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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Burl Ives - My 8th choice as a Disney Legend

Burl Ives did not have as a prolific of Disney career as the other choices thus far, but he has waited a long time and I think he deserves the honor. Here are the highlights:
  • He appeared in several live-action Disney films, including So Dear to My Heart (as Uncle Hiram).
  • He also starred in Summer Magic (as Osh Popham). If you look closely at the windows alongside the southwest corner Emporium entrance at Walt Disney World, you’ll see the words, “Osh Popham” named as the proprietor of the shop.
  • He also provided the voice of Sam the Eagle in the former America Sings attraction at Disneyland.
  • He sang for the album Walt Disney Presents Burl Ives' Animal Folk.
  • The Ugly Bug Ball is a song written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Burl Ives in the movie Summer Magic. This song is still played during Disney’s Halloween celebrations at the parks.
  • Lavender's Blue was sung by Burl Ives, and was featured in the Walt Disney movie, So Dear to My Heart and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  • He was the performer for the 1964 Disney album Chim Chim Cheree and Other Children's Choices.
  • He also sang Ol' Dan Patch from the So Dear to My Heart movie.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jim Cummings - number 7 pick as a Disney Legend

This pick seems so obvious, it is a wonder he has not already been named! Besides the following partial list of his voice talent credits, Jim Cummings has voiced for nearly every animation studio in existence today. Some of his famous non-Disney voices include the Tasmanian Devil, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Afterburner.

Here are his Disney Legend credentials (once again only a PARTIAL list):

  1. 101 Dalmatians Television series: Colonel, Mayor Ed Pig, Persian Pete
  2. Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Zummi Gummi, Chummi Gummi
  3. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Senator Aarrfvox
  4. Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh: Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger
  5. The Book of Pooh: Winnie-the-Pooh: Tigger
  6. DuckTales: El Capitan
  7. Goof Troop: Pete
  8. The Rescuers Down Under:   The Crocodiles
  9. House of Mouse: Pete, Humphrey the Bear, King Louie, Big Bad Wolf, Censor Monkeys, Ed the Hyena, Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Gorilla, Kaa, Razoul, Tiki Masks, Weasels, Zeke, Cheshire Cat, Roquefort, Mister Stork, Jasper, Colonel Hathi, Cyril Proudbottom, Otto, Shun Gun, Boomer, Porcupine, Sexton Mouse, Deacon Owl, Gideon, Colonel, Flower [Adult], Sir Ector, King Duke, Doc
  10. The Brave Little Toaster:  Evil Clown
  11. Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Monterey Jack
  12. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Great Mouse Detective, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Fox and the Hound 2, Brother Bear 2, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Wreck-It Ralph: Misc Voices
  13. The Lion King: Ed, Gopher, Additional Voices
  14. Aladdin: Razoul, Farouk
  15. TaleSpin: Don Karnage, Louie, Trader Moe, Covington
  16. Pocahontas: Chief Powhatan
  17. Mulan: Hayabusa (Shan Yu's falcon)
  18. The Lion King II: Simba's Pride:   Scar
  19. Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: Blitzen
  20. The Princess and the Frog:  Ray
  21. Gnomeo and Juliet: Featherstone
  22. The Pirate Fairy: Oppenheimer / Port
  23. He voiced Tigger and Winnie the Pooh in: The Tigger Movie, Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving, Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo, Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie, My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths, Winnie the Pooh,
  24. He has also voiced Pete in the following movies: Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Mickey's House of Villains, A Goofy Movie, All the Epic Mickey video Games.
  25. He is the voice behind Darkwing Duck.
  26. Hondo Ohnaka from Star Wars Rebels
  27. He has replaced Disney Legend Sterling Holloway in most of his old roles (when new material is released). He is also the new voice for the Big Bad Wolf, The Cheshire Cat, King Louie, Bagheera, Doc, Colonel Hathi, Kaa, Tony from Lady and the Tramp and the Colonel from 101 Dalmatians.
  28. He is the narrator of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

John Lasseter - number 6 pick for a Disney Legend honor

John Lasseter comes in at number 6. He could easily be number one. His contributions to the Disney Studios are enormous. Plus he has a huge collection of Hawaiian shirts, which in and of itself might give him the nod for this honor! Let's take a look at a few of his accomplishments.

  1. His Wikipedia page - first paragraph, says it all, "He is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer and the chief creative officer of Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and DisneyToon Studios. He is also the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering."
  2. He started off as a Jungle Cruise Skipper!
  3. His combined Disney and Pixar filmography as an animator or contributor - Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, Brave Little Toaster, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and Toy Story.
  4. Films in which he was a director and/or producer - Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monster's Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Cars 2, Meet the Robinsons, Tinker Bell, Wall-E, Ratatouille, Bolt, Up, Ponyo, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3, Tangled, Planes, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and more!
  5. He created and directed Tin Toy an influential CGI short for Pixar. He also directed Luxor Jr
  6. He was the voice of the Bug Zapper Bug in A Bug's Life and the Blue Rock-Em Sock-em Robot in Toy Story 2.
  7. He was trained by some of Disney's nine Old Men - including Ollie Johnston and Eric Larson. 
  8. Lasseter owns the "Marie E." steam locomotive, a H.K. Porter 0-4-0ST saddle tank locomotive formerly owned by one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men", Ollie Johnston. In 2005, Lasseter was given permission to bring the Marie E. to Disneyland as part of a celebration honoring Johnston. Johnston was able to take the locomotive around the Disneyland Railroad three times. This is the only time in history an outside locomotive has been permitted to operate on any of the Disney railroads.
  9. Lasseter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood on November 1, 2011, located at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard.
  10. He has won two Academy Awards, for Animated Short Film (Tin Toy), as well as a Special Achievement Award (Toy Story).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bobby Driscoll - pick number 5 as a Disney Legend

