Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that 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, After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014; 2nd ed. 2016).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Captain Gore Lives

. . . But only by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin.

This is a lightweight followup to the previous post, more a case of fun speculation than sober historical inquiry. But as long as we stipulate that right at the beginning, it's no harm, no foul.

Now that we have learned anew that the ultimate roots of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are intertwined, it may be of interest to note that both Ken Anderson and Marc Davis invoked the ghost of a real pirate, Captain Bartholomew Roberts, while working on their respective projects.

You can read up on Roberts here if you don't know much about him. If his name is not as instantly familiar as Blackbeard's or Captain Kidd's, it's probably because Roberts makes few appearances in classic books and movies, the seedbeds of pop culture. Objectively speaking, however, Roberts was arguably the single most successful pirate of the 17th-18th century "golden age of piracy." Pirate aficionados, of course, know all about him, and he does get a belated (if obscure) notice in The Princess Bride, where the "dread pirate Roberts" is clearly a nod to Captain B.

As we were reminded last time, Ken Anderson's first backstory attempt for what would eventually be the Haunted Mansion assigned ownership of the house to "Captain Bartholomew Gore," whose nickname in his alter-ego existence as a pirate was "Black Bart." That was also Bartholomew Roberts' nickname, so there is no doubt that Roberts served as the immediate inspiration for Gore.

Since 2011 there has been a tombstone for Gore at the WDW Mansion, the only visible trace of the character . . . or IS IT??? *low breathy voice*

Flash forward five years, from 1957 to 1962. We look at Marc Davis's desk and see preliminary plans for a pirate attraction at Disneyland. Originally, it was going to be a walk-thru wax museum featuring real-world pirates, including Bartholomew Roberts.

At one point Davis intended to give him a prominent position in the attraction, placing him in a captain's cabin scene. Oddly, Davis gives
his nickname as "Black Barty." Marc may have been inspired here by the nickname as it appears in Welsh, Barti Ddu. (Roberts was Welsh.)

In similar fashion, Anderson may have changed the name of his Captain Gore from "Black Bart" to "Blackbeard." That's Gore's pirate name in the backstory summary found in Mumford and Gordon's The Nickel Tour (Camphor Tree Pub: 2000; p 262). However, one suspects that this may simply be an error. At any rate, it is curious that at least one and maybe both of these Imagineers saw fit to alter the name "Black Bart." Perhaps this was done in order to avoid any potential confusion with the western villain Black Bart, who was already prancing around the streets of Frontierland in 1957 and noisily shooting it out with the good guys.

Hair of the (Sea)Dog

The first question before us today is whether Marc's "Black Barty" owes anything to Ken's Captain Gore as an inspiration. That would be a fun connection, no? It all comes down to a singular coincidence and what you choose to make of it.

Ken Anderson painted his Captain Gore at least twice . . .

. . . and it will be noted that one of his most conspicuous features is his flaming red hair (actually orange), including a pointed red beard. As it happens, Marc Davis's "Black Barty" version of Bartholomew Roberts also has a pointed red beard.

Forgottenistas, this is going to be one of those cases where the journey is far more interesting than the destination. The goal is to determine whether Davis could have gotten his orange beard for Roberts somewhere other than in Anderson's earlier reimagining of the same pirate. The first and simplest option is to put it down to sheer coincidence, which is certainly possible, and in that case, sadly, the post is over for you.

Take care, and godspeed.

Turning now to the rest of you, what we need to find out is whether Roberts did indeed have a red beard or at least was commonly depicted as having one. If he did, then it's a case of Marc and Ken simply taking their visual cues from a common source. At this point Davis was still in the "famous pirates of history" mode and would likely have done some research into Roberts before coming up with his own rendition, however "cartoony."

In every depiction of Roberts old enough to be taken seriously as possibly reflective of his actual appearance, he's clean shaven:

One modern depiction does give him a handlebar mustache . . .

