Inside Walt Disney's Secret Christmas List Files
Walt Disney once called Christmas "that Disney time of year."
It was no marketing ploy, either. Walt loved the Yuletide season. It's reflected in the entertainment he created over the decades, including charming holiday scenes shown in such movies as Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Happiest Millionaire—which contains a heartwarming scene of Disney Legend Fred MacMurray and Greer Garson singing "It Won't Be Long 'Til Christmas."
In the spirit of that great song—and in honor of Walt's birthday—we recently visited the Walt Disney Archives to check out some special "gifts" from the Archives' files. Archivists showed us a binder from 1960 called "Christmas Lists & Misc." and two wooden cases—one labeled "Walt's Christmas List Local," the other "Walt's Christmas List Out of Town"—from the mid-1960s.
Viewing these artifacts from another time is to be magically transported back to the 1960s, a time when Walt was at the epicenter of a creative factory that was pumping out theme park attractions, movies, television shows, and more at a staggering rate. That he would take what little free time he had to create these detailed and utterly charming lists just goes to show you why Walt Disney was such a one-of-a-kind man.
And what a fun trip to the past it is. In the binder from 1960, it's fun to see on Walt's list A-list stars such as legendary singer Rosemary Clooney (her nephew, George—you may have heard of him—would be born the following year), Bing Crosby, and Buddy Ebsen.
But even more revealing are some of the other names on Walt's list: children's hospitals from all around the country, for example, and Eunice Combs, a Studio janitress.
Walt listed gifts to be given to her two daughters, Cheryl, age 16, and Carolyn, age 17.
In the index card boxes from the mid-1960s, we see the gifts Walt picked out for Ford executive Lee Iacocca's children (Iacocca helped Walt with the Ford sponsorship of the Magic Skyway at the 1964–65 World's Fair), Julie Andrews and her husband, Tony Walton (their daughter, Emma Kate, received Winnie the Pooh plush and more in both 1964 and 1965), Dick Van Dyke's children, daughter Diane Disney Miller's family, and many more.
We hope you enjoy this gallery of images taken during our visit to the Walt Disney Archives for a look at Walt's Christmas lists. It might help you think of the special names to go on your own list this year.
Looking for a warm Walt Disney tradition for your home? Walt always carried a can of Chili with him and to this day the Walt Disney Studios commissary always has a fresh pot of it on hand. And now you can, too!
Now you can make Walt's own recipe and this wintertime family favorite at home! So wrap yourself up under your favorite blanket, slot in your favorite Disney movie and relax with the perfect comfort food—Walt style!