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Monday, July 31, 2017

The 1972 "Disney on Parade" Tour and Patrick Swayze

This article is the third in a series.

The first article is titled Patrick Swayze's Unknown Son.

The second article is titled The Whittle Family of Morgan County, Missouri.

The fourth article is titled Patrick Swayze met Bonnie Kay Whittle in April 1972.

The fifth article is titled No More News About Jason Whittle

The sixth article is titled A Comment from the Son of Jason Whittle

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In 1972, when Patrick Swayze was 20 years old, he got a 15-year-old girl named Bonnie Kay Whittle pregnant. She lived near Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. In 1973, she gave birth to a boy, Jason Whittle, who now is 44 years old. It seems likely that Swayze, who died in 2009, never knew anything at all about Jason Whittle.

I no longer will use the word "alleged", because a couple of comments on the first article confirmed Globe's article to my satisfaction.

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As a high-school student, Swayze participated in his mother's dance school and in high-school athletics. He injured his knee in a football game. He enrolled in college and participated on the gymnastics team. His knee injury still bothered him. After one year of college, he dropped out when he was hired as a dancer for the Disney on Parade show. He toured with this show throughout the USA during 1972.

During that year -- he wrote later in his autobiography Time of My Life - he was sexually promiscuous. During that year, he got Bonnie Kay Whittle pregnant in Missouri. When he returned to his home in Houston, Texas, in late 1972, he soon became involved exclusively with his (until then) platonic girlfriend Lisa.

After the 1972 tour, Swayze quit the Disney on Parade show and moved to New York City to study and work as a dancer. Soon his girlfriend Lisa joined him there, and they married in 1975. They remained married -- and it seems that he remained faithful to her -- until his death in 2009.

It seems from the autobiography that both Patrick and Lisa had troublesome personalities (don't we all?). For example, he suffered from alcoholism and she suffered from depression. Each partner in the marriage needed the other to cope. They shared a passion for art and, in particular, for dance.

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The year 1972 was an aberration in Swayze's life. He turned 20 in the middle -- August 18 -- of that year. Until he joined Disney on Parade, he had lived at home and had participated constantly in the dance school run by his mother, who raised him as a devout Roman Catholic. He had attended school and church dutifully although not enthusiastically.

On the tour, he was away from home, along with a large number of other traveling young people who were artistic and physically fit. Most of his fellow male dancers (he wrote later in his autobiography) were homosexual, and so he enjoyed easy success engaging sexually with the female dancers. Through this success, he developed his confidence as a pickup artist and improved his skills in seducing young women.

Despite his sexual success, Swayze recognized his own personal faults. He felt ashamed that other people perceived him correctly to be an egotistical, superficial braggart. He felt challenged by women his own age who were sarcastic and worldly. Therefore he involved himself with girls who were significantly younger and unsophisticated.

Swayze felt also that his aspiration to become a professional dancer was doomed by his knee injury. At every city in the tour, he had to go to a hospital to drain excess fluid from his painful knee.

In general, Swayze had trouble contemplating his future family, professional and religious life.

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I was not able to find a video of the 1972 tour of Disney on Parade, but I found the following videos of the 1971 and 1973 shows.


The following video of the 1971 show demonstrates the dancers' skills.


The following video shows the 1973 show.


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During 1972, Disney on Parade performed twice in Missouri -- in Saint Louis during January 25-30 and in Kansas City during May 16-21.

A booklet sold to the 1972 audiences
On January 9, a couple weeks before the Saint Louis show, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper published the following preview:
"Disney on Parade" Coming

The 1972 edition of "Disney on Parade," the spectacle using live action to portray the famous Walt Disney animated characters of films, will come to the Arena Tuesday, January 25 for a run through Sunday, January 30.

Mickey Mouse will be featured in "Mickey's Review" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Other production numbers will be "Sleeping Beauty," "Winnie the Pooh," "The Aristocrats" and "The Three Caballeros," plus special acts featuring such characters as Donald Duck, Goofy, Clara Duck and many others.

Motion picture clips projected on a massive screen 56 feet side hung at the south end of the Arena will introduce the live action on the specially designed stage. Lavish settings and costumes will be used. In "Sleeping Beauty," the princess will waltz with the prince in a shimming gown with 800 tiny light bulbs glowing through the sheer material.

The ingenious makeup will include latex masks for many of the characters. The Love Bug, the small car with personality and a voice made famous in the Disney live action comedy, "The Love Bug," will return, this time with his whole family of tiny cars.

