by Didier Ghez

On February 23 and March 5, 2009, just a few days before he passed away, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ray Aragon, who contributed his own Walt story. This interview has not yet been released in Walt’s People and I thought you might enjoy reading this short excerpt on the Disney History Institute:

“I designed those masks that I told you about [for Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.]. Some weeks passed and they were now filming Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. I got a call that Bill Walsh was on the set. I was told that he wanted to meet and I should bring some drawings that I had done…So I took my drawings and I went down to the set. It was dark and everybody was quiet and the actors were on the set. The director was directing and everything was very quiet of course. There was someone sitting on the high stool. Someone sitting there in the dark watching what was going on. I was just standing next to this person watching the shooting. When the director called for a cut [and] the lights went on and it was Walt Disney. He was sitting on that stool. I didn’t meet him personally, officially, but he turned around and he looked at me. He had only seen me once before. I said, ‘Oh, hello Walt.’ He said, ‘Hello, how did those masks turn out? Were they okay?’ I said, ‘Yes, I think so.’ He could remember everything. He saw my face and the first thing he saw after seeing my face were my masks. He didn’t know my name but he remembered those masks.”

I would like to thank Didier for his contribution to 2009’s Walt Disney Birthday Celebration. If you are not familiar with his invaluable Disney History website, than you should familiarize yourself. It is a central location for all things Disney History and what is published each day on the internet. You can find it at: Didier Ghez.

Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. has a unique distinction in the Disney legacy, in that it was the only time Retlaw Yensid received story credit in a film. Of course, you remember dear Mr. Yensid from his appearance in Fantasia? In 1965 Walt told a reporter from the Honolulu Advertiser the amusing story about how this came about: “The Retlaw Yensid is an old joke we’ve had around the Studio for years. I started using my name backward on the slate to identify the scenes. Pretty soon, my cameraman followed suit and the poor guys at Technicolor processing the film thought we had hired a bunch of immigrants. This will be the first time it has been used in the credits.” Obviously, the folks at Golden Press were just as confused as Technicolor, and the credit made its way into this 1965 book.

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