Thursday, 15 December 2016

How Walt Disney Changed One Life

Walt Disney, his studio and his legacy have been—and likely will continue to be—written about endlessly, so you don’t need me to state the obvious or pontificate.

I suspect many readers of this blog are Disney fans, so let me mark the 50th Disney Deathiversary today with two pieces from the Palos Verdes Peninsula News of December 18, 1966. Instead of talking about Disney the Visionary, or Disney the Businessman, or Disney the Moulder of Animation, this first story deals with Disney the Example to Others.
Former Disney Prodigy Recalls ‘Remus’ Role

“I felt like part of my world dropped away,” Glenn Leedy Allen told the News on hearing of the death of Walt Disney. He heard the words on a morning television newscast at home.
Allen, process cameraman for Palos Verdes Newspapers, Inc., was a child actor and played Toby in his first role in “Song of the South,” - the famous Uncle Remus musical produced by Walt Disney Productions.
“He was out-of-sight and up tight,” Allen described Disney. “That means too much, and that was better to me than beauty.” He oversaw everything on the sets and knew everything that was going on at all times,” he added.
Allen, who will be 30 years old on Dec. 31, was discovered by Disney Scouts while playing on the school grounds at Booker T. Washington grammer [sic] school in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1945.
He was called into the office with about 10 other children, he recalls, and at six years old, was in mischief most of the time, he added. Expecting chastisement of some sort, he was surprised to be asked to repeat a number of words given him and the other children. They were sent out of the room for about 10 minutes, called back in and asked to again repeat the words.
“My memory was great then, and I rattled them off. Also they had seen me walking around on my hands, so with those recommendations they asked me if I could cry easily. My mother had died when I was four, and I was living with my grandmother, Ivy Allen. All they had to do was ask if I would cry if something happened to my grandmother, and the tears came,” Allen remenisced [sic].
The talent scouts convinced Mrs. Allen to move the family to Los Angeles, all expenses paid, and young Glenn was in show biz, as the saying goes.
“I was on top of the world at my young age,” Allen said. He was known as Glenn Leedy then.
“It was about this time that Mr. Disney changed the entire format of my life,” he recalled. “I guess I was getting too big for my britches - what with a private chauffeur taking me to and from the studios, a private tutor and appearing at public appearances for the studio so Mr. Disney went to Hattie McDaniels, my relative in the movie, and James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus, and they called me into their dressing rooms one at a time. They gave me “what for,” he smiled sheepishly.
“They told me how to be nice in this world and what not to do and what Mr. Disney expected of me. I’ll always remember Mr. Disney for that. I’ve really tried to be a good citizen and not be scared of life, and I’ve found it’s easy to like everybody if you give all you’ve got. That’s what life’s all about, anyway, and its a lesson I learned from Mr. Disney.”
Allen, who is known to everyone hearabouts [sic] as “Tiger,” keeps everyone smiling with his good humor and sunny outlook on life. He resides in Compton with his wife Blanche and their four children - Glenann, 11; Glenn, Jr.,10; Ivy, 9, and Paul, 8.
“One of the proudest moments was attending the Academy Awards banquet to see Walt Disney, receive awards for “Song of the South”. My grandmother was there and my sister, Leslie Leedy Kellum, who was five then and had played in the movie with us.

This eulogy was found on the paper’s editorial page and reflects views still held by many today. The reference to The Sound of Music is a little puzzling as it wasn’t a Disney film. And it’s nice to be reminded when we hear nostalgia for days gone by, that people in days gone by were nostalgic for the past, too.
Walt Disney -- Quality!
Thousands of words of tribute are being written this weekend following the death of Walt Disney. The words are all superlatives: “fabulous,” “ a great artist,” “an irreplaceable man,” “one of the few true geniuses.” Governor-elect Ronald Reagan declared, “The world is a poorer place now.” Governor Brown said, “Our state, our nation and the world have lost a beloved and great artist.”
The newspaper stories remind us of the wonderful imaginery [sic] characters created by Walt Disney for the enjoyment of millions. Mickey Mouse. Snow White. Pinocchio. Donald Duck.
Disneyland, often described as a Taj Mahal or a Niagara Falls, is perhaps more than any other creation of the mind of Walt Disney a monument to hi[s] talent and his creativity.
But in all the words flowing forth about this fabulous man, his life and his Horatio Alger financial success, few note an aspect of his life that transcends all his other accomplishments, yet is probably the largest factor in his success.
Walt Disney succeeded with products of quality and wholesomeness in an industry that often has sought financial success in the gutter. An American parent has never had to check a Disney movie or TV special before granting permission for viewing to a teenage daughter or son.
Walt Disney built an empire on wholesome entertainmen[t] that never played to the enticements of sex, horror, or smut. His characters, his plots and his production techniques never offended anyone.
It would be impossible to count the millions in this country and aboard who went home after viewing a Walt Disney movie with a smile on their lips and a contented heart.
The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins are excellent examples of films that were winners in a moviemaking era that has seen good taste take a back seat.
Walt Disney never lowered his standards, never cheapened his product. His name has stood for years for high quality productions. And as tributes pour in from all over the world, and as we find that Mickey Mouse has been translated into dozens of languages, this nation knows it has lost its top Goodwill ambassador to the world.
When we see some of the entertainment trash that goes overseas with the U.S.A. stamp on it, the loss of Walt Disney becomes even more acute. This nation can only hope that those who have worked with Walt Disney and learned his principles and ways will carry on his traditions. The entertainment world and the nation needs such talents.


  1. Wonder if Bobby Driscoll had any comment.

  2. “He was out-of-sight and up tight,” Allen described Disney.

    A tip of the Mouseketeer ear hat to little Stevie Wonder!