When, in early-1986, Disney executives decided to change the title of their upcoming animated feature from ‘Basil of Baker Street’ to the less ambiguous ‘The Great Mouse Detective‘, its production team were less than pleased. One animator in particular, Ed Gombert, harnessed his displeasure to comical effect by creating, and circulating, the following: a fake memo purportedly from then-head of department, Peter Schneider, in which he announced the retroactive renaming of Disney’s entire back catalogue, bar The Aristocats, in a similarly bland style.
It was a hit, and in fact such was its popularity that the memo soon reached a very unimpressed Jeff Katzenberg, then-CEO of Disney, who, after questioning an entirely innocent Schneider, tried and failed to uncover the identity of the memo’s creator. To make matters worse, a copy then found its way to the LA Times.
To Disney’s dismay the movie’s name was suddenly on everyone’s lips, albeit for the wrong reasons.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Drawn2gether.
Walt Disney PICTURES
TO: ANIMATION DEPARTMENT
FROM: Peter Schneider EXT: 2630
DATE: February 13, 1986
Along with the new title for “Basil of Baker Street” it has been decided to re-name the entire library of animated classics. The new titles are as follows…
“SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL”
“THE WOODEN BOY WHO BECAME REAL”
“COLOR AND MUSIC”
“THE WONDERFUL ELEPHANT WHO COULD REALLY FLY”
“THE LITTLE DEER WHO GREW UP”
“THE GIRL WITH THE SEE-THROUGH SHOES”
“THE GIRL IN THE IMAGINARY WORLD”
“THE AMAZING FLYING CHILDREN”
“TWO DOGS IN LOVE”
“THE GIRL WHO SEEMED TO DIE”
“PUPPIES TAKEN AWAY”
“THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING”
“A BOY, A BEAR AND A BIG BLACK CAT”
“ROBIN HOOD WITH ANIMALS”
“TWO MICE SAVE A GIRL”
“A FOX AND A HOUND ARE FRIENDS”
“THE EVIL BONEHEAD”
And of course our latest classic destined to win the hearts of the american public…
“THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE”