Okay. Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall (i.e.
practice, practice, practice) and/or return from Oz (i.e. click your heels three
times and say "There's no place like home").
But when it comes to the entertainment industry ... To be honest,
there's no one clear path when it comes to success in Hollywood. Sometimes - if
you're looking to make it big on the West Coast -- you have to do something counter-intuitive.
Like - say - go to the East Coast.
That's just what Jymn Magon did. The talent behind such
Disney Afternoon favorites as DuckTales, TaleSpin, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop
and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears
actually got his
start in the business in one of the least show-bizzy places on the planet. Which
was the First Church of Christ, Scientist (AKA The Mother Church) in Boston, MA.
A very young Jymn Magon checks tapes at Disneyland Records
"I used a 16MM camera and did interviews with some of the
more interesting members of the congregation," Jymn recalled. "Oddly enough,
Alan Young was in charge of the media department at the Mother Church back
then. So it was kind of strange that - 15 years or so later -- I'd wind up
being his boss. Directing Alan as he did the voice of Scrooge McDuck on
So how did Magon go from the Mother Church to working with Mickey
Mouse? Jymn is quick to credit his old college roommate, Gary Krisel. Who was
able to parlay a job in marketing at Disneyland into a position at Disneyland
"And once he was on board at Disneyland Records, Gary then made
me aware that they were looking for writers. And since I had already written some
bits for a comedy radio show that had been syndicated to a few colleges, I had
some writing samples and tapes that I could then submit to Disney," Jymn
continued. "Which is how I ended up writing Storyteller albums for the
Jymn Magon and Drew Barrymoore celebrate when the Disneyland Storyteller version of "E.T." went gold
Mind you, this was back during the Ron Miller / Card Walker
years. Back when Disney was struggling mightily to get out of the creative rut
that it found itself in in the 1970s.
"And given that Disneyland Records hadn't really had a huge
hit since the 'Mary Poppins' soundtrack was released back in the early 1960s, they
were very receptive to ideas for new recordings," Magon said. "Which is why -
when disco came in - they allowed us to record that 'Mickey Mouse Disco'
album. Which then went triple platinum."
And - of course - it didn't hurt to be the guy who was
associated with that huge hit recording when Michael Eisner came in the door in
October of 1984 and began to really shake things up at the Mouse House.
Copyright 1979 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved
"Michael had only been on the Lot for a couple of weeks when
he called this big meeting and said 'I want Disney to get into television
animation. ' Given that this was a business that Eisner was familiar with (he'd
been in charge of children's programming during his days at ABC), this was a
project he personally wanted to spearhead. And given that - because of my work
with the Storyteller albums - I was familiar with all the voice talent that
Disney used back then ... Well, that's why I got invited to take part in that
meeting," Jymn explained.
But the only problem was ... Well, The Walt Disney Company had never been in the
television animation business before this. So there
was no process in place, no set procedures when it came to moving from story ideas to scripts to
"Which admittedly scared a lot of people at the Studio. But
me? I realized that - because there was no set process already in place - that
meant that we could write our own rulebook. Create our own production procedures,"
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And that's just what Jymn, Gary and the rest of Walt Disney
Television Animation team did. Because they wanted these shows to be top notch,
Magon and Krisel went out and hired the very best voice talent they could for "Disney's
Adventures of the Gummi Bears." People like June Foray, Bill Scott, Daws Butler
and Chuck McCann.
"When possible, we also always tried to work with the best
possible source material," Magon stated. "And I remember - as I was growing up
in Michigan - reading all those great Scrooge McDuck comic books. Where Cark
Barks would then send Donald and his nephews around the globe on all these
amazing adventures. You couldn't ask for better source material for a TV show
Mind you, not every show idea that Jymn pitched to Michael
automatically got picked up. Magon remembers really struggling with a new
animated series that drew its inspiration from "Miami Vice."
