George: Didier Ghez is an author and Disney historian who has been researching and writing about Walt Disney and the company for many years. One of his more well known books is Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality. Honestly, it’s one of the best books ever written about a theme park. Didier is also known for his Walt’s People series of books that present and archive interviews with artists, Imagineers and co-workers of Walt Disney. These interviews are one-of-a-kind and, for the most part, have never been seen before. Didier has just released Walt’s People Volume 13.
Jeff: I’ve been following the Walt’s People series for a number of years now. Any DisNerd worth their salt is bound to have at least one (or five) of these books in their collection. Each one is filled with more priceless stories and interviews that otherwise would be lost to time. And just like the rest of the editions, Walt’s People Volume 13 continues in the tradition of having a treasure trove of information in it.
George: What’s important about the books are the people being interviewed. Anytime you read an article or a book about the films, company or theme parks, the author probably did an in-person interview. What Didier has done is to compile some amazing interviews by some of our favorite Disney researchers and historians. I talk about primary sources a lot when looking at history books because, nowadays, most information is being reported second hand. In this case. Didier presents the interviews (most often transcribed directly from audio recordings) as they are with very little editing (usually only to clarify facts or correct names. David Lesjack provides a running commentary, of sorts, and his additions add so much. But to get to the nitty-gritty, it’s wonderful to read these full interviews to glean the tiniest details from the interviewees.
The interviews include:
- Jim Korkis interviewing Virginia Davis
- John Culhane interviewing Reg Massie
- John Canemaker interviewing George Bakes
- Paul F. Anderson interviewing Milt Neil
- John Culhane interviewing Al Dempster
- John Culhane interviewing Joe Grant
- John Culhane interviewing Woolie Reitherman
- Michael Broggie interviewing Becky and Carla Fallberg
- Dave Smith interviewing Jean Erwin
- John Canemaker interviewing John P. Miller
- Milton Zolotow and Lawrence Weschler interviewing Jules Engel
- Michael Barrier interviewing Fred Kopietz
- Dave Smith interviewing Don Duckwall
- Pete Docter interviewing John Sibley
- Malcolm Willits interviewing George Sherman
- Malcolm Willits interviewing Floyd Gottfredson
- Robin Allan interviewing Richard Todd
- Les Perkins interviewing Roy E. Disney
- Les Perkins interviewing Stormy Palmer
- Les Perkins interviewing Paul Kenworthy
- Les Perkins interviewing Hunt and Chris Hibler
- Jim Korkis & Didier Ghez interviewing Boyd Shaffer
- Paul F. Anderson interviewing Fess Parker
- Didier Ghez interviewing Dave Spafford
- Alberto Becattini interviewing Bob Moore
- Didier Ghez interviewing Blaine Gibson
- Jay Horan interviewing X. Atencio
- Michael Broggie interviewing Don Iwerks
- Didier Ghez interviewing Tony Baxter
Jeff: Again, these are the type of interviews that are becoming few and far between these days. A lot of these are first hand accounts, from original sources. With so many Disney Historians these days telling and re-telling stories we all know and love, some of these original tales get lost in the mix. It’s wonderful to have them preserved in the Walt’s People series, so serious researchers can come back to read them for years to come
George: Serious researchers? Doesn’t that cut us out? Coz we’re kind of funny.
Jeff: Yeah. Funny looking! OOOOOOOOH SNAP! Wait, did I just insult myself there?
In any event, I have to say that my favorite interviews are those with X. Atencio and Fess Parker. While the two are some of the most recognizable names on the list, they also, to me, seem the most “full’ of the interviews. Tons of great little tidbits and stories are crammed in there, some I’ve never heard before, and it’s really quite amazing.
George: I’ve got all 13 volumes and I always try to stress that these are books that any serious student of Disney or researcher needs to own. I would like to have the files electronically so that it would be easier to search using keywords to find specific interviews and topics. Otherwise, these are great books for researchers and anyone who wants to read in-depth interviews with people that worked directly with Walt.
Have you read the Walt’s People series? Are you going to pick up volume 13?
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By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
Other places you can find George and Jeff:
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- ImagiNERDing (George)
- From the Mouth of the Mouse (Jeff)
- Communicore Weekly The Greatest Online Show ™ (Jeff and George)
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