Donald Duck will get himself into exasperating situations and try to squawk his way out of them, as with the Three Caballeros, and in "Winnie the Pooh," the whimsical little bear and his companions, Eeyore, Tiger and Piglet, will celebrate his birthday as he stuffs himself with too much honey and gets a severe case of Hefffalumps and Woozles.

The two-and-a-half-hour show aimed at the small fry will start at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with additional matinees at noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 and 6 p.m. on Sunday. ....
The show scheduled to take place in Kansas City in May was advertised in the local newspapers.

A newspaper advertisement for the "Disney on Parade"
performances in Kansas City, MO, during May 16-21, 1972
On May 17, 1972, the Kansas City Times newspaper published a review of the opening show.
Music in Mid-America

by Glenda-Jo Self

Municipal Auditorium hadn't been so filled with children in years as it was last night for the opening of the 1972 edition of Disney on Parade, a 2½-hour show that brings to life 300 Disney characters.

The Disney touch is evident throughout the lavish production, which features elaborate costumes and sets skillfully charged to eliminate a lag in the action.

The big hit of last year's show, Herbie the Love Bug (a smitten Volkswagen), is back this year with family in tow -- complete with a miniature copy sporting Mickey Mouse ears (what else?) and doing as good a job as ol' Dad in out-thinking Goofy, the policeman.

The circus element is woven throughout the program. The lavish last act, "The Three Caballeros," features a knife-wielding duo in a balancing act.

It's a difficult job to produce the 2½-hour show with interest both for preschoolers and their parents, but fast changes between the rough-and-tumble action of Clara Cluck, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow and the more refined dancing of Sleeping Beauty and the residents of Baia in "The Three Caballeros" keeps both audiences entertained.

There's as much to see from the highest seat under the rafters as there is from a first-row chair. Many acts, such as Goofy and Herbie in "Three's a Family," are better from a higher level.

Again this year the finale is based on the theme "It's a Small World" -- a parade of characters that brings actors and their young audience into hand-to-hand contact as Mickey, Mouse, Donald Duck and friends circle the stage greeting the audience.

An equally large audience through Sunday's performance would allow many more Kansas City youngsters the chance to meet their Sunday-night friends in person -- and that's what Disney is all about.
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The one-way drive to Saint Louis from the Stover area, where Bonnie Kay Whittle lived, was at least three hours. The one-way drive to Kansas City was at least two hours.

Bonnie Kay was one of seven children, and her father was a "self-employed tree trimmer and log buyer". For sure, the Whittle parents could not afford to take their seven children to watch the show in either city.

The Whittle family did not travel to Disney on Parade. Rather, Disney on Parade traveled to the Whittle family.

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More than one Disney on Parade troupe toured in the USA. For example, during May 9 - 14, the show was performed in Charleston, West Virginia and in Houston, Texas. Because of the multiplicity of troupes, I was not able to determine how long Swayze's troupe stayed in Kansas City. I also could not determine where his troupe performed before and after Kansas City.

Disney on Parade performed in Kansas City from Tuesday, May 16, through Sunday, May 21. That was six of the seven days of that week. Either the preceding or the following week must have been relatively free time for the troupe. A troupe of such a large size, with so much equipment, needed more than one day to travel to another city and prepare the following performances. Maybe there always was one non-performance week between performance weeks.

I am guessing that the troupe was basically free for rest and relaxation for several days -- let's say an entire week -- following Sunday, May 21. Because the following weekend was the Memorial Day weekend, perhaps no performances were scheduled for that weekend.

During such a break in the tour schedule, members of the troupe might have traveled the two hours from Kansas City to the Lake of the Ozarks. When the whole troupe traveled, it must have done so in chartered buses. If just some of the group traveled there, they could have done so in commercial buses (e.g. Greyhound) or in rented or borrowed cars.

At Lake of the Ozarks they could rent some cheap rooms and enjoy the many recreational opportunities there. A list tourist attractions at the present time is provided at this webpage.

Bonnie Kay Whittle's family lived not far from the Lake of the Ozarks area. Perhaps she met Patrick Swayze while he visited that area during the weekend of May 27-28, 1972. If so, then Jason Whittle would have been born at about the end of February 1973.

Since I do not know when Jason was born, I can only guess now about when Patrick and Bonnie Kay met. Once I know the birth date, I will be able to search through old newspapers to determine the whereabouts of Disney on Parade performances around the correct time.

Since Bonnie Kay was only 15 years old, she should have been attending school on weekdays (unless she had dropped out). Therefore, she would have met Patrick during a weekend. The Globe article indicated that she spent only one night with him.

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