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Lillian didn't worry about Walt cheating on her with another woman but would sometimes get jealous of his work. Often he would come home late, choosing instead to spend night at studio prowling around his animator's desks, even going through their trash cans to pull out their best ideas. One time he arrived late for a date and drunk. Angrily she locked him out of house. He made amends next day by presenting her with a female puppy in a hat box. That event later became basis for Disney classic Lady And The Tramp (1955).
The Disney's were world travelers. Lillian was thrilled to get call from Walt to pack up for their next surprise vacation and marvel how he would turn their experiences into Disneyland attractions. They fell in love with skiing in Switzerland and it lead to Matterhorn Bobsled Ride. They enjoyed buying antiques in French Quarter, inspiring creation of New Orleans Square. They learned about hidden treasure on a island near Cuba sparking construction of The Pirates Of The Caribbean, which Walt did not live to see completed.
Lillian fell short of her own dream. She did not share Walt's love of classical music, preferring to listen to Lawrence Welk. But she felt his pain when Fantasia (1940) failed at box office. In 1987, 21 years after he passed on, she donated fifty million dollars to build Walt Disney Concert Hall which would be new home for Los Angeles Philharmonic. What better legacy than to bring Beethoven and Mozart to masses just like Walt wanted. But she became discouraged when her idea for a simple brick building became much more elaborate in hands of architect Frank Gehry. Soon fifty million was gone and she wanted it back fearing she had wasted her money on an incomplete boondoggle. Her daughter Diane convinced her that Gehry's design was wonderful but she died six years before hall opened.
One great thing about Walt building Disneyland was that he and Lillian got to play tour guide to world leaders. But Mrs. Disney was very disappointed when head of Russia Nikita S. Khrushchev and his wife failed to come to park in 1960. The Anaheim police said they could not provide enough security. The Soviet Prime Minister grumpily settled for a star studded luncheon at Twentieth Century Fox instead. During meal Frank Sinatra was informed of Mrs. Khrushchev's disappointment at missing out on The Magic Kingdom. Old Blue Eyes slammed his fist on table. "Screw cops. I'll take old broad down there and watch her myself." He grabbed her by hand and was near door when he was stopped by KGB. Back at Disneyland Walt made Lillian smile by telling her he was just as disappointed as she was. He was dying to show Communist ruler his new submarine fleet.
Stephen Schochet is the author and narrator of the audiobooks Fascinating Walt Disney and Tales Of Hollywood. The Saint Louis Post Dispatch says," these two elaborate productions are exceptionally entertaining." Hear realaudio samples of these great, unique gifts at www.hollywoodstories.com.