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Tag Archives: Disney Legend

October 30

October 30, 1906 – Composer and Disney Legend Paul Smith is Born

On October 30, 1906, composer Paul Smith was born in Calument, Michigan to a musical family. The family later moved to Caldwell, Idaho, where Smith’s father taught music at the College of Idaho. Smith’s musical ability emerged at an early age, and his father nurtured this by teaching his son to play a variety of instruments, including piano and violin. Smith enrolled in the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago in 1925; after graduation, he taught at Elmhurst College and York High School. He then moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA and earned a degree in English. After graduating, he wound up at the Walt Disney Studios in 1934, and became a pioneer in music for motion pictures, scoring for animated features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, True-Life Adventure films such as The Vanishing Prairie and Perri, and live action features such as The Shaggy Dog and Pollyanna. Smith had over fifty credits to his name, and over the course of his career he scored eight Academy Award nominations, including one win for his work on the score of the film Pinocchio with Leigh Harline and Ned Washington. Smith retired in 1962 after almost thirty years with The Walt Disney Studios. On January 25, 1985, Smith passed away in Glendale, California. He was honored as a Disney Legend for his contributions to the Walt Disney Company in 1994.

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October 16

October 16, 1998 – Twenty-One New Inductees Are Named Disney Legends

“That’s a whole lot of legends!”

On October 16, 1998, twenty-one new Disney Legends were honored in a special ceremony at the new Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios. The plaza was also dedicated on this day, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. The honorees were an eclectic mix of those individuals who had a lasting impact on the history and success of the Walt Disney Company, and ranged from actors to executives. Among those honored were Disney Company managing director for England and Europe, Cyril James; company treasurer, Don Escen; former chairman of the Oriental Land Company, Masatomo Takahashi; film editor, Lloyd Richardson; first Alice actress, Virginia Davis; animator Bill Tytla; animator and director Wilfred Jackson; actress Kathryn Beaumont; animator and director Ben Sharpsteen; director, writer, producer, and narrator Jim Algar; merchandising executive Kay Kamen; former president of Walt Disney Enterprises of Japan, Matsuo Yokoyama; documentary film makers Al and Elma Milotte; actress Gynis Johns; actress Hayley Mills; actor Kurt Russell; documentary film maker Paul Kenworthy; director and producer Larry Lansburgh; composer Buddy Baker; film editor Norman “Stormy” Palmer; and actor Dick Van Dyke. Of those honored, James, Tytla, Jackson, Sharpsteen, Algar, Kamen, and the Milottes were honored posthumously.

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.

August 21

August 21, 2011 – The Second D23 Expo Comes to a Close

“The Ultimate Disney Fan Event”

On August 21, 2011, the second biennial D23 Expo had its final day. Featured at the Anaheim Convention Center, the final day featured 15 exhibitions and panels for Disney fans to peruse, including a panel about the evolution of Marvel comics by Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada; a conversation with Steve Pilcher and Tia Kratter, called The Art of Brave; and a special discussion with film preservationist Ed Hobelman and Imagineer and Disney Legend Tony Baxter, called MORE of the Wonderful World of Vintage Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

August 18

August 18, 2011 – Betty Taylor and Wally Boag are Honored in Special Ceremony

“…will forever pay tribute to their legendary roles.”

On August 18, 2011, a special ceremony was held at the Golden Horseshoe to honor the contributions by Betty Taylor and Wally Boag, two entertainers whose names were synonymous with the saloon; both had passed away in June earlier that year. The celebration, known as “True Legends of The Golden Horseshoe: A Tribute to Wally Boag and Betty Taylor,” featured special performances by members of the Golden Horseshoe, as well as tributes by special guests, such as Taylor’s sister, Dorothy Fields, and Boag’s daughter, Heather Dinkins. Other special Disney guests were on hand to pay tribute, including Golden Horseshoe Revue choreographer Miriam Nelson; Disney Legends Rob Dominguez, Jack Lindquist, and Richard Sherman, Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess; actor Steve Martin; and Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney (the latter two guests gave tribute via video message). Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis was also on hand to honor the pair in his own way by donating $10,000 to the Orange County High School of the Arts in their memory.

August 4

August 4, 1985 – Nine Old Men Animator Ollie Johnston is Profiled on The Disney Family Album

“Just because they’re a bunch of mere pencil drawings, going through these routines and giving these performances, to me, that was real.”

On August 4, 1985, the fifteenth episode of the documentary series The Disney Family Album premiered on the Disney Channel. The series introduced those that had an impact on making Disney the company it became; this episode introduced Nine Old Men member Ollie Johnston, known for his work on animating Thumper from Bambi and the fairies from Sleeping Beauty. The episode focused on his career at Disney, when he started as an apprentice animator on Disney early short films, such as the Academy Award winning The Tortoise and the Hare, leading to his role as an animator and a directing animator on over 24 animated feature films. The episode also focused on his train hobby, one he shared with fellow animator Ward Kimball, as well as Walt Disney, and looked at the backyard railroad he built himself.

July 19

July 19, 1989 – Ub Iwerks and the Nine Old Men are Honored as Disney Legends

“Collectively, they helped establish The Walt Disney Company…the impact of their work is immeasurable.”

On July 19, 1989, the Disney Legends Award Ceremony was held at the Walt Disney Studios. The focus of the ceremony were the animators that helped make the Walt Disney Company and Disney Animation: animator and Imagineer Ub Iwerks, and Nine Old Men animators Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Woolie Reitherman, and Frank Thomas. This group was considered the “Founders Circle” of the Walt Disney Company. Of those being honored, only Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, and Ward Kimball were alive to attend the ceremony.