As a CalArts student in the early '80's, I had the opportunity to meet many people who worked for Walt Disney himself. Today being the anniversary of Walt's death in 1966, I thought I would share a story that Elmer Plummer, my life drawing instructor, told me, recalling the last time he saw Walt....
He said, ‘How are you, Elmer?’
‘Oh, I’m all right.’ I said. “Where are your shoes?”
“Aw, they hid them on me.” Walt was in the hospital across the street from the studio (St. Joseph’s). He had gotten out of bed, put on his new suit, and walked over to the studio – barefoot.
He said, “If you ever get sick, don’t ever go to a hospital. Just go off somewhere and die."
"Don’t worry," I told him, "I couldn’t afford it, working for you."
Walt just laughed. He could take a joke like that.
Then he asked me where so-and-so was working and I told him and he went off to find him. One of the secretaries called the hospital and a bunch of doctors came rushing in with these big, hulking guys. I could hear Walt yelling all the way down the hall when they came in. They made him put his shoes on and go back.
A couple days later, they told us he died. A real shock to all of us.
A lot of artists from those days had their Walt stories, with varying feelings about the man. In Elmer's case, he considered Walt to be a friend, and loved him not as a legend, but as a person.