In interviews, Walt used to joke that he was always surrounded by women who influenced his life and work and that even his dog was female. One of the things that made Walt so unique for his time was not only his respect and appreciation for the talents and intelligence of women but his commitment to employing them in previously male dominated industries like animation and theme parks.

The Disney animated films, of course, are filled with examples of strong, interesting women from Minnie Mouse to Tinker Bell to Cinderella to Jessica Rabbit to -- more recently -- Kim Possible. Their voices were supplied by equally interesting women including Jodi Benson, Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Feldon and Susan Egan (the first Belle on Broadway as well as the voice of Meg in "Hercules") to name just a handful. Even the live action films made during Walt's tenure featured women of spirit and strength with actresses like Dorothy McGuire, Janet Munro and Kim Richards.

And the list seems to never end. There are so many others like Russi Taylor (the official voice of Minnie Mouse who is married to Wayne Allwine, the official voice of Mickey Mouse), Julie Andrews (as well as her Disney alter ego, Mary Poppins), Margaret Kerry (the live action reference for Tinker Bell), Tiny Kline (the first Tinker Bell to fly over Sleeping Beauty Castle and she was a grandmother at the time), Adrianna Caselotti (the voice of Snow White who was named a Disney Legend in 1994), Mary Costa (the voice of Princess Aurora who was named a Disney Legend in 1999), Julie Reihm (first Disneyland Ambassador in 1965) or even Walt's mother, Flora Disney whose encouragement and support produced the Walt Disney we love.

So -- in celebration of Women's History Month -- et's take a brief look and celebrate some of the women who shaped Disney History:

MARY BLAIR: Started work at the Disney Studios in 1939 and quickly became one of Walt's favorites because of her color and design work which is apparent in films like "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Three Caballeros" as well as shorts like "Susie the Blue Coupe" and "The Little House". She was the key designer for "it's a small world" attraction and did the mural in the Contemporary Resort at WDW. She was named a Disney Legend in 1991 and a book about her work by Animation historian John Canemaker was published last year. Blair left the Disney organization in 1953 to freelance in advertising and children's book illustrations. A decade later, Walt Disney personally asked her to design "it's a small world." During her last years, family and personal problems exacerbated by alcohol abuse led to a deterioration of Mary Blair's physical and mental health and, subsequently, her art. She died in 1978 in Soquel, California, at 67.

LINDA WOOLVERTON: Wrote the screenplays for "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" as well as the screenplay for the animated version of "Beauty and the Beast". She even adapted her screenplay for the Broadway version of the show.

LUCILLE MARTIN: Began work at Disney in 1964 and became the secretary of Walt Disney, Ron Miller and later Michael Eisner. In 1995, she was named Vice President to the Board of Directors.

VIRGINIA DAVIS: The child actress who performed in Walt Disney's first Hollywood cartoons, the "Alice Comedies". She was the first live action performer ever under contract to the Disney Studios.

HARRIET BURNS: The first woman hired by Imagineering in a creative rather than office capacity. She helped design and build prototypes for theme park attractions and among her many credits was the designer of the famous Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the 1950s and designed all the singing birds for the original "Enchanted Tiki Room". She was named a Disney Legend in 2000.

JOYCE CARLSON: Started her career at Disney in the Ink and Paint Department but during the work on the 1964 World's Fair was moved to Imagineering where she was involved with "it's a small world" and has helped create and maintain every version of that show in all the Disney theme parks worldwide. She was named a Disney Legend in 2000 and a wonderful interview with her done by Disney historian Jim Korkis appears in the recently released book, "Walt's People".

ALICE DAVIS: Wife of animator and Imaginer Marc Davis, she did costume designs and building for the Disney Studio including work on "it's a small world" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" where she had to create a special girdle for the audio-animatronic redhead in the auction scene.

JULIE TAYMOR: First woman to ever win a TONY award for best direction of a musical for her work on the Broadway show, "The Lion King" in 1998. She also won another TONY that year for her costumes for the same show. In addition, she supplied additional lyrics for the show and did mask and puppet design.

BETTY TAYLOR: Personally chosen by Walt Disney, she performed as Slue Foot Sue at the Golden Horseshoe Revue, the world's longest running stage show, at Disneyland for thirty one years from 1956-1987. She was named a Disney Legend in 1995.

ANNETTE FUNICELLO: One of the best known original Mouseketeers who also appeared in many Disney films like "Babes in Toyland", her own serial on the original "Mickey Mouse Club" as well as being a recording star on the Disney record label.

DOLORES VOGHT: Walt's original executive secretary from 1930 to 1965.

KATHY BEAUMONT: The voice and live action reference model for both Alice in "Alice in Wonderland" and Wendy in "Peter Pan" as well as supplying those voices for Disney theme park attractions. She was named a Disney Legend in 1998.

LEOTA TOOMBS: Disney Imagineer who is best known as the face in the crystal ball, Madame Leota, in the "Haunted Mansion" attraction. The voice of Madame Leota is Eleanor Audley (also the voice of Maleficent and Lady Tremaine). She is the only woman to portray two Disney villainesses. Leota's real voice is used in the mini-Leota at the end of the attraction urging guests to hurry back.

CHARLOTTE CLARK: The seamstress who made the first plush Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls and worked for the Disney Studio for many years creating prototypes of other Disney plush character dolls.

BRENDA CHAPMAN: First woman story head at Disney on the animated "The Lion King". She also storyboarded sequences for "Beauty and the Beast" and "Rescuers Down Under".

BIANCA MAJOLIE: Supplied story ideas and drawings to many Disney shorts (like "Elmer the Elephant") as well as features like "Peter Pan" and "Cinderella".

GRACE BAILEY: Spent forty years at Disney, much of that time as the head of Disney's Ink and Paint Department where she trained and supervised the women who worked there. She was named a Disney Legend in 2000.

HELENE STANLEY: Besides performing as Davy Crockett's wife in the popular television series, she was the live action reference model for both Disney princesses Cinderella and Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty).

LILLIAN BOUNDS DISNEY: Wife of Walt Disney, as well as credited with convincing him to change a mouse's name from "Mortimer" to "Mickey" among many behind the scenes influences. Her major contribution made possible the new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Became a Disney Legend in 2004.

DIANE DISNEY MILLER: Daughter of Walt Disney and wife of Ron Miller who wrote the first biography of Walt Disney and keeps Walt's legacy alive through CD-Roms, DVDs and a website devoted to the life and accomplishments of her father and soon a museum in the San Francisco area.

EDNA FRANCIS DISNEY: Wife of Roy O. Disney and mother of Roy E. Disney and one of the most underappreciated women in Disney Heritage for her support of her husband especially with international clients of Disney. Became a Disney Legend in 2004.

HAYLEY MILLS: Actress in "Pollyanna" (for which she received a special Academy Award) as well as many memorable Disney live action films including "The Parent Trap" and "That Darn Cat".

CECILY RIGDON: The "keeper of the keys" to Walt Disney's apartment at Disneyland and a major influence in the development of the Disney Guest Relations tour guides and the Disney Ambassador program. She also traveled to the 1964 World's Fair to train Disney guides as well as training the Guest Relations cast members as Walt Disney World opened.