Disney Museum Kickoff

by Leonard Maltin
December 11, 2009 4:09 AM
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There is an extended Disney family that includes veteran animators and artists, Imagineers, contemporary filmmakers, fans, and enthusiasts. Many of them were on hand for the gala opening of the Walt Disney Family Museum on September 29, and I snapped as many as I could. (Photography is not allowed inside the Museum galleries.)



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Diane Disney Miller shares a moment with Disney songwriter Richard M. Sherman; Imagineer Tony Baxter can be seen in the background. When Richard and his brother Robert wrote their autobiography they purposefully named it Walt’s Time. Their publisher, the late Bruce Gordon, had an enormous influence on this museum, bringing his skills as an Imagineer to the conceptualization of exhibit space—and it shows.







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Two generations of Iwerks: Don and his daughter Leslie, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. Don Iwerks grew up in and around the Disney studio, working with his famous father Ub, who was Walt’s first partner in Kansas City. Don donated the studio’s one-time optical printing machine to the Museum, and Dick Van Dyke agreed to participate in a demonstration film to explain how it worked.

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Pixar guru John Lasseter and his wife Nancy talk with Walter Elias Disney Miller, Diane and Ron’s son who serves as President of the Walt Disney Family Foundation. The Foundation sponsored the current theatrical release Walt & El Grupo and has other film and book projects in the works. John Lasseter, who trained at Cal Arts and participated in the Disney studio’s animation training program the beginning of his career, serves on the Museum’s advisory board.




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Floyd Norman spent many years on the animation staff at Disney, and has vivid memories of working on Sleeping Beauty when he was just starting out. In recent years he has done storyboard work on such films as Mulan, Toy Story 2, The Tigger Movie, and Monsters, Inc.




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Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess and Sharon Baird examine some of the goodies in the Museum’s gift shop. They were happy to see themselves represented on-screen as part of the Museum’s television display. With them that night was Beverly Washburn, another former child performer who costarred in Old Yeller.




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Ron Miller poses with his son Walter. Ron married Diane Disney and wound up working for his father-in-law, directing some of his introductory sequences for the weekly Disney television show and eventually running the entire studio. Walter has devoted himself in recent years to supervising the many activities of the Walt Disney Family Foundation.




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