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Leonard Maltin to receive the first-ever NFFC-Disneyana Fan Club Heritage Award

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Leonard Maltin to receive the first-ever NFFC-Disneyana Fan Club Heritage Award

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For a guy who spends much of his time among the stars (the Hollywood kind, anyway), author and film historian Leonard Maltin is surprisingly down-to-earth.

Which is why – when Leonard and I chatted on the phone yesterday about how he’d been selected to receive the very first NFFC-Disneyana Fan Club Heritage Award – Maltin was quick to make a self-deprecating joke.

Author and film critic Leonard Maltin
Leonard Maltin

“I’m flattered beyond words. Which is a pretty rare state for me to be in,” Leonard said.

Seriously, though. Ask any old school Disneyana fan what their first real reference book was. And they’ll tell you that it was “The Disney Films.” Which was written by Maltin back in 1973 and then published by Crown Books.

The Disney Films book cover
Copyright 1973 Crown Books. All Rights Reserved

It was “The Disney Films” – not to mention “Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons” as well as all those intros, interviews & featurettes that Leonard has done for the “Walt Disney TreasuresDVD series – which has made the public so closely associate Maltin with the Mouse House.

“I can’t tell you the number of parents who've come up to me over the years and thanked me for the role I played in introducing their children to the classic Disney shorts & the Silly Symphonies“ Leonard continued. “It’s a real honor to be associated with that sort of Hollywood history.”

Leonard Maltin interviews Roy Disney at the Philadelphia Film Festival
Leonard Maltin interviews Roy Disney at the Philadelphia Film
Festival in April of 2007.
Photo by Jeff Lange

And yet – given his position as a film reviewer / on-air personality for “Entertainment Tonight” – Maltin plays a pretty active role in today’s Hollywood. Which is why Leonard finds that it’s sometime hard to get a good perspective on what’s going on in the entertainment industry these days.

“Nothing is history while you’re living it,” Maltin explains. “That was something that I used to hear from older Hollywood stars when I interviewed them. I understand and appreciate that perspective now. I mean, when I interviewed the directors and animators of “The Little Mermaid,” I knew that that film was going to be momentous. But I couldn’t appreciate how this animated feature would look in historical perspective, the long-term impact that ‘Mermaid’ would have on Disney Studios.”

Leonard Maltin, movie critic and entertainment author
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of animation … Leonard has befriended many WDAS veterans over the years. Very talented people that range from modern animation masters like Andreas Deja to members of the Nine Old Men like Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston.

“I actually got to do the very last interview with those two,” Maltin remembered. “We recorded it at Frank’s house. And the very next morning, Ollie’s health took a turn that he never quite recovered from. So I’ll always cherish that one last opportunity to enjoy the two of them together.”

Disney song writer Richard M. Sherman
Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman

But if Leonard had to pick one Disney Legend that he felt a special kinship to, that would have to be Academy Award-winning composer Richard M. Sherman. Who – not so-co-incidentally – will be presenting Maltin with his NFFC–Disneyana Fan Club Heritage Award this Saturday.

“It’s a perfect choice because Dick and I have become such good friends over the years,” Leonard concluded. “That’s another great reward of my career. Getting to know so many of the people that I grew up idolizing. What could be better than that?”

Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide book cover
Copyright 2009 Plume
All Rights Reserved

If you’d like to attend this tribute to the noted author and film historian, listen to some of Bob & Leonard's great stories and perhaps get Mr. Maltin to sign your copy of “The Disney Films” and/or his best-selling “Movie Guide," then you should definitely seek out some tickets to the NFFC-Disneyana Fan Club’s Heritage Award Luncheon. Which will be held this Saturday at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden Grove, CA starting at 12 p.m.

FYI: Tickets for the awards luncheon are $55 for NFFC members and $85 for nonmembers. For further information on this weekend’s festivities at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort (which include Sunday’s All Disneyana Show and Sale), please click on this link.

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  • Maltin richly deserves the award. He's a wonderful commentator on all things Disney, and he's a damn good writer as well. His "The Disney Films" was the first book I ever bought about Disney, and it's excellent. Kudos to you, Leonard! The world needs more knowledgeable Disneyphiles like you. Write on!

  • I agree - it couldn't happen to a nicer guy! Leonard's book, "The Disney Films" was also one of my first two books on Disney (the other one being Christopher Finch's "The Art of Walt Disney".) What's truly amazing is how young Leonard was when he compiled that incredible reference book on every Disney feature, being only about 20 or 21 at the time of the book's original publication. I'm so happy that Leonard has been the driving force behind the Walt Disney Treasures series of DVDs as well, creating a permanent legacy of Disney's wonderful film and TV history for all enthusiasts to enjoy. Leonard has done so much for Disney and I sure wish that I could be out there to enjoy the much deserved tribute to this wonderful man.

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