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Lost Disney “Laugh-O-Grams” at MoMA

I’m not sure even Disney knows about this… Thanks to animation historians David Gerstein and Cole Johnson, The Museum of Modern Art has just finished restoring two lost Laugh-O-Grams cartoons they had long held in their archives, previously misidentified under alternate titles. International animation archivist Serge Bromberg (Lobster Films) is going to host a showing of the new prints on Halloween, Sunday October 31st at 2pm.

Cole Johnson located Goldie Locks and The Three Bears at MoMA under a 1929 sound reissue title “The Peroxide Kid” and Gerstein recently identified the lost Jack The Giant Killer, which the Museum had under the name “The K-O Kid”.

In addition to the two new discoveries, newly preserved and restored prints of Little Red Riding Hood, Puss In Boots and The Four Musicians Of Bremen will be screened at MoMA along with Disney’s original 1921 Laugh-O-Gram sample reel and several Ub Iwerks cartoons – Flip the Frog in Techno-Cracked (1933) and the ComicColor Don Quixote (1934).

Bromberg is coming in from Europe for MoMA’s annual To Save and Project festival to introduce the Laugh-O-Grams screening and provide piano accompaniment. The program will repeat only one more time, later that week, on November 4 at 4:30pm.

The two Laugh-O-Grams not being screened, Cinderella and Jack and The Beanstalk, are not held by MoMA. Beanstalk was also long considered lost, but has also been discovered by Gerstein in a private collection. This means that all seven 1922 Disney Laugh-O-Grams fairy tales – Holy Grails to Disney historians – are now known to exist.

For more background information on this incredible find, read David Gerstein’s blog for the full story.

  • Now, please find the original titles of “Steamboat Willie”. Has the original version with the silent opening and original copyright notice (the one with a name on the copyright) deteroatied forever? This needs to be found. Steamboat Willie is a classic.

  • I’m not sure Steamboat Willie ever had any other titles besides the ones we’ve seen for decades. You’re not thinking of “Plane Crazy” are you? Apparently a silent print of that cartoon does exist.

    I don’t know if there’s a silent print of “The Gallopin Gaucho”.

    • David Gerstien has claimed he saw an original version.

      • Without meaning to lose the forest for the trees—when did I ever claim this?


        I mixed up two comments actually, but what were you actually saying on the Steamboat Willie title card?

      • Someone in that 2008 thread had speculated that STEAMBOAT WILLIE might have had a different title card (different from the one we usually see) when it was first released.

        In my reply, I was trying to say that I think STEAMBOAT WILLIE has always had the title card that it has today. As my example, I pointed out that prints dating back to the 1930s all have the same card.
        Added example: last year I saw a 1920s nitrate print of STEAMBOAT WILLIE in an archive. It, too, had the title card that we usually see. So I think it’s safe to presume that that card has been with it from the beginning.

      • So, why does the copyright on the title card have no owner?

    • Peter H

      “Steamboat Willie” was the first Mickey to be designed as a sound picture (as opposed to the previous “Plane Crazy” and “Gallopin’ Gaucho” which had been made as silents) but I’ve heard that silent versions of the Mickey Mouse cartoons were released alongside the sound releases, because not all cinemas had invested in sound equipment. Can anyone confirm this?

      As to the earlier title of “Steamboat Willie” – the titles we are familiar with bear the copyright date 1929, which I suspect were added in the summer of 1929 after Disney registered the final white-gloved version of Mickey as a trademark. This would mean that the first prints of the film did have different titles – but whether the same artwork was used I do not know. The question is – did Ub Iwerks actually dress up Mickey in hat, gloves, shoes and cane as an embellishment for the original titles of “Plane Crazy”, before he actually wore shoes and gloves in the movies, or was this a later idea just building on the gloved and shod 1929 image?

  • purin

    Now that’s when you truly know someone made an impact:

    Early, unsuccessful, hard-to-watch cartoons get restored and screened for history purposes.

  • Matthew K Sharp

    This excellent news is excellent news! Hats off to the ever-perservering (and preserving) Mr Gerstein & co.

