On July 14, D23 announced the names of the individuals who will be named and honored as official Disney Legends this year. “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, composer Danny Elfman, All My Children” star Susan Lucci, and Disney animator Andreas Deja will be among the eight new legends who will be recognized at a special ceremony at the D23 Expo 2015.
The Disney Legends ceremony will be hosted by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, and will include special musical performances. The two-hour event will take place Friday, Aug. 14 at 10 a.m., the first day of the Expo. D23 Expo 2015 takes place Aug. 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The Disney Legends Awards program recognizes those individuals who have contributed to the Disney legacy in significant way, with honorees coming from a variety of backgrounds. The Walt Disney World Company (TWDC) began this tradition 28 years ago, in 1987. Actor Fred MacMurray – whose work with Disney includes “The Shaggy Dog,” “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “The Happiest Millionaire” – was named the first Disney Legend.
D23 Expo, a biennial event, provides fans with the opportunity to witness the induction of Disney Legends in a public event. Admission to the ceremony will be on a first-come, first-served basis and is included in the price of a ticket to D23 Expo 2015.
“The Disney Legend Award is our highest honor, and we are incredibly proud to recognize these eight talented individuals who have contributed so much to the world of entertainment and the Disney legacy,” said Iger in a press statement. “Their vision and dedication to their work have brought joy to audiences around the globe and earned them a place in Disney history.”
Each honoree receives a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture, a design that represents the imagination, creativity, and magic the person has contributed to TWDC. Disney Legends recipients also participate in a handprint ceremony at the end of the event. The bronzed prints are displayed in the Disney Legends Plaza at TWDC’s Burbank headquarters.
The eight Disney Legend Award honorees that will be recognized in the D23 Expo 2015 ceremony are, in alphabetical order:
George Bodenheimer served as Executive Chairman of ESPN, retiring in May 2014, as part of his 33-year career with the company that began in the company’s mailroom in 1981. Bodendeimer worked his way up, becoming executive vice president of sales and marketing in 1996 and being named the network’s fifth president in 1998. He held that role until 2012, when he stepped down from day-to-day operations.
Andreas Deja has animated some of Disney’s most popular characters of the modern era. Deja is known for work animating villains such as Gaston “Beauty and the Beast”), Jafar (“Aladdin”) and Scar (“The Lion King”) His work also includes heroes, such as King Triton (“The Little Mermaid”), Hercules, Lilo (“Lilo & Stitch”), Mama Odie (“The Princess and the Frog”) and Tigger (“Winne the Pooh”). In 2006, Deja received the Winsor McCay Award for his contributions to the art of animation.
Eyvind Earle, an artist who contributed to the stylized looks of many Disney films, is perhaps best known for his work on “Sleeping Beauty.” Earle contributed to the visual styling, background and design for the 1959 film. Earle’s career with Disney, working on background artwork for “Peter Pan.” He also is responsible for the look of “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom,” the 1953 animated short; the picture won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoons in 1954.
Danny Elfman creates music that is instantly recognizable to many movie fans, He provided the songs and score for “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” for which he also provided the singing voice of Jack Skellington. He has scored numerous Disney films including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Dick Tracy,” “Dead Presidents,” “Flubber,” “Good Will Hunting,” “A Civil Action,” “Instinct,” “Frankenweenie,” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” His upcoming Disney projects include “Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass.”
Elfman has also brought his signature style to both television and the Disney theme parks. He wrote the theme for ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” He also wrote music for the Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and his music is featured in Disneyland’s annual Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
George Lucas is the filmmaker who took movie fans to a galaxy far, far away with his “Star Wars” films and shows. Lucas is also a longtime Disney fans whose presence is felt in the theme parks. His first project with Disney was “Captain EO,” the 1986 3-D spectacular starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas work with Disney Parks includes Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril in Disneyland Paris, and two Indiana Jones Adventure attractions at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Susan Lucci is best known for her work on ABC’s long-running soap opera “All My Children.” Lucci has played Erica Kane for 41 years, a character “TV Guide” has called the most famous in the history of daytime television. Nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Actress 21 times, Lucci finally earned the statue on her 19th nomination in 1999, along with a standing ovation. Lucci has been honored with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, presented to her by Bob Iger. In addition, Lucci has appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “Hope & Faith,” as well as Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven.” Lucci currently stars in Lifetime’s series, “Devious Maids.”
Julie Reihm Casaletto began her Disney career as a tour guide. She was named Disneyland’s first Ambassador in 1965, a role created because Walt Disney could not attend all the events to which he was invited. Chosen as “as a personification of Disneyland’s world-famous spirit of friendliness and happiness,” Casaletto helped define the role in her actions and attitude.
Carson Van Osten, a comics artist and musician, worked with Disney as an artist for three decades. During his career, he helped realize Disney characters through a variety of media and products, from comics to character merchandising to video games. Van Osten oversaw creative content for motion picture tie-in advertising and in many Disney publications. He also established some of the first licensing style guides for Disney Consumer Products. His artistic portfolio includes logos for Mickey Mouse’s 50th and 60th birthdays, the Walt Disney Studios logo and water tower design, and the Disneyland Hotel clock tower “Mickey” logo in Paris.
Including this year’s honorees, TWDC has named 257 Disney Legends. Past Disney Legends include Tim Allen, Julie Andrews, Howard Ashman, Regis Philbin, Annette Funicello, Peter Jennings, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, Alan Menken, Hayley Mills, Fess Parker, Sir Tim Rice, Dick Van Dyke and Barbara Walters. The inaugural D23 Expo in 2009 enabled Disney fans to to enjoy the Legends Awards ceremony for the first time, a year that recognized Robin Williams, Beatrice Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Harry Archinal, Don Iwerks, and Leota Toombs Thomas.
Tickets for D23 Expo 2015 are $74 for a one-day adult admission and $54 for children 3–12. Tickets for members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are $65 for a one-day adult admission and $48 for children. Discounts are available for D23 Members and multi-day money-saving tickets are also available on general admission and member tickets. Visit D23 Expo for more information on tickets and the ticket pricing structure for D23 Members and general admission.