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Disney on Ice: The Truth About Walt Disney and Cryogenics

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Wikimedia Commons

Forty-seven years ago today, the world lost a visionary when Walt Disney passed away at the age of 65.

Though he kept his habit away from the eyes of the children at his parks, Disney was a lifelong, three-pack-a-day smoker. The habit caught up with him on November 2, 1966, when an X-ray revealed a tumor on his left lung. On November 11, surgeons removed Walt’s left lung and gave him the bad news that the tumor had metastasized. Though they gave him six months to two years to live, Walt lasted just 34 days, succumbing to lung cancer on December 15.

Contrary to popular belief, Disney was cremated two days later—not frozen. After decades of speculation, his family finally decided they were tired of the rumor mill. In 2012, Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, told the Daily Mail that part of the reason the Disneys opened the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco was to combat some of the ridiculous rumors about her father’s life, including the Walt-cicle tall tale. “Other little kids would say to my kids, ‘Your grandfather is frozen, isn’t he?’ And I couldn’t let that stand,” Disney Miller said.

That little myth probably got started in 1972, when Bob Nelson, then the president of the Cryonics Society of California, gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times. Though what he specifically said was that Walt was not cryogenically frozen, even going so far as to say, “They had him cremated. I personally have seen his ashes,” what people likely remembered from the article was his statement that Walt wanted to be frozen.

He based this theory on the fact that Walt Disney Studios called Nelson prior to Disney’s death and asked elaborate questions about the process, the facilities, the staff, and their history. “The truth is, Walt missed out,” Nelson said. “He never specified it in writing, and when he died the family didn’t go for it. ... Two weeks later we froze the first man. If Disney had been the first it would have made headlines around the world and been a real shot in the arm for cryonics.”

So, mystery solved. Walt is not on ice; he's at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, buried with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. (That's their plot in the picture above.)

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entertainment
The Time Douglas Adams Met Jim Henson
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On September 13, 1983, Jim Henson and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams had dinner for the first time. Henson, who was born on this day in 1936, noted the event in his "Red Book" journal, in characteristic short-form style: "Dinner with Douglas Adams – 1st met." Over the next few years the men discussed how they might work together—they shared interests in technology, entertainment, and education, and ended up collaborating on several projects (including a Labyrinth video game). They also came up with the idea for a "Muppet Institute of Technology" project, a computer literacy TV special that was never produced. Henson historians described the project as follows:

Adams had been working with the Henson team that year on the Muppet Institute of Technology project. Collaborating with Digital Productions (the computer animation people), Chris Cerf, Jon Stone, Joe Bailey, Mark Salzman and Douglas Adams, Jim’s goal was to raise awareness about the potential for personal computer use and dispel fears about their complexity. In a one-hour television special, the familiar Muppets would (according to the pitch material), “spark the public’s interest in computing,” in an entertaining fashion, highlighting all sorts of hardware and software being used in special effects, digital animation, and robotics. Viewers would get a tour of the fictional institute – a series of computer-generated rooms manipulated by the dean, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and stumble on various characters taking advantage of computers’ capabilities. Fozzie, for example, would be hard at work in the “Department of Artificial Stupidity,” proving that computers are only as funny as the bears that program them. Hinting at what would come in The Jim Henson Hour, viewers, “…might even see Jim Henson himself using an input device called a ‘Waldo’ to manipulate a digitally-controlled puppet.”

While the show was never produced, the development process gave Jim and Douglas Adams a chance to get to know each other and explore a shared passion. It seems fitting that when production started on the 2005 film of Adams’s classic Hitchhiker’s Guide, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop would create animatronic creatures like the slovenly Vogons, the Babel Fish, and Marvin the robot, perhaps a relative of the robot designed by Michael Frith for the MIT project.

You can read a bit on the project more from Muppet Wiki, largely based on the same article.

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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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