Ten New Disney Legends Honored at D23 Expo 2017
Our whirlwind D23 Expo experience started with the Disney Legends Award Ceremony. We were extremely lucky to be in the audience to see these new members honored. I’ve been to Legends Plaza a few times on the Disney lot, but it was amazing being able to see these new members honored in style at D23 Expo.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Disney Legends Awards. The first Disney Legend was Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Happiest Millionaire), who was honored in 1987.
“The Disney Legends Award is the highest honor our company can bestow on an individual, reserved for those few who have truly made an indelible mark on the history of The Walt Disney Company,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger. “It’s a celebration of talent, a recognition of achievement, and an expression of gratitude to the men and women whose work has significantly contributed to Disney’s enduring reputation for creative excellence.”
Disney Legend – Carrie Fisher
FISHER became an overnight sensation in 1977 with her iconic performance as Princess Leia in Star Wars. But throughout her career, Carrie took on many roles—as an actress, author, playwright, screenwriter, and outspoken advocate for mental health awareness. For Disney, Carrie appeared in Scream 3 (2000) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) for Dimension Films, and, in 2015, she returned to the role that made her famous, starring as General Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She reprised the role for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will be released in December.
Disney Legend – CLYDE “GERRY” GERONIMI
GERONIMI joined the Disney Studio in 1931. His first assignments as an animator were for several memorable Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony, and Pluto cartoons, and he eventually contributed to more than 50 of the Studio’s shorts. Gerry made the leap to sequence director with 1943’s Victory Through Air Power, and he subsequently contributed to The Three Caballeros, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He also directed segments for television’s Mickey Mouse Club and contributed to episodes of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. The apex of his Disney career came when he served as supervising director for the 1959 masterpiece Sleeping Beauty.
Disney Legend – MANUEL GONZALES
GONZALES was one of 33 artists selected from thousands of applicants to join Disney in 1936. In 1938, he took over penciling duties on the Sunday Mickey Mouse comic strip from Disney Legend Floyd Gottfredson. He brought Mickey Mouse to newspapers nationwide for nearly 40 years. At its peak, his Mickey-starring comic strip appeared in 120 newspapers around the world with a collective circulation of more than 20 million readers each week. Manuel was presented a “Mousecar” award by Walt Disney in 1966.
Disney Legend: Mark Hamill
HAMILL began his career in 1970, appearing in numerous television series guest-roles and several TV movies, including a recurring role on ABC’s General Hospital and starring in MTM’s acclaimed The Texas Wheelers. He achieved worldwide attention as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, which included The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He returned as Luke in The Force Awakens and will appear in the upcoming The Last Jedi. His stage career includes Broadway shows and the first national tour of Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall. A prolific voice-over actor, he has performed in countless animated television shows, feature films, documentaries, and video games. He appears on Disney’s Miles from Tomorrowland and Milo Murphy’s Law, and has also provided the voice of The Joker in the Batman animated series, a role that recently earned him a BAFTA Award.
Disney Legend – Wayne Jackson
JACKSON began his career as a Walt Disney Imagineer in October 1965, and in the decades that followed he would put his technical skills and know-how to great use in the development and installation of Disney attractions around the world. Originally trained in aircraft tooling, he began as a technician and machinist assigned to rebuild the shows from the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair that were slated for installation at Disneyland. Instrumental in the early development of Audio-Animatronics® technology, Wayne would go on to help bring Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion to Disneyland. He went on to work on the construction and installation of attractions and show systems at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Disneyland Paris.
Disney Legend – Jack Kirby
KIRBY first grabbed our attention in the spring of 1941 with Captain America, a character he created with Joe Simon. Jack then followed this debut with a prolific output of comic books in the Western, Romance, and Monster genres—all a prelude to his defining work helping to create the foundations of the Marvel Universe. For the next decade, Jack and co-creator Stan Lee would introduce a mind-boggling array of new characters and teams—including the Avengers, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Inhumans. Jack was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame’s 1987 inaugural class and continued creating comics throughout the ’90s before passing away in 1994.
