July 29, 1950: Treasure Island becomes the studio’s first fully live-action film, starring Bobby Driscoll in the lead role.
Disneyland Records release of the story and soundtrack of the studio’s first live-action production
As the studio expanded into the live-action market, longtime animator Jack Cutting moved abroad to head the company’s foreign relations. Here is a memo to Cutting with a message from Walt following one of the boss’s visits to the offices.
December 23, 1954: The live-action marvel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opens to rave reviews. Walt Disney himself oversaw production duties, and the film picks up two Academy Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects.
Photo essay on the film’s unique underwater production techniques
Son of legendary animator Ub Iwerks, Don worked on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a camera technician and would go on to develop several new innovations for the studio over the course of his career, including the 360-degree camera which rendered the first Circle-Vision film. He was awarded an Oscar for his technical achievements in 1998.
May 25, 1955: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, a feature film comprised of the first three episodes to air on the Disneyland television program, opens in theaters.
July 18, 1956: The final two episodes of the Davy Crockett series are released as the feature Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.
December 25, 1957: The classic tear-jerker Old Yeller debuts in theaters.
March 19, 1959: Fred MacMurray begins his run of seven Disney films with The Shaggy Dog, co-starring Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.
June 26, 1959: Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, starring a pre-James-Bond Sean Connery, opens at the box office.
Walt converses with Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe) and King Brian of the Leprechauns (Jimmy O’Dea)
May 19, 1960: Hayley Mills makes her Disney film debut in Pollyana. The role will earn her a Juvenile Academy Award. She will star in five additional features for the studio, during which time she is considered one of the most famous young actresses in Hollywood.
Mills captures America’s heart in the role of Pollyanna Whittier
December 21, 1960: The box-office-success Swiss Family Robinson debuts across the country.
Press photo featuring an iconic scene from the 1960 classic
March 16, 1961: Professor Ned Brainerd, as played by actor Fred MacMurray, discovers “flubber” in The Absent-Minded Professor.
June 21, 1961: Hayley Mills stars in her second Disney hit, The Parent Trap. The film is nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Sound and Best Film Editing.
December 14, 1961: Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands star opposite each other in the musical Babes in Toyland. The film also features the now-iconic toy soldiers, which have since frequented Disney holiday parades.
December 21, 1962: Hayley Mills returns to the big screen with In Search of the Castaways.
Studio fan card featuring the now-bonafide teenage star
January 16, 1963: Fred MacMurray reprises his role as Professor Ned Brainerd in Son of Flubber.
July 7, 1963: Hayley Mills stars in the Sherman-Brothers musical Summer Magic.
Fan mail response from Hayley Mills following the release of Summer Magic
Mills’ costar, Deborah Walley, in a 1962 press photo which preceded the film’s release
Promotional album featuring the Sherman Brother’s soundtrack
Richard-M.-Sherman-signed print from the set of the film
Signed print featuring two of the film’s biggest stars, Hayley Mills and Burl Ives
February 16, 1966: That Darn Cat! marks Hayley Mills’ final Disney film of the period and regular Disney lead Dean Jones’ first.
Fan card featuring Mills in her final Disney role
December 1, 1966: Follow Me, Boys! is the final picture to be produced by Walt Disney. It is also the first appearance by young actor Kurt Russel in a Disney feature. He will appear in eight more in the decade that follows.
November 30, 1967: Another Sherman Brothers soundtrack highlights the Fred MacMurray film The Happiest Millionaire. It is the final production in which Walt, who passed away the year prior, had any personal involvement.
The piano in Walt’s office on which the Sherman Brothers often played and sang for their boss, including the day he left the studio for the last time
December 24, 1968: Dean Jones stars in his most iconic role, alongside the now-highly-recognizable #53 Volkswagen Beetle known as The Love Bug.
December 24, 1969: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes is released, first in a three-film-series (followed by Now You See Him, Now You Don’t and The Strongest Man in the World) starring Kurt Russell and centering on the hi-jinks of a group of students at Medfield College (Professor Brainerd’s old stomping grounds).
