New Class Of Disney Legends Honored In Opening Ceremony Of D23 Expo

This morning the new class of Disney Legends was honored during the Disney Legends Ceremony, which also kicked off the 2022 D23 Expo. The panel began with a video of Mickey Mouse with his statue, in front of the D23 Expo. He was joined by Disney CEO Bob Chapek for a brief moment looking towards the celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary. This was followed by a showstopping medley of music from the Broadway casts of Aladdin, The Lion King, and also Frozen. After the stellar kickoff, Chapek took over the stage

Before honoring the new Disney Legends who helped build Disney’s legacy, Disney CEO Bob Chapek shared a look at how they intend to celebrate the company’s 100-year legacy. This included a look at a miniaturized version of the Mickey statue that will be given to new and renewing D23 Gold Members in 2023. Chapek also announced that there will be some other things happening next year to celebrate the company’s centennial. During this opening moment, Chapek also announced that a new attraction is heading to Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. It will deal with the multiverse and also expand the land. The opening segment ended with a special moment where Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and many other characters joined Bob Chapek on the stage.

The ceremony was then put into the hands of Tamron Hall, who hosted the Disney Legends Ceremony. Each legend was introduced via a montage video, often with quotes from the honoree and others included. After each video, Hall invited the honoree or their representative to the stage to be recognized. Following their acceptance speech, a photo was taken of the Disney Legend Award and Bob Chapek.

For the most part, the speeches were heartful and at times poignant. Josh Gad stole the show with his humorous acceptance speech where he humorously boasted that he was now the Angela Lansbury of his generation at 41. Idina Menzel wrapped up her thank you by singing a line from When You Wish Upon a Star. The ceremony wrapped up with the honoring of Chadwick Boseman. His brother accepted the award for Boseman. During the speech, he said, “I wish he was here to receive it. Him not being here has been a point of immense pain for my whole family.”

Each recipient also took a photo with Bob Chapek after being honored. The ceremony lasted about two hours and was the 35th year of the program. The very first Disney Legend was actor Fred MacMurray in 1987. Below are photos of the event along with the bios of the Disney Legends who were honored at this year’s D23 Expo.

Anthony Anderson grew up in Los Angeles. While pursuing his acting career, he continued his education by attending the High School for the Performing Arts, where he earned first place in the NAACP’s ACT-SO Awards. His performance, along with a dedication to his craft, earned him an arts scholarship to Howard University. Anthony has appeared in more than 20 films, and his performance on Law & Order earned him four consecutive NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. He starred in and executive produced ABC’s Emmy-nominated sitcom black-ish, winning seven NAACP Image Awards and earning seven Emmy and three Golden Globe® nominations for his role as Andre “Dre” Johnson in the series. He also executive produced and appeared in the black-ish spinoff series grown-ish and mixed-ish. His recent credits include ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ (2019), host of ABC’s game show To Tell the Truth (2016–), and Detective Kevin Bernard in Law & Order. In 2020 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Kristen Bell is an award-winning actor, author, and producer, who landed her first role with Disney by lending her voice to Hiromi in the Studio Ghibli classic The Cat Returns, for the U.S. DVD release in 2005. Her voice-acting expertise would soon come in handy once again, for the two highest-grossing animated features of all time, Frozen (2013) and Frozen 2 (2019). Anna, the optimistic, comical, fearless princess (who became Queen) of Arendelle, was a spot-on role for the seasoned actor, whose singing talents and personality effortlessly shines through her performance of the character. Kristen reprised the role in Frozen Fever (2015), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), and Once Upon a Snowman (2020), along with numerous video games, theme park experiences, and consumer products. Kristen also voiced Priscilla the sloth in 2016’s Oscar®-winning Zootopia and in the upcoming Disney+ series Zootopia+. She has also starred in several Disney live-action films, such as When in Rome (2010) and You Again (2010), TV specials such as Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular (2013) and Mickey’s 90th Spectacular (2018), and myriad series from 20th Century Fox, including The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Chadwick Boseman was fueled by purpose and sought to fulfill that through writing, directing, acting, and activism. His breakout performance came playing Jackie Robinson in 42, followed by his next role as James Brown in Get On Up. He then starred in the title role of Marshall, which followed a young Thurgood Marshall. Boseman joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the African Super Hero Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War before bringing the character to the forefront of his own solo film, Black Panther, which received critical acclaim, broke global box office records, and had a social and cultural impact felt globally. The film received seven Academy Award® nominations, including Marvel’s first-ever Best Picture nomination. Boseman won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture alongside the film’s ensemble. In 2019, Boseman starred in 21 Bridges. In 2020, he appeared in Da 5 Bloods, directed by Academy Award winner Spike Lee. In Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, his captivating performance as “Levee” garnered an Academy Award nomination, and he won the NAACP Image Award and the Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards, among numerous others. On television, he most recently received an Emmy nomination for his work in the Disney+ animated series What If…?

