and is a wonderful image of Peter Pan as Big Chief Flying Eagle, wearing his feather war bonnet. The drawing is rendered in red, blue, green, black, and graphite pencils; and captures fantastic movement from this great scene in the film!

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

video