×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78.

Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the company after his retirement.

“He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story,” said Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger. “Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future.”

Smith was hired in 1970 by Walt Disney’s brother, Roy O. Disney. His first job was to catalogue every item in Walt Disney’s executive suite at the Burbank studio, a space that had been left untouched after Walt Disney’s death in December 1966. Smith’s work allowed the company to recreate Walt’s office for an installation built in 2015 to help inspire Disney’s contemporary workforce.

Smith was a prolific author of books about Walt Disney Co., including the company’s official encyclopedia “Disney A to Z.” Other titles included “Disney: The First 100 Years,” “The Quotable Walt Disney,” “Disney Trivia from the Vault” and four volumes of “The Ultimate Disney Trivia Books.”

Born and raised in Pasadena, Smith earned a B.A. in history and master’s degree in library science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before joining Disney he worked in the research library at UCLA and at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. He also interned at the Library of Congress.

From 1980 to 2001, Smith served as executive director of the Manuscript Society.

More Biz

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Gersh Agency Stirs Ire After Canceling Network Meeting for Former Client

    In a sign of hostility in the war between the WGA and Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, Gersh Agency has come under fire from TV and film writers for canceling a network meeting that it had arranged for a now-former client. Writer Jorge Reyes disclosed the incident in a series of tweets on Monday. Reyes asserted [...]

  • Streaming Placeholder

    TikTok Owner Preparing Streaming Service to Rival Spotify (Report)

    ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the TikTok video app, is developing a paid streaming music service aimed at the same emerging markets that Spotify and Apple are seeking to explore, according to a report in Bloomberg. The app could be introduced as early as autumn, according to the report, which adds that the company has [...]

  • Stranger Things

    Coca-Cola Will Revive New Coke in Alliance With Netflix, 'Stranger Things'

    A rush of TV watchers to streaming video has prompted Coca-Cola to test an interesting pour. Coca-Cola will bring New Coke back to market for a brief time, all part of a partnership with Netflix, which has featured Coke in its cult-favorite series “Stranger Things.” The third season of the series, set in 1985, will [...]

  • Doug Davis and Jodie ShihadehVariety Power

    Jodie Shihadeh Named Partner at The Davis Firm

    Jodie Shihadeh has been named Partner at The Davis Firm, PLLC. She joined the firm in 2011 and rose from associate to Managing Attorney and now partner. She graduated from Boston College and received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2011. While still in law school she interned in the Business [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Nickelodeon Alum Keith Dawkins Sets Kidvid Partnership With Believe Entertainment Group

    Former Nickelodeon executive Keith Dawkins has partnered with Believe Entertainment Group to develop children’s programming. Dawkins will partner with Believe under his newly formed Rock Hill Media Ventures, which aims to advise companies in media, entertainment and sports on working with diverse and emerging talent. Dawkins previously spent 17 years at Viacom, most of which [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    CBS Credit Union Manager Pleads Guilty to $40 Million Fraud

    The manager of a credit union for CBS employees pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to a $40 million embezzlement scheme. Edward Rostohar, 62, was arrested in March after the scheme began to unravel. According to prosecutors, he admitted to stealing money from the bank for the last 20 years. Rostohar is [...]

  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The

    CAA's Packaging Fee Becomes Flashpoint in 'Walking Dead' Litigation

    UPDATED with new statement and response filing The issue that is at the heart of the WGA’s present standoff with talent agencies has flared up as a source of tension in the litigation between AMC Networks and Frank Darabont and CAA over profit participation on “The Walking Dead.” Attorneys for Darabont and CAA called AMC’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content