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Disney honors its own at the 2007 Legends induction ceremony

Disney honors its own at the 2007 Legends induction ceremony

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In a town that's known for its glitz & glamor (as well as for giving out far too many awards to people who really don't deserve recognition), the Disney Legends is a really nice change of pace.


 Photo by Brian Gaughan

Held three weeks ago today, this year's induction ceremony was such a low key, classy affair. Held in the Courtyard of the Legends on the Burbank lot, more than 100 attendees and guests attended this late afternoon event. Where -- as those giant dwarfs that hold up the Michael D. Eisner building looked on -- 12 truly deserving individuals were dubbed Disney Legends.

The courtyard was fully engulfed in shade by the time Disney CEO Robert Iger finally took the stage and welcomed everyone to the event. Iger then presented this year's first Disney Legends award to his old mentor at ABC/Cap Cities, Capital Cities founder Tom Murphy. As he accepted this statuette, Murphy made a point of mentioning how proud he was of Iger.


Disney CEO Robert Iger welcomes everyone to this year's induction ceremony.
Photo by Brian Gaughan


The next Disney Legend award was presented to posthumously to Roone Arledge, that television visionary who helped drive the expansion of ABC News & Sports. His statuette was graciously accepted by his son, Roone Arledge, Jr.

The next and probably most emotional award at this year's ceremony was given to executive secretary Lucille Martin, who started with Walt and became an assistant to everyone who followed him up to Michael Eisner.


Iger presentd the Disney Legends Award to longtime studio employee Lucille Martin.
Photo by Brian Gaughan

Iger then introduced Roy E. Disney, who gave the more surprising awards at this year's Ceremony. The first went to animation legend and JHM contributor Floyd Norman, who accepted this award with his usual humor and grace. Then -- while presenting a posthumous Disney Legend award to animation pioneer Art Babbit -- Roy called Art a "troublemaker, which isn't unwarranted." Which was a somewhat veiled reference to Babbit's involvement in the infamous Disney animators strike of 1941.


Roy E. Disney, Floyd Norman, Chip & Dale.
Photo by Brian Gaughan

As a few people in the courtyard area chuckled at Roy's comment, he remarked "Ah, someone remembered." Art's wife, Barbara Babbit, then accepted the Disney Legends award in her late husband's stead.

Disney then presented another posthumous Disney Legend award to animator/writer Dick Huemer. This particular award was accepted by Dick's son, Dr. Richard Huemer.


Dr. Richard Huemer accepts a Disney Legends award on behalf of his late father.
Photo by Brian Gaughan

The next recipient was dance legend Marge Champion. Who -- as a teenager -- was the live-action reference model of Snow White among other classic Disney characters. She accepted, telling a story that -- because she was a teenage -- she had to refer to Walt Disney as "Uncle Walt."

Marty Sklar was next up to present the awards to the Disney Legends from Imagineering. The first went to past President of Imagineering Carl Bongirno.

The next honoree was Ron Logan. Who -- throughout his career-- was Musical & Entertainment Director at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. As Ron accepted his statuette, he told the crowd how he had been the first trumpet playing "Toy Soldiers" in the Disneyland Christmas Parade.


Bob Schiffer applying make-up to Dean Jones during the production of "The Shaggy DA."
Photo by Brian Gaughan

Dick Cook was next up to present awards to Disney's Entertainment Legends. These included archivist Dave Smith as well as Bob Schiffer, the make-up genius behind such Disney favorites of the 1970s & 1980s as "Tron," "The Shaggy DA," "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "Frankenweenie." Schiffer's son accepted this posthumous award.

Last up was the real entertainment of this year's event, Academy Award winner Randy Newman. As he was cheered on by his proud Pixar partner, John Lasseter, Newman talked about his longtime connection with Walt Disney Studios. With one tongue-in-cheek highlight being the moment when Randy turned to the Woody & Buzz Lightyear walkaround characters that had joined him on stage and said "I'm sorry that we had to cut your love scene" out of "Toy Story."


Randy Newman apologizes to Buzz & Woody. Oh, well ... There's always "Toy Story 3."
Photo by Brian Gaughan

After Newman serenaded the crowd with a rendition of "You've Got a Friend in Me," the honorees all gathered together. First to have a group photo taken, then to place their handprints & signatures in cement.

You know what really struck me about this event? The fact that Bob Iger didn't act like your usual Hollywood bigwig. Rather than hogging the limelight, Iger seemed quite content to stand on the sidelines and just enjoy the day. With his arms folded in front of him, looking on like a proud papa at his kid's birthday.


This year's crop of Disney Legends gather for a group photo.
Photo by Brian Gaughan

After all the awards were given out, it was fun to watch this year's Disney Legends rub elbows with such past honorees as Art Linkletter, Richard M. Sherman and Wally Boag.

All in all, maybe a hundred people attend the 2007 Disney Legends induction ceremony. Which may not have been long on glitz & glamor. But -- man -- was it magical !

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  • I've always thought that they give too many of these out...

    When you've got a dozen awarded in one year, makes it kinda less special to have one, doesn't it?  Why not stick or one or two?  There are very few that can actually be called "legends" anyway.  

  • First off - once again a hearty congratulations to Mr. Norman.

    A well deserved and long-in-coming honor.

    Now then - Tom Murphy? Roone Arledge?  huh? A Disney Legend? really?

    At least Howard Cosell appeared in a Disney movie, but Roone?

    Tom and Roone were better choices than all the creative people that have worked at the Walt Disney Studio or theme parks? When I looked at the official Disney Legends website, it looked like they had missed a few people.

