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Sunday, August 21, 2022

D23 Names 2022 Disney Legends Honorees

 by Beth Keating



August 21, 2022


“D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event” begins in a very special way on Friday, September 9, 2022, with a spectacular opening celebration featuring the presentation of the 2022 Disney Legends Awards. The opening event will be streamed as part of D23 Expo [LIVE], and will feature performances by cast members from Disney On Broadway’s productions of Aladdin and The Lion King and The North American Tour of Frozen

It’s also a big year for the cast of the Frozen animated films, with four of its actors being named Disney Legends. Josh Gad (Olaf), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), and Jonathan Groff (Kristoff) are all among this year’s 14 inductees.


As part of the Expo’s opening day festivities, an early look at “Disney 100 Years of Wonder” will also take place, before the special celebration airs in 2023. The bi-annual D23 Expo is the largest Disney fan event in the world, a three day-long forum featuring a variety of “inside the magic” experiences for Disney fans, including panels, discussions, surprise announcements, sneak peeks, guest appearances, and merchandise halls.


The Disney Legends Award is given to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Disney legacy, and this year’s list of honorees includes Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, Chadwick Boseman, Rob’t Coltrin, Patrick Dempsey, Robert Price “Bob” Foster, Jonathan Groff, Don Hahn, Josh Gad, Doris Hardoon, Idina Menzel, Chris Montan, Ellen Pompeo, and Tracee Ellis Ross.  


This year, D23 is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Disney Legends. There have been 304 Disney Legends since Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy DogThe Absent-Minded Professor) was inducted in 1987.  Past Disney Legends have included Julie Andrews, Annette Funicello, George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Jim Henson, Steve Martin, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Alan Menken, Mary Blair, Hayley Mills, the Sherman brothers, Marc Davis, Fess Parker, Thurl Ravenscroft, Marty Sklar, Kurt Russell, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, James Earl Jones, Tim Allen and Robin Williams, just to name a few. 


Honorees receive a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture, and participate in a handprint ceremony at the end of the event. The handprints are then bronzed and make their way to the Disney Legends Plaza at Disney Headquarters in Burbank, California, where fans can stop by to visit.


The 2022 Disney Legends Award honorees are certainly a talented group (credit to D23 for biographical information):


Anthony Anderson has appeared in more than 20 films, and his performance on Law & Order earned him four consecutive NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. He starred in and executive produced ABC’s sitcom black-ish, winning seven NAACP Image Awards and earning seven Emmy and three Golden Globe® nominations for his role as Andre “Dre” Johnson in the series. He also executive produced and appeared in the black-ish spinoff series grown-ish and mixed-ish. In 2020 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Kristen Bell is best known as Anna, the fearless princess who later became Queen of Arendelle in the Frozen franchise. But she had an impressive resume before moving to Arendelle. Her first role with Disney was as the voice of Hiromi in the Studio Ghibli classic The Cat Returns, for the U.S. DVD release in 2005. Kristen also voiced Priscilla the sloth in the Zootopia franchise. She has starred in several Disney live-action films.


Chadwick Boseman’s breakout performance was as Jackie Robinson in 42, followed by his role as James Brown in Get On Up. He then starred in the title role of Marshall, which followed a young Thurgood Marshall. Boseman joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War before headlining the Black Panther film. Boseman won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture alongside the film’s ensemble. Boseman starred in 21 BridgesDa 5 Bloods; and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, where his performance as “Levee” garnered an Academy Award nomination, and he won the NAACP Image Award and the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards. He also received an Emmy nomination for his work in the Disney+ animated series What If...?

Courtesy of D23

Rob’t Coltrin joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1990 in the Show Set Design group and over time progressed through multiple disciplines—including show design, concept design, and art direction—before landing in his final role as an executive creative director. He had a hand in the creation of several Disney attractions such as Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin,  Mickey’s Philharmagic, and Muppet*Vision 3D. More recently, he was a major creative force behind Radiator Springs Racers, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and recent expansions at Tokyo Disney Resort.  


Patrick Dempsey is a two-time Golden Globe  nominee and SAG Award  nominee for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, and is perhaps best known to fans for the 11 seasons he portrayed Dr. Derek Shepherd in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.  Disney fans will also remember him from Enchanted, and the upcoming Disney+ film Disenchanted, as well as the voice of Kenai in Brother Bear 2. Patrick founded the Dempsey Center to help make life better for people managing the impact of cancer.


Robert Price “Bob” Foster began his Disney career in 1956, joining the Walt Disney Productions legal department. He later served as a member of the Park Operations Committee for Disneyland and was promoted to Corporate Secretary and Legal Counsel in 1958. Two years later, he was named Assistant Secretary, Walt Disney Productions, and Resident Counsel for Disneyland. In 1963, Walt and Roy O. Disney selected Bob to head the land search for their top-secret “Florida Project.” Bob took extraordinary measures to ensure that the identity of Walt Disney Productions remained classified while initiating and executing the property research and acquisition effort. He acquired 43 square miles of land for what would eventually become the Walt Disney World Resort. Bob was later named Vice President (Legal), Secretary, and General Counsel for the Walt Disney World Co. and in 1970 was promoted to President of the Buena Vista Land Company. In this role, Bob was responsible for overseeing development of the resort community of Lake Buena Vista. In 1974, Bob retired from Walt Disney Productions as Vice President, Real Estate.

