Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Uncle Beazley

As another winter storm bears down on Indiana, I feel for poor old Uncle Beazley, the subject in this 1977 photograph shared by the Smithsonian Institution on their Flickr photostream.

Uncle Beazley in the Snow
Image courtesy the Smithsonian Institution, via flickr.

Uncle Beazley has led quite the picaresque life for a fiberglass archosaur. He's even been an actor. In 1968, NBC aired an episode of "NBC's Children's Theater" called The Enormous Egg. It was an adaptation of Oliver Butterworth's 1956 children's story, in which a 12 year old farm boy's life is made a bit more interesting when one of his chickens lays a Triceratops egg. The dinosaur is played by Uncle Beazley, and as F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre writes in a wonderfully thorough review,
The most interesting thing in this TV adaptation is, of course, the triceratops. 'The Enormous Egg' could be sub-titled 'The Microscopic Production Budget'. I think they spent about 29 cents on the dinosaur ... and yet all of the dinosaur sequences are very impressively done. The triceratops in this film is 'played' by a huge dinosaur-shaped piece of moulded fibreglass which does NOT have articulated limbs, so the individual portions of the triceratops cannot move separately. The thing is like a child's toy plastic dinosaur (all in one piece) except that it's life-size.
I haven't found any video of it, unfortunately. The review also mentions that Uncle Beazley is one of the Sinclair dinosaurs from the New York World's fair.

Sinclair Dinoland - New York World's Fair 1964-1965
Image from Jordan Smith, via Flickr. There's Uncle Beazley in the center of the exhibit.

Garland Pollard of BrandLandUSA confirms that he is indeed from the World's Fair. The fate of the dinosaur models from the various world's fairs is something I'm pretty interested in, and it's really cool that Uncle Beazley has survived, now residing at the National Zoo, while his brethren enjoy a Texas retirement.

Triceratops Statue - National Zoo - Washington, DC
Uncle Beazley at the National Zoo. Photo by Mo Kaiwen, via flickr.

7 comments:

  1. Good old Uncle Beazley. He is looking remarkably well for his age, and seems to be keeping "Lemur Island" (at which he stares from across the walkway) in check.

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  2. Not only was the dinosaur in the TV version of The Enormous Egg PLAYED by our favorite fiberglass Uncle Beazley, Uncle Beazley takes his name FROM the book - as I recall.

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  3. If one of the lemurs at the zoo is named Oliver Butterworth, I might flip my lid!

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  4. HEY! I am randomqueen (as stated below) and I love your blog! I am a huge dinosaur fan (future paleontologist) and it's always nice to see blogs about dinosaurs. I feel that they don't get appreciated enough. My blog is epitomerandom.blogspot.com; feel free to comment or follow! Thanks again and keep up the good work!

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  5. @David2 - doublechecked the name in the book, and you're right! Someone at Sinclair must have loved that book.

    @Random - Glad you found it! I saw a few comments pop up today. I checked out your blog, and hope I run into the Hannah Montana clown sometime.

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  6. Unfortunately, there is no Oliver Butterworth at the SNZP. But the next time one is born, and they have a naming contest, I know what I'll recommend!

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  7. If I ever get another pet, I'm not only naming it Oliver Butterworth, I'm giving it a title. Do I go military, like "Admiral" or royal like "Lord?"

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