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Media Essays: 100 Facts About Disney FINALE (90-100)


And here we are, the grand finale of this mad self-imposed challenge of mine. We're in Disney's anniversary month, so now we're here to finish off with 100 facts about Disney having finally reached that 100 milestone. Without further ado, let us conclude this list with a bang as I list the final facts for this anniversary special...


91: Who Were Disney's Nine Old Men?

Disney's Nine Old Men

If you're a Disney fan or have dabbled in Disney history or even animation history, you may be familiar with the term "Disney's Nine Old Men". Just about every Disney fan and animation historian knows the term and is familiar with some of, if not all of, their names. They were some of the key players in the Walt Disney era of the company and their work is considered some of the most influential and inspiring work in animation history. So in honour of Disney's 100th anniversary, let's credit them here. The Nine Old Men are:


John Lounsbury (1911 - 1976)

Les Clark (1907 - 1979)

Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman (1909 - 1985)

Eric Larson (1905 - 1988)

Milt Khal (1909 - 1987)

Marc Davis (1913 - 2000)

Ward Kimball (1914 - 2002)

Frank Thomas (1912 - 2004)

Ollie Johnston (1912 - 2008)


Each one of them has contributed to Disney's legacy in some way with them working on some of Disney's most iconic characters of all time such as Marc Davis who animated Maleficent and Cruella DeVil, Les Clark animated much of Mickey Mouse's appearances and Milt Khal worked on characters like Pinocchio, Tigger and Madame Medusa. In the case of Wolfgang Reitherman. he not only animated for the studio, but directed too with his work as director including The Sword in the Stone all the way to The Rescuers. It's also worth noting that Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston would make animated cameos in movies such as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Such is the life of an animator am I right? You get to see yourself animated. XD


Still, none of these guys are alive anymore, but their legacy still lives on in many animators working to this day. Their impact on Disney and the animation industry will be remembered for centuries to come...


92: Fred MacMurray was named the first EVER Disney Legend

Fred MacMurray

I'm also sure many Disney fans will be familiar with the term "Disney Legend". It's an award that's given out to people who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to the Walt Disney Company. And the trophy looks like this:

Disney Legend

Not gonna lie, I kinda want that myself. XD Designed by Andrea Favilli, an Italian-born sculptor, the idea behind the trophy's design is that each part represents something. Disney describes it as follows:


The Spiral... stands for imagination, the power of an idea.

The Hand... holds the gifts of skill, discipline and craftsmanship.

The Wand and the Star... represent magic: the spark that is ignited when imagination and skill combine to create a new dream.


Neat, isn't it? And we've had many, MANY people given these awards ever since the award was created in 1987. Even all nine of Disney's Nine Old Men I mentioned earlier received one! But as mentioned above, the first person to EVER receive the award and be named a Disney Legend was none other than actor Fred MacMurray, whose contributions to Disney include starring in many of their live-action works such as The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Follow Me, Boys!, and The Happiest Millionaire. I wonder how he felt being the first person to ever be named a Disney Legend...


As is, the award is still being handed out to this day with last year naming people such as Kristen Bell, Chadwick Boseman, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Don Hahn, Idnia Menzel and more as Disney Legends. And while we're talking about Disney Legends, here's another fact about the award you may find interesting...


93: Glynis Johns currently holds the record for the longest surviving and oldest living Disney Legend

Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks

Out of all the Disney Legends there have been, this actress is currently the oldest living and longest surviving of them all.


Having recently turned 100 this month, Glynis Johns is still alive even now and has surpassed the previous record held by the late Betty White who died at the age of 99 in 2021. As I'm writing this post, Dick Van Dyke is the second longest surviving and oldest living Disney Legend at the age of 97.


So what did Glynis Johns do you may ask? She was George Banks's wife, Winifred Banks, in Mary Poppins and got to perform the musical number "Sister Suffragette" in that movie. She was named a Disney Legend in 1998, probably because of her role in Mary Poppins.


I have to say, not many people get to live to be 100 and not many people can boast a record like this one.


94: Walt Disney grew to resent Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs due to never being able to replicate its success

Snow White

Ever had that case where you make something great and yet you end up hating it later in life? Walt himself kinda went through that.


If the trivia section of TVTropes's page on the movie is to be believed, Walt Disney would grow to resent Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because it was such a legendary and game-changing movie that anything he did was inevitably compared to it and he never really managed to hit the kind of acclaim and success that movie achieved, even if he still managed to get a lot of acclaim for films such as Pinocchio, Cinderella and Bambi. It was seen as a tough act to follow and I can imagine for the poor guy it might've weighed on his self-esteem a bit for people to constantly feel like his later works were never as good as Snow White. But on the bright side, he DID eventually let go of his resentment and come back round to loving his creation again so that's nice to know. ^^


I say the takeaway from this is to be proud of your creations no matter what. Even if the one thing you make will overshadow everything else you did, just be glad you have even the one creation anyone likes at all. It's better than nothing I say...


