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July 7

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July 7, 1898 – Publisher and Disney Legend Paul Winkler is Born

“When it comes to comic books published in France, Paul started it all.” – Roy E. Disney

On July 7, 1898, Paul Winker was born in Budapest, Hungary. After graduating from the University of Amsterdam, he moved to Paris, France, and opened a press agency called Opera Mundi; this agency sold articles to newspapers all across Western Europe. Eager to bring the popular Mickey Mouse to French audiences, Winkler was able to sell King Features comic strips to the French press, and developed the first French Mickey Mouse comic magazine, Le Journal de Mickey, in 1934. At its prime, the magazine boasted a circulation of 400,000. In 1940, after Paris was invaded by Nazi troops, Winkler and his family emigrated to New York, where he then opened the Press Alliance, which featured articles from the top writers of the era. Winkler also became a foreign political columnist for the Washington Post, and co-wrote anti-Nazi books with his wife, including Paris Underground, which became a film in 1945. After World War II ended, Winkler returned to France and moved back into Disney publishing ventures, including the comic book Hardi, Presente Donald in 1947, and the reissue of Le Journal de Mickey in 1952, which sold over 650,000 copies a week. Winkler passed away on September 23, 1982, in Melun, France. For his efforts in bringing Mickey Mouse comics to France, he was posthumously awarded as a Disney Legend in 1997.

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May 18

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May 18, 1910 – Artist, Imagineer, and Disney Legend Dorothea Redmond is Born

“A Dorothea Redmond watercolor painting is a wonder to behold.” – Stacia Martin, Disney artist and historian

On May 18, 1910, artist Dorothea Holt Redmond was born in Los Angeles, California, and would receive her degree in interior design from the USC School of Architecture. Afterwards, she attended the Art Center College and got a degree in illustration. In 1938, she was hired by Selznick International Pictures, contributing her skills to such films as The Young in Heart and Gone With the Wind, and was considered one of the most talented illustrators in the business. She left to work at an architectural firm, and in 1964, she joined WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). Her first project was to transform Disneyland’s Red Wagon Inn to the more upscale Plaza Inn, which would go on to become Walt’s favorite place to bring guests. Her other big project was to create the interior paintings for the Royal Suite, which was a hideaway for the Disney family (its location, above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, is now known as the Dream Suite). Redmond did a multitude of work for Walt Disney World, working prolifically on Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Main Street. Her most well-known work is for the murals covering the passage through Cinderella’s Castle, which were replicated in Tokyo Disneyland almost ten years later. After ten years at Disney, Redmond retired. She was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2008. She passed away on February 27, 2009.

April 2

April 2, 1899 – Sound and Camera Pioneer and Disney Legend Bill Garity is Born

“With his pioneering efforts in sound and camera techniques, he helped set Disney Studios apart from others, while his planning and supervisory expertise resulted in the building of a highly efficient Studio in Burbank.” – Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus, Dave Smith

On April 2, 1899, Bill Garity was born in Brooklyn, New York. After attending the Pratt Institute of Art in New York, he served with the Radio Research and Development sector of the U.S. Signal Corps during World War I. His work in radio continued to flourish when, after the war, he met and worked with Lee DeForest, a pioneer in the field of radio. The pair would work on the development of sound for the earliest films. As Garity was working on the Cinephone motion picture recording system in 1928, he met a young Walt Disney, who was hoping to elevate the animated art form. With Garity’s help, Steamboat Willie became a hit for the fledgling Disney Studios, and Disney bought the Cinephone system with an offer for Garity to come out to Hollywood to install it and train a technician to operate it. Garity officially joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1929 and stayed with the company for over 13 years, leading a department of 18 engineers. At Disney, Garity was instrumental in creating such innovations such as the multiplane camera, which earned the studio an Academy Award in the Scientific and Technical category; the team also invented Fantasound, a unique stereo system that was installed in theaters specifically for the animated feature film Fantasia. Garity left the studio in 1940 to pursue other technical ventures, and ended up serving as the vice president and production manager for the Walter Lantz Studios. He passed away on September 16, 1971, in Los Angeles California. For his groundbreaking technical expertise and ability to help Walt achieve his dream of the elevated animated film, Garity was posthumously honored as a Disney Legend in 1999.

