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April 21

April 21, 1915 – Film Editor and Disney Legend Lloyd Richardson is Born

Lloyd Richardson

“Lloyd gave his all to the Disneyland series. His work was impeccable.” – Disney Legend Stormy Palmer

On April 21, 1915, Lloyd Richardson was born in Portland, Oregon. He attended the Los Angeles City College but, during the throes of the Depression, he dropped out to start working. He was able to score a job in traffic at the Disney Studios in 1937, and soon after joined the Editing Department, where he was able to flourish. Starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, Richardson quickly learned the craft of film editing, and soon became an editor-at-large for a variety of projects, including foreign film editing that helped match foreign language tracks to the animation, and editing the training films by the studio during World War II. He continued to edit the animated features as he moved his skills to the True-Life Adventures series, eventually editing the Academy Award winning shorts Bear Country and The Vanishing Prairie. As the studio progressed into the television medium, Richardson moved into directing alongside editing, and eventually worked on over 50 different television projects. For his body of work, Richardson has won an American Cinema Editors Award for Chico, The Misunderstood Coyote, and an Academy Award with Ward Kimball for the short film It’s Tough to Be a Bird. He retired in 1980, after 40 years with the studio. He was honored as a Disney Legend in 1998. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 86.

April 20

April 20, 1914 – Actress and Voice Actress Betty Lou Gerson is Born

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“Betty Lou Gerson gave you so much to work with [for Cruella de Vil], and she was absolutely marvelous.” – Animator and Disney Legend Marc Davis

On April 20, 1914, Betty Lou Gerson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her family followed her father’s work, as he was an executive with a steel company, and she was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. When she was sixteen, her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she attracted attention as a performer on the radio serial The First Nighter Program opposite Don Ameche. She continued her radio career with a string of soap opera hits, including Lonely Women and Midstream. She moved to Los Angeles in 1940, and continued her streak of popular radio programs, including Mr. President and Johnny Dollar. Gerson also broke into the television and movie mediums, starring in some B-list films and popular television series, such as Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone. Gerson was hired by Disney in an uncredited role as the narrator in the beginning of the film Cinderella, but she is well-known for playing the villainous Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Gerson also has a cameo in the film Mary Poppins as an old crone. Her role as Cruella is so beloved that she was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996. Gerson passed away in 1999 at the age of 84.

March 26

March 26, 1907 – Composer and Disney Legend Leigh Harline is Born

Leigh Harline

“[Harline’s songs] seemed like symphonic writing by a good classical composer.” – Director Wilfred Jackson

On March 26, 1907, Leigh Harline was born to a large family in Salt Lake City. After majoring in music at the University of Utah, he moved to California in 1928 to work as a composer, conductor, arranger, instrumentalist, singer, and announcer for various radio stations. He joined the Disney Studios in 1932, and quickly set to work writing music for the Silly Symphony series. After acknowledging the innovative ways of using music to tell the story, Walt Disney gave Harline the plum role of scoring the studio’s first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, alongside fellow Disney Legend Frank Churchill. Harline and Churchill’s work on the film scored them an Oscar nomination for Best Music and Score. Afterwards, he was asked to work on Pinocchio, which scored him two Oscars: Best Music and Original Score, and Best Song for the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star.” He left in 1941 to work at several other studios as a freelance composer, and racked up eight additional Oscar nominations throughout his career. In the 1960s, Harline added television scoring to his repertoire, scoring for several popular series, such as Daniel Boone, featuring another Disney Legend, Fess Parker. On December 10, 1969, Harline passed away in Long Beach, California. For his work on early Disney shorts, and for creating one of the most iconic songs from the studio, he was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001.

March 16

March 16, 1911 – Artist, Imagineer, and Disney Legend Harper Goff is Born

Harper Goff

“Walt liked the story-board well enough to have me give an [Audience Reaction Inquiry] to a group of exhibitors who were in town. They were enthusiastic and the rest is history.”

