We are proud to introduce Howard Green, a longtime friend and Vice President of Studio Communications for the Walt Disney Company for the past quarter century. Howard and wife Amy have just released their new book - Remembering Walt. A wonderful and insightful snapshot of rememberances and anecdotes by the people who knew Walt best. Included are interviews with stars, animators, writers, directors, technicians, and the Disney family themselves. This work provides a unique perspective of the American original - Walt Disney.
We proudly include this tribute as part of the Sci-Fi Station - Sci-Fi Masters Series.
- Arnold Leibovit, Director Sci-Fi Station
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO PERSONALLY HELPED WALT DISNEY SPIN HIS MAGIC BY SUPPORTING HIS VISION, IN YOUR COLLECTIVE CAPACITIES, CREATIVE AND NONCREATIVE ALIKE, YOU HAVE HELPED
MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD THAT WILL LAST FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
REMEMBERING WALT Remembering Walt (C)1999 Amy & Howard Green - Used by Permission (C)1999 Walt Disney Studios. All associated elements and logos are property of Walt Disney Studios All content (e.g., clips, stills, designs, artwork, etc.) is protected by intellectual property laws and any use other than for private, non-commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. If you wish to Purchase "Remembering Walt" - Click This Icon or Book Cover Above
Walt knew people pretty well - he was a great psychologist. I've always said that if you get forty people in a room together and ask each one of them to write down who Walt was, you'd get forty different Walts. ROY E. DISNEY
NEPHEW / VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Foreword by Ray Bradbury
WALT DISNEY was more important than all the politicians we've ever had. They pretended optimism. He was optimism. He has done more to change the world for the good than almost any politician who ever lived.
I'm talking about the influences of mind and imagination on people. I'm talking about culture and individuals' imaginations, which change that culture.
I first met Walt Disney at Saks Fifth Avenue. I saw this man coming across the floor with a huge armload of Christmas gifts and his head tucked over the top. I looked at that face and said,"Oh my God, it's my hero," because I fell in love with Steamboat Willie and The Skeleton Dance when I was eight years old. I always wanted to work for Disney and Walt, so I ran up to him and said,"Mr. Disney..."
"Yes?" he replied. "My name's Ray Bradbury." "I know your books," he said. "Thank God!" I exclaimed. "Why?" "Because sometime soon I'd like to take you to lunch," I said.
And then Walt said the most wonderful thing. . ."Tomorrow!" Isn't that beautiful?! When's the last time you ever had someone say "tomorrow"?
They say, "next week" or "next month."
So I went to lunch with him the next day. I couldn't believe it. And we sat in his office at a card table, ate soup and salad and sandwiches and babbled like a couple of kids. I raved about how I used to go to the county museum, when I was fourteen years old, to stare at Steamboat Willie, Flowers and Trees, and The Skeleton Dance cels. Every Sunday I stared at the same damned cels as if I couldn't drink in enough! God, I wanted to own some of those! So here I was at last meeting Walt and talking with him!
We discussed rapid transit because I had formed a group called PRIME: Promote Rapid Transit Improve Metropolitan Environment. Rapid transit was dying in Los Angeles. They'd eliminated all the street cars--stupid. I told Walt about my group and how I was trying to improve Los Angeles, which was hopeless. I said, "Walt, I wish you would run for mayor."
"Ray," he said, "why should I be mayor when I'm already king!"
I visited Disneyland for the first time with my actor friend Charles Laughton. We flew over London and stared down at Big Ben. When we got aboard the jungle ride, Charles Laughton became Captain Bligh, barking orders, keelhauling pirates. When I described this to Walt, he was delighted.
Later, I wrote a whole series of articles about future cities and defended Disneyland against the New York intellectuals. Remembering this, Walt said, "Ray, you've done so much for us. What can we do for you?
"Walt," I said, "open the vaults!"
So he picked up the phone, called across the street and said, "Open the vaults, I'm sending Ray over. He can have anything he wants." I went over to the animation vaults and carried out an armload of cels from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland. I felt guilty, but elated. I couldn't stop stacking. The kid who went to the museum when he was fourteen and saw the The Skeleton Dance cels and wanted them...now, had them.
The day of Walt's memorial service, I took my four daughters to Disneyland. We'd planned to go long before Walt's death. When we got home late that night, my wife Maggie said, "CBS Radio called this afternoon and wanted to interview you about Walt. I said you were at Disneyland with the kids." At this, I burst into tears. I said, "My God, what a tribute! A real tribute to a wonderful man." Today, when I lecture, people ask me, "Are you a pessimist?" "No," I say. "That's a lie." "Are you an optimist?" "No. That's a lie." "Well, what the hell are you?" they ask.
