Seeing as how Lillian’s birthday is today … and Valentine’s Day was yesterday, I thought photograph of both of them together would be appropriate. As a candid photograph, it is one more piece of evidence to refute the thoughts of Marc Eliot in his book Hollywood’s Dark Prince (see my previous essay on this here). This photograph, as I recall, came to the Institute via the Gene Lester Photograph collection I purchased many years ago (although the photo is not by Lester, but rather another famed Hollywood photographer Len Weissman). It is a snapshot (thus the poor quality of the image) that was, when it was taken, not done so for the Disney’s, but rather for famed entertainer Paul Hartman. The image was snapped in 1938 at the Cocoanut Grove of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel, while Walt and Lillian were enjoying the antics of Hartman’s act, who at that time was a dancer and stage performer (later on he became a familiar face on television as a character actor).  Hartman sent a copy of the photo to Walt in 1964 along with this sentiment expressed in a hand-written note: 

“Years ago, about 1938, when I was playing the Cocoanut Grove as THE HARTMANS a photographer took the enclosed shot of you laughing at our antics. I thought you might enjoy having it. But mostly I want to thank you for the most wonderful evening I’ve had in a motion picture theater since I first saw Snow White at the Music Hall, last night when I spent two and a half hours with MARY POPPINS. A classic. Thank you so much for giving this to all America.”


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