Lillian Disney

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Lillian Disney
Born Lillian Marie Bounds
(1899-02-15)February 15, 1899
Spalding, Idaho, U.S.
Died December 16, 1997(1997-12-16) (aged 98)
West Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Occupation Ink and paint artist
Years active 1928–1997
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 an ink artist who was married to Walt Disney from 1925 until his death in 1966.

Early years[edit]

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] She 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 Walt Disney would drive the other girls home before her, even though her stop was the closest.[citation needed]

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. As Lillian's 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. She and Walt had two daughters, Diane (died 2013) and Sharon (died 1993), the latter of whom was adopted. Lillian had ten grandchildren: seven by daughter Diane and her husband Ron W. Miller, and three by daughter Sharon and her two husbands, Robert Brown and William Lund. Lillian is the aunt of Roy Edward Disney and reportedly a great-aunt of Rebel Wilson.[3]


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.[4]

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.[1]

Later years and death[edit]

Following Walt Disney's death in 1966, Lillian Disney was married to John L. Truyens from May 1969 until his death in February 1981.[5] In 1987, she pledged a $50 million gift towards the construction of a new concert hall in Los Angeles.[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."[citation needed]

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, two months before her 99th birthday and is buried with her husband.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Lillian Disney profile,; accessed February 9, 2015.
  2. ^ Episcopal Church of the Nativity (Lewiston, Idaho) website,; accessed February 9, 2015.
  3. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Jackson, Kathy (2006). Walt Disney: Conversations (First ed.). University Press of Mississippi. p. 120. ISBN 1-57806-713-8. 
  5. ^ Profile, Social Security Death Index website; accessed February 9, 2015.
  6. ^ About Walt Disney Concert Hall,; accessed February 9, 2015.

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