    I’m envious of those able to attend the screening – alas MoMA is a little far away for those of us living in the antipodes. But if anyone out there would like to compile a complete restored Laugh-O-grams DVD, you can count on at least one customer.

    • Kristjan

      Can’t Ray Pointer repress his laugh-O-Gram Disc?

    • Kristjan

      Make that 2 customers. I can see it Walt Disney Treasures: The Laugh-O-Grams Complete collection.

  • The Scarlet Pumpernickel

    It’s astounding how something as silly as a retitled print whose existence was literally ignored even from collectors (due generally to the fact that the owner could not ID the cartoon) turned out to be one of the key finds in the animation research history.

    Cole, David and anyone involved in the research as well as in the upcoming screening, we will never be able to thank you enough for those truly magnificent finds -and in near mint condition besides!

  • David Breneman

    Is it too early to ask when the “Complete Laugh-O-Grams Collection” DVD is coming out?

  • C.R. Villanueva

    When are we gotting them on DVD?

  • Roman

    Most of them are already available— in 1080p HD nonetheless!! They are Bonus Features on the Beauty & The Beast Blu Ray….

    • That is nice and well, but we certainly expect the company to issue whatever new films are found. These early works should ultimately be seen in households.

    • Kristjan

      Recall and reissue the Beauty and the Beast with those 3 cartoons.

  • Roman, I’m afraid the three new ones we located aren’t on the Blu-Ray—the discoveries were made too recently.
    Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

  • fantastic news. i will be there!!

  • Daniel

    Excellent! I’ve also wondered how many of the Alice shorts are still lost..I know Virginia Davis said all of hers exist, but for the other Alices there are a number I havent seen.

    I’ve also heard there are a couple other Oswalds supposedly floating around.

    • Kristjan

      Daniel Following Alice are thought to be lost:
      Alice Picks the Champ (only fragment of ca 3 minute exist)
      Alice Charms the Fish
      Alice’s Monkey Business
      Alice Cuts the Ice
      Alice the LumberJack
      Alice the Golf Bug
      Alice Foils the Pirates
      Alice at the Carnival
      Alice the Collegiate
      Alice in the Alps
      Alice’s Auto Race
      Alice’s Knaughty Knight
      Alice’s Three Bad Eggs
      Alice’s Picnic
      Alice’s Channel Swim
      Alice in the Klondike
      Alice’s Medicine Show
      Alice the Beach Nut

      Of the Oswald short,
      I have heard that all Walter Lantz reissues were kinda botched up according to the commentaries on the WDT. So sequence might be missing and some historians suggest that on the commenteries.
      Ozzy of the Mounted have several sequence still missing. According to David Gerstein it’s pure luck that something of this cartoon still exist assuming the still missing sequence are lost for ever.

      But the following Oswalds are thought to be lost:
      The Banker’s Daughter
      Empty Socks
      Rickety Gin
      Harem Scarem
      Neck ‘n’ Neck
      The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole
      Africa Before Dark
      Sagebrush Sadie
      Hungry Hoboes
      Sleigh Bells
      Hot Dog

      SO in other words only Poor Papa is known to exist of those shorts that didn’t appear on the Treasuries, it was located place that couldn’t be reached by Disney in time for the Treasuries. But that still doesn’t rule other cartoons out, but they are then clearly locked at place were David Gerstein don’t know let alone other animation historians, So if any one knowns anything about the those missing cartoons please contact David or Jerry. As it might add to the jigsaw of the origin the legacy of Walt Disney.

  • Mark Sonntag

    Count me in for DVD release too.

  • dbenson

    Just now I’m more frustrated by stuff we KNOW exists but can’t get at, due to legal snits or corporate indifference. Does Columbia still own Magoo and the rest of the UPA shorts? Where’s Betty Boop? What about all the great work from the early Spike & Mike and International Festival of Animation shows (released on VHS, but never reissued)? Is anybody protecting the source material, or is it going the way of all nitrate?

  • How I would SO want to be in NY for this :(