Rob’t Coltrin joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1990 in the Show Set Design group and over time progressed through multiple disciplines—including show design, concept design, and art direction—before landing in his final role as an executive creative director. Early in his career he had a hand in the creation of several attractions that have delighted Disney fans for decades, such as Mickey’s PhilharMagicMuppet*Vision 3D, and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. More recently, he was a major creative force behind some of our most ambitious projects, including Radiator Springs RacersMickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and recent expansions at Tokyo Disney Resort. In addition to his boundless creative talents, Rob’t is also well known for his passion to elevate the work of fellow Imagineers and help further their careers. Even following his retirement in 2019, he continues to keep in touch with and inspire many of his friends and colleagues at Imagineering.

Patrick Dempsey is a two-time Golden Globe® nominee and SAG Award®nominee for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series. Early in his career he appeared in 1980s nostalgia films such as Touchstone’s Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) and has since become a Hollywood star with numerous iconic television and film roles. Other Disney credits include an appearance on The Magical World of Disney as Kellin Taylor in A Fighting Choice (1986), the Hollywood Pictures film Run (1991), Touchstone’s Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Brother Bear 2 (2006) as the voice of Kenai, Enchanted (2007), and the upcoming Disney+ film Disenchanted (2022). He is perhaps best known to fans as Dr. Derek Shepherd in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, a role he portrayed for 11 seasons. Grey’s Anatomy won the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Television Series–Drama as well as the 2007 SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In addition to acting, Patrick is an avid racing enthusiast, participating in sports car events and produced the film The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019). In 2008, with the intention of giving back to the community where he grew up and where his mother first received cancer treatment, Patrick founded the Dempsey Center to help make life better for people managing the impact of cancer.  

Robert Price “Bob” Foster began his Disney career in 1956, joining the Walt Disney Productions legal department. He later served as a member of the Park Operations Committee for Disneyland and was promoted to Corporate Secretary and Legal Counsel in 1958. Two years later, he was named Assistant Secretary, Walt Disney Productions, and Resident Counsel for Disneyland. In 1963, Walt and Roy O. Disney selected Bob to head the land search for their top-secret “Florida Project.” Bob took extraordinary measures to ensure that the identity of Walt Disney Productions remained classified while initiating and executing the property research and acquisition effort. He acquired 43 square miles of land for what would eventually become the Walt Disney World Resort. Bob was later named Vice President (Legal), Secretary, and General Counsel for the Walt Disney World Co. and in 1970 was promoted to President of the Buena Vista Land Company. In this role, Bob was responsible for overseeing development of the resort community of Lake Buena Vista. In 1974, Bob retired from Walt Disney Productions as Vice President, Real Estate.

Josh Gad is a Tony Award®-winning actor and singer who has warmed the hearts of countless viewers around the globe as Olaf, the loveable snowman from the 2013 box office hit Frozen and its popular follow-up, Frozen 2 (2019). To audiences’ delight, Gad has reprised the role numerous times, each time sharing more of the sun-loving character’s endearing personality and vivacious songs. Olaf has appeared in Frozen Fever (2015), LEGO® Disney Frozen: Northern Lights (2016), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017), At Home with Olaf (2020), Once Upon a Snowman (2020), and Olaf Presents (2021). Gad’s memorable performances in Frozen and Frozen 2 earned him two Annie Awards for Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. In 2017, Gad starred as LeFou, the memorable and iconic sidekick to Gaston, in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, and in 2020, he portrayed Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl. Some of his other notable Disney credits include Mickey’s 90th Spectacular (2018), The Disney Family Singalong (2020), Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Modern Family (2011), and Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom (2020). Gad’s Broadway talent is also showcased as both a creator and star of the Emmy-nominated 20th Television Animation musical series, Central Park (2020–).

Jonathan Groff has made memorable performances in theater, film, and television since his award-winning breakout performance in Broadway’s Spring Awakening (2006). Popular with Disney fans the world over, Jonathan voiced the character of Kristoff in both Frozen (2013) and Frozen 2 (2019)—the top two highest-grossing animated films of all time—as well as in Frozen Fever(2015), LEGO Disney Frozen: Northern Lights (2016), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure(2017), Once Upon a Snowman (2020), and numerous video games, consumer products, and theme park experiences. He also appeared as Jesse St. James on the Emmy- and Golden Globe-award-winning television series Glee. Additional notable Disney television credits include The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic and Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2.Groff originated the role of King George III in the Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Hamilton on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance, and was part of the featured cast immortalized in the Emmy-winning Disney+ Original release of the hit show. Groff also received an individual Emmy nomination for his performance in the filmed production.

