Didier at Disney History Blog has just posted two wonderful stories of Walt Disney. One when Walt was still very early in his career, the other when he was nearing the end of it.
The first is the story of Walt and the Wallabies. Didier posted a picture of Walt posing with a plush Mickey Mouse and a Wallaby. Then reader JB Kaufman chimes in with the backstory:
According to a syndicated story that appeared in newspapers in 1934, an
Australian admirer sent Walt a gift of two wallabies, a male and a
female. By the time they reached the States, they had produced a third.
According to this story, the Disney staff promptly named the male
wallaby Leapo, the female Hoppo, and the baby Poucho. This of course
became an obvious inspiration for the cartoon Mickey’s Kangaroo,
released the following April. Joe Grant told me in 1988 that the
newspaper story was true; he remembered the wallabies being kept in a
pen outside the story department.
Never a dull moment back at the old Walt Disney Studios, eh.
The other story features picture of a much older Walt. His gray hair and laughing face peaking out from behind a home movies camera. It was taken on the Disney family British Columbia cruise of 1966 and was probably one of the last pictures ever taken of Walt.
Several months before his death, Walt gathered his entire family
together for a cruise up the coast of British Columbia where the family
celebrated not only one of his granddaughter’s birthdays but his
wedding anniversary. While his sons-in-law would go salmon fishing in a
little dinghy, Walt spent quiet time on the deck reading books about
city planning in preparation for Epcot and about colleges in
preparation for California Institute of the Arts. Ron Miller, Diane
Disney’s husband, described Walt as “serene” during the cruise even
though it rained during much of the time.
Like Didier says, the sense of childlike wonder that Walt possessed even as a 65 year old is one of the things I miss so much. I wonder where that sense is in the Walt Disney Company today. Perhaps John Lasseter has it. But who else? It’s something we all could use quite a bit more of.
For more great tales check out Didier Ghez’s Walt Stories books.