New York State In-depth

Disney In Memoriam – 2022

“Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it.” That line, delivered by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Christmas Carol, always feels extra fitting this time of year. With another year about to be put behind us, it’s time to pay respects to those the Disney community lost in 2022. At Disney, the salutation “Goodbye” is seldom used, so for this year’s in memoriam, we’ll keep to the vernacular and just say “See ya real soon.”

Betty White

One month shy of her 100th birthday, Disney Legend Betty White passed away on the final day of 2021. With decades of TV work in her repertoire prior to 1985, it was her role as Rose Nyland on Touchstone Television’s The Golden Girls that made her a TV legend. Her most memorable film role was in The Proposal, another Touchstone project that put her back in the spotlight. In addition to guest-starring on screen in multiple Disney and 20th Television projects over the years, she also lent her vocal talents to projects including Toy Story 4 and two episodes of The Simpsons. She became a Disney Legend in 2009 alongside her The Golden Girls cast mates, who had already passed away.

Leslie Jordan

A multi-hyphenate talent, Leslie Jordan was an accomplished actor of the stage and screen, a published author and playwright, and a recording artist. On television, Leslie Jordan spent much of his early career in guest roles including on ABC sitcoms like Coach, Ellen, Dharma & Greg, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Reba. In recent years, he appeared in a few seasons of FX’s American Horror Story, as well as some delightful guest roles on many of Disney’s networks. One of his most fruitful efforts was the role of Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Del Shores’ Sordid Lives. The character allowed Jordan to explore his Southern roots and homosexuality on stage and in the filmed version.

Alice Davis

Wife of the equally legendary Imagineer Marc Davis, Alice Davis passed away this year at the age of 93. She was best known for creating costumes for Audio-Animatronic figures at Disney Parks around the world, most notably for “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean. In 1963, Alice Davis was hand selected by Walt Disney to work with Disney Legend Mary Blair, who was designing an attraction for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The project required more than 150 costumes representing countries all over the world. Thanks in large part to Alice’s iconic designs, “it’s a small world” became such an instant classic that it was moved to Disneyland and duplicated at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Alice and Marc both retired in 1978, but remained involved as consultants for Disney throughout the decades.

Angela Lansbury

Dame Angela Lansbury won five Tony Awards, starting in 1966 with the title role in Jerry Herman’s Mame. Her other awards on Broadway came from performances in Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Blithe Spirit. Despite all of her success in film and theater, it wasn’t until 1984 that Angela Lansbury was catapulted into superstar status with the hit CBS series Murder She Wrote, which ran for 12 seasons. To Disney fans, she is best known for her on-screen roles in the musical films Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins Returns and as the voice of Mrs. Potts in the animated classic Beauty and the Beast.

Ron Logan

Disney Legend Ron Logan was responsible for altering the live entertainment landscape of the Disney Parks. He was instrumental in the productions of Fantasmic! (Disneyland, 1992; Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 1998), Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 1989), Festival of the Lion King (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, 1998), Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (Disneyland Paris, 1992), and many more. He also was heavily involved in parades, including the fan-favorite SpectroMagic (Magic Kingdom, 1991), and Tapestry of Nations (EPCOT, 2001) and others.

Ralph Eggleston

Legendary Pixar artist Ralph Eggleston started his career working on the title sequence for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest before making the jump to Disney, where he animated on EPCOT’s The Making of Me before working as an art director on Aladdin, The Lion King, and Pocahontas before joining Pixar in 1992. At Pixar, he served as an art director on the first-ever computer animated full length feature, Toy Story. The moving company in the film is even named after him (Eggman Movers). After that, he became a staple at the studio, writing and directing the short film, For The Birds, and working with longtime friend Brad Bird on his projects at the studios, most recently Incredibles 2.

Pat Carroll

Pat Carroll developed a love of acting at a young age, beginning her acting career in 1947 with the film Hometown Girl. In early 1976, she appeared as Lily, the mother of Shirley Feeney on the hit ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, in the episode titled “Mother Knows Worst.” Perhaps her most well-known, and certainly most beloved role by Disney fans, was as the voice of the Sea Witch Ursula in 1989’s The Little Mermaid. Her performance of the role and of the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” elevated the character to something entirely different.

David Warner

Acclaimed British actor David Warner has appeared in a number of momentous films and TV shows over the years. Starting out on the stage as many British actors do, Warner made his film debut in 1963’s Tom Jones. He went on to appear in a number of classic films and franchises, including The Omen, Star Trek, Titanic, and Doctor Who. But even with mainstream success, he appeared in a wide variety of projects, even playing a version of the Doctor in some Doctor Who audio plays. He appeared in multiple Marvel animated shows in the 1990s, served as the narrator in Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, and most recently appeared as Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins Returns.

Colin Cantwell

Colin Cantwell is best known to Star Wars fans for designing some of the iconic spacecraft, including the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter, and even the Death Star. Before designing these iconic elements of Star Wars, Cantwell graduated from the University of California with a degree in animation. During the historic ’60s space race between the U.S. and Russia he worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. Cantwell worked for Walter Cronkite during the moon landing in 1969. It was indeed Cantwell who was on the communication line between NASA and the astronauts, getting updates and returning that information broadcast to the world on live TV.

