This Chip and Dale Dancing Mickey Mouse Club Disney Original Production Cel from the early 60s captures the charm of the duo central to why they are so beloved.
Chip and Dale (also rendered as Chip 'n' Dale or Chip an' Dale) are two chipmunk cartoon characters created at Walt Disney Productions in 1943. Their names are a pun based on the name of the famous 18th-century cabinet maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale. This was suggested by Bill "Tex" Henson, a story artist at the studio.
Of the two, Chip is portrayed as being safe, focused, and having a mind for logical scheming. Dale, by contrast, is more laid-back, dim-witted, and impulsive, and has a very strong sense of humor. Originally the two had a very similar appearance, but as a way to tell them apart, some differences were introduced: Chip has a small black nose (which somewhat resembles a chocolate "chip", as befitting his name) and two centered protruding teeth, whereas Dale has a large dark red nose and his prominent canine teeth showing. Chip is also depicted as having smooth hair on top of his head while Dale's tends to be ruffled.
In most cartoons, they are antagonists against Pluto, Mickey Mouse, or most often, Donald Duck. They were given their own series in the 1950s, but only three cartoons resulted under their name: Chicken in the Rough (1951), Two Chips and a Miss (1952) and The Lone Chipmunks (1954).
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1961–1969)
Although the basic format remained the same, the series moved to NBC on September 24, 1961, to take advantage of that network's ability to broadcast programming in color. In addition, Walt Disney's relationship with ABC had soured as the network resisted selling its stake in the theme park before doing so in 1960. In a display of foresight, Disney had filmed many of the earlier shows in color, allowing them to easily be repeated on NBC; since all but three of Disney's feature-length films were also made in color (the three black-and-white exceptions were The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, and Son of Flubber, all family comedies starring Fred MacMurray), they could now also be telecast in that format.
To emphasize the new feature, the series was retitled Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when NBC began airing it, retaining that moniker until 1969, by which time the big three networks were all broadcasting in color. The first NBC episode even dealt with the principles of color, as explained by a new character named Ludwig Von Drake (voiced by Paul Frees), a bumbling professor with a thick German accent, who was the uncle of Donald Duck. Von Drake was the first Disney character created specifically for television.
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, 12 years after the anthology series premiered. While the broadcast that aired three days after his death featured a memorial tribute from Huntley-Brinkley Report anchor Chet Huntley with film and television star Dick Van Dyke, the introductions that Walt already filmed prior to his death continued to air for the remainder of the season. After that, the studio decided that Walt's persona as host was such a key part of the show's appeal to viewers that the host segment was dropped.