Toby goes to work for the circus

A colorful circus parade through the main street of Guilford, a small American town of 50 years ago, attracts young Toby Tyler. He follows it to the big tent where, lacking money for a ticket, he meets a fast-talking lemonade and peanut vendor named Harry Tupper. Seeking a helper, Tupper offers the boy a job but Toby explains he is needed by his Aunt Olive and Uncle Daniel on their farm. Toby, an orphan, gets home late and is berated by his harsh uncle. Made to feel that he is thoroughly useless, he runs away to work for Harry Tupper. Toby soon learns that his employer is no Lord Bountiful. But there are compensations. He meets a variety of circus folk: show owner Colonel Sam Castle, strong man Ben Cotter, head clown Sam Treat, a pretty equestrienne his own age, Mademoiselle Jeanette and her partner, Ajax. (Click photo to hear Henry talk).

He also meets a mischievous little chimpanzee whom he names Mr. Stubbs. Toby is riding the monkey wagon with Ben and Mr. Stubbs when the circus parades into Woodvale. There an exploding firecracker frightens their team. The horses bolt, overturning the wagon and setting free Mr. Stubbs and his fellow simians. Pandemonium results. Mr. Stubbs creates his share by terrorizing the town with a loaded revolver. Some days later, Toby is chatting with Mlle. Jeanette when Ajax, showing off on horseback, injures himself in a fall. Toby has led the girl to think he can ride, and she tells this to Col. Castle. Almost before he realizes it, Toby is being groomed as Ajax's successor. Toby, troubled by conscience and a sincere desire to return home with money for his uncle, decides he must leave the circus. But Mr. Stubbs thwarts him by stealing and scattering his savings.

Mr. Stubbs
Tupper finds Toby

On the night of his triumphant professional debut, Toby discovers that Harry Tupper has withheld all mail from Aunt Olive and Uncle Daniel. Belatedly reading that he is needed and missed on the farm, he immediately sets out for Guilford. Mr. Stubbs follows and overtakes him. Meanwhile, an angry Harry Tupper has started after Toby and the supposedly stolen chimp, reporting their absence to several individuals along the way including a bobcat hunter named Jim Weaver. Toby and the chimpanzee are hiding from Tupper when Weaver, alerted to movements in the treetops, fires and hits Mr. Stubbs. Leaving his friend for dead, Toby sobbingly rides back to the circus with Tupper.

There he is greeted warmly by his aunt and uncle, notified through Ben Cotter. But although he is welcomed back by everyone, Toby grieves for Mr. Stubbs. It is an exciting moment, then, when Jim Weaver appears unexpectedly with the lamented chimp. Except for a flesh wound, now nearly healed, Mr. Stubbs is as good as ever. He is so sound, in fact, that when Toby, now Monsieur Toby, equestrian extraordinaire, performs his daring rosin-back act, the chimpanzee joins him in a show-stopping climax which promises to produce a new circus star; Monsieur Stubbs! (Click photo to the right to hear Gene talk!)

Mr. Stubbs is alive
Walt staged the greatest show on earth

BEHIND THE SCENES: As a circus showman, Walt Disney is right there pitching with Ringling, Barnum and Bailey. Walt has staged the gayest show on earth for his old-timey circus drama, "Toby Tyler." The whoopdedoo of a marching band followed by 14 gilded wagons, a steam calliope, battalions of buffoons, wild animals and peerless performers from exotic places has turned his back lot into a wonderland unmatched since the heyday of the Big Top. "What a spectacle!" exclaims Disney. "A treat for the youngsters who have never seen a circus and for their elders who remember it."

Stars of Walt's story about a runaway boy who seeks his fortune with a traveling tent show of 50 years ago are Kevin Corcoran, Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, Bob Sweeney, Richard Eastham, James Drury and Barbara Beaird. Sheldon and Calvin are teamed again as circus performers. Sheldon, who won tv fame as the deaf-mute Bernardo in "Zorro", is both touching and hilarious as Sam Treat, head clown and medic to ailing members of the circus menagerie. Calvin, in his first dramatic role, an about-face from his celebrated buffoonery as clumsy Sgt. Garcia in "Zorro", is seen as Ben Cotter, a king sized, hard muscled, soft-hearted strong man who protects young Toby.