Estelle Harris

Estelle Harris, known to Disney fans as the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story films, and known to the comedy world as George Costanza’s mother on Seinfeld, passed away of natural causes this year. She appeared in a number of film and television roles over the years, many of which being Disney projects. They include Brother Bear, Home on the Range, House of Mouse, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. As her son appropriately said, “her kindness, passion, sensitivity, humor, empathy and love were practically unrivaled, and she will be terribly missed by all those who knew her.”

William Hurt

Beginning his career in various stage productions, William Hurt appeared in a number of films starting in the 1980s. Hurt earned three consecutive Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor in the mid-1980s for his roles in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a Lesser God and Broadcast News. He was an early element of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in The Incredible Hulk. He would go on to reprise that role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.

Tim Considine

Disney Legend Tim Considine began his career with one of the roles he would be most remembered for, in various serials on The Mickey Mouse Club (The Adventures of Spin and Marty, The Hardy Boys, Annette). He was reunited with fellow Mouseketeers Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello on the big screen in 1959 in The Shaggy Dog, which also starred Fred MacMurray. He followed this with a recurring role as Young Gabe Marion on The Swamp Fox, a serial for Walt Disney Presents starring Leslie Nielsen. Perhaps his most well-known role was on the sitcom My Three Sons, which reunited him with Fred MacMurray in 1960. While he continued acting occasionally, including in the 20th Century Fox’s best picture winner Patton in 1970, writing and photography became his second act.

Alan Ladd Jr.

The man that trusted George Lucas and perhaps made Star Wars possible, Alan Ladd Jr., passed away this year. Ladd Jr. began producing films in the early 1970s after getting his start in the business as a motion picture talent agent at Creative Management Associates. His client list included Judy Garland, Warren Beatty and Robert Redford. He returned to Los Angeles in 1973 to serve as Head of Creative Affairs at Twentieth Century Fox, where he rose through the ranks quickly and was named studio president in 1976. Despite little precedent for a movie like Star Wars, Ladd loved the idea and trusted Lucas’ vision. After leaving Fox in 1979, he formed The Ladd Company, which produced classic films such as Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, and Once Upon a Time in America.

Bob Foster

Disney Legend Robert Price Foster passed away on January 13th, 2022 at the age of 97. He was instrumental in helping Walt Disney secretly procure 43-square miles of land in Central Florida, home to the Walt Disney World Resort. Working for Disney from 1956 to 1975, he started as a legal counsel for Disneyland with expertise in real property law. After the acquisition of the Walt Disney World property, he helped establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District to service the property and became president of the Buena Vista Land Company, which developed Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Bob Saget

Beloved comedian Bob Saget unexpectedly passed away during the first week of 2022. In college, Saget discovered his love of stand-up comedy and began taking to the mic with original material. His big break came in 1989 when he landed the role of Danny Tanner on a new sitcom for ABC called Full House. As the widowed father of three girls, the family-friendly show became a huge success and made household names of Bob Saget and his co-stars. He later reprised his role in the 2016 Netflix sequel series, Fuller House. Saget also hosted the first 8 seasons of America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC. ABC also gave Bob the opportunity to honor the life of his sister, Gay Saget, through the 1996 TV movie For Hope, which he directed.

Sidney Poitier

Oscar-winning actor, director, activist, and ambassador Sir Sidney Poitier had a long and illustrious career. His film debut came in writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s No Way Out in 1950, a 20th Century Fox film. It was controversial at the time for its graphic representation of racial violence, but the role was also a cinematic milestone. With film roles that provided audiences with a more accurate image of African Americans, Sidney Poitier gave legitimacy to the Civil Rights Movement before he became an outspoken activist. In the 1970s, Sidney Poitier’s career shifted behind the camera. Retiring from acting in 2001, Sidney Poitier was presented with an Oscar for lifetime achievement in film. In addition to his incredible roster of achievements, Sidney Poitier served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company from 1995 to 2003.

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Cities/ABC for 30 years and oversaw its merger with The Walt Disney Company. In addition to leading Capital Cities to success, Murphy distinguished himself as a responsible corporate citizen by a constant emphasis on public service. Murphy began his broadcasting career in 1954, leaving his brand-manager job at Lever Brothers in New York City to manage a near-bankrupt TV and radio station in Albany, New York. In 1985, Murphy surprised colleagues and observers alike with the announcement of Capital Cities’ merger with ABC, Inc., a significantly larger organization. After overseeing ABC’s later merger with Disney, Murphy served on the Disney Board of Directors for seven years, from 1997-2004. One of the most respected and admired businessmen of his era, Murphy was also named a Disney Legend in 2007 for his contributions to the Company.

Barbara Walters

Although Walters gained prominence as the first female co-host of NBC’s Today show, she joined the ABC family in 1976 and spent the rest of her career at the network. There, she interviewed countless celebrities, newsmakers, and world leaders, including several sitting U.S. Presidents, but perhaps what she’s most known for during her time at ABC was creating and hosting the long-running show The View. Walters was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2008 and her other accolades include multiple media awards such as an induction into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, ATAS Lifetime Achievement Award and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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