My fifth pick is one of the few tragic child actors tales from the classic Disney era. In today's world, many child actors and actresses seem to have tragic ends to their lives. In the golden era of the Disney Studios, however, most of these child stars grew into happy and well-adjusted adults (think Kevin Corcoran, Hayley Mills, Annette Funicello, Kurt Russell). Bobby Driscoll died before he turned 31 due to his sue of illegal drugs. 
This does not change the fact that in deed he was a big part of some highly successful and enduring Disney live action films. Here are his Disney career highlights:

  1. He played one of the leads, Johnny, in the innovative classic Song of the South.
  2. He is perhaps most remembered for his terrific performance as Jim Hawkins in one of my personal favorites, the 1950 version of Treasure IslandDriscoll's work in this film earned him a star at 1560 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
  3. He was Jeremiah Kincaid in one of Walt Disney's personal favorites - So Dear to My Heart.
  4. He was the voice actor and close-up model for none other than Peter Pan. Does this role in and of itself not warrant the legend honor?
  5. He appeared with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers in the live-action teaser for the Pecos Bill segment of Disney's cartoon compilation Melody Time, which was released in 1948
  6. Driscoll won a special Juvenile Academy Award in March 1950 as the outstanding juvenile actor of 1949.
  7. He also voiced Goofy Jr., Goofy's son in two animated shorts, Fathers Are People and Father's Lion.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ron Miller - My Number 4 pick for a Disney Legend

I know - there are some Disney Buffs who are rolling their eyes and groaning at this choice. But here me out, Ron Miller should definitely be given the Legend honor. 

  1. Ronald William “Ron” Miller was introduced to Diane Disney on a blind date while he was attending USC, where he played left-end on the football team.  After dating for awhile and with the approval of Diane’s parents they were married on May 9th 1954 in Santa Barbara. After playing professional football for awhile, Walt offered Ron a job at the Disney Studios after seeing his son-in-law get hammered on the field by future Hall of Famer Dick "Night Train" Lane. This is a feat in and of itself. He was Walt's son-in-law and he was knocked out by an NFL legend! Did he get the job because of nepotism, yes. But lets look at some of his accomplishment and take a fair assessment of this man.
  2. Let's look at the films he was producer, co-producer  or director or assistant director. some of the highlights include: Old Yellar, Pete's Dragon, Tron, Escape to Witch Mountain, Son of Flubber, That Darn Cat, Summer Magic, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Hole, The North Avenue Irregulars, Small One, The Cat From Outer Space, Hot Lead Cold Feet, The Shaggy DA, Snowball Express and a host of others.
  3. Tron was one of the initial forays into computer animation. Tron alone stands as an argument in favor of Ron Miller being honored.
  4. He won an Emmy in 1971 - "Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement - Programs" – The Wonderful World of Disney.
  5. He became president of Walt Disney Productions in 1978 and CEO in 1983. He was the fifth president and fourth CEO of the company.
  6. He helped to start Touchstone Pictures which produced films not aimed at families. The first film to come from Touchstone was Splash, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard.
  7. He oversaw the development and launch of the Disney Channel.
  8. He provided the leadership that led to the opening of Epcot Center and Tokyo Disneyland.
  9. During his tenure at the top, Disney first started releasing films for the home theater via VHS tapes. In 1980 Walt Disney Home Entertainment had its first releases, with Dumbo being the first animated release in 1981.
  10. Disney historian Jim Korkis likes him - see this page.
  11. He is the current President of the Walt Disney Family Museum
  12. Many of the successes of Eisner and Frank Wells can trace their origins back to decisions made under Ron Miller as well as some of his hires.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Michael Eisner - Number 3 Pick for a Disney Legend Honor

My next two picks are people who made significant contributions to the Disney Company but were "forced out" and therefore may never see the honor of being made a Disney Legend. If this is the case, that would be unfortunate, because they truly are legends that the company is still benefiting from today.  The first is Michael Eisner. Some people may actually be shocked to know he has not been honored.
Let's look at some of his highlights.