. . . and that only goes to show that the artist really did his homework. Like many other
pirates, Roberts had his own custom-designed flag, and it shows him clean shaven:

But in a later flag (he had two), he has sprouted a mustache. Kudos to the stamp artist for picking up on it.

(Before you ask; they stand for "A Barbadian's Head" and "A Martiniquian's Head")

In another illustration far too late to be taken seriously as a historically accurate portrait, Roberts has facial hair . . .

. . . and the only reason to bring it in here is because I'm almost certain Davis was inspired by it. Look closely:

The similarity is not in the design (obviously) but in the color palette. Look at those deep yellows, those browns. Look at the blue-and-yellow highlights on the sleeves of Davis's pirate and the blue-and-yellow highlights on the other pirate's upper sleeves and pants. Green-gray cannons. The pink-and-red of the sash on the one side and the headscarf on the other. The hats! Look at the hats. We've known for a long time that Davis borrowed freely from sources uncovered during his researches . . .

. . . but this is the first time I've noticed him borrowing a color palette and little else. (See, I told you the journey was more fun than the goal.) It is interesting, then, that he rejected the dark beard in favor of a red one.

The best-known portrait of Roberts is a copper engraving by Benjamin Cole that appeared in Charles Johnson's A History of the Pyrates (1724), which is THE historical source for much of what we know about the "golden age."

Disney artist Bruce Bushman obviously drew heavily from Cole in his rendition of Roberts:

The engraving is not colored, but in the many reprintings of the book and of Cole's illustration, publishers felt free to add color. Roberts is almost certainly depicted with a wig in Cole's engraving, and so his "hair" should almost certainly be seen here as white (as in Bushman's painting); nevertheless, later publishers of Pyrates did not shrink from imagining more interesting hues:

As you can see, in at least one edition of Pyrates, Roberts has reddish hair, and it could be this popular reprint that gave Davis (and possibly even Anderson) the notion of depicting Roberts with hair that shade.

But even if we allow that, it still leaves the beard unexplained. What seems safe to say is that Davis did not pick up the pointed red beard from his research into the historical Roberts. He either (1) came up with it on his own, or he (2) picked it up consciously or unconsciously from Anderson's version of Roberts in the person of Captain Gore.

There, now you have the evidence. Decide for yourself.

Incidentally, Davis's Bartholomew Roberts design had an interesting afterlife. Recast as a generic pirate, he went into a painting that became the cover of the famous POTC souvenir book:

But before that he had already been reimagined as one of the ride's most popular characters: the Auctioneer!

En route to the final audio-animatronic figure, the beard's garish orange was darkened and toned down a bit, but make no mistake: it's still red. And pointed. Quaint and curious it is, to think that here of all places may be the only surviving token of Ken Anderson's murderous sea captain, the abominable Bartholomew Gore.

Pirate at Table

In the previous post we discussed the tableau in Anderson's oldest Ghost House in which we find Gore as "Pirate at Table," holding some sort of document. I suggested it was a treasure map.

For what it's worth, Marc Davis was firmly committed to the concept of a pirate or pirates
huddled over a treasure map. Over and over he drew it as part of his pirate museum walk-thru.

This tableau is present in all three of Davis's layout maps of
the attraction, most clearly seen in the second of the three:

Meanwhile, the original walk-thru plans provided for a peek into the "Captain's Cabin" of a pirate ship:

Bruce Bushman, in a concept painting from which we have already borrowed,
apparently conceived of this scene as a sort of wax-museum tableau of famous pirates:

But we know that Marc was going to give Bartholomew Roberts more of a starring role here. What would he have been doing, one wonders? Of course, a "Captain's Quarters" scene did make it into the final attraction, featuring a single skeletal pirate diligently studying his treasure map.

Hmmm. If there is any genetic linkage between this scene and Anderson's "pirate at table," the evidence we need to prove it is not available. In the end, it's just fun to think about it and wonder, and in the end, do we require any more than that?



