Disney and Pooh

Walt Disney

Disney's daughters were also big fans of the wonderful Pooh-books. Remembering how much they enjoyed these characters, Walt Disney was inspired to share them with the children around the world. A. A. Milne, always a fan of Disney's work, had commented that he would be honored if Disney ever wanted to animate his Pooh stories, so Daphne Milne sold the film rights to Disney on June 16, 1961. Walt Disney brought together the many creative talents of the studio to develop and create a new masterpiece. His inspiration and supervision made the film a classic; from concept-art, to the storyboard, to the animation, music and voices.

The original concept was to develop Pooh as a feature-length animated film, but Walt Disney decided to break the film into short featurettes. The Pooh-stories were not as familiar to Americans as they were to the British and Walt believed that Pooh would be much popular if he was allowed to build up an American following.

The first featurette, 'Winnie the Pooh and the Honey-Tree', Disney's translation of the chapters 'Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees' and 'Pooh Goes Visiting', which were both taken from 'Winnie-the-Pooh'. It was released February 4, 1966.

Alan Alexander Milne collects an Oscar prize

The second featurette, 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day', was even more popular then the first, winning an Academy Award (Oscar) in 1968 for Best Cartoon Short Subject. This featurette was based on the chapters 'Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water', 'Christopher Robin Gives a Party' and 'Piglet Meets a Heffalump', which were all taken from 'Winnie-the-Pooh', and the chapters 'Tigger Comes to the Forest', 'Piglet Does a Very Grand Thing' and 'Eeyore Finds the Wolery', which were all taken from 'The House at Pooh Corner'.

By the time the third featurette 'Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too', based on the chapters 'Tigger is Unbounced' and 'Tiggers Don't Climb Trees', which were both taken from 'The House at Pooh Corner', was released (December 20, 1974), Winnie the Pooh had become a household name.

Walt Disney's original vision was finally realized in 1977 when these first three featurettes were combined into 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh', Disney's 22th feature-length animated film. (Also included in this film is the chapter 'An Enchanted Place' from 'The House at Pooh Corner'). The voices for this animated film were provided by Sterling Holloway (Pooh), John Fiedler (Piglet), Ralph Wright (Eeyore), Paul Winchell (Tigger), Barbara Luddy (Kanga), Dori Whitaker (Roo), Hal Smith (Owl), Junius Matthew (Rabbit), Timothy Turner (Christopher Robin), Howard Morris (Gopher) and Sebastian Cabot as the Narrator.

Pooh looking scared

To complete the filming of A.A. Milne's classic tale for the greater part, Disney released 'Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore' in 1983. This featurette is the Disney translation of the chapter 'Eeyore has a Birthday', taken from 'Winnie-the-Pooh', and the chapter 'Pooh invents a New Game', taken from 'The House at Pooh Corner'. In the eighties and nineties Disney also released several Pooh-video's not based on the original stories of A.A. Milne. Similarly, in 1997, Disney released the second full feature length animated film 'Pooh's Grand Adventure', picking up where Disney's 22nd Masterpiece left off.

In the late nineties Disney produced 'The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh', a cartoon-series. More's the pity a lot of Pooh-fanatics think this series, just like all the video's released in the eighties and nineties, doesn't in any way, equal the quality of the first three featurettes.

In February 2000 Disney released the third Winnie the Pooh movie called 'The Tigger Movie', this time with the leading part for Tigger. It tells the story of Tigger who is looking for a (his) family of tiggers in an amazing journey.

Christopher Milne never seemed to think much of the Disney treatment, and Alan's niece Marjorie led a rather vocal campaign against several portions of it; one being the "misplacement of Piglet", another being the addition of Gopher, and yet another being the American Midwestern accent for the character of Christopher Robin. As a result, Piglet returned in the 2nd Disney short and the original voice of Christopher Robin was replaced. Daphne, instead, said that the Disney treatment was a fine thing and her husband, had he still been alive, would have been pleased.