  1. He was the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company from September 22, 1984 to September 30, 2005. Since the death of Walt Disney in 1966, the company had struggled and barely survived corporate takeover attempts. Its shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney brought in Eisner (as CEO and Chairman of the Board) and former Warner Brothers chief Frank Wells (as President) to replace Ron W. Miller in 1984 and strengthen the company.
  2. He oversaw a Disney Golden Age which included blockbuster hits like the Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lon King
  3. During his tenure the company acquired Miramax Films, ABC and ESPN. 
  4. He administered a  new division, Walt Disney Theatrical, produced the enormously successful Broadway shows, Beauty and the Beast, Aida and the phenomenally successful stage version of The Lion King. Eisner's reign also saw the development of such theme park-related businesses as the Disney Cruise Line.
  5. Since Eisner joined Disney, the company's annual revenues have grown from $1.7 billion to $25.4 billion, operating income has gone up from $291 million to $4.08 billion, and its stock price has risen some 30 times.
  6. He helped develop a partnership with Pixar and the companies produced such hits as Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Monsters Inc
  7. In 2004 Disney purchased the rights to the Muppets after a lengthy partnership with the company. This all happened while Eisner was CEO. 
  8. During his tenure Walt Disney World added two new parks - Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Disney character such as Mickey mouse began appearing in Epcot directly under the influence of Eisner. Furthermore Disneyland Paris (1992 and a second park in 2002), Disney California Adventure opened in 2001. Tokyo DisneySea (2001) and  Hong Kong Disneyland (2005) were also opened under his leadership of the company. That is seven them parks opened during his time.
  9. The NHL Team the Anaheim Mighty Ducks was founded by Walt Disney during the Eisner era.
  10. Some of the other major films released during his time at Disney - The Great Mouse Detective, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Flight of the Navigator, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Hocus Pocus, Cool Runnings, The Three Musketeers, Angels in the Outfield, Iron Will, White Fang, Pocahontas, Operation Dumbo Drop, 101 Dalmations (live action),  Air Bud, Tarzan Hercules, Inspector Gadget, The Parent Trap (remake), Mulan, Toy Story 2, Fantasia 2000, Remember the Titans, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis, The Santa Clause, Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Princess Diaries and National Treasure - to name a few. 
  11. Yes, in 2005 Eisner was forced into early retirement , lead by the same Roy Disney that spearheaded his hiring. But the fact hat this man was the center of two of the most important Machiavellian moments in Disney history speaks to his importance to this company's history. Intrigue follows him controversy is his middle name, Risk, Reward and Failure are his friends and his mark was permanent. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Phil Harris - number 2 pick for a Disney Legend

Phil Harris is an unsung Legend. Unlike Knotts, he is not a famous name. Only true Disney fans know who he is (and perhaps folks who are fan of his other work).

So who is Mr. Phil Harris? Better yet, what are his Legend Credentials?

  1. He was the voice of the iconic Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book. This alone should give him the pedigree for a Legend award. Consider that the voice talent for Jiminy Cricket, James Sullivan,
    Princess Jasmine and Cinderella are all Disney Legends. Baloo ranks right there with those characters. Harris was known to be a wildcard in the recording studio, frequently improvising his lines (many which were kept in the films) and singing various unscripted tunes for his characters. During the recording of The Jungle Book’s “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)”, it was written in the script that the scatting between King Louie and Baloo the bear that Baloo would simply repeat whatever King Louie sang. But Harris didn’t like that idea and simply recorded his own improvised version which came to be the one we know today.
  2. He was Little John in the animated version of Robin Hood. this was a childhood favorite of mind - I can clearly remember seeing the movie at the theater.
  3. He voiced Thomas O'Malley the Alley Cat in The Aristocats. The Aristocats features Harris as alley cat Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley, who joins in the film's showstopper, "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat", with Scatman Crothers.
  4. In 1989, Harris briefly returned to Disney to once again voice Baloo, this time for the cartoon series, TaleSpin. But after a few recording sessions he was replaced by Ed Gilbert.

Number 1 Pick for a Disney Legend - Don Knotts

Don Knotts is my first pick - in my humble opinion he is the most deserving. First of all I think he is hilarious. not the type of humor that translates as well today, but it still carries over (my kids laugh when they watch him!). So my bias is revealed. Here are some highlights of my Don Knotts case for a Disney Legend.

  1. He is the uptight half of the legendary comedy team of Tim Conway and Don Knotts. Tim Conway was honored as a Disney Legend in 2004, and his election without Knott's inclusion is a bit perplexing.
  2. Conway and Knotts were wonderful in one my childhood favorites - The Apple Dumpling Gang and the its sequel. Knotts played Theodore Ogelvie.
  3. Another of my favorites a kid was the movie Gus - the football kicking mule. Don Knotts starred as Coach Venner the coach for the California Atoms.
  4. He also played the Denver Kid in Hot Lead Cold Feet
  5. He voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Chicken Little
  6. He starred with Dean Jones as Wheely Applegate in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
  7. He also hosted the Mouse Factory episode "Physical Fitness" and guest-starred on The Muppet Show in episode 201.
  8. He is also the subject of a famous Michael Eisner quote. When being courted for the top job at Disney, Eisner scoffed and sarcastically said: “They still think Don Knotts is a movie star.”
  9. Granted some of these movies are considered from one of the dark ages of Disney, but maybe Knotts should get an award just for helping the studios survive the 1970s with some box office successes.