  1. Loved this, and loved your zinger (which I'm quoting over at Abecedarian tomorrow).

  2. Wow! The Auctioneer has a name, and an infamous one at that! Thanks HGB2!

  3. I have always thought that they should seque at the end of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie into a setup for a Haunted Mansion sequel. Alas, so far nothing.

  4. Got me doing lots of thinkin’…all this connection between Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

    - as ever, this may all come up again later on the blog. I’m reading every word from the start till this point, in late 2022. Apologies if this is old news now -

    Down the rabbit hole I fell…
    When did Disney decide to move the mansion from an eastern corner of New Orleans (about where Riverbelle Terrace is) to the far western edge of their new mega-pirates-project? That plan would have probably included the decision to tear down the Plantation House restaurant complex instead of including it as seen in early HM renderings. Was this when they covered over the river connecting Rivers of America to the jungle waterways? SFR treehouse opened in 1962, so that has to figure in here somehow. The first Magnolia park, about where the blue lagoon is now, was going to be replaced one way or another; is this when the wandering Gazebo got the final heave-ho to Rogers Gardens?
    They may have put in all the ‘wrong’ steel around all this time. … which begs an other set of questions (besides swapping the water ride concept from Mansion to Pirates):
    The HM facade was famously finished in 1963. This must have necessitated moving the Native encampments and Canoes far further west, opening up more river frontage. Did the Indian dance circle more to the far side of a new berm at this time? (You used to walk through a tunnel to get there, but it went away after Bear Country).
    So an empty facade was the big draw for this huge section of park from 1963? What about everything to its east? The riverfront did not progress in a westward fashion, as the whole of New Orleans Square would not open until 1966 (Walt Disney’s last grand opening), finally filling in the space over to the Mansion columns. The Pirates ride itself opens in 1967. So just what was along ALL that area for 3 years? Would people really walk along construction walls all that way just to see a long delayed, disconnected attraction building? (The dance circle beyond it was fun, but losing its audience by then.)
    I’m going to guess that new Magnolia park was ready pretty early, as perhaps facilitating the relocated Frontierland train station. That still leaves a lot of dead space around the new Square for a long time (…while WED was busy in New York), with a small fountain and hollow building as the only things worth seeing for quite a while. The all important restrooms in the area were probably not even there yet.

    Point here, it was all an absolutely massive project with a lot of literally moving pieces, Outside the Mansion.
    And to think remodeling on this scale was happening over in Tomorrowland in the same time frame.

    1. They had already cleared the area and done preliminary work on the HM bldg site in 1961. They've bulged the tracks outward more than once, actually. When you go through the front gate into the HM front yard, that strip of grass on the right side of the walkway is about where the original RR tracks ran. After the building was up, you would walk past it, through a short tunnel, into Indian Village.

  5. 1961. So we can get the idea here that after 1959’s “Disneyland Second Grand Opening”, Walt was ready to tackle the Haunted house idea in a Really BIG way.

    Disneyland was a serious $uccess now (having beaten back Pacific Ocean Park/ CBS network threat with the Matterhorn/Subs/Monorail whammy). The next step was to now build up that New Orleans flavor that Disney always saw over there, but actually wasn’t much. (This is where I’d love to learn more) Someone, maybe a Marvin Davis type comes up with a ‘master plan’ for Disneyland west side? As theorized; Plantation out, Treehouse in - Smoothed over water into New Orleans. Haunted house is the main idea, move it way over here.

    Walt’s life has hit the stratosphere… he buys an airplane. Planning to build a CITY. In Florida. Spends plenty time enjoying New Orleans. Flys over Porto Rico and gets some more Pirates idea…a topic he already has played with many times. Several other inspirations in this vein are well, flowing.

    Walt Disney has many ideas and little time. He must feel/ have said something along the lines of ‘just get building it, we’ll figure it out soon’. So the whole area got the infrastructure it would need for years of expansion, now. The handsome Mansion would work as a nice weenie, beckoning a promise of intrigue across not just space - around the river, but across time - quite literally and thematically! Geniuses at play people.