Disney Legend: Stan Lee
LEE got a job as an office assistant at a comic publisher in 1939 called Timely Comics—forerunner of the powerhouse we all know as Marvel. Stan made his debut with a Captain America story in 1941, and by the next year, at the age of just 18, he was promoted to editor. In 1961, Stan teamed up with Jack “King” Kirby to create the Fantastic Four and ushered in a spectacular new age of comics. Stan co-created an enormous roster of Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, Daredevil, and Falcon. He became Marvel’s editorial director and publisher in 1972, and eventually was named chairman emeritus. His well-known cameos in Marvel films began with 1989’s telefilm The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, and since the release of X-Men in 2000 he has appeared in nearly every Marvel film project. Outside the super-hero realm, he has even popped up as a wedding guest in Disney’s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Disney Legend – Garry Marshall
MARSHALL began his career in Los Angeles writing for a number of hit shows, including The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Lucy Show. But his big break came in 1970, when he produced The Odd Couple for ABC, the first of many big hits he created for the network. Beginning with Happy Days in 1974, he developed a shared universe of spinoffs including Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi. His other ABC sitcoms during these years included Angie, The New Odd Couple, and Blansky’s Beauties. Garry was also a successful movie director, with 18 films to his credit. At Disney, he made stars of two young actresses: Julia Roberts, in Pretty Woman, and Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. He directed Bette Midler in Beaches, as well as in The Lottery, a short film that for years was a fixture of the Backstage Tour at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Garry was known for his acting, as well, and he appeared in Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain, Chicken Little, and as the Devil in Hocus Pocus.
Disney Legend Julie Taymor
TAYMOR is a Tony®-, Emmy®-, and Grammy®-winning and Oscar®-nominated filmmaker who has changed the face of Broadway with her innovative direction. Her adaptation of The Lion King debuted in 1997, becoming the most successful stage musical of all time; 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people. The show has played in more than 100 cities in 19 countries. It received 11 Tony Award nominations, earning Julie Best Director, Costume Designer, and Best Musical for the show. Her production of The Magic Flute is currently in repertory at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Her films include A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Titus, The Tempest, the Golden Globe-nominated Across the Universe, and the Oscar-winning Frida. Taymor is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and an inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement. She is currently directing M. Butterfly on Broadway, opening Fall 2017.
Disney Legend – Oprah Winfrey
WINFREY is a renowned award-winning producer, actress, talk show host, and philanthropist. For 25 years she was the host of the award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for 25 seasons on hundreds of stations domestically and in more than 100 countries around the world. Oprah is also an Academy Award®-nominated actress for her role in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 hit The Color Purple. In 1998, she starred in Beloved for Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, a film that she also produced. Oprah also produced and starred in ABC’s 1989 limited series The Women of Brewster Place, and would go on to produce many films for ABC, including Tuesdays with Morrie, Before Women Had Wings, and Their Eyes Were Watching God under the “Oprah Winfrey Presents” banner. She performed as Eudora in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog in 2009 and will co-star as Mrs. Which in Disney’s 2018 film A Wrinkle in Time.
Surprise Disney Legend – Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg is one of a very elite group of artists who is an EGOT, which is an acronym for a person who’s won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She has won Emmys (as host of AMC’s “Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel,” and a Daytime Emmy for “The View”), a Grammy (“Whoopi Goldberg”), an Oscar (“Ghost”) and a Tony (Producer of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”). Today at D23 EXPO: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event, she can add Disney Legend to this impressive list, making her the one and only LEGOT recipient!
“Disney and I go way back, since I was a little kid, I mean way back,” said Whoopi. “So it’s beyond an honor and a joy to become a Disney Legend because everybody knows I love Disney, Disneyland, Disney World, Disney movies, Disney toys and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! What’s better than this for a Disney-phile? Absolutely NOTHING!”
The Disney Legends Award Ceremony was simply amazing. I was excited when Oprah graced the stage, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they showed the clip honoring Carrie Fisher. Mark Hamill gave a great speech and even talked about his love for Carrie. Stan Lee got fans excited about the comics and overall it was an excellent way to learn about Disney and the legends that help create the things we love so much. You can watch my Periscope of the whole ceremony.