Many of Disney’s veteran animators and legends came out to shine last night at a special 90th birthday celebration held at the “Legends Plaza” at the studio last night (Dec. 10). The special event was hosted by the studio’s chair and CEO Bob Iger and Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, who welcomed the guests and toasted the rich history of the studio as well as Disney’s 53rd animated feature Frozen, this past weekend’s number one movie at the U.S. box office, which screened prior to the cocktail party. Also attending were studio chairman Alan Horn, president Ed Catmull and general manager Andrew Millstein.
Lasseter talked about the unique legacy of Disney’s animation and the studio’s films’ ability to move and inspire audiences around the world.
He said, “There is something special and unique about the kind of special entertainment that Walt Disney created that no one has ever been able to reproduce — that warmth he puts in your heart … the humor, the beauty. It’s why I chose this life’s work and why all the artists here at Disney chose it. At one point, Walt Disney touched our lives.”
Among the many talented Disney Legends who were attending the event were Tony Anselmo, the voice of Donald Duck; Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Wendy in Peter Pan; Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy; Floyd Norman, the first African-American animator at Disney, who worked on Sleeping Beauty and The Jungle Book; Stan Freberg, the voice of the beaver in Lady and the Tramp; 100-year-old Milton Quon, who worked on Fantasia and Dumbo; Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse; 78-year-old storyboard artist Burny Mattinson (who recently celebrated 60 years at the studio and has worked on numerous classics including The Jungle Book, Tarzan and Winnie the Pooh); veteran Disney inker, the 103-year-old Ruthie Thompson, and Disney archivist Dave Smith.
Also in attendance was the beloved Disney songwriter Richard Sherman, who along with his brother Richard, were behind some of the studio’s most popular tunes, including “It’s a Small World After All” and songs from Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book soundtrack. Sherman has been back in the spotlight again this year, thanks to the Tom Hanks/Emma Thompson movie Saving Mr. Banks, which details the making of Mary Poppins.
Frozen‘s directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho, actor Josh Gad (the voice of the movie’s comic relief, Olaf the Snowman), animator Mark Henn, composer Christophe Beck and veteran animator Eric Goldberg, who also worked on the acclaimed new Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse!, Ron Clements> (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog), Mike Gabriel, Andreas Deja, Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) and Jenny Lewis (Bolt) were also among the other luminaries at the one-of-a-kind awards season event.