Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that its readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, Doombuggies.com. After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY: Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009).

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here Comes the Bride, Part Two: "Beating Heart"

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That was her name, or title, I suppose you'd say.  "Beating Heart."  It's on all the blueprints and on the schematics for the figure herself, but somehow it never made its way into public usage.  Oh well.

This and the next post were extensively rewritten in July of 2011 in order to reflect newly discovered evidence for the original Disneyland bride. Further revisions were made in October of 2012 when it was realized that an important photo had been misidentified, and a rare photo of the original WDW bride was added in February of 2013.  Yet another rare photo of the DL bride was added in June of 2013, and still more info came to light in September.

In our last exciting episode, we traced BH's roots from the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall to the red-hearted candle bearer in the attic.  The project had proceeded to scale model phase, and still the attic ghostette wasn't clearly recognizable as a bride.  This final touch to the character was probably added in 1968.  The script for the "Story and Song" album refers to her as a bride, and this script in turn closely follows a '68 show script by X. Atencio.  Whose idea was it to turn this ghost into a bride, anyway?

Ken Anderson makes a modest contribution, early in the process.  He wrote four show scripts in 1957-58 (essentially four; some of them have alternate ideas already included in them).  The first script in particular (Feb '57) is often cited as the beginning of our attic bride.  In it, Beauregard the butler directs our attention to a painting and tells the sad story of Captain Bartholomew Gore (aka Gideon Gorelieu) and his young bride Priscilla.


When Priscilla discovers the horrible truth that her husband is, in fact, a bloodthirsty pirate, he kills her.  Her ghost comes back for vengeance and eventually drives Capt. Gore to suicide.  Now the place is haunted.  Bingo, haunted house.

Okay, that seems clear.  A tragic bride haunting the house, looking for revenge.  Case closed.  They just borrowed an old Ken Anderson idea.  Well, not so fast.  First of all, there's nothing associating Priscilla with the attic, and more importantly, she's a "bride" by definition b, not definition a.  A bride is a woman soon to be wed or recently wed.  The former wears a bridal gown; the latter wears a purple dress (or jeans, or whatevv), like our poor Priscilla.  Aside from the bare fact that she exists not too far distant in time from her wedding day, Pris really has nothing in common with the familiar attic bride of the finished ride.

Which one is naughty and which one is nice?  I'm not telling.

Anderson's other three scripts don't get us any closer to the attic bride.  Two of them do organize the present day's ghostly activities around a wedding feast.  In one, "Monsieur Bogeyman" is planning to marry "Mlle. Vampire," and all kinds of famous spooks and monsters are showing up (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.).  She jilts him at the altar, and things get ugly.  (Truth be told, I'm very thankful that one ended up on the cutting room floor.)  In another, the narrator guides you through the house toward a wedding reception.  It seems the ghosts of the luckless Blood family have been trying to complete the tragically-interrupted marriage plans of one of their daughters, and sure enough, you do eventually see a ghostly wedding banquet of sorts taking place.  Anderson can be credited with the notion that a wedding gone awry would make a good basis for a haunted house, but that's about the extent of his contribution.

What else ya got?

One of Marc Davis's many, many unused ideas for a changing portrait involved a forlorn-looking bride corpsifying before your eyes.

(Artwork ©Disney.  Animated gif by Captain Halfbeard)


One can speculate that Davis liked this concept and tried to think of another way to use it, and *insert light bulb here*, you know what?  That rather fierce-looking attic ghostette would be more mysterious and interesting as a corpse bride.

And so it was.  At last our elusive ghost has donned a wedding gown.

They put Beating Heart in exactly the spot occupied by the maquette figure in the scale model; that is, on the left side, and a little ways to the left of the spot where today there is a ghostly piano (I'm talking DL, of course).  For you young'uns with short memories, her heart glowed red and visibly pumped back and forth, while the sound filled the attic:  Lub dub.  Lub dub.



That's where BH was on opening day, and that's where I remember seeing her on August 14th.  New info: A large plastic sheet (called "nylon 6") was in front of her, stretched from post to post and floor to ceiling, probably with the intent of making her appearance fuzzier.  That too jibes with my memory.  I remember her slowly rocking back and forth in an area that reminded me of a door frame, and she was definitely murky.
She was only there a few weeks tops.  When the (infamous) Hatbox Ghost, which was located near the exit on the right, failed to perform as hoped and was removed, BH was transplanted to his old spot.  There she remained from Aug-Sept 1969 until May 2006, when she jumped the track to the other side and became Constance, that zany hubby-whackin' axe murderer.

