The Truth about Mother Goose: from the cover of the comic book version.


Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1957
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"Featurettes" — longer than a simple Mickey Mouse or Silly Symphony cartoon but nowhere near as long as Peter Pan (1953) or Lady & the Tramp (1955) — were nothing new in Disney's production …

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… output by 1957, when The Truth about Mother Goose came out. But only recently had the studio begun marketing them separately. Most earlier featurettes, such as Peter & the Wolf and Pecos Bill were originally released as segments of compilation "features" (such as Make Mine Music (1946) and Melody Time (1948), respectively).

But starting with Cinderella (1950), Disney resumed the production of true features, and the two- and three-reelers like Lambert the Sheepish Lion and Ben & Me started being released as "Specials". The Truth about Mother Goose was released as a Special on August 28, 1957.

Truth purported to tell the real, historical events behind familiar children's rhymes, such as the political scandal immortalized as the "Little Jack Horner" story just as surely as Boss Tweed and his corrupt gang were immortalized by Thomas Nast. It was written by Bill Peet, a Disney story man from Pinocchio (1940) to The Jungle Book (1967); and directed by Bill Justice and Wolfgang Reitherman, whose other mutual credits include Alice in Wonderland (1951).

The narrator was John Dehner, whose other narration for Disney includes Aquamania and The Litterbug (both 1961, shorts starring Goofy and Donald Duck, respectively). But seven years later, when it appeared on the hour-long Disney TV show that ran from the 1950s to the '70s, it had a new narrator — Paul Frees, in the character of Ludwig von Drake, who had become the default cartoon narrator of that show (replacing Jiminy Cricket).

There was a comic book version of the original cartoon, published as Dell's Four Color Comics #862 (one of several dated November, 1957). The scripts were done by Carl Fallberg (Space Mouse) and the art by Pete Alvarado (Cave Kids). It was never reprinted by Gold Key. or any subsequent Disney comic book publisher.

Which is typical of the property itself. It's not currently available on video, nor is it part of any rotation that will cause it to appear on TV. No merchandised spin-offs are available. It's like José Carioca. Goliath II, Elmer Elephant, and any number of other properties Disney has in the back vault, but doesn't seem to have much interest in promoting anymore.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Walt Disney Co.