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NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention mixes fun with fund-raising

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NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention mixes fun with fund-raising

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I know, I know. For the past week or so, JHM has been running a lot of Comic-Con-related stories. Talking about the various celebrities who made a special trip down to San Diego this year.

Well, as it turns out, Anaheim had its own star-studded affair earlier this month. Jennifer Cody (i.e. the winner for this year's Annie for Best Animated Voice Artist for her works as Charlotte in Disney's "The Princess and The Frog ") as well as Michael-Leon Wooley (i.e. the Broadway veteran who voiced Louis the trumpet-playing alligator in that same animated feature) made an appearance at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort on Tuesday, July 13th. Where they then rubbed elbows with members of the NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club at the opening reception  for this group's annual convention.

Image courtesy of the NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club. All rights reserved

The festivities got underway with a sit-down dinner of traditional New Orleans fare. Then after dinner was complete, the Jambalaya Jazz Band from Disneyland's New Orleans Square marched into the banquet hall and then played several Dixieland tunes. Following this performance, NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club president Gary Schaengold and Scarlett Stahl, Vice President of Media & Public Relations, escorted Cody and Wooley to the stage. Where Jennifer and Michael then bantered in the voices of their characters from "The Princess and the Frog."

This routine was followed by Cody & Wooley discussed what it was like to work on Disney's latest hand-drawn animated feature. Afterwards, club members who took part in this opening reception were then able to meet  & greet with Jennifer & Michael. And these two performers were more than gracious. Happily signing every autograph that was requested and posing for every photograph.

Michael Leon Wooley (left) and Jennifer Cody at the opening reception for this year's NFFC
/ Disneyana Fan Club convention. Image courtesy of the NFFC / Disneyana Fun Club.
All rights reserved

Mind you, though Ms. Cody had to head back to NYC that very same night (Jennifer had just been booked for a national commercial and was unable to stay for the full convention), Mr. Wooley was able to stay on. Which is how Michael wound up as one of the main attractions at the Ryman Arts charity brunch that was held the following morning.

For those of you who don't know: Ryman Arts continues the work of Disney Legend Herbert Dickens Ryman. Working in partnership with the University of Southern California's Roski School of Fine Arts, Ryman Arts teaches talented teens important creative & life skills through an art-training program that is conducted in a rigorous studio environment.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Because the NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club believes strongly in the Ryman Arts program (Which - over the past 20 years - has helped some 2500 art students), the organization held a fund-raising collectors' brunch on Wednesday, July 14th. Which featured a silent auction of donated pieces of Disney-related artwork and memorabilia.

This fund-raiser also featured appearances by several guest speakers. Among them was Marty Sklar, recently retired Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering. Marty spoke quite movingly about Herb Ryman's contribution to Disney Company history. Given that Herbie was thought to be Walt's favorite artist ... Well, that's why Ryman was always the first artist to be tapped to create concept art for each new Disney theme park.

Herbie's 1953 painting of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Given that Herbie was the "patron saint" for many young Disney artists as they were starting out their careers ... When Ryman died in 1989, Marty wanted to continue Herbie's efforts and make sure that the artists of tomorrow learned the fundamentals. And what started out as a single class with 12 students now encompasses 150 students  who represent 80 different high schools in Southern California.

Sklar was followed by Tom Sito; author, animator and President Emeritus of the Cartoon Guild. Sito was joined at the podium by Margaret Kerry, an animation industry vet who is probably best known for serving as the original live-action reference model for Tinker Bell in Disney's 1953 release, "Peter Pan."

Image courtesy of the International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood.
All rights reserved

During their portion of this fund-raising brunch, Tom & Margaret talked about the importance of archiving animation history. They then invite NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club members to come tour the ASIFA  Animation Archive so that these people could see for themselves some of the pieces of Hollywood history that have been saved over the years.

All told, thanks to the generosity of club members, over $10,000 was raised for Ryman Arts. Which will go a long way towards helping the future artists of Southern California.

Image courtesy of Ryman Arts. All rights reserved

If you'd like more information on Ryman Arts, ASIFA-Hollywood, the Animation Archive and/or the NFFC / Disneyana Fan Club, please click on the above links.

Special thanks to Scarlet Stahl & Bob Welbaum for providing the photos & information that were used to create today's JHM article.

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  • Thanks for the mention, Jim! Sorry you couldn't join us at the Convention - maybe next year?

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