Alan Coats is a “Disney kid,” the son of Disney artists Claude and Evelyn Coats. He later became a prominent Imagineer in his own right.

DIDIER GHEZ and JIM KORKIS: Where and when were you born?

ALAN COATS: I was born in Los Angeles, California, nine days after the Allies invaded Sicily, on July 18, 1943. Now you know.

DG & JK: When did you first become aware of Disney? Did you grow up watching TV or your dad taking you to the studio?

AC: I grew up in a rambling ranch house Dad built just up the Los Angeles River bank from the new Burbank studio. I was surrounded by a lot of Disney things that my mother began collecting when she started in Ink & Paint at Hyperion in 1931. Dad came along in Backgrounds in 1935. Mom’s prized set of the rubber Seven Dwarfs were always on the mantle. I seem to recall my first images of Disney characters came from a book titled Mickey Mouse: Illustrated Movie Stories. I would flip the pages, and Mickey and Minnie would dance—a kid’s introduction to animation. I still have that book. Walt wrote a brief dedication: “To all the little friends of Mickey Mouse throughout the world to whom he hopes to bring more happiness by coming into their homes. WALT DISNEY.” The Mouse certainly brought happiness into our home over the years.

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