It was late July 1923 and Walt Disney had failed. His Laugh-O-gram Films was headed for bankruptcy and, with little prospects left in Kansas City, Missouri, he was pulling up stakes. Hollywood was his destination. “Go west, young man, go west and grow up with the country,” the newspaperman Horace Greeley had written in 1865 (Walt would later quote this phrase to his friend Ub Iwerks, still back in Kansas City).
In October 1966, Walt Disney filmed an introduction for a special invitational screening of Follow Me, Boys! (1966)—a live-action film notable for being the acting debut of future Disney Legend Kurt Russell—that he was too busy at the Studios to attend. To express his regrets, he turned to one of the best way he knew how—by getting on camera.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Disney historian Jim Korkis. Jim interviewed Diane Disney Miller many times for his projects, and Diane shared, "I have not hesitated to correspond with Jim whenever I think of something that might interest him, or to add some insights into something he has written about. Dad did not hide anything about his life."
Jim contributed numerous insightful articles to the museum's blog and in 2014, presented a program on "How Walt Put a Man on the Moon." His generosity and invaluable knowledge and research of Walt Disney's life will be missed.
Throughout his life, Walt Disney was dedicated to giving back to his community and generously supported many charities, especially those that benefitted children. From Toys for Tots to the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, Walt’s charitable giving often extended beyond monetary support. The John Tracy Clinic—now known as the John Tracy Center—was an organization close to Walt’s heart and, from its inception, he was an active supporter of its efforts.
Legendary artist Burny Mattinson passed away recently at the age of 87. Born in San Francisco, he had moved to the San Fernando Valley later in childhood, and first wandered up to The Walt Disney Studios’ gates back in 1953. He was just 18 years old—still a high school student—and was looking for a job.
As Walt Disney himself said, “You can design, create, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” The Disney community has lost yet another of those cherished collaborators who worked directly with Walt.
Roland Fargo Crump passed away recently at the age of 93.
Mary Blair. To many, the words that come to mind when we think of her are whimsy, color, flair, style, beauty, artist, and genius. Many know the legendary Mary Blair from her work on such Disney classics as Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953), and her influence on one of the most iconic attractions of all time, “it’s a small world.” But in addition to her long resume working for Walt Disney himself, Blair had yet another trick up her sleeve: the ability to design fanciful tile murals.
The Walt Disney Company, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, began with a deal made with Margaret J. Winkler for the distribution of Walt’s first series, the Alice Comedies. Producer and distributor Margaret Winkler was not just responsible for giving the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio their start, but was a champion of the animation industry which turned inked drawings into internationally-beloved characters.