The Presidio is a 5 Compass attraction in San Francisco, and a 5 Compass attraction in the Presidio is The Walt Disney Family Museum. It’s there because Walt Disney’s daughter Diane lived in San Francisco before she and her husband moved north to establish the Silverado Winery. Family memorabilia was stored in a warehouse at the Presidio, so it was natural that when she was creating a museum devoted to her father and his accomplishments that the museum be located here.
A lot at this museum changes regularly. After a gap of 30 years, artist/animator Mel Shaw returned to the Disney studio and, among other projects, helped to develop Beauty and the Beast. Shaw is being honored with a special exhibit that will be on view until September 12, 2016. The day we were there, Mary Poppins was being shown at 3 pm. Ruth & I didn’t see either Shaw or Poppins because we got caught up in Disney’s life.
Diane’s name and thoughts are on lots of displays, which gives them intimacy. Because this family apparently kept everything, it’s the most comprehensive exploration of a life I have ever seen, which is understandable since Diane’s father was WALT DISNEY! Diane died in 2014, but her 7 children are actively involved in the museum.
Walt holds the record for the most Academy Awards. He had 59 nominations and won 22 competitively. He received his only nomination for Best Picture for Mary Poppins. He earned 4 special awards like the one shown above for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There were only 2 irregular Oscars ever created, and this is one of them. It’s on display along with his other Academy Awards. I was told that The Walt Disney Family Museum has 1/3 of his lifetime awards on display. He received more than 900.
But his life had setbacks. Born in Chicago in 1901, Walt and his family moved to Marceline, Missouri, shortly thereafter. Walt’s beloved Aunt Maggie bought him tablets and pencils so was probably the first person to influence his glorious career in animation and beyond. After the family moved to Kansas City in 1911, Walt discovered movies and vaudeville and decided to become an entertainer. He bought a $300 Universal movie camera. His first animation studio was Laugh-O-Gram, where he worked for the first time with a man who had a unique, unforgettable name, Ub Iwerks. Ub became Walt’s lifetime collaborator. To begin, they made 6 one-reel cartoons over 2 years based on fairy tales. Laugh-O-Gram failed, bankruptcy was declared, and Walt moved to Hollywood. Success followed. However, Walt said that the 1940s was a difficult time for him. He got involved in a strike, his father Elias died in 1941, etc. However, Lend a Paw won the Academy Award for Best Cartoon that same year.
When does a lot become too much? One wall contained almost 400 Ub Iwerks drawings for Steamboat Willie. However, in the same room I watched as the father of a boy too young to understand explained how Disney, like a driven Edison, synchronized sound and action for the first time. The kid, I must admit, did follow the illustrating bouncing ball. This museum’s most popular attraction is a delightful diorama of Disneyland.
No current Disney film or TV show will be seen in The Walt Disney Family Museum. At least for now. The story ends when Walt receives cobalt treatments for lung cancer. The final image as I exited was Walt waving goodbye.