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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Original Production Animation Cel of Baloo The Bear from "The Jungle Book," 1967


Original hand painted production animation cel of Baloo The Bear from "The Jungle Book," 1967, Walt Disney Studios; Production numbers lower right; Set on a lithographic background; Size - Baloo: 6 1/4" x 4 1/4", Cel 12 1/2 x 16"; Image 10 x 15 3/4"; Unframed.

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"Look for the, bare necessities.
The simple bare necessities.
Forget about your worries and your strife."

- Baloo The Bear 

"The Jungle Book," 1967 was the nineteenth animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Productions and inspired by Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was to be the last film that was worked on by Walt Disney, as he passed away during its production. The film follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as he encounters Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear; who try and convince him to leave the jungle before the villainous tiger Shere Khan finds him. Voice actors include: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima; as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O'Malley, Verna Felton, and the director's son, Bruce Reitherman, as the voice of Mowgli.

"The Jungle Book" was released on October 18, 1967, with noted acclaim for its soundtrack that featured eight original songs: seven by the Sherman Brothers and one by Terry Gilkyson. Longtime Disney collaborator Gilkyson was the first songwriter to complete several songs which followed Kipling's book closely; however Walt Disney felt that the works were too dark. The only piece of Gilkyson's work which survived to the final film, was his very upbeat song "The Bare Necessities." The Sherman Brothers were then brought in to do a complete rewrite. Disney frequently brought the composers to the storyline sessions, and asked them to "find scary places and write fun songs" that fit into the story and advanced the plot. The popular success of the film in undoubtedly due to both the music and songs, that were primarily written by the Sherman Brothers.

Baloo, which means "bear" in Hindi, is one of the most beloved characters in the Disney pantheon. He is an obese blue-gray sloth bear, with large white claws. Aside from King Louie, Baloo is the only animal character to walk on two legs in the film. He also resembles Little John from Disney's "Robin Hood," who were both voiced by Phil Harris. Harris also provided the voice of Thomas O'Malley from Disney's "The Aristocats." Baloo and Little John perform the same dance moves with King Louie in "The Jungle Book" and with Lady Kluck in "Robin Hood." A little know fact is that Walt Disney was used as a reference for the animators for the dance moves seen when Baloo is first introduced in "The Jungle Book."


Close up of the Baloo The Bear cel.

Baloo was animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Ollie Johnston animated the first introduction of Baloo but Frank Thomas soon took over the character and, unlike so many other animators; was known for doing most, if not all of the rough drawings for his entire scene.

The Disney animator Andreas Deja wrote the following:
"This is actually not that unusual, since Frank usually contributed most or all of the drawings for any of his scenes. Other animators would often use a moving hold for calm moments, which involved only two key drawings with lots of in-betweens provided by the assistant. But Frank seems to always have something going on, even in the most subtle acting patterns. Something is always moving, things don’t come to a stop. As a result of producing so many drawings for a given scene, Frank could not focus on gorgeously designed poses or expressions. So his drawings by themselves might not look too intimidating to an animation student or professional, but watching them in motion is a whole other potato. The characters come to life in such a believable way, they breath, they move with weight, and they have real thoughts. In other words, they have a soul."


Baloo the Bear cel without the background.


Close up of the production numbers.

This is a wonderful full figure image of Baloo The Bear as he begins to sing to Mowgli, one of the greatest songs from the film, "The Bare Necessities." An iconic image and a great addition to any animation art collection!