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Walt: The Man Behind the Myth, a fascinating new film on Walt Disney, based on all-new interviews with friends, family and collaborators and featuring excerpts from Walt's never-before-seen home movies, will air on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm, ET, (check your local listings) as part of The Wonderful World of Disney on the ABC Television Network.
The film was initiated by Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney's birth.
Walt, narrated by Disney Legend Dick van Dyke, star of Disney's Mary Poppins, offers a new and revealing look at Walt Disney both inside and outside the Studio. To present Walt's life and legacy as accurately as possible, the producers shot more than 70 new interviews with colleagues, friends and family, including the following Disney Legends: Joe Grant, Ward Kimball, John Hench, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Marc Davis (who died 6 weeks after his interview).
Diane Disney Miller and Roy E. Disney, vice-chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, are also featured.
When asked about his involvement with the film, John Hench said, "It is difficult to portray a man as complex as Walt. However, the film makes clear the early years and how, step by step, he found who he was and what he must achieve."
The film draws on leading historians, including Leonard Maltin, Bob Thomas, John Canemaker, Charles Solomon, Brian Sibley and J.B. Kaufman, as well as celebrities, including Art Linkletter, Chuck Jones, Ray Bradbury, John Lasseter, Dean Jones and Buddy Ebsen.
The two-hour film relates the story of many Disney innovations, including the first Disney cartoon with sound, Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon in color, Flowers and Trees, and most importantly, the story behind Disney's Folly, the mammoth project to produce the first feature-length animated cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The film also reveals the lesser-known saga of how the Studio faced near-bankruptcy in the wake of a strike and World War II; how Walt skimped and saved, and even cashed in his family's life insurance, in order to finance the early development of Disneyland; how the Studio broke the Hollywood taboo of early television, and how, in his final days, Walt was fully devoted to building a city of the future near what is today Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The film is produced by Pantheon Productions in Los Angeles. Walt's grandson, Walter Elias Disney Miller, is executive producer of the film. The film is written by Katherine and Richard Greene and award-winning writer/filmmaker Jean-Pierre Isbouts. The Greenes are authors of numerous articles and books, including Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Magic and the upcoming book Inside the Dream. Isbouts also directed the film.
RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator