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On this Day in Movie History, July 28, 1951:Disney releases Alice in Wonderland

On this day, July 28, 1951, the Walt Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” was released. Produced by Walt Disney Productions and based primarily on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with a few additional elements from Through the Looking-Glass, the 13th in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was released in New York City and London on July 29, 1951.

The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont (who also voiced Wendy Darling in the 1953 Disney Peter Pan) as Alice, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter.

Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland met with great criticism from fans of Lewis Carroll, as well as from British film and literary critics who accused Disney of “Americanizing” a great work of English literature.

Not surprised by the critical reception to Alice in Wonderland – Disney’s version of Alice was intended for large family audiences, not literary critics – the film met with a lukewarm response at the box office. It was a sharp disappointment in its initial release, earning an estimated $2.4 million at the US box office in 1951.

Almost two decades after its original release, the feature was re-discovered as something of a “head film”. In 1974, the Disney company gave Alice in Wonderland its first theatrical re-release ever, promoting it even as a film in tune with the “psychedelic” times (based mostly on the Jefferson Airplane’s release of the song White Rabbit). This re-release was successful enough to warrant a subsequent re-release in 1981. Its first UK re-release was on July 26, 1979.

1892 – Joe E. (Evan) Brown (comedian, actor: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Around the World in 80 Days, Show Boat, Some like It Hot; died July 6, 1973)

1931 – Darryl Hickman (actor: The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis [as Dobie’s older brother, Davey], The Americans; executive producer: Love of Life; by the time he was 21, Darryl Hickman had appeared in over 100 motion pictures; brother of actor, Dwayne Hickman [who played Dobie Gillis])

1946 – Linda Kelsey (actress: Lou Grant, Day by Day)

1948 – Georgia Engel (actress: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Betty White Show, Goodtime Girls, Jennifer Slept Here, Coach)

1948 – Sally (Ann) Struthers (Emmy Award-winning actress: All in the Family [1971-72, 1978]; Five Easy Pieces, The Odd Couple; promoter of the Christian Children’s Fund)

1964 – Lori Loughlin (actress: The Night Before, Back to the Beach, Rad, Secret Admirer, The New Kids, Amityville 3: The Demon, The Edge of Night, Full House)

1972 – Elizabeth Berkley (actress: Saved by the Bell, The First Wives Club, Random Encounter, Any Given Sunday, Africa, The Elevator, Soulmates)

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