100 Acre Personality Quiz

16 November 2007

2007 Disney Legends

This story is from the Disney Insider but is well worth reposting here. To be a Disney Legend is something we all dream of and I hope that one day, I too will be among those who will live forever in our history. This past September I had the honor of meeting a Disney Legend, Marty Sklar, and I must say that my dream is a pretty lofty one indeed! Enjoy!

The Newest Disney Legends Join the Family

It felt like a family reunion. On October 10, when the 2007 Disney Legends were inducted at the heart of the Disney Studios, there were no paparazzi on the red carpet, and no posh posturing. The crowd was largely composed of Disney Legends - both newly minted and those named in years past - their families, and their colleagues past and present. There was plenty of hugging and laughter as old friends recognized each other across Legends Plaza, where the ceremony was held.

For 20 years, the Disney Legends induction ceremony has been how Disney honors its own - the brilliant, hardworking men and women who have created the magic. This year's inductees include broadcasters and animators, executives, and songsters. Many of them have been showered with awards over the decades, but it was clear on that sunny autumn afternoon that this honor was especially meaningful - because it came from those who know them best.
"This is actually one of the nicest days on the Disney lot, in my opinion, and I think that's shared with many here," said Disney CEO Bob Iger in his opening remarks, summing up the feeling of the event. "You all know that The Walt Disney Company has a very rich heritage, founded in Walt's extraordinary imagination and creativity. This heritage is kept alive by artists and designers, performers, musicians, technicians - and yes, even executives! - whose outstanding work has brought us to where we are today."

No one knew better than Bob how influential two of the honorees have been - at various times in his career, he has worked for both of them. Roone Arledge headed ABC Sports and then ABC News during his long and distinguished career, while Tom Murphy piloted ABC from a single TV and radio station into an international media conglomerate.

Tom commented, "I'm very proud of Bob - of the great job he's doing here. And I'm a very happy stockholder because of the great job he's doing here! It's nice seeing Roy Disney here, and Jane Eisner. And going back many years ago, I haven't seen Art Linkletter for maybe 45 years!"
Art was far from the only Legend on hand to welcome the new inductees - also in the audience were X Atencio, Kathryn Beaumont Levine, Virginia Davis McGee, Richard Sherman, Dick Jones, and about a dozen more. And almost all of them had been helped over the years by 2007 Legend inductee Lucille Martin, who rose from the Disney secretarial pool to become Walt's personal secretary, and finally a vice president of The Walt Disney Company.

The Disney Parks would have lost some of this magic without inductees Ron Logan, long the man behind the entertainment at the Disney Parks around the world, and Walt Disney Imagineering treasurer Carl Bongirno.

Walt Disney Pictures chairman Dick Cook described Floyd Norman as follows: "Our next Disney Legend is an animator, a writer, and a self-confessed troublemaker - which is another way of saying that he's a Disney artist!" Troublesome the animators might be, but this enormously talented group yielded three Legends for 2007:

• Floyd, who says of his Disney years, "From 1956 until now has been a long time, but I'll tell you - every year working with Walt, working with a great bunch of people, it's been a ball."

• Art Babbitt, remembered by his wife Barbara as follows: "He was a great artist and an intellectual, and he was such an honorable man, and very deserving of this award."

• Dick Huemer, whose son Dr. Richard Huemer greeted Donald Duck at the podium when accepting his father's award with "My dad drew you, you know!"

From the other side of the drawing board came Legend Marge Champion, the live-action model for Snow White, the Blue Fairy from "Pinocchio," and even Mr. Stork in "Dumbo." Receiving her statuette, she said "I can't tell you how moved I am today - not only with thanks and gratitude for this extraordinary award, but also because it brings back so many memories. Seeing so many of you here is very, very comforting!"

A Legend we at the Disney Insider were especially happy to see recognized is our friend Disney Archivist Dave Smith, who has a regular spot in the Insider answering your questions about all things Disney. Dave said, "I'm not an actor, I'm not a composer, I'm not a filmmaker, I'm not a Theme Park designer, I'm not any of these creative categories who have usually been named as Disney Legends in the past. But over the 38 years that I've been working as the archivist for The Walt Disney Company, I've been privileged to know and work with almost every single one of the 200 people who have been named Disney Legends in the past. It's a tremendous honor for me today to join their illustrious group."

Bob Schiffer was long a legendary name in Hollywood thanks to a long career film makeup, but his son Douglas told us, "My father was in the film business for 65 years. I can say that the 36 years that he spent at the Disney Studio were his happiest. He was deeply honored to work here and he forged great friendships. He received many personal awards and accolades over the years, and I'm sure this would be his finest accomplishment."

The final honoree was film composer Randy Newman, who was escorted to the podium by his good friends Buzz and Woody from "Toy Story," and who said to the assembled crowd, "I've never seen anybody work harder than the animators and crews who make animated pictures do. It's an honor to be among that company."

Then Randy performed "You've Got a Friend in Me." It's a song that surely caught the spirit of this event, which was a reunion of long-time friends and colleagues with diverse gifts and talents, and one big thing in common - all of them are part of the Disney family.

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