Don Hahn joined The Walt Disney Studios in 1976 in the Art Props Morgue. His animation career took off when he worked as an inbetweener on Pete’s Dragon (1977), and later as assistant director on The Fox and the Hound(1981). He was Production Manager of The Black Cauldron (1985) and TheGreat Mouse Detective (1986), then turned to producing on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and The Lion King (1994).  His other credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Maleficent (2014), and the live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017). He executive produced the Disneynature films Earth (2009), Oceans (2010), African Cats (2011), and Chimpanzee (2012). Don is also the author of several Disney Editions books, including The Alchemy of Animation, Before Ever After, and Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century. As director, Don has helmed such acclaimed documentaries as Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010) and Howard (2020). His most recent Disney credits include hosting the documentary Adventure Thru the Walt Disney Archives (2020). 

Doris Hardoon joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1979 as a junior designer, then quickly rose through the ranks to lead designer, art director, and producer on a variety of groundbreaking projects around the globe. Included were EPCOT Center, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, as well as Disney Cruise Line and Disney entertainment centers nationwide. She additionally served as executive art director, producer, and creative portfolio lead for projects including Hong Kong Disneyland, the proposed-but-never-built WESTCOT Center in Anaheim, and the unbuilt DisneySea in Long Beach. Doris left the Company in 2000 to pursue other innovative projects but returned in 2009 to help conceive, design, and build Shanghai Disney Resort. In her role as executive director and producer, Doris provided overall creative direction to her design and production teams, while establishing culturally relevant, “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese” elements in all aspects of her assignments. Doris is the 2022 recipient of the THEA Buzz Price Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements Award.

Idina Menzel is an accomplished actor, singer, songwriter, and philanthropist, who rose to fame on the Broadway stage. Winning a Tony Award in 2004 for her legendary performance as Elphaba in Wicked, she famously went on to voice Queen Elsa in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen (2013) and reprised the role in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) and Frozen 2 (2019), along with numerous animated shorts, theme park experiences, and consumer products. Idina’s performance of the Oscar- and Grammy®-winning song “Let It Go” became an international phenomenon, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and helped launch Frozen and Frozen 2 on their way to becoming the two highest-grossing animated movies of all time. Idina also appeared as Nancy Tremaine in Enchanted (2007) and is soon to reprise the role in the Disney+ sequel, Disenchanted. As a songwriter, Idina’s original song “Dream Girl” (from 2021’s Cinderella) made it to the Academy Awards’ Best Original Song short list. Some of her notable Disney TV credits include Lisa King in ABC Studios’ Private Practice (2009), Disneyland 60: The Wonderful World of Disney (2015), Mickey’s 90th Spectacular (2018), and The Disney Family Singalong: Volume II (2020), as well as the recurring role of Shelby Corcoran in Glee for 20th Century Television.

Chris Montan joined The Walt Disney Company in 1984, and within three years was named vice president of music for motion pictures and television. In 1997, Variety named him “musical supervisor of the decade” after he oversaw such classic and best-selling film soundtracks as The Little MermaidBeauty and the BeastPretty WomanSister ActAladdinThe Lion KingPocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules. Chris was named President of Walt Disney Music in 1999 and was responsible for overseeing music for Disney and Pixar animated feature films, Disney Theatrical stage productions, and Disney Parks and Resorts, worldwide. He served as executive music producer for all of the Studios’ animated features during his tenure, working closely in the story development process as well as helping to select musical talent. His work has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, winning Best Original Cast Recording for Aida and Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for Frozen, with additional films receiving 45 musical Academy Award nominations and 16 Academy Awards in the Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories.

Ellen Pompeo leads the longest-running primetime medical drama in television history, Grey’s Anatomy. As one of television’s most beloved actresses, Ellen’s turn in the title role continues to help elevate the series as ABC’s highest-rated drama and earned the actress a Golden Globe nomination in 2007. Audiences remain glued to screens week after week watching Dr. Meredith Grey and her colleagues face relatable and emotional hardships. In real life, Ellen similarly confronts adversity and works for positive change both on and off the screen. Whether it is encouraging women to pursue their dream careers—medical or otherwise—or advocating for normalizing gender and racial equality in the workplace, the actress has inspired generations. Some of Ellen’s other notable credits include Moonlight Mile (2002), Old School (2003), and Daredevil (2003). Next up, Ellen will star in and executive produce an eight-episode Hulu Original limited series currently titled Untitled Orphan Project through her production banner Calamity Jane, which she launched in 2011.

Tracee Ellis Ross starred in the groundbreaking ABC comedy series black-ish. The Emmy-winning show ran for eight seasons, during which she also served as a producer and director. For her role as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson, Tracee was nominated five times for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and won the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020 NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In addition, Tracee was honored and acknowledged at the 2016 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, receiving the Fierce and Fearless award. Her other Disney television credits include roles on grown-ish and mixed-ish—the latter of which she was both co-creator and executive producer—The Premise, and Private Practice. Tracee is the founder and CEO of PATTERN, a haircare brand that launched in 2019.

What did you think of this year’s Disney Legends Ceremony? What was your favorite moment? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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