The Disney Legends Award is the highest honor that anyone can get in the Walt Disney Company; it is an honor bestowed upon those who have helped build up the Company and kept it moving forward.
The award was first given out in 1987 and today, it is given out biannually at D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Some previous winners you may have heard of include Julie Andrews, George Lucas, Alan Menken, Dick Van Dyke, and the late Robin Williams.
This year, our recipients are animator Clyde “Gerry” Geronimi, cartoonist Manuel Gonzales, Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame, Imagineer Wayne Jackson, Captain America creator Jack Kirby, Marvel godfather Stan Lee, the late Garry Marshall, Julie Taymor famous for her adaption of The Lion King musical, Oprah Winfrey who is set to appear in A Wrinkle in Time next spring, and our Princess, Carrie Fisher.
The ceremony which began at 10am (PST) was hosted by Bob Iger, Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, with previous recipients present as well as musical performances.
The Disney Legends ceremony opened with a performance of “I Can Go the Distance” from the 1997 animated feature, Hercules. A fitting tribute to all of the award winners.
Oprah Winfrey was the first recipient to appear on stage to be honored by Disney and accept her award. She has produced and performed in many Disney films through the years.
Next, Disney paid tribute to the late Garry Marshall, creator of many iconic films such as the Disney comedy from 2001, The Princess Diaries. Marshall’s children accepted his award.
Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America passed away in 1994 but in recent years with the popularity of The Avengers, his impact on the Walt Disney Company is undeniable. Kirby’s son accepted his award in his place.
Despite the fact that his wife passed away less than ten days ago, Stan Lee then took the stage to accept his Disney Legends award. In his acceptance speech, Lee stated, “Walt Disney was more than a man… he was an inspiration.”
Next up was the late Clyde Geronimi who joined the Walt Disney Company in 1931 and went on to be the supervising director of Sleeping Beauty in 1959. Clyde passed away in 1989.
After Geronimi, Manuel Gonzales was honored. He brought Mickey Mouse to newspapers all over the nation for over 40 years. He died in 1993.
The Cadaver Dans (a play on the Dapper Dans of Main Street, USA) performed the Haunted Mansion theme song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in honor of Disney Imagineer, Wanye Jackson.
Up next came the posthumous award given to the late and great Carrie Fisher who became a sensation virtually overnight for her portrayal of Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise. Carrie died last December. Bob Iger read a letter from Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd, accepting the award on her mother’s behalf.
Mark Hamill, known by most as Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars franchise took the stage to accept his Disney Legends award. For over 40 years, he’s played the young Jedi and he will be reprising his most famous role when The Last Jedi hits theaters this December.
Whoopi Goldberg was revealed to be the “surprise” Disney legend. Her Disney resume includes Sister Act, The Lion King, and Toy Story 3.
Last on the recipient list was Julie Taymor, a Tony®-, Emmy®– and Grammy®-winning and Oscar®-nominated filmmaker who is best known in the Walt Disney Company for her adaption of The Lion King for Broadway.
Did you get to watch the award ceremony? Which actors, writers, creators do you think deserve the Disney Legends Award? Who is your favorite recipient from this year? Let us know in the comments!
Amanda Woomer-Limpert is one of the Geekiverse’s newest writers and a former Disney cast member. She’s holding out hope that someday the Geekiverse will send her to D23 Expo… in the meantime, she waits…
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