This morning, thousands of people gathered into Hall D23 to witness CEO Bob Iger introduce the newest inductees into the Disney Legend circle. This is the 30th anniversary of the prestigious award, and the 5th time the ceremony has taken place at the D23 Expo.
This year, eleven recipients will bestow the honor of becoming Disney Legends. Carrie Fisher, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kirby, Manuel Gonzales, Mark Hamill, Wayne Jackson, Stan Lee, Gary Marshall, Julie Taymore, Oprah Winfrey, and surprise Legend Whoopi Goldberg.
Each will receive a two-foot tall bronze Disney Legends statue representing the imagination, creativity, and magic they brought to the company. Also, their hand prints will be displayed at the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios.
For over 25 years Oprah was on ABC network with her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. I quickly became one of the highest rated talk shows ever. She was nominated for an Academy award for her role in THE COLOR PURPLE, she also voiced Tiana’s mother in THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, and is also co-starring as Mrs. Which in Disney’s upcoming film, A WRINKLE IN TIME.
Gary Marshall started writing for a number of hit television shows early on, but it wasn’t until he produced the ODD COUPLE for ABC in 1970 that he hit it big. He created so many beloved shows like THE HAPPY DAYS, and MORK AND MINDY. He also directed PRETTY WOMEN and THE PRINCESS DIARIES. His children Steve and Kathleen accepted the award in his honor. They teased that their dad would have teased “Oh great, I have to follow Oprah!”
Jack Kirby co-created with Stan Lee the amazing Marvel Universe we have today. His action filled layouts and artwork stamped his way making Marvel the iconic brand it is today. His son Neal Kirby accepted his award thanking Stan Lee for making his dad the ‘King’ of comic books.
Everyone who has seen a Marvel movie knows who Stan Lee is. He started his writing career in 1941 with a Captain America story. Stan teamed up with Kirby in 1961 to create the FANTASTIC FOUR. While accepting his award, Lee got very emotional on the tribute to Kirby and his journey. He also teased that his cameos in his films are more of a supporting role. And of course before he left the stage he said his famous ‘Excelsior’
Manuel started his career in 1936 at an open audition for artists to work on SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. He was one of 33 artists to be selected. He took three years off to join the military, and then came back to the pencil and ink department where he stayed until 1981. His son told a great story about his dad and Walt. They apparently had the same car, and one day Gonzales accidentally parked in Walt’s spot. Walt was out front tapping his feet. Then every time Walt saw him it would be ongoing joke between them.
Jackson started his career as an Imagineer in 1965. He helped install Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. He then spent seven years as an installation supervisor for WDW’s Magic Kingdom. In 1981, he moved overseas to become the director of show and ride production, manufacturing, and installation for Tokyo Disneyland Resort. He was honored with the Cadaver Dans and the cast of Dancing with the Stars.
He joined the Disney Studios in 1931. As an animator he worked on Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony, and Pluto Cartoons. He was created in doing over 50 shorts. He became sequence director on such films as CINDERELLA, PETER PAN, and THE THREE CABALLEROS. He was also the supervising director for SLEEPING BEAUTY.
Carrie was born to become a star. Her parents were Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. It wasn’t until 1977 that she became the iconic Princess Leia. While she had many other roles like in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, it was Princess Leia she was most iconic for, and she would return to the role in STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS and also the upcoming STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI. Mark Hamill said if she was her right now she would have already given him the bird at least twice. Iger, read a beautiful letter from daughter Billy Lourd who is currently filming AMERICAN HORROR STORY. To end, Iger said, ‘Carrie, may the force be with you always.’ #tears.
While Mark started his career in 1970 it wasn`’t until he became Luke Skywalker making him a household name. “As an avid collector of Disney memorabilia, I consider this a big deal.” on accepting his Legends award. Bob Iger also said that THE LAST JEDI is his best acting yet.
Whoopi is known for her comedy, but she can also have a dramatic side to her as shown in THE COLOR PURPLE. She has been in SISTER ACT and many other countless films. While accepting her award, she had to show off her Minnie Mouse shoes. She was also a surprise Legend award winner and said she would try not to screw it up.
Her award as a Legend also now makes her the first ever LEGOT; Legend, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner!
Taymore is known for changing Broadway with her innovative direction. She is best known for the 1997 Broadway hit THE LION KING. She has won Tony awards for her puppets, costumes, and mask designs. As a surprise after accepting her Legend award, the Broadway cast of THE LION KING came out at performed.