For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, the D23 Expo is the biggest convention for all things Disney – which includes Pixar, Marvel, oh, and Star Wars. For the last 28 years, Disney has honored those who’ve had significant contributions to the Legacy, hence the title “Legends”. Names like Sir Elton John, Betty White, and Steve Jobs – are among these legends.
This year’s legends includes Carson Van Osten, who is largely responsible for the style guides for drawing Disney’s beloved characters. He was also the classic-character consultant for the Epic Mickey video games.
Legendary (and completely worthy of the title) composer Danny Elfman is also among this year’s inductees. He’s also currently working on the score for Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to 2011’s Alice in Wonderland.
Andreas Deja is another Disney Legend, considered Master Disney animator of the modern era. His stylings brought The Black Cauldron to life on the silver screen, and breathed (bad) life into Scar and Jafar.
Perhaps among this year’s inductees (a class of eight, and a surprise ninth Legend) is a man who needs no introduction (totally didn’t cop that from a Disney movie): George Lucas. The visionary behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones joins the ranks of those who’ve made their mark on Disney’s legacy. His accomplishments also include a small Lucasfilms computer graphics division that would eventually go on to become Pixar.
The surprise inductee into the Disney Legends is none other than Johnny Depp. The surprise induction delighted fans as the Pirates of the Caribbean star said “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do stupid stuff for a living.”
The four other Legends are Julie Reihm Casaletto, the first Disneyland Ambassador; Eyvind Earle, the animation artist behind the overall design concept for Sleeping Beauty; TV Actress Susan Lucci; and ESPN president George Bodenheimer. They also paid tribute to Disney Legends who’ve passed on, such as the voice of Genie, Robin Williams.
These nine join the 249 men and women who’ve received the Walt Disney Company’s highest honor for their contribution to film, TV, sports, and art.