January 13

January 13, 1927 – President of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A and Disney Legend Antonio Bertini is Born

“There is always a market. There is never a problem when you give a good product at the right price. And Disney is a very good product.”

On January 13, 1927, Antonio Bertini was born in Milan, Italy. He attended the University of Pavia, and while there he explored market research, a concept that was unfamiliar in Italy at the time, and eventually graduated with a Ph.D. in political science in 1955. Soon after, he joined the Lever Brothers company in Milan as a planning officer, putting his skills to use as he coordinated the operating, marketing, and publicity of the company’s four Italian factories. He joined Walt Disney Productions in 1960, after answering an anonymous ad in a newspaper, as the assistance to Major John William Holmes, the Italian sales representative. Bertini had almost immediate success; he was able to negotiate several new contracts with Italian licensees to create Disney-themed projects, ranging from toys to housewares, and was subsequently promoted to sales manager a year later. At the same time, Bertini was also asked to join the Board of Directors, and after another stellar year, Roy O. Disney personally named Bertini the president of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A. Bertini continued to expand Disney influence in Italy through the 1960s and 1970s, creating educational films for the country and creating over a $1 million in revenue; this success helped lead the way for Disney’s eventual success in the home video market through the 1980s. Bertini was also instrumental in creating a booming publishing division in Italy for the Disney books, comics, and magazines, rather than licensing out the characters to other publishers. After 30 years with the company, Bertini retired from Disney in 1990; he was honored as a Disney Legend in the category of Disney Consumer Products in 1997.

September 2

September 2, 1919 – Actress, Dancer, and Disney Legend Marge Champion is Born

“The atmosphere was like a giant high school or college, as far as I was concerned. Mr. Disney, for me, was like a very friendly head principal.”

On September 2, 1919, Marge Champion, born as Marjorie Celeste Belcher, was born in Los Angeles, California. Champion had a talent for dancing at an early age, and trained under her father, Ernest Belcher, who was a noted ballet coach that taught the likes of Cyd Charisse and Shirley Temple. At the age of twelve, Champion was a ballet teacher in her own right at her father’s studio. Around 1933, a talent scout came to the dance studio, and asked her to audition for what would become Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Champion was chosen to be the live-action reference model for the titular character. Champion would continue to be a live-action model for Disney animated features, including modeling the characters of the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio and Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia. While working at Disney, she met animator Art Babbitt and married him in 1937, though they divorced in 1940. Champion was also an actress in films outside the studio, appearing in films such as Honor of the West and Show Boat, the latter of which she appeared with her husband Gower Champion, whom she married in 1947. Along with film appearances, the pair also choreographed a few Broadway musical reviews, including Lend an Ear. She and Gower Champion divorced in 1973; Champion continued her career, working with actress Marilee Zdenek to publish two books: Catch the New Wind and God is a Verb. Champion is a Trustee Emeritus of the Williamstown Theater Festival of Massachusetts, as well as a member of the Advisory Board if the Berkshire Theatre Festival. For her work in helping to bring the classic Disney characters to life, she was honored as a Disney Legend in 2007.

May 4

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May 4, 2012 – A Male White Rhino is Born in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“A rhino birth is a significant event because at one time the species was nearly extinct.”

On May 4, 2012, it was announced that a male white rhino calf was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was the fourth white rhino born to 13-year-old Kendi, who was the first rhino born in the park. His birth is also significant as being the third generation of the line that started at the park. Disney is part of specialized conservation efforts to help save the declining rhino population, which has grown to over 20,000 worldwide.

January 17

January 17, 2010 – Endangered White Rhino is Born in Animal Kingdom

“We’re beginning the week with a celebration.”

On January 17, 2010, Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed an addition to their park, as endangered white rhino Kendi gave birth to her third baby. Kendi was the first white rhino born at the park’s sanctuary, and her baby was the eighth. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has helped extensively with the conservation of this endangered species, with two of the white rhinos born in the park brought to the Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda to help reestablish the population that had been close to extinct since the 1980s.