Gene Sheldon and Henry Calvin together again
Mr. Stubbs takes direction like a veteran

Then there's the scene-stealing chimpanzee named Mr. Stubbs. "I think we're going to have a boxoffice chimp, I mean, champ in Mr. Stubbs," predicts director Charles Barton, a veteran of the film scene for more than 30 years. "He's a real swinger. He has everything it takes. Best of all, he has humility. He's perfectly happy working for peanuts." Mr. Stubbs is proving himself a star in the great tradition of "Old Yeller", "Shaggy", "Tonka" and other Disney discoveries. Barton claims that Mr. Stubbs takes direction like a veteran. "He has the intelligence and disposition of a three-year-old child," Barton declares. "After a rehearsal or two he knows the scene backward. Then we get around to doing it forward." "Toby Tyler" is Mr. Stubbs' first movie, although he has appeared in theaters, nightclubs and on television as the youngest member of a monkey act called "Marquis and Family." He belongs to Gene Detroy, a showman who, unlike his protege, has made a fortune in monkey business.

Kevin Corcoran, one of a family of seven movie youngsters, has been called Hollywood's most appealing child star. There is only one way to describe Kevin. He is "all boy." When at the age of six he joined Walt Disney, the pug-nosed moppet was so unprofessional and genuine that Walt dubbed him "the typical American kid." Kevin began his career at the age of two when he played what he calls "little kids" in motion pictures. Before he was four, he had appeared in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "The Glenn Miller Story" and in several television shows. Kevin's greatest ambition always had been to work for Walt Disney. From the beginning he was an ardent fan of the famous Mouseketeers from Disney's "The Mickey Mouse Club". Early in 1956 he auditioned for a part in one of its segments, and Disney chose him to enact "Moochie" in "Adventure in Dairyland."

Kevin Corcoran as Toby Tyler
Jeanette and Toby

Walt was so impressed with Kevin's performance that he had his writers create a special role for the youngster in another Mickey Mouse Club production, "The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty." Once again, Kevin scored a solid hit, so Walt entrusted him with the demanding role of little Arliss Coates, youngest member of a pioneer farming family in "Old Yeller." His second starring role under the Disney banner was in the sensational hit, "The Shaggy Dog." He was teamed again with Tommy Kirk, who played his brother in "Old Yeller." Kevin's performance in the latter led to his starring in "Toby Tyler", a major assignment for one so young.

Fourteen pedigreed circus wagons were rescued from obscurity to parade anew in "Toby Tyler". They were found in back lots and odd corners of the circus world, and were restored to their original elegance by Disney craftsmen. The Swan Bandwagon, Cottage Cage, Shell Tab, Whiskers Wagon, Green Cage, Beauty Wagon and Swan & Faun Wagon are among the illustrious vintage vehicles. The Swan Bandwagon was built for Adam Forepaugh's Circus in 1897 and was paraded in turn by Barnum & Bailey, the Ringling Brothers and Ken Maynard's Circus. Its bandmaster at one time was Harry James' father, and Harry himself rode on it as a child.

Filmed at Golden Oak Ranch
Out at Golden Oak Ranch

Famous Golden Oak Ranch, where the first gold was discovered in California, is the setting for outdoor scenes in "Toby Tyler". Scenes of a far different sort were played there in 1842, when a few yellow flakes found by Francisco Lopez brought hordes of roughneck gold-seekers to the Placerita Canyon site near Newhall. The dell which yielded $80,000 in gold is the backdrop for action in "Toby Tyler". For one of the picture's poignant scenes, Mr. Stubbs is shot by a hunter (James Drury) in a leafy glade dominated by the great oak beneath which Lopez made his strike. The Golden Oak Rancho was bought by Walt Disney Productions in 1959 as a permanent motion picture location. "Toby Tyler" is the first film to be shot there since the purchase.

The rollicking blare of a circus band keynotes the musical score of "Toby Tyler". Original big top tunes for the film were composed by Buddy Baker and orchestrated by Walter Sheets. Ollie Wallace, longtime Disney songsmith and conductor, makes his movie bow as leader of the circus band. "Entry of the Gladiators" and "Blue Danube Waltz," two numbers that mean circus to everybody, are heard during ring performances. The sprightly "Biddle-Dee-Dee," sung by Henry Calvin and played as a travel theme throughout the picture, was written by Diane Lampert and Richard Loring. (Click photo to the right to hear Henry sing!)

Henry sings Biddle-Dee-Dee

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