Lillian Disney in 1951
Lillian Marie Bounds
February 15, 1899
Spalding, Idaho, U.S.
|Died||December 16, 1997 (aged 98)|
West Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Ink and paint artist|
(m. 1925; died 1966)
John L. Truyens
(m. 1969; died 1981)
|Children||2, including Diane Disney Miller|
|Relatives||See Disney family|
Lillian Marie Disney (née Bounds; February 15, 1899 – December 16, 1997) was an American ink artist at the Disney Studios, and was best known for being married to Walt Disney, from 1925 until his death in 1966.
Born Lillian Marie Bounds in Spalding, Idaho, she grew up in nearby Lapwai on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, where her father Willard worked as a blacksmith and federal marshal. She was the youngest of ten children, and the family struggled financially; her father died when she was seventeen. After graduation from Lapwai High School, Bounds and her mother moved down to Lewiston; she attended a year of business college then moved to southern California in 1923 to live with her sister Hazel's family. She was working at the Disney Studio in "ink and paint" as a secretary when she met Walt.
Marriage to Walt Disney
Lillian Bounds and Walt Disney married on July 13, 1925, in Idaho at her brother’s home, officiated by the rector of Lewiston's Episcopal Church of the Nativity. However, Walt Disney's parents could not attend. As her own 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. The couple had two daughters, Diane Marie Disney (1933–2013) and Sharon Mae Disney (1936–1993), the latter of whom was adopted. Disney had ten grandchildren: seven by Diane and her husband (Ron W. Miller), and three by Sharon and her two husbands, Robert Brown and William Lund.
Her film career includes work as an ink artist on the film Plane Crazy. Disney 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." Disney replied that the name sounded "too depressing" and she was very proud to have suggested the name "Mickey Mouse" instead of Mortimer.
At the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, Walt Disney named his 1:8-scale live steam locomotive the "Lilly Belle" in his wife's honor. Additionally, Walt named one of the Disneyland Railroad cars the "Lilly Belle" in her honor, and the Walt Disney World Railroad has a locomotive also 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 Disney Springs and Disney christened it on May 1, 1977. Disney was inducted into the Disney Legends in 2003.
Later years and death
Following Walt Disney's death in 1966, Disney was married to John L. Truyens from May 1969 until his death in February 1981.
In 1987, she pledged a $50 million gift towards the construction of a new concert hall in Los Angeles. After several delays, the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003, six years after her death. She also helped fund the founding of The California Institute of the Arts.
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."
Disney suffered a stroke on December 15, 1997, which was exactly 31 years after the death of her first husband, Walt. She died the following morning on December 16, 1997, at her home in Los Angeles, California.
- Lillian Disney profile, legends.disney.go.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
- "Walt Disney dies of cancer at 65". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 16, 1966. p. 1.
- "Lillian Disney dies". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). December 18, 1997. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Litzinger, Brenda (March 13, 2012). "Important women in Disney history: Hazel Sewell". Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Taylor, George (February 14, 2012). "Walt and Lilly". Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Miller, Diane Disney (July 12, 2011). "Remembering Walt & Lillian's Anniversary". Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Idaho, County Marriages, 1864-1950
- Episcopal Church of the Nativity (Lewiston, Idaho) website, nativitylewiston.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
- Jackson, Kathy (2006). Walt Disney: Conversations (First ed.). University Press of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 1-57806-713-8.
- Broggie, Michael (Winter 2018). "View from the Cupola" (PDF). Carolwood Chronicle. The Carolwood Society. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- Profile, Social Security Death Index website; accessed February 9, 2015.
- About Walt Disney Concert Hall Archived 2009-11-26 at the Wayback Machine, laphil.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
- Weinraub, Bernard (1997-12-18). "Walt Disney's Widow, Lillian, Dies at 98". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-06.