×
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

  • Santos Dumont

    Mipcom: International TV Output Picture Changing for U.S. Majors

    The global import-export strategies of the U.S. majors are in flux as the world’s major content companies gather this week in Cannes for the annual Mipcom market and conference. Disney, WarnerMedia and the other handful of media conglomerates that control the vast majority of the U.S. market are in the midst of a radical transition [...]

  • Jane Fonda Arrested

    Jane Fonda Arrested in D.C. During Climate Change Protest

    Jane Fonda was arrested on Friday in Washington, D.C. during a climate change protest, Variety has confirmed. “Today, the United States Capitol Police arrested 16 individuals for unlawfully demonstrating on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol,” Capitol Police communications director Eva Malecki said in a statement to Variety. She added that all were charged with crowding, [...]

  • Firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire in

    Saddleridge Fire Forces Evacuations, TV Production Shutdowns

    A wind-whipped wildfire has spread across parts of the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles and forced evacuations, threatened thousands of homes and closed parts of five major freeways. The Saddleridge fire has prompted mandatory evacuations affecting about 100,000 people between Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and Sylmar. Mandatory evacuations have been called for about [...]

  • amazon-studios

    Amazon Studios Pacts With Howard University for Entertainment Education Program

    Howard University and Amazon Studios have teamed to launch Howard Entertainment, a two-semester program based in Los Angeles that offers Howard students the ability to take courses, network with Amazon industry partners and gain work experience in the entertainment industry. The inaugural program will begin January. The curriculum and immersive experiences will start with academic [...]

  • Remembering Prince

    Prince Estate Slams Trump Campaign for Playing ‘Purple Rain’ at Minneapolis Rally

    The Prince Estate strongly criticized the Trump campaign for playing “Purple Rain” at a Minneapolis rally in which the president made multiple aggressive and juvenile comments about Democratic leaders, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Jay-Z. In a statement posted on social media, the Estate wrote, “President Trump played Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ tonight at a campaign event [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Wins Dismissal of Retaliation Claim in Harassment Suit

    A New York judge on Thursday dismissed a claim that Charlie Rose retaliated against three female employees who complained of sexual harassment. Judge Doris Ling-Cohan found that while Rose had allegedly disparaged the women — calling one a “f—ing idiot” and another a “f—ing kindergartner” — his comments did not amount to retaliation under the [...]

  • James Murdoch

    James Murdoch's Lupa Systems Takes Minority Stake in Vice (Report)

    James Murdoch has purchased a minority stake in Vice Media, the once-upstart brand that is trying to reconfigure itself as many prominent digital-media brand grapple with a wave of consolidation, according to a new report. The Financial Times reported that Murdoch’s investment vehicle, Lupa Systems, has secured a small ownership stake in Vice. A spokeswoman [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content