Courtesy of D23

Josh Gad is a Tony Award-winning actor and singer who has warmed the hearts of countless viewers around the globe as Olaf the snowman from the Frozen franchise, a role which earned him two Annie Awards for Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. Gad also starred as LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast and Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl. He narrated the Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and has also had roles in Murder on the Orient Express and Modern Family. Gad’s Broadway talent is also showcased as both a creator and star of the Emmy-nominated 20th Television Animation musical series, Central Park (2020–).


Jonathan Groff is also a member of the Frozen franchise family, voicing the character of Kristoff.  He has had a number of memorable performances in theater since his award-winning breakout performance in Broadway’s Spring Awakening, originating the role of King George III in the production of Hamilton on Broadway. He received a Tony Award nomination for his performance, and was part of the cast in the Disney+ Original release of the show. Groff also received an individual Emmy nomination for his performance in the filmed production. He appeared as Jesse St. James on the television series Glee.  


Don Hahn joined The Walt Disney Studios in 1976 in the Art Props Morgue. His animation career took off when he worked as an inbetweener on Pete’s Dragon, and later as assistant director on The Fox and the Hound. He was Production Manager of The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective, then turned to producing on Who Framed Roger RabbitBeauty and the Beast, and The Lion King.  His other credits include The Hunchback of Notre DameThe Emperor’s New Groove, Maleficent, and the live-action Beauty and the Beast. He executive produced the Disneynature films EarthOceansAfrican Cats, and Chimpanzee. Don is also the author of several Disney Editions books, including The Alchemy of Animation, Before Ever After, and Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century. As director, Don has helmed such acclaimed documentaries as Waking Sleeping Beauty and Howard. His most recent Disney credits include hosting the documentary Adventure Thru the Walt Disney Archives.


Doris Hardoon joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1979 as a junior designer, then quickly rose through the ranks to lead designer, art director, and producer on a variety of groundbreaking projects around the globe. Included were EPCOT Center, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, as well as Disney Cruise Line and Disney entertainment centers nationwide. She additionally served as executive art director, producer, and creative portfolio lead for projects including Hong Kong Disneyland, the proposed-but-never-built WESTCOT Center in Anaheim, and the unbuilt DisneySea in Long Beach. Doris left the Company in 2000 to pursue other innovative projects but returned in 2009 to help conceive, design, and build Shanghai Disney Resort. In her role as executive director and producer, Doris provided overall creative direction to her design and production teams, while establishing culturally relevant, “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese” elements in all aspects of her assignments. Doris is the 2022 recipient of the THEA Buzz Price Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements Award.


Idina Menzel first rose to fame on the Broadway stage, winning a Tony Award in 2004 for her legendary performance as Elphaba in Wicked. She also rounds out the quartet of Frozen franchise actors in this year’s Legends class, voicing Queen Elsa. If you’ve heard the Oscar- and Grammy-winning song “Let It Go,” you’ve heard Idina’s voice! She also appeared as Nancy Tremaine in Enchanted and the Disney+ sequel, Disenchanted.  Idina is also a songwriter, and her original song, “Dream Girl” (from 2021’s Cinderella), made it to the Academy Awards’ Best Original Song short list. Among her TV credits are Lisa King in ABC Studios’ Private Practice, and Shelby Corcoran in Glee for 20th Century Television.


Chris Montan joined The Walt Disney Company in 1984, and within three years was named vice president of music for motion pictures and television. In 1997, Variety named him “musical supervisor of the decade” after he oversaw such classic and best-selling film soundtracks as The Little MermaidBeauty and the BeastPretty WomanSister ActAladdinThe Lion KingPocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules. Chris was named President of Walt Disney Music in 1999 and was responsible for overseeing music for Disney and Pixar animated feature films, Disney Theatrical stage productions, and Disney Parks and Resorts, worldwide. He served as executive music producer for all of the Studios’ animated features during his tenure, working closely in the story development process as well as helping to select musical talent. His work has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, winning Best Original Cast Recording for Aida and Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for Frozen, with additional films receiving 45 musical Academy Award nominations and 16 Academy Awards in the Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories.


Ellen Pompeo leads the longest-running primetime medical drama in television history, Grey’s Anatomy, as Dr. Meredith Grey, which earned the actress a Golden Globe nomination in 2007. Some of Ellen’s other notable credits include Moonlight MileOld School, and Daredevil. Ellen will star in and executive produce an eight-episode Hulu Original limited series currently titled Untitled Orphan Project through her production banner Calamity Jane, which she launched in 2011.


Tracee Ellis Ross starred in the groundbreaking ABC comedy series black-ish, and also served as a producer and director. For her role as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson, Tracee was nominated five times for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and won the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020 NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In addition, Tracee was honored and acknowledged at the 2016 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, receiving the Fierce and Fearless award. Her other Disney television credits include roles on grown-ish and mixed-ish—the latter of which she was both co-creator and executive producer—The Premise, and Private Practice. Tracee is the founder and CEO of PATTERN, a haircare brand that launched in 2019.


While the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center is sold out, and you won’t be able to see these panels in person without a ticket, you can still catch select presentations by streaming at D23 Expo [LIVE]!  For more information, visit D23Expo.com.




Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.


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