There are many photographs of the Old Maestro, Walt Disney floating around media space today. Most are pretty standard stuff and can easily be grabbed from a publicity folder. However, it's stuff like this that are pure gold. This is a photograph of Walt Disney not often seen. Unlike the usual stilted, contrived photo op, pictures like this are the real deal. Captured spontaneously, they provide insight into the amazing, complex life of the innovative genius who guided his enterprise over several decades. This is the Walt Disney I knew. Study this photograph and I think you'll know him better as well.
This is Walt on one of the studio sound stages making last minute notes and going over some script revisions. Since we're on stage and Walt has a script in his lap, this is clearly a live-action project. And, no it's not “The Jungle Book.” I know you'll spot the name, George Sanders on the directors chair, but Mr. Sanders did not use a directors chair when we recorded him for “The Jungle Book.” This is more than likely the film “In Search of the Castaways,” a motion picture Disney produced at the Pinewood Studios in the UK. And of course, it was another vehicle for his budding young starlet, Haley Mills.
If there was ever any doubt Walt Disney was a hands on boss this photograph should easily dispel that belief. This motion picture was being helmed by Disney veteran, Robert Stevenson, and I'm sure Walt trusted his favorite director. However, it appears the Old Maestro never hesitated to give his notes when needed. I've had the opportunity to see a number of scripts marked up with Walt's notes over the years. There was no mistaking the handwriting of the boss. Walt usually used a orange pencil or a thick marker like a Sharpie. You better believe these notes were meant to be followed.
Finally, I can't help noticed how focused Walt Disney is while he makes his notes on the empty soundstage. Clearly, he takes his work seriously, and should one valued their job - they had better take it seriously as well.