The Walt Disney Co. has named the 2004 Disney Legends, a distinction reserved for individuals who have contributed creativity, innovation and imagination to the studio’s rich heritage. Among those honored were animator/story man Mel Shaw (Fantasia, Bambi, The Wind in the Willows), Imagineers Rolly Crump, Alice Davis, Bob Gurr and Ralph Kent, and comic actor Tim Conway (The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Shaggy D.A.).
Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael D. Eisner presided over the ceremony, which takes place each year at the Disney Legends Plaza at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif. A handprint ceremony marked each honoree’s induction into the exclusive club of 160 actors, filmmakers, animators, composers and creative people. The handprints will be permanently displayed in bronze at the Disney Legends Plaza. In addition, the honoree or the family of posthumous recipients received a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends Award sculpture.
Mel Shaw is considered an “elder statesmen” of animation. His credits include illustrating the first Bambi children’s book for Disney while also offering skill and knowledge to such Disney motion pictures as The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Mouse Detective, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Imagineer Rolly Crump was one of Walt’s key designers for Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room and Adventureland Bazaar. He also served as a designer on the Disney attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including it’s a small world. When the attraction moved to Disneyland in 1966, Crump designed the larger-than-life animated clock at the entrance, which sends puppet children on parade with each quarter-hour gong. Crump’s works also included contributing to the initial design of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.
At Walt Disney Imagineering, Alice Davis designed and dressed animated figures for such beloved Disneyland attractions as it’s a small world and Pirates of the Caribbean. Collaborating with art designer and fellow Legend Mary Blair, Alice researched, designed and supervised the creation of more than 150 highly detailed costumes for the audio-animatronics Children of the World.
With nearly 40 years of Imagineering under his belt, Bob Gurr has often quipped, "If it moves on wheels at Disneyland, I probably designed it." Gurr developed more than 100 designs for attractions ranging from Autopia to the Matterhorn Bobsleds to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Monorails.
Ralph Kent was originally hired at Disney to develop marketing materials for the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room and other classic attractions. He went on to create training materials for attractions at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including it’s a small world. In 1965, Kent designed the first limited-edition Mickey Mouse watch for adults. He also spent time as director of Walt Disney Imagineering East, overseeing Florida staff support for EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland.
Also inducted was actress Karen Dotrice, who appeared in such Disney motion pictures as The Three Lives of Thomasina, Mary Poppins, and The Gnome-Mobile. More recently, Dotrice contributed her voice to a Mary Poppins read-along and appeared in the 2001 ABC documentary, Walt Disney: Man Behind the Myth.
Honored posthumously were film and television producer Bill Anderson (The Shaggy D.A., The Apple Dumpling Gang, Swiss Family Robinson), actor Matthew Garber (The Three Lives of Thomasina, Mary Poppins, The Gnome-Mobile), conductor/orchestrator Irwin Kostal (Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Pete’s Dragon), and former Chairman of the Board of ABC Leonard Goldenson, who in 1954 defied skeptics who believed movie studios could not be lured into television when he struck a deal with Disney to provide ABC with The Wonderful World of Disney.