    I was under the impression this award was designed to bring attention to people that the general public may not know about, but have contributed to the success that the Disney Studio has enjoyed throughout its history. The main exception was usually actors that had appeared in several or particularly important Disney films.

    Here's a trinket from the official page: "The Legends are chosen by a selection committee chosen by Roy E Disney." So I guess that explains why Roy got his Legends award in '98, but Ron Miller (who was somewhat involved in the company and introduced some radical new ideas) is still waiting. I figured Tony (Thunder Mt, Splash Mt, Euro Disney) Baxter wasn't eligible if he still works there, but Marty Sklar got his in 2001. Thank goodness they didn't miss Elton John though. Tom and Roone have gotten their accolades and made their millions. Let's honor a few more Floyd Normans with this award.

  • How long until Robert Mattey gets recognized as a Disney Legend? Heck, how long until Robert Mattey gets recognized period.

    Mattey was the Chief of Mechanical Effects at Disney's for 17 years. He was responsible for figuring out how to mechanize 'Zsa Zsa' the squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, not once, but TWICE! He created the system for operating the animals in the Jungle Cruise in 1955 and the upgrades in the early 60's. Mattey also worked on many figures in Fantasyland and Frontierland. Many of which are still in service.

    He made Professor Brainard's car bounce and fly in The Absent Minded Professor and its sequel with a complicated system of wires. Even got an Oscar nod! Those same wires allowed Julie Andrews to fly in Mary Poppins. Mattey was the go-to guy for all of the animatronics both on and off screen. He figured out most of the complicated stuff for the animatronics that went into the '64 Worlds Fair as well as the creatures featured in Mary Poppins, The Gnome Mobile and for one brief shot The Happiest Milionaire.

    If it weren't for Robert Mattey, Herbie wouldn't be such a loveable bug, Blackbeard's Ghost wouldn't be as fun and a whole small world of singing children would never have seen the light of Anaheim.

    He had a window at one point on Main Street. But for reasons never given "Bob Mattey - Taxidermist" was removed in the late 60's or early 70's. Matter of fact most every reference to "the little guy with the hat" have been erased.

    Why? O why? Never mind that he was responsible for a certain Disneyeque mechanical shark that terrorized an eastern seaside resort.

    If there is any one person truly deserving of Disney Legend status it is Robert A. Mattey Jr. Compared to these achievements what have Tom Murphy and Roone Arledge done to deserve their honors...

  • Never mind...isn't it really depressing that it's called the Michael D. Eisner Building?

    I know he had a huge impact on the company's history, but there's noone better to name that building after?

  • Did they revoke Michael Eisner's award, or did they give it to him anonymously?

  • What a sad reflection on all of you "Disney Fans"...are you really as bitter and petty as your posts suggest? Whine, whine, whine..."too many awards!...I want so and so in there...how did this guy get in?!..." And my favorite..."isn't it really depressing that it's called the Michael D. Eisner Building?"....uh, no! He built the thing! He put the company in the position to actually afford that building and many others an the lot! What should they do, go around taking the names off of art work, because you guys don't like them?! I actually stopped reading the comments on this site of late, because of all of the anger towards Jim Hill...but, I thought it might be nice to share in the story of a great day and ceremony on the Disney lot...(of which I can see from my window over-looking the Plaza). I think some of you need to examine why you pretend to be fans of Walt Disney and the world he created...only if it fits your myopic viewpoint.  Congrats to all of the inductees...you are ALL indeed Legends!

  • Alright, Jim.  Since you finished your HM series, I've voted for your daughter again.  That makes three times.  If we help her win, will you finish the Star Tours series?  Please?

  • Our sometime webmaster gets a few good perks out of owning Disney stock....

  • Jim owns Disney stock?  

    Jim, you own Disney stock?

    :: I KNEW I should have gotten alimony. ::

  • curmudgeon, cut Arlege and Murphy a little slack, willya? They were significant in the history of ABC, ABC's now part of Disney, therefore they qualify as Disney Legends.

    What next, guys - do you want 'em to restrict the awards only to people who knew Walt? Disney's history as a company continues past the death of the Old Mousetro. Sheesh.

    That having been said, I'll throw my two cents in on folks I'd like to see as Legends.

    I'd really like to see Robie Lester receive a posthumous award - for my generation, who could be more quintessentially Disney than the "Disneyland storyteller" from the albums?

    You really want to stir up some controversy? Let's see Cosell get a Legends award. Let's face it - for a lot of people, Cosell and Jim McKay WERE ABC Sports.

    I'd love to see Tony get a Legends award -- ditto Bruce Gordon and David Mumford. But it feels a little too soon for me. YMMV, though...

  • "I'm sorry [Buzz and Woody] that we had to cut your love scene out of Toy Story."

    WHAT?!  Walt would have fired Randy for making a remark like that during a staff meeting - yet here he is allowed to make an openly gay comment about cartoon characters in public ?!?!  

    Vannesa Hudgens got fired for photos that were floating around the internet.  What's-his-face from Grey's Anatomy got fired for his gay comments.  How is this any different?

  • ... and doesn't Michael Eisner have a son named Bobbydafan?

  • From what I've heard about Walt, it would depend on who said it, and what kind of mood Walt was in.

  • Original19: They're not freakin' out 'cause it's Randy Newman. The man's tweaked the noses of others for his entire career. I think people would have been surprised if he HADN'T made some kind of smart-alecky remark.

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