5 Truths Learned from Living the Walt Disney Philosophy
Getting to work for The Walt Disney Company was a dream-come-true I will never forget. Looking back, I realize that I was living proof of Mr. Disney’s wise and timeless words.
Walt Disney Truth #1 “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
In 1982, as a broadcaster in Los Angeles, I got word that the Walt Disney Company was planning something big for cable television: The Disney Channel.
I wasted no time in pitching an idea for a kids show, titled,Saturday In The Park. The concept was for me to host a group of kids and explore parks across America from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon with various guest stars appearing, on location, throughout the show.
While the executives seemed impressed with my offering, they politely turned it down, but said they felt that I would be perfect to host another production in the works called, You And Me, Kid.
My agent, Bill Hollingsworth, put the deal together and we were off and running.
Walt Disney Truth #2 “The greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”
You And Me, Kid was about as special as a children’s show could be with real kids and real moms and dads, not actors, just being themselves as I led them through a series of inter-active segments. The show had many other on-going features, including celebrities in natural settings, playing with their sons and daughters.
Walt Disney Truth #3 “Adults are only kids grown up anyway.”
One of the more creative features wasYou and Me, Kid Theater, featuring the brilliant child-like talent of seasoned actors Caleb Chung, Toni Attell, Gary Schwartz and Ricci Mann.
Walt Disney Truth #3 “Most of my life I have done what I wanted to do. I have fun on the job.”
The idea was to watch the show at home with your kid and act out the fun we were having on TV.
And, fun we had.
This magical half-hour always started with an exercise routine, as four parent-kid teams stood behind me on stage and followed my vocal and physical lead.
Walt Disney Truth #4 “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
Bill Shippey, the show’s producer, was a soft-spoken and gentle man who had brought us all together. His modus operandi was a perfect fit for kids and Disney.
Even the staff he had assembled all had the same love for these children and the work we were doing.
Walt Disney Truth #5“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”
One of those special people was a production assistant, or PA, as they are called, on the show that was a talented artist and often would draw caricatures of the cast and crew during breaks in the action.
One afternoon, during one of these breaks, he presented me with his rendition of my “cartoon self”. I had to laugh at his exaggeration (at least I thought it was) of my nose and curly hair.
But, it wasn’t until he explained the body he had given me that I felt extremely touched by his artistic tribute. His said the reason he had given me the persona of what is certainly the best known character in the world was because, as he put it, he had, “never met any human more like” this personality before.
The body he gave me was that of Mickey Mouse.
It’s not just a coincidence that our production was for the Disney Channel. It goes beyond that. The young artist’s name is Walt Disney Miller, Walt’s grandson.
The drawing hangs on my office wall as one of my treasured mementos and what I consider one of the highest of compliments I have ever received.
One last Walt Disney truth: “Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And, dreams are forever.”
Thank you Walt!