Friday, February 7, 2014

Inspiring Disney Couple

This blog post is one in a series by the Magical Blogorail about famous Disney couples. During the series you will have the opportunity to win a D23 2-piece luggage set from American Tourister. Read through this post to learn how you can enter to win.

Since 1937, when Snow White and Prince Charming fell in love, Walt Disney brought love stories the big screen and left so many of us having dreams and wishes that our hearts make.  Realistic or not, the love stories are beautiful and enjoyable to so many.

For me - my favorite Disney love story isn't animated - it's real.  Walt and Lillian Disney.  Okay, I don't really know too much about their relationship.  But, I know they lived a 'normal' married life- they struggled, they loved, the had a family, they traveled.  They lived!  They dealt with life - their daughter Diane, miscarriages, adoption - their daughter Susan.

They met while she was working for the Disney Studios as a secretary for the Ink and Paint department.  Lillian always took pride that Walt would drive several of the girls home and would take her home last, even though she had the closest stop.  Apparently, due to the struggling studio, Walt asked her not to cash her work checks ($15/week).  They married in 1925 and remained until Walt's untimely passing in 1966.

As Disney fans, we probably all know how Lillian helped make Disney what it is today.  After Walt lost Oswald, he sat on the train creating his cartoon mouse, which he thought to name Mortimer.  We have Lillian to thank, as she is known for telling Walt that Mortimer was "too formal.  How about Mickey?"

Walt and Lillian traveled the world during their marriage.  On Walt's South America trip, the government sponsored goodwill tour in 1941, that inspired The Three Caballeros.  

Walt named his favorite backyard train the Lilly Belle, after his beloved and is also the name of one of Walt Disney World's locomotives.
 Walt's Backyard 1/8th scale locomotive, the Lilly Belle

I found two fantastic quotes about Walt and Lillian.  While reflecting on their marriage in the 1990's, after his 1966 death (and her subsequent second marriage which her 2nd husband passed away in 1981), she said:
"We shared a wonderful, exciting life, and we loved every minute of it. He was a wonderful husband to me, and wonderful and joyful father and grandfather"
I can only imagine the wonderful and magical life they lived, spending time with family above the firehouse at their Disneyland apartment.

And, like out of a Nicholas Sparks novel - Lillian suffered a stroke on December 15th, 1997, exactly 31 years after Walt's death.  She passed away the next day at age 98, only 2 months shy of her 99th birthday and is buried with Walt.

While we don't know the intricate detail about Walt and Lillian like we may know of the Disney princesses, knowing a little of their story - I found numerous quotes from Lillian saying they had a wonderful marriage and he was a wonderful husband.  I can only imagine the craziness, happiness, and the extremes they experienced.  Together.

To read more - check out this awesome article by Jim Korkis, Disney historian!

15 comments:

  1. Jenn, this is certainly the most important Disney couple of all!! Thanks for writing about them, I am sure that it was a crazy, albeit wonderful, ride being married to Walt Disney!!

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  2. What a great post, Jenn! Yep, you're right -- you've got Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar beat! I didn't know the circumstances surrounding her stroke -- or that she even had a stroke -- but that truly makes perfect sense that she would be called home right around the time Walt was. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. What an amazing life they must have had together! They truly adored each other!

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  4. I love this post! What a great story. I do wish we knew more details though! :)

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  5. Thanks! Yeah, but like all celeb couples, it's basically speculation when it comes to their romance.. I've read stuff both ways, but I'll say they had to be happy :)

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  6. I definitely prefer to think of them as a happy nd in love couple - I can't even imagine all the excitement they shared!

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  7. Aw thanks! I had fun writing and researching

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  8. i didn't know that until later - pretty crazy, right? Don't worry - Horace and Clarabelle are still a good couple ;-)

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  9. aw thanks!! I'm always excited to learn more about the man and his wife! What a great story they could have written about their own lives!

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  10. What a wonderful way to tie up our series on Famous Disney Couples! Walt & Lillian are the cream of the crop! Thanks for sharing a little glimpse into their married life.

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  11. This really is THE couple!! Love that you ended the series this way.

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  12. What a wonderful peek into the love story that started it all!

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  13. I had no idea they passed away on the same day but years apart. My daughter's name is also Lillian and we call her Lily Belle. Great post, I loved it and I think they are the most famous Disney couple.

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  14. We did table numbers at our wedding for Famous Couples and Walt & Lillian were one of them!

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  15. I love Walt and Lillian's story. Great post!

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