Lillian Disney

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Lillian Disney
Walt Disney and Lilian Disney.jpg
Walt Disney and Lilian in 1946
Born Lillian Marie Bounds
(1899-02-15)February 15, 1899
Spalding, Idaho
Died December 16, 1997(1997-12-16) (aged 98)
West Los Angeles, California
Cause of death
Occupation Ink and paint artist
Spouse(s) Walt Disney (1925–66)
(his death)
John L. Truyens (1969–81)
(his death)
Children Diane Marie Disney
Sharon Mae Disney

Lillian Marie Disney (née Bounds; February 15, 1899 – December 16, 1997) was the wife of Walt Disney. She was married to him from 1925 until his death in 1966.

Early years[edit]

Lillian was born Lillian Marie Bounds in Spalding, Idaho. She grew up in Lapwai, Idaho, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation where her father worked as a blacksmith and federal marshal.[1] Lillian was working at the Disney Studio in "ink and paint" as a secretary when she met Walt. She had short brown hair, was slim, and was thought to be very stylish. She took deep pride that he (Walt Disney), would drive the other girls home before her, even though her stop was the closest.

Marriage to Walt Disney[edit]

Lillian and Walt Disney married in 1925 in Idaho at Lewiston's Episcopal Church of the Nativity,[2] however, Walt's parents could not attend. Since Lillian's father was deceased, her uncle who was chief of the Lewiston Fire Department gave the bride away. She wore a dress which she had made herself. Her cousin recalled that she giggled nervously throughout the service. She and Walt had two daughters, Diane Marie Disney, born December 18, 1933, and Sharon Mae Disney, born December 31, 1936, the latter of whom was adopted. Lillian had seven grandchildren—Chris Miller, Joanna Miller, Tamara Scheer, Jennifer Miller-Goff, Walter Elias Disney Miller, Ronald Miller and Patrick Miller—from her daughter Diane and son-in-law Ronald Miller, and three grandchildren—Victoria Brown, Brad Lund and Michelle Lund—from her daughter Sharon. Lillian is the aunt of Roy Edward Disney.


Her film career includes work as an ink artist on the film Plane Crazy. Lillian is credited with having named her husband's most famous character, Mickey Mouse, during a train trip from New York to California in 1928. Walt showed a drawing of the cartoon mouse to his wife and told her that he was going to name it "Mortimer Mouse." Lillian replied that the name sounded "too pompous" and she was very proud to have suggested the name "Mickey Mouse" instead of Mortimer.[3]

Walt named one of the Disneyland Railroad cars the "Lilly Belle" in her honor, and the Walt Disney World Railroad has a locomotive named "Lilly Belle", where each locomotive is named for someone who greatly contributed to the Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Imagineering created "The Empress Lilly", a paddle steamer replica, at Walt Disney World in Downtown Disney (Florida) and Lillian christened it on May 1, 1977. Lillian was inducted into the Disney Legends in 2003.[4]

Life after Walt[edit]

Lillian Disney was married to John L. Truyens from May 1969 until his death in February 1981.[5]

In 1987, Lillian Disney pledged a $50 million gift towards the construction of a new concert hall.[6] After several delays, the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003, six years after her death.

In the 1990s, reflecting on her 41-year marriage to Walt Disney, she said, "We shared a wonderful, exciting life, and we loved every minute of it. He was a wonderful husband to me, and wonderful and joyful father and grandfather."

Lillian Disney suffered a stroke on December 15, 1997, exactly 31 years after the death of her first husband, Walt. She died the following morning at her home, aged 98. She died two months before her 99th birthday and is buried with Walt.


  1. ^ Disney Legends - Lillian Disney
  2. ^ Lewiston's Episcopal Church of the Nativity website
  3. ^ Jackson, Kathy (2006). Walt Disney: Conversations (First ed.). University Press of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 1-57806-713-8. 
  4. ^ Disney Legends - Lillian Disney
  5. ^ Social Security Death Index
  6. ^ About Walt Disney Concert Hall from LA Phil website

External links[edit]