What did that original bride look like?  When this little essay was first posted (May 2010), that was still an open question.  On July 14, 2011, the irreplaceable and irrepressible Gorillas Don't Blog posted a photo dated "October 1975," showing the Disneyland bride.  It's unmistakably the model that has come to be known as the "Corpse Bride":


She looks like she means business.  Hey babe, lighten up.


At the time, this was thought to be the first real evidence that this particular model of Beating Heart was once used at Disneyland.  Only a few years earlier a similar photo had surfaced and had been identified by its owner as the original bride at the WDW Mansion when it opened in October of 1971.

(photo by Fred Divel)

As it turns out, that identification was erroneous.  This photo is not of the WDW attic but the DL attic, and it's merely the same figure as in the 1975 photo.  And hold the phone . . . we have yet another update: A photo surfaced in February of 2013 which shows the original WDW bride, and even though it's not a great shot, it's enough to show that WDW also started out with the "Corpse Bride."


  "Long-Forgotten" threadster Michigan Guy has put together an artist's conception of what this baby
looked like in the dark, and based on available evidence I'd say it's pretty accurate.  Kids, hide your eyes!


Here's my conception of what she looked like in the attic at WDW.  I mean it, kids: don't look!


Okay, fine.  Not my fault if you have nightmares.  Where are your parents?

With the discovery of the 1975 photo, one might suppose that Anaheim had this style when it first opened six years earlier.  (Since the second photo of the DL Corpse Bride had long been misidentified as a WDW photo, the 1971 date attached to it cannot be trusted, unfortunately.)  But still, six years is six years, and as a matter of fact, other suggestions about what the original 1969 bride looked like have been offered, so can we be absolutely certain that the 1969 original was the Corpse Bride we see in the 1975 photo?  Well, in June of 2013 we pushed the clock back another three years or so when yet another early photo of the DL bride came to light, this time dating from 1972:


Only three years out from opening day, I'd say the case for this being the original look is looking stronger all the time, but even before this, we had pretty conclusive evidence of it.  It's the eyes.

One day in June of 2011, Disney fan and historian Todd J. Pierce was going through a box of old home movies and photos he had acquired, and there he found a small reel dated August 1969.  To his astonishment, this one-minute film featured a rare glimpse of the Hat Box Ghost, as well as about three seconds of murky footage of the bride, the only known photography of the original bride in her original position.  An edited version of the film was posted at the Disney History Institute on July 9th.  Not much of the bride is visible, but you can see the red heart, beating back and forth, the tip of her glowing candle, and a number of large white smears and smudges.  Occasional details like her hair are visible only in a frame or two here and there.  Here's a GIF with a picture of the Corpse Bride superimposed on a combined still from the newly discovered film.  The candle tips don't line up, because she's holding it at different points in the arc of movement up and down.  With some other bride photos the alignment is exact, so between that and the heart it's possible to place her pretty accurately in the frame.


I've used a Corpse Bride photo for the GIF above, but you can't see her face, and all of the various types of brides throughout the years used the same body, so in truth I could have used any of them.  And as I said, there have been other candidates for the original Anaheim Beating Heart.  First, it has been claimed that this photo is of the original 1969 attic bride:


There are enough idiosyncrasies about it that at least one intelligent observer has argued that it is a pre-opening prototype and not a production figure.  The most glaring problem is the slit-like eyes.  No other bride photo shows anything like that.  Highly suspect.

In fairness, those eyes might be a conservative hold-over from the design you see in the maquette figure, which also has slittish eyes:


Not only that, but as it happens the mechanical design of the lighted eyes would allow for any amount of manipulation of their shape.  You just mask the WALL -E eye box in her head (well, that's what it reminds me of) in any way you think appropriate and get any shape eye you want.


So yeah, I suppose it's theoretically possible that the slit-eyed bride was there as a short-lived experiment, but it's not likely that she was the original.  That claim runs up against the same problem that our second candidate has.  The second candidate is the familiar dark-faced, round-eye version, as in the photo directly above.  She was only replaced in 1995, so she's well-remembered, and there are lots of photos.  For a long time it was assumed that she was the 1969 original.  Could either of these have been the original, and the Corpse Bride a revised version when she was moved into the Hat Box Ghost's old spot?

I think not.  Both the round-eyed, dark-faced version and the slit-eyed version have bright, luminous eyes.  It's the only thing to look at on their faces, after all.  But with the Corpse Bride, the Imagineers would have had good reason to use much dimmer eyes so as not to overwhelm the painted detailing on her face.  That's what happened in the mid-90's when they went to a bride with a visible face: they dimmed the eyes.  Well, one of the striking facts about the new footage of the original bride is that her eyes are not visible, with the exception of one frame near the very end of the sequence (as best I can tell).


