Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Disney Stoveworks

I have a matter of a little mystery on my hands and I was hoping for some help. I recently read an interview of Richard Todd talking about Walt Disney curtousey of Didier Ghez of the Walt's People books fame. Richard was Robin Hood in the Disney live action movie, The Story of Robin Hood. Based on the interview he had a close relationship with Walt Disney. He tells many funny and moving stories. One of the most touching was how Walt would send his kids gifts each Christmas and how Richard had to explain to the kids why they stopped getting them after Walt's passing. Another comment of note in the interview is the way Todd talks about the Disney studio process of using story boards. Also, how unlike studios like MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox, the Disney studios were run by one man...Walt.

There are other stories in the interview, but the one that really caught my attention had to do with Walt's more private side. Richard talks about knowing Walt very well and going to his house in the Holmby Hills often and about the 'big barn shed' that Walt had in the backyard for working on his trains. He mentions that Walt had another hobby, creating miniatures "...and he started a thing he called the Disney Stoveworks." I have seen the exhibit at the Disney Hollywood Studios, One Man's Dream, with the house scene that Walt had built in scale form. I also remember hearing mention of a traveling exhibit of Walt miniatures so this comment made sense. But then Richard went on, " one of the things that he'd always rememberd from his boyhood was pot-bellied stove. So he start making pot-bellied stoves himself on his lathe, and they were all hand painted and they were like little Dresden pieces. I've still got my pot-bellied stove. They were about four to five inches high and everything worked; the little riddle worked and the laid worked and they were beautifully painted, such pretty little things, as I say, like little pieces of Dresden china from the Walt Disney Stoveworks."

I thought that was such a cool little item that I had not heard about Walt. The idea of him taking the time to create something so small but fully functional and then giving it to close friends was a really nice way to envision Walt. Where would he have gotten the time to do this and why have I not heard of or seen one of these stoves? I needed to find out more information about this and did the regular searches as follows:
  • I went out and googled the Disney Stoveworks and got nothing except the usual commercial adds for New Disney company items to buy.
  • The next thought was let me try going with a search on the Workshop. There was a lot of information about the shed and the trains and the move to the new location by the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, but again nothing about the Disney Stoveworks or the pot-bellied stoves.
  • I reached out to various Disney boards and Blogs with no luck.
My next thought is to start hitting the Disney Biographies. There are so many of such varying quality. Please comment here or send me and email at if you might have an idea as to where I should look next for more information on the 'Disney Stoveworks'.

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