95: Mary Costa is the last surviving Disney Princess voice actress from the Walt Disney era

Mary Costa

It's always interesting to come across actors or actresses who worked on the classic era of Disney and are still alive even now. Mary Costa is one such example.


At the time of writing this post, she is the ONLY actress to have voiced a Disney Princess from the Walt Disney era of the company who is still alive now, having been born in 1930 and is currently still living at the age of 93. Adrianna Caselotti (Snow White) and Illene Woods (Cinderella) have long since passed away. As you can see in the image, Mary Costa was the voice of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. Naturally, she's no longer the voice of the character because of her age with a variety of voice actors portraying the character in current media such as Jennifer Hale and Kate Higgins, the latter whom is the current voice of the character.


You can imagine because of this, Mary gets a lot of attention and fan mail from Disney fans for her role in the movie, although she's since had to stop responding to fan mail due to the overwhelming amount she received on her 90th birthday during the COVID-pandemic. Nevertheless, she's very thankful to fans for their support. That's sweet of her. ^^


And owing back to the previous two facts, she too was named a Disney Legend, receiving her award in 1999 for her role in Sleeping Beauty. When her time comes, she'll be living behind quite the legacy as the original voice for one of the oldest Disney Princesses to have come from the company and I'm sure fans won't ever forget her...


96: Cinderella is the most popular Disney Princess

Cinderella

This one kinda surprised me but apparently, that's the case!


According to a 2020 poll, Cinderella was voted the most popular Disney Princess in about 76 different countries around the world. You can see for yourself here:



Considering how the character has (unfairly) been criticized and looked down a lot in recent years, this feels especially surprising. I'd have expected maybe Ariel or Jasmine or even Anna and Elsa to take the top spot but nope, it seems most of the world loves Cinderella! And to be fair, I don't blame them as I love her too. ^^ With her iconic fashion sense, relatable story, kind and loving personality and for being much stronger than people give her credit for, I can see why Cinderella is so beloved in spite of how mixed people tend to be regarding her in this day and age. I'm just surprised she's THE most popular of the princesses, is all...


97: Ub Iwerks is responsible for Mickey's iconic design, while Fred Moore is responsible for his redesign from Fantasia - present

Ub Iwerks

While Walt Disney created the character of Mickey Mouse, there's another man who should also be credited for the character's creation. And that man is Ub Iwerks.


Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1901 and living up to the age of 70 before passing away in 1971, Ub Iwerks worked for Disney up until 1930 when a falling out between the two caused him to resign. His work for Disney included designs for Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, animating much of the early Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons like Steamboat Willie, The Skeleton Dance and The Haunted House but most notably, he is the man responsible for Mickey Mouse's original design. While Walt created the character, Ub was the one who gave him his iconic appearance that would last up until the release of Fantasia when animator Fred Moore redesigned Mickey into the design we know and love to this day.


And yet Ub's iconic original Mickey design still makes appearances every so often, most notably in the Epic Mickey video game series for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS. His time at Disney and his work on the Mickey Mouse character has since been the subject of numerous documentaries and even an episode of The Simpsons did a plot based on that aspect of his life. Walt may have said it "all started with a mouse", and Ub Iwerks is the man who gave that mouse an image that would make him a pop culture icon for generations to come...


98: Walt LITERALLY told his animators NOT to read The Jungle Book when they were making the movie

The Jungle Book

No, I'm serious with this one. That actually did happen. XD


When they were making their film adaptation of The Jungle Book, Walt Disney gave them the original novel and told his animators NOT to read it when making the movie. That must've been the most confusing order anyone could've given to their animators. How does one make a Jungle Book adaptation if they're told NOT to read the original? XD Yet these guys managed it and now The Jungle Book remains one of Disney's most beloved films of all time, even if Rudyard Kipling fans may not agree on that part for obvious reasons...


Still, who knew being told not to do something would end up paying off? Sounds like reverse psychology in that sense. DON'T do the thing if you want to succeed at your job and make something great! XD


99: Steamboat Willie was Mickey's first cartoon with synchronized sound and one of the first cartoons to have a post-produced soundtrack

Steamboat Willie

Everyone knows this cartoon. It's among the most recognizable and famous cartoons of all time and is probably Mickey Mouse's most famous appearance. Steamboat Willie is considered Mickey and Minnie's "debut" even though they did appear in earlier shorts such as Plane Crazy. But the 1928 short is the short that made Mickey a household name so it's why it gets more recognition even if it wasn't Mickey's actual debut.