Her red heart is plainly visible, and even her candle tip can be seen most of the time.  If this were either the round-eyed, dark-faced version or the slit-eyed version, one would expect to see the luminous eyes in more than one frame!  Only the Corpse Bride makes sense.

For what it's worth, we can also compare the CB with our earliest known photo of the bride.  That would be a fleeting glimpse of her in the background of a scene from the March 1970 Disneyland Showtime episode, which featured the Osmond brothers and showcased the new Haunted Mansion.  The program was filmed in January or February of that year, so we're mere months past opening day.  If we shrink the 1975 CB photo down, blur it, and fade it, so as to have a fair comparison, I think it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Osmonds bride, but you can judge for yourself.  That's 1970 on the left, 1975 on the right.


Exactly when the Corpse Bride was replaced is not known, neither for DL, nor for her twin at WDW.  Based on what evidence I have, the latest possible date would be the late 80's, but that's probably way too late.  A better guess would be the late 70's.

Next up:  Ol' Round Eyes and the "middle" brides.


13 comments:

  1. I'd bring back old Beatin' Heart, Hatty, and some blast-up heads and move the wedding pictures to the Corridor of Doors. I'd also lose the piano.

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  2. Very good post, as usual, and great visual accompaniments....thank you!

    I can see making a compromise, actually, since they want new tech these days at Disneyland. Keep her a projection, but make her silent and put the veil back over face, just glowering at guests. Without the really fake arm movement projection, she might not look half bad. I think can keep the piano tune, actually, but re-install the pop-up heads and their shrieks over the discordant music, and you'd have quite a nice bit of atmosphere to the scene.

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  3. As much as I am amused by "Constance", I'd love the return of the original beating heart bride.

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  4. You know, I look forward to the new Haunted Mansion movie. I hope more than anything that it will be good, and that it won't force too much of a story on existing characters in the Mansion.

    But what really interests me about the movie is that Del Toro said it will largely focus on Hat Box Ghost, and there are rumors that the HBG might return to the HM. At this point, I think it's wishful thinking by fans, but you never know, perhaps we could see HBG return to the Mansion, which would really bring the attic back closer to the original, and perhaps, at the very least a bit of a touch up on the tech on Constance, if not a bit of a change.

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  5. As a 6 year old kid, there was nothing more disturbing, confusing and frightening in the whole mansion than round eyes beating heart bride.(1981?)

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  6. Good. Yeah, if that date holds, we've got 1981 as the latest possible date that Roundy debuted.

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  7. Does anyone know if the attic swirling bats were ever part of WDW's attic scene? I've ridden the ride prior to the Constance make-over and I don't recall seeing the attic bats. I know Disneyland had the attic bats. What year were the attic flying bats removed?

    I personally don't care for the grisly Constance comic whacho murder style and don't think the scene fits the rest of the ride. I hope both Disneyland and Disney World will return to one of the glowing brides. It seems the 2003 Haunted Mansion movie with Eddy Murphy brought on the attic changes or perhaps the Phantom Manor of Paris. Thanks for all the wonderful photos of the ATTIC BRIDES here in Long-Forgotten. I hope the ATTIC BATS question finds a suitable answer from anyone who reads my comments here.

    Sincerely,

    Bill

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  8. The bats were definitely there at WDW, just as they were at DL. In both cases they were there from opening day until Constance moved in.

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  9. Thanks for the info on the bats. I don't know how I missed seeing them at WDW. Do you have any photos of the attic bats either at WDW or DL?
    I love would to see some photos of them as with the brides? I wonder what who made the decision to add Constance? People seem to like that or not like that. I'm one for bringing back the older brides and pop up ghosts and the bats.

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  10. There's a photo of the WDW bats in this post:
    http://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2010/05/here-comes-bride-and-long-way-it-was.html

    Here's another:
    http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y32/danolson/secrets_attic_bats.jpg

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  11. The "slit eye" bride was in WDW for a while in the mid to late 80's I remember seeing it there as a kid

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  12. I remember going to disneyland on 2004, and seeing a no-face eyes only bride with really bright eyes and a veil covering her face. I remember her clearly because of two reasons: One being I was used to the uncovered face bride and second because I believe the next year or 2006 got constance and a whole new attic. I really miss the pop-up ghosts, they were really creepy in the attic, unlike the graveyard ones.

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