On March 16, 1911, Ralph Harper Goff was born in Fort Collins, Colorado. His family moved to Santa Ana, California, where he would later attend the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Afterwards, he moved to New York where he worked as a magazine illustrator. During World War II, Goff was asked to help design camouflage paint at a research facility at Fort Belvoir. After the war, Goff returned to California to work as a set designer for Warner Brothers, with his work being used in such classics as Casablanca, Sergeant York, and Captain Blood. He moved up the ranks to work as an associate producer and art director. After a chance meeting in London in 1951, Goff was invited by Walt Disney to work at the studio to sketch storyboards for a project, which would later evolve into the live-action feature film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The film would go on to win two Academy Awards: one for art director, and one for special effects. Goff was also instrumental in designing concepts for several pavilions for Epcot’s World Showcase in 1975, including Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom. He was also known for playing the banjo in the Disney Dixieland jazz band Firehouse Five Plus Two. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1993; the same year, Goff passed away at the age of 81.

March 8

March 8, 2008 – A Zebra is Born in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Zebra Kidani

“Disney’s Animal Care team has been busy over the past two weeks with the births of two new bundles of joy.”

On March 8, 2008, the newest addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom was born. The male Hartmann’s mountain zebra is the first of its kind born in Animal Kingdom and was named Kidani, and was named after the newest expansion to the Animal Kingdom Villas, named Kidani Village. Kidani was born through the collaboration work between Disney and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Population Management Plan’s conservation efforts.

February 6

February 6, 1934 – Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive of WDI and Disney Legend Marty Sklar is Born

Marty Sklar

“Our training was by Walt, who was always there pitching in with new ideas and improving everyone else’s input. The fire was that we were constantly breaking new ground to create deadline projects never attempted before in this business. That, I’m proud to say, has never stopped in my years at Disney.”

On February 6, 1934, Martin A. Sklar was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He attended UCLA for undergraduate studies, and serves as the editor for the Daily Bruin college newsletter. In 1955, he was recruited to create a newsletter to be sold on Main Street of Disneyland for the park’s first year: The Disneyland News. Upon graduation, Sklar joined Disney, working with Disneyland’s publicity and marketing department and creating the Vacationland magazine. In 1961, Sklar joined WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering) to work on the special shows for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. During this time, he continued to do publicity work for Walt Disney specifically, writing material to be used in publications and television; he is best known for writing the material for a special 20 minute film about EPCOT. In 1974, Sklar became the Vice President of Concepts and Planning in WDI, where he helped with the development of Epcot in Walt Disney World. He continued to rise in the ranks, with being named Vice President of Creative Development in 1979, Executive Vice President in 1982, and President and Vice Chairman in 1987. He held the last role until 1996. During his tenure, Sklar led the efforts for entertainment concepts within Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. In 2001, Sklar was not only honored with a special award for 45 years of service in the Disney Company, and was also named a Disney Legend. In 2005, the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, Sklar was named Imagineering’s international ambassador. In 2009, after 53 years at Disney, Sklar retired.

February 2

February 2, 2010 – An Endangered White-Cheeked Gibbon is Born in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Gibbon

“Not all of the celebrating today is Super Bowl related.”

On February 2, 2010, the newest member of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a white-cheeked gibbon, was born. The baby was the fourth gibbon born in the park, and was born to white-cheeked gibbon Melaka. The white-cheeked gibbon is an endangered species, and the birth was part of a survival effort by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, with which Disney’s Animal Kingdom is heavily involved. With gibbons producing offspring once every two to three years, it is important to protect this species from extinction.

January 30

January 30, 1934 – Executive Vice President for Disney Parks and Disney Legend Bob Matheison is Born

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“…Bob has created a rich legacy of quality, integrity, and dedication that will continue to benefit the Walt Disney World resort for many years to come.” – Attractions President Judson Green