The short was a technological innovator at the time for it was one of the first cartoons ever made to have synchronized sound and a post-produced soundtrack. For context, most short films and cartoons of the 1920's were silent films with only music playing over the visuals at the time. Walt believed that synchronized sound was the future of film, hence why the short went in the direction it did. And Walt would only end up being proven right in the end as animated features and shorts in this day and age all have synchronized sound and post-produced soundtracks. It really goes to show how even before he made movies, Walt was just pushing and pushing the medium of animation forward and constantly innovating what would make the animation industry what it is today. As he once said, "we keep moving forward" and in doing so, he achieved stuff like this.


And speaking of achievements, it's time we finish off this countdown with a fact about Walt's greatest achievement...


100: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was considered "Disney's Folly" and was expected to flop...but it succeeded instead!

Walt Disney and his Academy Award

I'm sure this is a story you've all heard before, but in honour of Disney's 100th Anniversary, it needs to be told again.


It was around 1933 when Walt began brainstorming the possibility of making a feature-length animated film. Is Silly Symphonies shorts and other cartoons were popular among audiences at the time and yes, that is great, but Walt didn't feel they brought enough profit for the further growth of the studio. He can't just be stuck doing shorts all his life so he had to go bigger. The success of his Three Little Pigs cartoon in May of the same year gave Walt ideas for he saw the short as a way to expand his storytelling possibilities. In March 1933, he was approached by Mary Pickford with a proposal for a feature film adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It would've been a live-action/animation hybrid with Disney's studio doing the animated Wonderland scenes. But Paramount Pictures was doing its own Alice movie at the time so that was a no-go. Walt would have to wait until 1951 before he made HIS version.


Paramount Pictures' ownership of long-term rights to the original work also made it so an adaptation of Rip Van Winkle was off the table too. Disney did consider a film based on Babes in Toyland but Hal Roach acquired the rights first for his own adaptation of it with Laurel and Hardy starring in the film. In 1934, he eventually settled on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. His reason is as stated:


"I don't know why I picked Snow White. It's a thing I remembered as a kid. I saw Marguerite Clark in it in Kansas City one time when I was a newsboy. They had a big showing for all the newsboys. And I went and saw Snow White. It was probably one of my first big feature pictures I'd ever seen. That was back in 1916 or something. Somewhere way back. But anyways, to me I thought it was a perfect story. I had the sympathetic dwarfs and things. I had the prince and the girl. The romance. I had the heavy. I just thought it was a perfect story." - Walt Disney


And so he had his basis for his first ever animated movie and he estimated it would be produced for a budget of $250,000, ten times the budget of an average Silly Symphony short. When the movie was being made, nobody believed he could pull it off with even his brother and wife trying to talk him out of it and Hollywood would derisively refer to the film as "Disney's Folly" at the time. Nobody was convinced that audiences would watch more than five minutes of a cartoon, and here Walt was trying to make one that ran for 83 minutes! And if that wasn't bad enough, production went over budget to the point he had to mortgage his own house just to help finance the production, thus bringing it to a total cost of $1,488,422.74! By 1930's movie standards, that's a big budget! Midway through, Walt needed a $250,000 loan in order to finish it! Crazy, isn't it?!


Walt would then show a rough cut of the film for Joseph Rosenberg of Bank of America and after he saw it, he said "Walt, that think is going to make a hatful of money" and so, he approved the loan.


Joseph was absolutely right of course for the movie went on to become a critical and financial success in spite of everyone feeling Walt was making a fool of himself. It was a huge hit and it made Disney a household name forever while cementing that the animation industry could do more than just make cartoons, it could make movies that could have the same kind of impact as those with live actors. And with this film's success, Disney's legendary legacy was truly born and as we celebrate it's 100th anniversary, it's a legacy that has lasted a century and will continue to last for centuries to come. Disney's Folly was Disney's Success in the end, and WHAT a success it was...


And that's the end of my 100 facts about Disney. I hope you enjoyed this monthly countdown series and found these facts interesting to read about. Hopefully you learned something fascinating throughout these past ten months and have a newfound appreciation and interest for the studio. ^^ And feel free to share down in the comments what was your favourite fact to learn about in this series.


Next time, we continue the celebrations as I count down my Top 10 Favourite Pixar Films. See you then media fans!

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Nice way to close off this long list. I didn't know a lot of facts on this one. This series taught me a lot. Good job with this entire project

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Jacob Coad
Jacob Coad
Oct 20, 2023

Some great facts to finish off this list. Whoo! Man was this a roller coaster! Great job with this one, dude!

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