More than 30 past and present Disney Legend Award winners came together Friday on the Walt Disney Studios lot to help kick off a weekendlong global celebration of the company’s 75th birthday, which also included the dedication of the new Frank G. Wells building on the Disney studio lot and a weekend of worldwide volunteerism, dubbed the Disney VoluntEARS Global Celebration of Children.
In a ceremony, Disney chairman Michael Eisner and vice chairman Roy Disney presented 18 new Disney Legend Awards, honoring those who have made a significant and lasting impact on the Disney legacy.
“This ceremony is of incredible importance to our company because the name Disney figures so prominently in the company’s history, it is easy to forget the countless other names who have contributed to the success of this enterprise,” said Disney.
Honored Friday were thesps Kurt Russell, Dick Van Dyke, Hayley Mills, Glynis Johns, Kathryn Beaumont and Virginia Davis; directors Larry Lansburgh and Paul Kenworthy; editors Lloyd Richardson and Norman Palmer; composer Buddy Baker; and corporate financial maven Don Escen.
Posthumous awards were given to animators Wilfred Jackson, Ben Sharpsteen and Bill Tytla; filmmakers James Algar and Al and Elma Milotte; and merchandising/licensing innovator Kay Kamen.
In a surprise addition to the list, Eisner presented Roy Disney himself with a Disney Legend Award, causing the startled vice chairman to quip: “Does this mean I have to retire?”
Following the Legends ceremony, Eisner and Luanne Wells, widow of former Disney prexy Frank Wells, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1994, dedicated the Frank G. Wells Building.