"We were originally going to call this show 'Metro Mice' and
have it be about this mis-matched pair of rodents who solve crimes," Jymn
remembered. "And Michael kept saying 'It's not a home run.' Eisner wondered
aloud if we couldn't build this show around two already established Disney
characters, rather than two anonymous mice. Which is how that show became 'Chip
'n' Dale Rescuer Rangers.' "
Taking advantage of all the opportunities that life throws
your way. Listening carefully when your boss is talking. Knowing when to follow
procedure and/or when to make a break from the rules of the past. These are the
sorts of lessons that Jymn Magon learned during his 25 years in show business.
And now, Magon is looking to share his stories, his insights
with industry neophytes as well as animation fans. And you can get in on this
fun too by signing up for that series of live web events that Jymn will soon
begin holding. The first of which - "Restless Nights and Disney Afternoons:
Creating Hit Shows" -will be presented three different times over this coming weekend.
Two big thumbs up for Disney's "TaleSpin"
"My goal here is strike just the right balance between
entertainment and education. I'm looking to share some fun inside stories from
my days at Disney while - at the same time - give some good practical advice
to all those aspiring writers and artists out there who are just getting their careers started," Magon stated.
And this weekend's one-hour-long webinar is just the first
of a series. In the weeks and months ahead, Magon plans on rolling out a full
slate of web interviews, panel discussions, and workshops. With the real high
points of this new online effort being Jymn's "Secrets of Animation
Storytelling" class as well as a two-part celebration of the 25th anniversary
of "Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears" that Magon has planned.
But that's off in the future aways. "Restless Nights and
Disney Afternoons," however, gets underway tomorrow. And if you'd like to learn
a little bit more about this weekend's webinar, you should click on this link: Or if you'd just prefer to go ahead and sign up for Magon's
initial online class, you probably click on this link. Just be aware that there'll be a $10 fee for taking part in this webinar.
Jymn Magon poses with the vocal cast of Disney's "TaleSpin"
Either way, please keep in mind that each webinar will include a
10-minute-long Q & A session. Which is when participants will be able to ask
Jymn Magon any question they'd like about his 25 year-long career in
entertainment. And if you want to hear some genuinely interesting stories, be
sure to ask Magon about what it was like to go from crushing on Sally Struthers
while he watched "All in the Family" on TV as a kid to then being able to hire this
sitcom star to come in and voice Rebecca
Cunningham on "TaleSpin."
Or - better yet - hear about it was like to be in the booth
at the end of a "Gummi Bears" recording session. When June Foray asked Jymn if
it would be okay if she and Bill Scott recorded a brief piece for an upcoming Rocky
& Bullwinkle anniversary show. And as Magon looked on, Foray & Scott recreated two beloved cartoon
characters from his childhood right in front of Jymn.
That's the sort of Hollywood history that you can only get when you talk with an industry vet like Magon. So if you'd like some great practical advice about
how to get ahead in Tinseltown and/or are just in the mood to hear some truly
terrific inside stories about the early, early days of Walt Disney Television,
be sure and sign up for this weekend's "Restless Nights and Disney Afternoons"
Now this is a Jim Hill Media article.
I already knew about the webinars, I will attend the first one.
Jymn also answered a LOT of questions on my TaleSpin fansite about many different things concerning the Disney Afternoon shows :
I grew up with Disney Afternoons. Duck Tales, Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck were my favorite shows. Great article, Jim!
Except Gummi Bears wasn't produced for Disney Afternoon. It was a Saturday morning cartoon for years before being rerun as part of Disney Afternoon. I can't believe this fact continues to be omitted from anything related to Disney Afternoon. Gummi Bears was very much an afterthought, as far as Afternoon is concerned.
Toad => That's the same thing for Ducktales and Chip & Dale. TaleSpin was the first new series included for the Disney Afternoon. That doesn't make much difference, most people consider them as the same level of quality and since all were aired during the Disney Afternoon at some point...Well yes, they are all Disney Afternoon shows.
steet: Duck Tales was a daily-running, afternoon cartoon show, all the time it was new. Gummi Bears wasn't even close to that, while it was new. Including Gummi Bears in a story about development of Disney Afternoon, including hiring the best voice talent they could get, is hilarious. Gummi Bears came along before Disney Afternoon was even thought of, and was only used as back-filler in DA's later years. To imply otherwise is inaccurate in the extreme.