Renie Bardeau was a Disneyland photographer who produced several of the most iconic Walt Disney photos. He is my 144th pick to be named a Disney Legend. His first assignment the summer he was hired by head photographer Charlie Nichols was to take publicity photos of the opening of the new attractions for Tomorrowland, especially the Monorail, with Walt Disney and the Nixon family.
His summer job at Disneyland continued until 1963 when he graduated. He assumed he would work at Disneyland until he found some other job in the advertising field.
"One year became five and five became 10, then 10 became 20 and so on," Bardeau said. (It was a familiar story for many of the people that began working at Disneyland like Disneyland Band Leader Vessey Walker and Golden Horseshoe star Wally Boag.)
As those years passed by, Bardeau spent less time in the darkroom and more time in the park. He would receive three or four assignments a day, photographing celebrities or new rides or fireworks.
United States presidents, politicians, award-winning performers, famous athletes, royalty, and a host of foreign dignitaries have visited Disneyland and Renie was there snapping pictures for press packets, Disney archives and in-house newsletters.
When Charlie Nichols retired in 1968, Bardeau replaced him as chief photographer.
|Last photo taken of Walt Disney at Disneyland|
Bardeau has ridden every ride at Disneyland since 1959, many of them while sitting backward to get specific angles for photos used to publicize a coming attraction.
Bardeau was also responsible for the final professional photo taken of Walt Disney in Disneyland. As Renie recalled, it was at the end of August 1966 (Walt died a little more than three months later) and Walt had been shooting a commercial for Kodak. Walt was in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle sitting in the front seat of Disneyland Fire Department “Engine No. 1” vehicle with a costumed Mickey Mouse.
Bardeau once complained to Disney that the trees along Main Street had grown too large and obstructed the view of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. The trees were eventually replaced with smaller ones.
In all Renie worked as a photographer for Disneyland for 37 years. He snapped over a million pictures for the theme park. He has mingled with Hollywood stars, famous athletes--and, of course, Mickey Mouse, whom he has photographed more than 100,000 times. (Bardeau has seen subtle changes in the famous mouse over time: "He has a bigger tummy to make him look more like the cartoon and his ears are a little smaller.")
Some of this information was taken from an article by JimKorkis on Mouseplanet.com.