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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 14, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 44 - THE LETH6RIDGE HERALD - Wednesday, February 14, 1973 BEGAN WITH A MOUSE sney e rakes in millions CHARLES FOLEY London Observer LOS ANGELES - Time has stopped in the office where Walt Disney built his multi-million dollar entertainment empire. It is untouched, unoccupied, with everything exactly as he left it on lils death (from lung cancer) in 1966. The scripts he was reading, the notes he had made are there on the desk. Disney's corporate heirs have made the littJe two-room suite into a shrine. The year 1973 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the empire that began with a mouse, but walking around the Burbank headquarters of Disney Productions you get an eery feeling that the suspension of time has carried over, into Dopey Drive and down Mickey Mouse Boulevard, out into Disneyland and Disney World and the executive offices that market a product which touches some 300 million lives in 40 countries each week. The Disney Corporation shuns new ideas and change like the rlague; the executives at Burbank tend to speak of the great man as if he were still alive. "Would Walt approve?" is a question uppermost in their minds. His picture stares down, smiling kindly, from every office wall. Yes he'd approve, if it's clean, wholesome fun, barred sex and violence, made people happy and made lots of money. UNSOLD There are no old films on the Disney shelves. Nothing was ever sold to television, so nothing grows stale. The classics - Pinocchio, Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Fantasia, Mary Poppins and the rest-are released to the world by rote: every seven years, say Disney executives, a completely new audience of moppets is ready, while the rest of the world is ripe for a reviewing. Dumbo is on the rounds at the moment. It should rake in more than $5 million. With a half-million for promotion and a million for distribution there will be around $4 million clear profit. "Do you know anyone else making that kind of money on a negative?" asks company president E. Cardon Walker. Hardly: the major studios are selling out to oil millionaires, auctioning off their back lots, selling even the shoes Judy Garland wore in The Wizard Of Oz. INCREASE But, in a time when seven out of every 10 films released fail at the box-office, Disney Productions earns $26,700,000 on revenue of $176 million in one year. In a couple of months 28,-000 Disney stockholders will be invited to the Los Angeles Music Centre for their annual general meeting. Wall Street predicts an increase of more than 100 per cent in profits over the last fiscal year. So far Snow White has taken $27 million at the box office, Pinocchio had made $19 million, Mary Poppins $44 million. But Mr. Walker observes that only about 25 per cent of the company's income last year came from films. By far the biggest money-spinners are Cal-femia's Disneyland, which makes about $80 million a year ($2 million in Mickey Mouse T-shirts and watches alone), and the new gold mine in Florida, Disney World. Even the Burbank executives have been startled by the wild success of tills latest addition to the Disney _ machine. Ten-mile long traffic jams over the Christmas holidays, 500 conventions scheduled over the next three years, the two hotels so heavily booked that the company is rushing to build more. Attendance for the first year will be over 10 million. FEW DOLLARS The founder of all this came to California from Kansas City with a few dollars in his pocket in August, 1923. He had a new cartoon idea - to make a version of Alice in Wonderland using a live Alice on an animated background. He made it, sold it and Disney productions was born. Over the next three years Disney produced 56 short "Alice comedies" employing three different Alices. Mickey Mouse didn't come along until 1928. His first words to an unsuspecting world were: "Hot dog!" Today, after 119 starring roles, the million dollar mouse is slightly fatter, and when he appears at Disneyland, east or west, he wears white tie and tails. Clean-cut and cute, honest, all-American and just a shade dumb - for intellect is always suspect - Mickey set the tone for all that was to come. The great parks, their staff, the executives who run the empire must conform to the image. Don't hope to work at Disneyland if you're Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, or, come to that, any kind of dwarf. A few years back the park tried to ban long-hairs and folk with beards, but the march of progress proved too much even for the Disney bosses. /"^ SIMPSONS bears days only From the comfort of your armchair, Remote Control lets you turn set on and off. Select channels. And adjust the volume. Low price is pretty magica too. It includes Remote Control and stand. The works! 429 Here's the 16" color TV with all the features you've been looking for. Here's the incredibly low price you've been waiting for. This remarkable portable even comes with the added convenience of Remote Control. It lets you turn set on and off, select channels and adjust the volume from as far as 50 feet! And there's no cord to trip on. It's wireless. With Instant Start there's no waiting for warm-ups either. The superb, Super-brite color picture appears in seconds. What's more you can even select the tints and colors you like best with the Fingertip Slide Controls. And you can be sure they'll remain constant because the Automatic Fine Tuning locks in best picture. Electronically. The transistorized circuitry is all wrapped up in a Walnut woodgrain finished cabinet you'll be proud to own. To complete the picture, this portable comes with a handy, chrome-plated stand. Come see this beauty to-day. The incredibly low price is for 3 days only. ^.this is _ , Simpsons-Sears best value Available from coast to coast in Canada through all Simpsons-Sears stores, this very special offer is the sincerest effort Simpsons-Sears can make to bring you merchandise that combines fine quality with the lowest possible price. TV's and Radio* NEW STORE HOURS: Open Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday 9:30 a.m. fo 9:00 p.m. Centre Village Mall. Telephone 328-9231 He Bay battle replayed By MURRAY OLDERMAN MOBILE, Ala. (NEA) -Sonny Wintzell can see it all as clearly as the salt and pepper shakers on the plastic-topped table over which he's hunching in his restaurant. Wintzell's is where you go when you want to eat oysters or shrimp or any kind of seafood in Mobile, but Sonny's mind is not on his business. It's on a corroding hulk of iron imbedded in mud under 32 feet of water in Mobile Bay. It has been there more than 100 years and the thought of it obsesses Sonny. Because he's the one who found it eight years ago, he claims, and would like to drag it up from the bottom. On Aug. 5, 1864, the Te-cumseh had steamed into Mobile Bay, through torpedo-laced waters, in the vanguard oof Adm. David Farragut's fleet of Union warships. At a point off Fort Morgan, an explosion ripped the magazine and within three minutes the ship sank. That's when Admiral Farra-gut shouted his memorable fines: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead" Now Sonny's explaining, "There (between the salt and the pepper) is where the clear channel was for ships to get through into the harbor. CONVINCE "I'm convinced the commander disobeyed orders and changed course to come close to shore here (the salt shaker) when he saw the Tennessee in the bay coming across to intercept him. That ran him into the torpedoes. You can tell it from the position of the rudder." Quick pause for clarifying the nomenclature. What were called torpedoes then would be called mines today - shell-encased explosives strung together under the water to detonate on contact. How did Sonny know the position of the rudder? In 1964, one hundred years later, he sent a diver down to find the sunken monitor type warship of the Civil War. Why? "I'm a Civil War buff. There has always been controversy on how the Tecumseh was sunk, whether it was from torpedoes or a shell from the forts which overlooked the channel. Man who dove for me found two seven-inch holes close to the magazine. "You know, the Tecumseh was like a cheese box on a raft. It was 234 feet long and had a 250-ton turret in the middle with a gun that shot projectiles weighing 600 pounds. It was a clumsy thing. "In those days when a ship was sunk they immediately tried to raise it. In the Battle of Mobile Bay, seven ships were sunk in two days and six were raised. Divers sent down then said the Tecumseh was unsalvageable. It sank like no other ship. A ship usually settles on keel when it's sunk. This thing just turned upside down, pulled that way by the heavy turret settling in the mud. SOLD "In 1874, it was sold to a retired Navy captain for $50 to salvage, but Congress turned it down. And then they lost its location. There's a remote possibility that hurricanes in 1906 and '16 might have moved it. "I'm the man who found it." Sonny Wintzell is a 43-year-olod sagging little man with deep lines around his eyes who once weighed 280 pounds and lost more than 90. The Wint-zells are from Bayou la Batry, a little fishing village on the their side of the bay, and have always gone to sea. Sonny has. even done some commercialfill. salvage work. In .1938, his father, James Oliver Wintzell Sr., converted a ramshacked furni-ture store on Dauphin Street into a seafood place and everybody who comes to Mobile sooner or later gets there. There's one big sycamore in a gravelly pitted parking lot and garish signs plastered outside that lead you to garish ones inside. Ollie Wintzell, the father, has been a nut for aphorisms. Ten thousand of them (actual count) are neatly lettered and plastered over every bit of wall space, including mirrors, in a bevy of rooms. The sign on the cash register reads, "In case of atomic attack, be calm. Pay your cheque. Then run like hell." Sonny Wintzell, who came into the business, needed a diversion. The legend of the Tecumseh provided it. "I got everything ever written on the Tecumseh. Went to Washington and got the plans from Congress. Then I got an 1865 chart and laid it against a present day. chart and research' ed the sinking, on a wall over there (over a sign: "Women are made to be loved, not understood"). DIVER "When I was convinced where it was, within two city blocks, we took a weighted chain and pulled it along the bottom. My cousins pull trolls in that area. We kept running over this lump in 32 feet of wat-ter." Sonny sent a diver down into the bay at that spot one midnight - he didn't want visitors snooping around - and the lump turned out to be the overturned hull of the sunken ironclad ship, barely sticking out of the mud. Now banging in the restaurant is a sea-logged piece of wood which Sonny identifies as part of the hatch. "We also got some oysters and coal out of it," he continues. "I registered a claim for her in the state of Alabama with the right revered George C. Wallace and got a letter telling me to go ahead and salvage it." But Sonny soon found out the U.S. Navy never gives up title to a sunken ship. The Smithsonian Institution heard of the discovery and took over the site. There were plans, if the ship was ever raised, to display it in Washington, D.C. This started Sonny in a running battle with the government which lias lasted for years, to keep the Tecumseh in Mobile. "I got to be honest," he says. "I didh't go after the Tecumseh just for the joy of knowledge. This could be a big tourist attraction. I put $20,000 into finding her and I consider it a business investment. GOOD SHAPE "The Tecumseh would draw 60 to 70,000 people a month at $4 a head. The metal's in good shape. I figure I can raise it for half a million dollars, "though they say it'll cost more. I had found somebody to put up the cabbage. I ain't no dummy. "We got the greatest attraction in the South' sitting in 30 feet of water and nobody's doing anything about it. People got so damn much money today, they want to see things. If this same boat were in California or Florida, it would already be i> and people looking at it. Alabama's always the last damned place to do things." Sonny pleads the least he should get out of it is a finder's fee, if he doesn't eventually get the salvage. Meanwhile, there are still those odd hours between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. to ;