Document details

The keeper of Disney's legacy
archivist Dave Smith spent 40 years preserving the history of an American icon
Daniel Miller

In his later years as a serious autograph collector, Smith would go on to acquire the signature of every person who signed the Declaration of Independence except for one (Button Gwinnett). But back on that day in 1956, the only autograph that mattered to the then-15-year-old Smith was Disney's.

However, when Smith approached Disney in the courtyard of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the executive refused to put pen to paper.

"He said when he started signing his autograph he got all these crowds around him and he never could get his work done," said Smith, 76, adding that Disney told him to write him a letter requesting an autograph and he'd be glad to mail him one. (Disney followed through.)

It was a pleasant enough exchange, but looking back on it, Smith wishes that Disney could've somehow known what was to become of him. Because four years after the mogul died, Smith was hired by Walt Disney Co. in 1970 to be its first archivist. He'd go on to create the Walt Disney Archives — a vast repository for its intellectual property — and run it for 40 years.

"I've always wondered, what if he would have realized then what I would be doing 15 years later?" said Smith, who retired in 2010 but remains a consultant for Disney. "And what if I had realized then what I would be doing 15 years later? The questions I could have asked him. It would have saved me a lot of time!"




Los Angeles Times (Web)
Source type Magazine
Language en
Document type Feature
Media type text


Id 4124
Availability Free
Inserted 2019-02-17