The 1990’s, like the decades that came before, was filled with it share of historical and cultural events that mark the decade. But since you are reading a blog, I thought I would use this paragraph to highlight the technological aspects of the decade. In particular, Microsoft Windows became the operating system for the IBM PC and in the decade released Windows NT 3.1, Windows 95 and Windows 98. Web browsers, Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, were developed and released allowing for ease in using the Internet. Advances were made in on-line connectivity bringing a drastically increased usage in e-mail and instant messaging. Digital cameras became commercially available and mobile phones virtually replaced the need for pagers. Taken together, this enables us to visit Walt Disney World (or your Disney Park of choice) and chronicle your adventures instantly to others back home.
Oh, and one other item of interest, I remember stepping outside my flat in the Midlands of England in April 1997. For several nights I would look up and marvel at the Hale-Bopp comet. Mark your calendars. The next time we can look up and see this particular comet will be 4385.
In the music world, the Grammy Award for Best Song went to Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler (1990), From a Distance by Bette Midler (1991), Unforgettable by Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole (1992), Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (1993), A Whole New World by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle (1994), Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen (1995), Kiss from a Rose by Seal (1996), Change the World by Eric Clapton (1997), Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin (1998), and My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion (1999). Sadly for us dyed-in-the-wool Beatle fans, not a single former Beatle had a nomination.During the decade, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded to Oscar Hijuelos for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1990), John Updike for Rabbit At Rest (1991), Jane Smiley for A Thousand Acres (1992), Robert Olen Butler for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain(1993), E Annie Proulx for The Shipping News (1994), Carol Shields for The Stone Diaries(1995), Richard Ford for Independence Day (1996), Steven Millhauser for Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (1997), Philip Roth for American Pastoral (1998), and Michael Cunningham for The Hours (1999). One of my favorite writers of history, David McCullough, won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography for Truman in 1993.
In motion pictures, the 90's provided films of epic proportions beginning with the Academy Award winning Dances with Wolves in 1990. This film, I believe, was one of the first that made audiences ask themselves the question, "Do I see this on the big screen or wait for the home video release?" The Michael Blake script/novel demanded being seen on a big screen as many others of that decade did. Other Academy Awards winners for Best Picture were The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Unforgiven (1992), Schindler’s List (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995), The English Patient (1996), Titanic (1997), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and American Beauty (1999).
Disney Animation was experiencing a renaissance; some say a second Golden Age. The studios released its first sequel to an animated feature with The Rescuers Down Under on November 16, 1990. Beauty and the Beast had its general release on November 22, 1991 and captured the hearts of many, becoming the only animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. The score and the original song Beauty and the Beast did win Academy awards. Just over one year later, Disney released Aladdin on November 25, 1992. As Beauty did the previous year, Aladdin won Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Original Song with A Whole New World. Then on June 24, 1994 the county was given The Lion King. The film also won Best Score and Best Original Song Academy Awards. Before we continue, let me just interject that these three films had a combined production budget of $98 million. The worldwide gross of $1,665,242,549.00. A testament to their success and their popularity.
This decade in Disney animation continues with Pocahontas opening to general release on June 23, 1995 following a premier in New York's Central Park on June 16, 1995. The bells of Notre Dame rang with the release of The Hunchback of Notre Dame on June 21, 1996. On June 27, 1997 Hercules taught us that we too can go the distance. Mulan premiered on June 19, 1998 and Tarzan swung into our lives on June 18, 1999 accompanied by a Phil Collins soundtrack, that for me, was incredible. I still crank it up every now and then.
The success of the decade was not limited to the animated film division. In the early 90's, Michael Eisner proclaimed "The Disney Decade". The decade saw the opening of Disneyland Paris (opened as Euro Disney) on April 12, 1992. Construction began on Disney's California Adventure in 1998. The second gate in Paris was originally schedule to open in 1996, but plans were halted until after the Disneyland park financial picture improved. It subsequently went back into development and Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002. A fourth gate in Florida opened on April 22, 1998 with Disney's Animal Kingdom. And it didn't stop with parks. In Walt Disney World alone 10 new hotels were opened adding an estimated 12, 735 rooms to the resort.
Something else was happening about 360 miles north of the Burbank studios in the small city of Emeryville. Pixar, founded in in 1986, was hard at work perfecting its technology and processes. On November 17, 1995 it released Toy Story, and the revolution in computer generated animation was under way. Pixar followed with A Bug's Life on November 25, 1998 and Toy Story II on November 19, 1999. Again, let's do the numbers: three films with a combined production budget of $180 million take in a worldwide gross of $1,210,372,480.00. Not to bad day at the office.
On the sports front, let's end our examination of the decades with football. Specifically with my favorite team, the Tennessee Titans. The Titans were the 1999 AFC Champions and played in Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta. It was arguably one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. With a 1:54 left in the game and down 23-16, the Titans drive the ball to the Rams 10 yard line. Then with :06 left, McNair hits Kevin Dyson at the 3. He is tackled at the 1 with an outstretched arm reaching for the goal line. As a Titans fan, it was heartbreaking. As a football fan, it was an amazing game and what a Super Bowl should be. By the way, that year, Disney produced the half-time show. The theme: Tapestry of Nations.
I hope you have enjoyed our trip back to the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. I may see if I can dig up some concept art for Pop Century Legendary Years and can reach way back and take a look at what was happening in the years between 1900 and 1949.
More to follow...