It was recently announced that PINOCCHIO would be the newest announced feature to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection and some of the extras on the new release included the announcement of a carefully restored print of “Poor Papa” which is the first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon originally released in 1927.
Restoration was done in 2015 by Lowry Digital (a division of PrimeFocus Technologies) who have been entrusted with the restoration on many of Disney’s classic animation.
The restoration is sourced from digital scans of a 16mm silent print that was made in 1930 for home use and discovered in the UK. This is one of three known surviving prints on this title.
D23 shared some details about the events leading up to and following the debut:
In 1927, while Walt was wrapping up the “Alice Comedies,” his distributor, Charles Mintz, brokered a deal with Universal for Walt to create a cartoon character. That new character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, would go on to star in 26 cartoons from the Disney studio. The series proved popular, and the character was the first to generate Disney merchandise—a candy bar, a stencil set, and a pin-back button!
“Poor Papa” was the first Oswald cartoon produced, but Mintz felt that Oswald looked “old” so the short was not released. The next Oswald short Walt and Ub produced, Trolley Troubles on September 5, 1927, debuted a redesigned younger version of Oswald. Given this second short’s positive critical reaction by the public, Universal and Mintz ultimately released “Poor Papa” on June 11, 1928. In this rather charming story, a bunch of storks bombard Oswald with bunnies until our hero figures out a way to thwart them.
“Poor Papa” can be found on PINOCCHIO Walt Disney Signature Collection which is available now on Digital and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on January 31.