This Day in Geek History: December 21
Walt Disney premieres the first full-length, animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The film is notable for its length, its pioneering use of the multi-plane camera to achieve the illusion of depth, its introduction of human characters modeled on live actors, and its use of larger painted cels. These advances are all the more astonishing for the fact that Snow White is released just twelve years after Walt Disney released the first animation with sound, Steamboat Willie. The film was produced by 750 artists working for three years at the unheard-of cost of US$1.499 million. The cost was so exorbitant that Disney had to mortgage his house to pay for the film’s production. The artists produced one million individual drawings, only a quarter of which were actually used in the final print of the film. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: G) Running Time: 1 hr 23 mins
Engineer Eugene J. Polley files a patent for the first wireless television remote control, titled “Control Apparatus.” (US No. 3,070,736) The patent will be granted in December 1962 and assigned to Polley’s employer, Zenith, which will release the world’s first remote control, the Zenith Space Commander 200.
The Doctor Who serial The Daleks first airs. The serial marks the first appearance of the Doctor’s mortal enemies, the Daleks, a race of genetically engineered mutants who abhor all other races. The serial, which will be broadcast in seven weekly installments from December 21, 1963 to February 1, 1964 was written by Terry Nation. The series will become the most popular Doctor Who series of the sixties, and, though the story of the Dalek’s origins will change over time, the race will remain a staple of the series, which will eventually go on to become the longest-running science fiction television show in the world. Read more at the BBC online.
United Artists releases Thunderball, directed by Terence Young and starring Sean Connery as James Bond, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, and Luciana Paluzzi, to U.S. theaters. It is the fourth film in the James Bond series. In it, James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme. The film was produced on a budget of US$5.6 million. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 2 hrs 9 mins
Apollo 8, crewed by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Time magazine will name the crew of Apollo 8 as their Men of the Year for 1968, recognizing them as the people that most influenced events in the preceding year They are the first people to ever leave the gravitational influence of the Earth and orbit another celestial body, and they will survive the mission that even the crew themselves rate as only having a fifty-fifty chance of fully succeeding. The effect of Apollo 8 can be summed up by a telegram from a stranger, received by Borman after the mission, that simply stated, “Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”
The final episode of the science fiction television series Blake’s 7, “Blake” airs in Britain on BBC 1. (No. D13) The series had run for four season and a total of fifty-two episodes. Despite its brief run, the series had a lasting and far-reaching influence on television science fiction that would be seen in such series as: Babylon 5, Lexx, Andromeda, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Farscape, the new Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly.
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