"I'm an optimal behaviorist, like Disney," I reply. With a grand sense of fun and passion, you're going to create something fine. Not always, but Walt was a bursting fountain, always running at full speed. That makes for optimal behavior. Behaving at the peak of genetic madness.
Walt left the world a thousand times better than when he arrived. He personified Schweitzer's quote: "Do something good. Someone may imitate it.
REMEMBERING WALT - INTRODUCTION Amy, Howard & Veronica
Once upon a time not so very long ago, in a fanciful realm called Southern California, there lived a miraculous man named Walt Disney who ruled over, a vast kingdom of his own making. His subjects were loyal and his fans were many. He was a dreamer, a doer, and a master of imagination.
While a chorus of nay-sayers bellowed, "Can't Do," this man exemplfied "Can Do" because in his mind, no idea was too small and no vision was too tall to pursue. He dedicated his life to fun, fantasy, and the pursuit of happiness and as the pied piper of possibility, like minds followed his call, and together they transformed an entire world.
TRY TO IMAGINE a world without Walt Disney. Imagine a world without his magic, whimsy, and optimism. During his sixty-five-year life, Walt Disney changed many things. He transformed the face of the entertainment industry, animation, and education. He was a giant, a legend about whom more has been written than any other entertainment personality of this century, with the exception of Charlie Chaplin, who, coincidentally was one of Walt's heroes and main sources of inspiration.
Walt Disney changed the lives of those who knew him-and those who didn't know him. Those of us who didn't know Walt personally, certainly felt as if we knew him. We remember Uncle Walt for his generous gifts to us ranging from the animated fairy tales he spun and the Magic Kingdom he built in a California orange grove, to his Sunday night visits into our living rooms. He brought "color" into our worlds and opened our minds to the thrill of creating just about anything we could possibly imagine.
Walt Disney was our bridge from fantasy to reality, challenging our perceptions of both. Is reality really reality? Or is reality merely fantasy in another guise? Certainly, when he built Disneyland, the first theme park of its kind, fantasy became reality. He taught us that even in reality, we are always on the periphery of fantasy, if we only choose to believe.
He touched our lives whether we lived in big cities like Philadelphia, Pennsvlvania, or stick towns like Corbett, Oregon. He showed us that we really do live in "a small world after all" and even now, more than thirty years after his death, we still cling to Walt Disney and his ideals. He continues to serve as a source of joy and inspiration to the child in all of us.
Walt's optimism stemmed from his unique ability to see the whole picture.The key to his extraordinary vision was that he was as grounded in his memories of yesteryear as in his dreams of tomorrow. A history buff, he never turned his back on the past, because to him it was the foundation of the future. As a result, Walt Disney never threw technology at us piecemeal, but instead wove his inventions into a beautiful tapestry that supported his self-appointed mission to enhance our quality of life. To him, every invention was a valuable piece of a puzzle, and as a master communicator, he presented the future to us in a way we could grasp without hesitation. Walt was our bridge from the past to the future.
For those fortunate enough to know and work with Walt Disney, he remains unforgettable. They say he influenced who they are, how they think, and how they work. He changed their way of being.
But, those who "knew" Walt also say he was a hard man to know. Enigma is a word frequently chosen to describe him. Who was he and what made him tick? Some excellent biographies exist, as well as some ludicrously inaccurate accounts of his life, which rank as little more than bad fiction.
We can never really know who Walt Disney was because he was so many different things to so many different people. The firsthand observations in this book from those who knew, loved, and were in awe of him paint a vivid and compelling portrait of a remarkable and complex man. Some memories will jibe, while others conflict. He was, after all, human.
Through the eyes, hearts, and minds of those who were nearest to Walt, you will experience their frustrations with his impossible demands for perfection, their inspirations ignited by his unstoppable mind, their laughter at his corny sense of humor, their affection for him as a loving family man, and the tears they shed for him upon his unthinkable death. This book is a bridge from those who personally knew Walt Disney to those who know of him.
To Arnie - A Dreamer of Disney Proportions - Thanks for keeping the magic alive and for your friendship & support over the years. Hope you enjoy this intimate look at "Uncle Walt," With Gratitude & Best Wishes
Howard & Amy Green 12/6/99