Earlier today, Disney announced the recipients of their annual lifetime achievement award ceremony. These recipients, who get the title of Disney Legend, also get a fancy statuette and their hand prints immortalized on a plaque that will end up at Disney’s head quarters in Burbank, California.
Many of the past Disney Legend awardees in recent years are notable people, A-list celebrities like George Lucas, Johnny Depp, Jodi Benson, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and more. It wasn’t always like that, however, with many awardees actually being employees or those who worked closely with the Company in the early years of the award’s existence starting in 1987.
Anybody can be a Disney Legend, so long as you have “truly made an indelible mark on the history of The Walt Disney Company,” according to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
And so while we applaud this year’s recipients like Oprah Winfrey, Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and other celebrities, we’d like to take the time to recognize the other Disney Legends who aren’t so notable, but did some very notable things for Disney!
CLYDE “GERRY” GERONIMI joined the Disney Studio in 1931. His first assignments as an animator were for several memorable Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony, and Pluto cartoons, and he eventually contributed to more than 50 of the Studio’s shorts. Gerry made the leap to sequence director with 1943’s Victory Through Air Power, and he subsequently contributed to The Three Caballeros, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He also directed segments for television’s Mickey Mouse Club and contributed to episodes of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. The apex of his Disney career came when he served as supervising director for the 1959 masterpiece Sleeping Beauty.
MANUEL GONZALES was one of 33 artists selected from thousands of applicants to join Disney in 1936. In 1938, he took over penciling duties on the Sunday Mickey Mouse comic strip from Disney Legend Floyd Gottfredson. He brought Mickey Mouse to newspapers nationwide for nearly 40 years. At its peak, his Mickey-starring comic strip appeared in 120 newspapers around the world with a collective circulation of more than 20 million readers each week. Manuel was presented a “Mousecar” award by Walt Disney in 1966.
WAYNE JACKSON began his career as a Walt Disney Imagineer in October 1965, and in the decades that followed he would put his technical skills and know-how to great use in the development and installation of Disney attractions around the world. Originally trained in aircraft tooling, he began as a technician and machinist assigned to rebuild the shows from the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair that were slated for installation at Disneyland. Instrumental in the early development of Audio-Animatronics® technology, Wayne would go on to help bring Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion to Disneyland. He went on to work on the construction and installation of attractions and show systems at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Disneyland Paris.
The 2017 Disney Legends will be presented during the D23 Expo at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 14, in Hall D23 of the Anaheim Convention Center.