While Iger promised news related to Disney’s movies, television shows, and theme parks, the opening panel was mostly lacking in that area. Rather, it served as a platform for inductees, including Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mark Hamill to get behind the mic.
Hamill dedicated part of his speech to the late Carrie Fisher, his “Star Wars” co-star, and a fellow Disney Legend. “There was a comfort level with each other,” he said of reuniting for “The Force Awakens.” “We could rely on each other, and there was a deep respect.” Then, pivoting, Hamill confessed, “If she were here, she would have flipped me the bird at least twice already.”
For Fisher’s award, Iger shared some remarks about the actress, who died in late 2016. “She certainly left a mark on the world, and on our company.” Iger also teased her appearance in “The Last Jedi,” which she filmed before she died, and will be her last role in the “Star Wars” movies. The Disney chief then read a letter provided by Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, who could not attend because she filming “American Horror Story.”
“She secretly always wanted to be a Disney princess,” Lourd wrote. “So getting to be a Disney princess and a Disney Legend would have been her ultimate dream.”
When Winfrey took the stage, she told a story about talking to her waiter at Disneyland’s Steakhouse 55 the day before. After learning that he had worked at the park for 42 years, Winfrey asked what kept him around. The waiter responded that Disney is “the best place to let me be me.”
“I feel the same way about my work with Disney since 1984, launching ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,'” Winfrey said. “Every day, Disney, ABC 7 let me be me.”
Goldberg confessed to being a Disney fan since she was a child. “I was born the same year the park opened,” she said. “And my mother always said, ‘One day I’m going to take you kids [to Disney].'”
“Instead, I got to take her,” Goldberg said. “Disney made you feel that no matter where you came from, you were welcome.”
Other honorees were Clyde Geronimi, Manuel Gonzales, Wayne Jackson, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Garry Marshall, and Julie Taymor.
Taymor, known for directing “The Lion King” musical, wrapped the awards by surprising the guests with a performance from the Broadway cast. Earlier in the ceremony, Anika Noni Rose sang the song “Go the Distance” from “Hercules.” The “Dancing With the Stars” cast also appeared to perform two routines in honor of various nominees.