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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Original Production Animation Drawing of Dumbo with Flag from "Dumbo," 1941


Original production animation drawing in red, green, blue, and graphite pencils of Dumbo with flag from "Dumbo," 1941, Walt Disney Studios; On five peg hole paper with production stamp lower right; Numbered 54 in pencil lower right; Size - Dumbo With Flag: 5 3/4 x 8", Sheet: 10 x 12"; Unframed.

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"And now, I present to you the world's smallest little elephant, who will spring from this springboard in one spring to the top of the pyramid, waving his little flag for the grand climax! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... Dumbo!" ― Ringmaster

The Walt Disney full length feature film "Dumbo," released in 1940, introduced to the world one of the greatest characters in the Disney pantheon, Dumbo the flying elephant! Dumbo was the only character in the film who never uttered a single word, and yet he is one of the most remembered Disney stars. All of his feelings were conveyed through body movements and facial expressions. The extraordinary animation skill needed in order to do this with a human, but in this case a baby elephant, can not be underestimated.


Close up of the Dumbo original production animation drawing.

The Disney Studio animation artists were still fairly new to feature animation, having only started in 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The film prior to "Dumbo" was "Fantasia," with one of the most successful sequences being "Night on Bald Mountain." Here again, the main character Chernabog, a huge winged devil, sitting on top of a mountain, commanding the undead below, and never uttering a single word; made a huge impression on the viewing public.


Close up of the production number stamp.

The Disney animator Vladimir "Bill" Tytla created the devil-giant for "Fantasia's" "Night on Bald Mountain," and for the next film he was given the task of animated the film's star, Dumbo. He said: 

"I gave him everything I thought he should have," said Tytla. "It just happened. I don't know a damn thing about elephants. It wasn't that. I was thinking in terms of humans, and I saw a chance to do a chracter without using any cheap theatrics. Most of the expressions and mannerisms I got from my own kid. There's nothing theatrical about a two-year-old kid. They're real and sincere- like when they damn near wet their pants from excitement when you come home at night. I've bawled my kid out for pestering me when I'm reading or something, and he doesn't know what to make of it. He'll just stand there and maybe grab my hand and cry... I tried to put all those things in Dumbo."

Certainly the greatest theme of "Dumbo" was the wonderful friendship between the mute baby elephant Dumbo and his unlikely friend, a mouse name Timothy. Various Disney animators were involved with the creation and animation of Timothy Q. Mouse including Fred Moore, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Ward Kimball. Edward S. Brophy was an American character actor, voice artist, and comedian; and he provided the voice for Timothy Mouse even though he was not credited in the film for the role.

In fact, none of the voice actors for Dumbo received screen credit. The pompous matriarch of the elephants was voiced by Verna Felton, who also voiced the Fairy Godmother in "Cinderella," the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland," and Flora in "Sleeping Beauty." Other voice actors include Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork, Cliff Edwards (better known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket) as Jim Crow, and John McLeish (best known for narrating the Goofy "How To" cartoons) providing the opening sequence narration.


Close up of the production number.

This drawing is from the scene in the film when Dumbo, the world's smallest elephant, is suppose to run out into the center ring and jump onto a string board that would catapult him high into the air, and landing on a small platform atop a pyramid of seven elephants. When the curtain opens and Dumbo hears the laughter of the audience he slowly begins to back up, and Timothy Mouse pricks him with a pin in order to get him to run towards the spring board. As Dumbo is running his ears, that were tied loosely atop his head, unravel and he trips; causing him to miss the spring board platform and instead hit the rubber ball that was supporting the pachyderm pyramid. As the elephants begin to tumble down, Dumbo with his flag still being held in his truck, has a look of surprise. This is a wonderful full figure, eyes and mouth open drawing from that sequence.

To see the drawing in the film, just click on the short video below: