The stars came out to the El Capitan Theatre to mark the 60th anniversary of Disney’s beloved animated film, Peter Pan. Kathryn Beaumont (Wendy), Margaret Kerry (Tinker Bell) and Ted Thomas (director, writer and musician.) participated in a panel discussion moderated by Leonard Maltin. Scarlett Stahl was there to share this great event with us. ~~Rick

Scarlett Stahl

Friday, January 11, 2013, in celebration of its 60th anniversary, Disney’s animated film Peter Pan was re-released to be exclusively shown on the big screen at the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood through February 7, 2013. Friday evening there was a special panel on stage, which was moderated by well know film critic, Leonard Maltin and included Kathryn Beaumont (Wendy), Margaret Kerry (Tinker Bell) and Ted Thomas (director, writer and musician.)

Kathryn, Margaret, Ted and Leonard Maltin on Stage

Many of the theatre goers had dinner first in the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store, which is next door to the El Capitan Theatre. One fan dining there recognized Margaret Kerry (Tinker Bell) and asked her to pose sitting near the Tinker Bell star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is in front of Soda Fountain. Margaret graciously complied before continuing on into the theatre.

Tinker Bell’s Hollywood Star
Margaret on Hollywood sidewalk

The panelists accommodated press requests for interviews in a separate room at the theatre before retiring to the Green Room to relax, freshen their makeup with a makeup artist and visit with fellow panelists. Please see the accompanying pictures showing the so called Green Room isn’t really green but lavender!!!! There is even a room adjacent complete with shower and other accommodations for panelists convenience.

Kathryn and Margaret in the Green Room (which isn’t green!)
Kathryn and Margaret
Margaret and Makeup Artist
Ted Thomas and Kathryn Beaumont
Kathryn, Margaret and Ted

On stage Leonard Maltin introduced each of the guests and skillfully coaxed information from them regarding their experiences while making Peter Pan. In Ted’s case, that included information regarding his father, Frank Thomas, one of the Nine Old Men. The Nine Old Men was a name used to refer to the judges on the Supreme Court, but was also used humorously to refer to Walt’s nine animators, who were young men in their thirties and forties. After Leonard told the ladies that they had not aged during the sixty years since the film was made, Margaret Kerry quipped “It’s in the contract,” while Kathryn agreed. This brought a large laugh from the audience. Margaret also commented that the panel would be highlighted in her book, which will be available for sale this year and added “Got my plug in, didn’t I?” which also brought laughter from the audience as well as the panel.

Leonard Maltin on Stage

Kathryn shared her fear of heights and told how the live action model for Peter Pan, Roland Dupree (a well known dancer), helped her during the flying scenes. After they had harnesses on, he playfully swung around and pushed her around while they were suspended not far off the floor. Gradually, they went higher and higher, while still playing, and by the time they were way up high and she finally noticed, she was so relaxed and comfortable that it didn’t matter.

Ted told about his dad, Frank Thomas, who was assigned to animate the main villain, Captain Hook. At night Frank played the piano with a Dixieland band, called The Firehouse Five Plus Two, which was a group consisting of members of the Walt Disney Studios animation department. The band was active from 1949 to 1972, playing and recording, while never giving up their day jobs as animators and artists with the Walt Disney Studios. They even appeared in several Disney television specials. The band would play until 2am in appearances around town and as there were no freeways back then, Frank wouldn’t get home until 4am. Then he would get up at 6am for a full day animating at the Studio!!!! He ended up in the hospital with pneumonia for eight weeks. When he finally returned to work, his original sketch of Hook was still on his desk. Walt Disney had not assigned anyone else to work on Hook and had left everything as it was for Frank’s return. Both Margaret and Kathy agreed that was the kind of man Walt Disney was. However during his recuperative time, his final vision of Hook had changed and had become the Hook we see on the screen today.

Parts of Ted’s feature, Growing Up With Nine Old Men and its introduction by Diane Disney Miller were shown, where Ted interviewed the grown children of the Nine Old Men and their experiences growing up Disney. Ted said “Making it was a great opportunity to reconnect with both childhood memories and, just as important, with the other children with whom I share a remarkable past.” This insightful feature is included as part of the Peter Pan Diamond Edition Blu-ray release. Seeing and owning this coupled with the Blu-ray version of the new digitally restored Peter Pan is a must for true Disney collectors as well as new collectors.

Frank Thomas with his creations from Lady and the Tramp as shown in Growing Up with Nine Old Men featurette by Ted Thomas
Frank Thomas with his creations as shown in Growing Up with Nine Old Men featurette by Ted Thomas

Also shown for the opening night was a never before seen episode of Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” with Jack also dancing on stage.

It was a magical evening all around, movie, stars and amazing tales. Does Peter Pan hold a special place in your heart, as it does in mine?