Walt Disney was probably the biggest influence on my life, other then my father. I am a child of what I personally consider Disney’s greatest generation of entertainment. I believe it shows with all the anniversary articles I have types over the last few months.
Dave Smith approached Walt back in 1970 and asked, do you have an archivist, a librarian. A job was born, and the archives were established on June 22nd, 1970. However, it was not just a job, but an adventure through all things tangible and intangible Disney. His level of detail on what he archived has no equal. It is nigh impossible to keep track of who was what and when was that. In comes Dave Smith.
Next to Walt, no other Disney employee kept me hooked like Dave. Dave’s historical perspective kept me in the Disney influence for decades (I’m almost 60). Tracking, auditing, recording, filing, on all the levels from Walt’s office on the day he died, to the color recipe of Mickey’s yellow. Consider all the entertainment avenues. Movies, TV, music, periodicals, scripts, cells, pics, drawings of every stage of completion, engineering guides, paint recipes, snippets, rumor clarification, corrections, even down to Walt’s Signature and the year of that signature!
More information was lost upon his death then is recorded in archives and books today. Dave published numerous books, Disney A – Z The Official Encyclopedia 1996 (arguably the best information resource available) to Disney Facts Revealed 2016. In many of the news releases from the from Disney Insider not limited to but including D23, there was the Ask Dave section. Arguably my favorite repeated section of these periodicals. One could Ask Dave about a piece of information history, context, just about anything Disney and he would answer you. Some even made it to publication. Dave even answered one for me! It was a question about The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.
Leonard Maltin writes a wonderful article/tribute posted on his website:
This article is a homage to Dave and his talents. Dave could just look at an item, and if it was signed, he could tell you if it was counterfeit. Leave it to Walt to identify such an immense talent….. in a librarian for goodness sake!!!!!
As we sit back and reminisce about the history of entertainment from the Disney perspective, let us give thanks for a young man who had one real job in his life, and that job was not just an adventure for him, but allowed each of us to revisit the adventures over and over and over again, for ourselves.
Dave passed on February 15th, 2019. I wanted to do a piece on this great contributor to the Disney empire, or should I say, great saver, so I took some time to mull over how to reflect on his contributions. Dave is a big reason why I volunteered when Steve asked for contributors. History was not among the suggestions of contribution, but I had hoped Steve and all of you would appreciate where we all have been, as much as where we are all going. Thank you Dave for planting the historical seed of love of Disney info in my garden. I will continue to water that seed, nurture its growth, and like you, share it with those around me in hopes they plant their own seeds in their garden of Disney. Dave Smith, a Disney Legend.
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Oh my goodness, what an amazing legacy he left behind with the archives. Very sad to hear about his passing, he will be missed
Wow! How awesome!! Thanks for sharing this really cool info!
Love this!! Thanks for sharing!
I used to love all those Ask Dave articles. you are right, his knowledge of all things Disney was boundless. I have the A-Z book. i can’t even imagine amassing a tenth of the info he had. Thanks for sharing!!
This months D23 will also have an article on Dave.
Great article. I love the history. It makes it all the more magical.
Im rereading this and I notice a HUUUUUUGGGGGGGEEE error. It wasn’t Walt, it was ROY!!!!! So sorry. just a subconscious error I am sure. Roy Disney hired Dave Smith, not Walt. Roy wanted Dave to category Walt’s office which was untouched since his death. Dave talked Roy into a career.
I am so sorry for such an egregious error.