A few weeks ago, I had to opportunity to interview Disney Historian and Author Jim Korkis; we spoke about his newest book, “The Book of Mouse”, which is essential a “Bible” so to speak about everything and anything about Walt Disney’s iconic “Mickey Mouse” The book is literally crammed filled from cover to cover with facts, figures and history regarding one of the world’s most identifiable characters, cartoon or not! But as fact-filled as it is, it is not the last word in Mickey’s illustrious career. (A bit more on that later).
In addition to this latest entry, Jim has since 2012 published two Disney milestone books, The “Vault of Walt” series, Volumes One and Two and a third book is scheduled to hit the bookstores this fall. Jim has also penned a book that finally answers questions about the controversial Disney Movie, “Song of the South” that the Disney Company has banned so to speak. The book “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South” is another groundbreaking entry, never done before. In later weeks, I will review another milestone covering Walt and his company; “Who’s the Leader of the Club? Walt Disney’s Leadership Lessons” This one of a kind book explores Walt as a leader, innovator, how he motivated his workers, the lessons he learned over the years, and yes, his faults and failures. These publications all dance to the beat of a different drummer, in the fact that all contain uncensored stories, facts and information never before published, bits of information that if not for these amazing books, would be lost to time forever. But, and I have to admit because of my personal love for Mickey, I have decided to review the “Book of Mouse” first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
I believe that in order to understand and appreciate any publication, you should know a bit about the author behind it. Mr. Jim Korkis is an internationally known Disney Historian and Author. His knowledge on the subject of Disney borders on the astounding. In my many meeting and talks with Jim over the years, I am still amazed at the scope of his Disney expertise. Jim grew up right in the heart of Disneyland, in Glendale California. From the very beginning, he was enamored with Walt and his world, even going as far to look up names of Disney animators and artists, getting their names from the phone book and calling them. Many of the men invited the young Korkis to their homes and Jim wrote about the experience.
Jim Korkis has two distinct advantages over many other authors; in the fact that Jim has actually experienced Disney on a level, both personally and professionally most writers only dream about. He was a Disney Cast Member, actor, teacher, magician and more, all within the realm of Walt’s world. He has been involved with Disney for over thirty years, wearing many hats. One of his proudest liaisons is with Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s Daughter. She began reading Jim’s works and was so impressed with his coverage of her Father and his legacy; she contacted him, encouraged him and heaped praises upon him. Jim has over the years gleaned countless contacts and sources for his research and Diane, before her passing, arranged for Jim sources that he may not have been privy to for his Book of Mouse project.
Jim also has a personal love and affection for Walt and his legacy. Anyone fortunate to hear him speak is drawn up in his enthusiasm and fervor for Disney. He is a storyteller, second only to Walt himself. One of Jim’s biggest laments is the fact that so much Disney History is being lost to time, stories and facts not published are being forgotten each day, and that is the reason for his books, to preserve Walt’s legacy future generations!
From the onset, it would appear, with all the facts and figures in in it that this is the ultimate book on Mickey. Well, it is not. During my interview, Jim stated that there is much more about Mickey that could not be put in the book, due to many reasons and he hinted that a sequel is possibly in the works! (I hope so!) One of the big reasons for the updates is that Jim keeps researching and when the books are published, he is often contacted by people who have more information! An example of this; Jim was contacted by the granddaughter of the oldest living member of the original Mickey Mouse Club from 1928 (almost 100 years old) who would like Jim to interview her grandfather and get some information about that original club before he passes away! Mickey’s career has spanned over 86 years; He is been in the comics, movies, animation, merchandising, books, video games, TV and more. Every day, according to Jim, Mickey adds more and more to his resume, and keeping up with the details will be a life-long job! But as for now, the Book of Mouse has enough information to keep the hardcore and casual Disney fan busy for now.
Another plus of this publication, as well with any Jim Korkis book is this…Jim has always said he writes his books the way he likes to read a book. Many authors pepper their manuscripts with words that most of us have to have a dictionary or thesaurus handy, just to figure out what they mean. Many books, you may have to re-read a chapter or paragraph to see if you missed anything. In Jim’s books, you can start anywhere, without worrying about missing something. They are fast-paced and hard to put down. I myself could not put the book down; I could not wait to read the next bit of information! This Mouse book covers literally everything Mickey has been involved in. Many rumors and myths about Walt and Mickey are dispelled and corrected; there are quotes galore throughout the book, by Walt, his brother Roy and many other celebrities alone the way, as Mickey’s life is explored. Some of this information is so obscure, one wonders if Jim is part detective and Seer! Inside you will discover the truth about how Mickey came into being, his role and relationship with Minnie, his extended family (Mouse of course!) There are many accolades for Mickey from celebrities of the time, even foreign dignitaries are quoted. . You will find amazing facts about Mickey’s animated shorts, attractions and even Hidden Mickeys1 It is hard to believe there are still facts about Mickey not yet published.
Jim has graciously given me permission to post a few tidbits from the books, to kind of whet your appetite so to speak. These are just a few things you can expect to read and enjoy with this, “The Book of Mouse”…
From “How tall is Mickey Mouse”…Animator Frank Thomas remembering a recording session in 1939 recalled… “When he recorded the voice, [Walt] couldn’t help but feel like Mickey and he added all these little gestures that were spontaneous with him. At one point, he put out his hand like this (Roughly waist high) to indicate that Mickey was about three feet tall. It was the only time we knew how tall Walt thought Mickey was.”
From “Are Mickey and Minnie Mouse Married…Walt told writer Louise Morgan of the News Chronicle (June, 1935) that “There’s no marriage in the land of make-believe. Mickey and Minnie must live happily ever after.”
From “Mickey Mouse Watches”…The first Mickey Mouse wristwatch was featured at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. At the Exposition, it outsold the World’s Fair commemorative watch by a 3:1 margin, with as many as 5, 000 Mickey Mouse watches selling per day, usually to adults who stood in long lines to purchase one.
From “Mickey at the Movies”…”Mickey has a bigger screen following than nine-tenths of the stars in Hollywood” – Louella Parsons, Hearst Newspaper Hollywood gossip Columnist, 1931
This is a must-have book! Again, the above are just a scant sample of what to expect from the “Book of Mouse” Fast paced, informative and hard to put down this is the book that is long overdue. Jim Korkis has given Disney fans and posterity another insight into Walt Disney and his legacy. And to quote Mr. Korkis… “I hope The Book of Mouse will be the perfect reference book for people so when they have to find some information, they know they can probably find it in the book and it will be accurate” To get a copy of or any of Jim’s works, they are available at the Disney Family Museum, but the easiest place would be Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. They are offered in paperback, Kindle, digital and in 2015 they will be available on audio. You can always go to the publisher’s website: www.themeparkpress.com to learn more and keep up to date.