On January 30, 1934, Bob Matheison was born in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from USC in 1955, majoring in telecommunications, and joined the Army after graduation. He worked at Fort Hood as the chief of the radio-television branch, which kicked off his career in radio broadcasting. In 1960, Matheison scored a job at Disney through a college friend, and became the sound coordinator for Disneyland; he soon worked his way up to become the manager of Guest Relations, assisting production of broadcasts from the park. In 1965, Walt Disney personally tapped Matheison to work with several attractions set to premiere at the 1965 World’s Fair; he would manage the it’s a small world attraction, along with supervising the technical staff for Magic Skyway, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and the Carousel of Progress. In 1966, Matheison was named the head of the research and development team for the Florida Project (which would eventually become Walt Disney World). While working on this project, he also developed an extensive 13- week training program for executives of the park, which was the forerunner of the Disney Institute corporate training program. In 1969, he was named the director of operations for Disneyland, and took the title to Walt Disney World a year later when sent to set up the new parks operating plan. In 1972, Matheison was promoted to the vice president of operations; in 1984 he was promoted to vice president of Magic Kingdom and EPCOT; in 1987, he reached the position of executive vice president of Walt Disney World. In 1994, after 34 years with the company, Matheison retired. He was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996 for the many hats he wore during his tenure at Disney.

January 9

January 9, 1916 – Former President of The Walt Disney Company and Disney Legend Card Walker is Born

Walker

“Card was instrumental in keeping Disney strong and growing in the critical years that followed the passing of founders Walt and Roy Disney.” – Bob Iger, President and CEO of Disney

On January 9, 1916, Esmond Cardon “Card” Walker was born in Rexburg, Ohio. In 1924, Walker his family moved to Los Angeles, and after graduating from UCLA, he began working for the Disney Studios in 1938 as a mailroom clerk. Walker quickly moved out of the mailroom and into the company, first starting in the camera department, then working in the production department. With the outbreak of World War II, Walker, like many at the studio, did his part in the war effort by enlisting with the Navy, working as a flight deck officer. After the war ended, he returned to the Studio to work in the story department; Walker used a new polling system called Audience Research Institute (ARI) to gauge audience reactions to possible Disney animated features. In 1956, Walker continued to climb the Disney ladder when he was named the Vice President of Advertising and Sales. Proving a valuable asset in this area, he was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1960. Walker’s success didn’t stop there: in 1965, he was named the Vice President of Marketing; in 1967, he was then named Executive Vice President of Operations; in 1968, he was then named the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. This was followed by his election to President of the Walt Disney Company in 1971, a position he held for five years. Under Walker’s leadership, he not only helped keep the company strong during the turbulent time after the deaths of Walt and Roy O. Disney, but helped cultivate and protect the Disney tradition as it expanded to parks around the globe and back home, such as with the creation of Tokyo Disneyland and the Disney Channel. In 1980, he became the Chairman of the Board. Walker retired soon after in 1983, but continued to act in a consultancy role until 1990. For his work with the company, he was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1993. He retired from the Board of Directors in 1999, after 61 years with the company, but was named an emeritus member. Walker passed away in 2005 in La Cañada Flintridge, California.

December 19

December 19, 1914 – Animator, Story Man, and Disney Legend Mel Shaw is Born

Mel Shaw

“Mel was on a short list of vanguard artists who would jump into a new film when it was still a blank piece of paper and with his stunning work he’d show us all the visual possibilities.” – Don Hahn

On December 19, 1914, Melvin Schwartzman (who would change his last name to Shaw) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an opera singer mother and a lawyer father. He displayed great artistic talent at an early age, being selected for the Student Art League Society and winning a Procter & Gamble soap carving contest. In 1928, his family moved to Los Angeles, though he left at one point to try his hand at being a cowboy, despite winning a scholarship to an art institute. He soon returned to California, where he found a job at Pacific Titles creating title cards for silent films. Shaw’s first animation job came with the newly formed Harman-Ising Studios, where he took on several roles including animator, character designer, story man, and director. Shaw played polo in his spare time, where he met Walt Disney, who would invite him to join his studio. Shaw left Harman-Ising and joined Disney in 1937, where his first main project was the 1942 film Bambi. He left Disney during World War II, choosing to serve in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working as a filmmaker and cartoonist. After the war, while not going back to Disney, he did work with the company through his new company, Allen-Shaw Productions (a partnership with former MGM Studios animator Bob Allen). He was asked back to Disney in 1974 to help transition animation from the old guard to the new, bringing his expertise to such films as The Great Mouse Detective and The Lion King. For his multitude of work for Disney, Shaw was honored as a Disney Legend in 2004. In 2012, at the age of 97, Shaw passed away.