December 17, 1976: Freaky Friday, starring Jodie Foster, debuts. The film will be remade in 2003 with Lindsay Lohan taking the lead role.
July 9, 1982: Academy-Award-nominated (Best Costume Design and Best Sound) Tron is released. The film is considered groundbreaking for its use of computer animation and develops a cult following. It receives an Academy Award for Technical Achievement fourteen years later and spawns a 2010 sequel, Tron: Legacy.
June 23, 1989: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids becomes an unexpected hit, holding the record for the next five years of highest-grossing Disney live-action film. A 1992 sequel followed (Honey, We Blew Up the Kid), as well as a direct-to-video followup in 1997 (Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves).
June 14, 1990: Dick Tracy premiers at the Walt Disney World Resort, and nationwide a day later. It receives eight Oscar nominations and wins in three categories: Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song in “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man).”
Eyes & Ears (WDW cast-member publication) celebrates the film’s release
June 21, 1991: The Rocketeer launches into theaters. It develops a cult following, and rumors of a sequel persist to this day.
The eventual cult classic fronts the company’s quarterly report
April 10, 1992: The musical Newsies opens at the box office. The film will later be adapted into a Broadway stage show and win two Tony Awards at the 2012 ceremony (Best Choreography and Best Original Score).
October 2, 1992: The Mighty Ducks, first of three in the series, arrives in theaters. The popular film will inspire the creation of the Disney-owned NHL team, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
July 16, 1993: Halloween favorite Hocus Pocus is released.
July 15, 1994: Angels in the Outfield premieres. Shortly after, Disney will acquire the MLB’s California Angels (on whom the film is based) and see them crowned World Series Champs in 2002.
November 11, 1994: Holiday standard The Santa Clause opens nationwide.
November 27, 1996: 101 Dalmatians becomes the first live-action remake of a Disney animated feature, a trend that would in later years become the norm for the studio.
The 1961 classic gets the live-action treatment
July 9, 2003: Captain Jack Sparrow bows at the box office in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, the film becomes a smash hit and inspires four sequels over the next fourteen years. It remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
December 9, 2005: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, first in a trilogy of films, opens in the United States. It receives the Oscar for Best Makeup.
June 24, 2006: Academy-Award winning (Best Visual Effects) sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is released.
The original cast returns in the much-anticipated sequel
August 31, 2009: Disney acquires Marvel Entertainment in a deal worth $4.24 billion. Under Disney’s direction, the studio will produce many successful films over the next several years, including the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy series, as well as the global phenomenon Black Panther. Additionally, the acquisition results in the launch of countless new comic book series, among them the Disney Kingdoms line, which features numerous Disney-Parks-attraction-inspired storylines. The first series, Seekers of the Weird, based upon early concepts of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, is released January 14, 2014. Five additional series have followed: Figment, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Figment 2, The Haunted Mansion, and Enchanted Tiki Room.
First issues of all Disney Kingdoms releases. Left-to-right: Seekers of the Weird (signed by Disney Legend Rolly Crump, Imagineers Jim Clark, Brian Crosby, Tom Morris, and Josh Shipley, and writer Brian Seifert; Figment; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Figment 2; The Haunted Mansion; and Enchanted Tiki Room.
March 5, 2010: Alice in Wonderland gets the live-action treatment, and wins two Academy Awards in the process (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design).
November 23, 2011: The Muppets represents the gang’s seventh theatrical outing, this one netting an Oscar for Best Original Song (“Man or Muppet”).
October 30, 2012: Disney acquires Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock.
December 18, 2015: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) kicks off the third and final trilogy of films in the Skywalker saga. It will net five Oscar nominations and inspire a new generation of fans.
The iconic franchise is reborn
December 16, 2016: The first Star Wars Story feature is released in Rogue One.
Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso in the first Star Wars spin-off
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