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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Original Production Animation Cels of the Vultures and Mowgli from "The Jungle Book," 1967


Original hand painted production animation cels of 1) Vultures: Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps 2) Mowgli; Both from "The Jungle Book," 1967, Walt Disney Studios; Set on a lithographic background; Size - Vultures: 8 1/4" x 3 1/4", Mowgli: 3 3/4 x 2 1/2", Image 10 x 12"; Unframed.

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"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.

Wolfgang Reitherman began working for Walt Disney in 1934, along with future Disney legends Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl. The three worked together on a number of classic Disney shorts, including "The Band Concert," "Music Land," and "Elmer Elephant." Reitherman worked on various Disney feature films produced from 1937 to 1981, including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (animating the Slave in the Magic Mirror) up to "The Fox and the Hound," where he was the co-producer. Beginning with 1961's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," "Woolie", as he was called by friends, served as Disney's chief animation director. In addition to "101 Dalmatians," Reitherman directed "The Sword in the Stone" (1963), "The Jungle Book" (1967), "The Aristocats" (1970), "Robin Hood" (1973) and "The Rescuers" (1977).


Original hand painted production animation cel of the Vultures: Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps without the background

One of Reitherman's productions, the 1968 short "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In addition, all three of Reitherman's sons — Bruce, Richard, and Robert provided voices for Disney characters, including Mowgli in "The Jungle Book," Christopher Robin in "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," and Wart in "The Sword in the Stone." Not only did Bruce Reitherman provided the voice of Mowgli in "The Jungle Book," but he also acted out certain scenes as live action reference for the animators. The character of Mowgli was animated by quite a few animators, however Milt Kahl set the final design and the majority of Mowgli's scenes were animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

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.


Original hand painted production animation cel of Mowgli 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.

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)

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.

This is a rare and wonderful two cel setup of all four of the vultures: Buzzie, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps with Mowgli. Each vulture is full figure and Mowgli is full figure with his eyes and mouth open. An absolutely spectacular setup, which would make a great addition to any animation art collection!