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Twelve new Disney Legends to be honored at D23 Expo 2019

by Brittani Tuttle

Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Bette Midler, as well as James Earl Jones, Kenny Ortega, Diane Sawyer and more will be honored as Disney Legends during this year’s D23 Expo for their contributions to the Disney legacy.

disney legends

UPDATE – 07/09/19: Christina Aguilera has been added to this year’s list of Disney Legend honorees, bringing the total to 12.


Hosted by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, the Disney Legends Awards ceremony will be held on Friday, Aug. 23 at 10:30 a.m. in Hall D23 of the Anaheim Convention Center.

“The Disney Legends Award is the highest honor we can bestow; it’s a recognition of talent, a celebration of achievement, and an expression of profound gratitude to the remarkable men and women who have made an indelible mark on our company and our creative legacy,” said Iger. “This year’s honorees have earned a place in our hearts and our history for their significant contributions in film, television, and our theme parks around the world.”

This award is a 32-year tradition of The Walt Disney Company, with the first award given to Fred MacMurray of “The Shaggy Dog” in 1987. 

The 2019 Disney Legends Award honorees are:

  • Wing Chao – served as vice chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for Asia Pacific Development as well as executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, where he oversaw master planning, design, and architecture as Disney Parks worldwide.
  • Robert Downey Jr. – two-time Academy Award nominee and one Golden Globe winner who has appeared in more than 80 films, most recently Marvel Studios’ “Avengers; Endgame” as the incomparable Tony Stark.
  • Jon Favreau – director of “Iron Man”, “Iron Man 2”, the live-action remake of “The Jungle Book”, and the upcoming live-action “The Lion King”. Favreau is also known for his role as Happy Hogan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor, producer and director is currently at work writing and executive producing the live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” for Disney+.
  • James Earl Jones – Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning actor, best known for his role as the voice of Darth Vader in “Star Wars” and Mufasa in “The Lion King”. Jones will reprise this role in the upcoming live-action reimagining.
  • Bette Midler – Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, and Tony winner who is best known in the Disney community for ‘Hocus Pocus”, which has since become an iconic Halloween classic.
  • Kenny Ortega – multi-award-winning director, choreographer, and producer who directed Disney’s “Newsies” and “Hocus Pocus”, as well as the Disney Channel Original Movie “High School Musical”. Currently, Ortega works on the Disney Descendants series, with “Descendants 3” to release this summer.
  • Barnette Ricci – started her career as a choreographer at Disneyland in the late 60s. Ricci worked on the grand openings for Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, and Tokyo Disneyland, and has directed shows like “Golden Horseshoe Revue” at Disneyland and the “Diamond Horseshoe Revue” at Walt Disney World, though her biggest creation is “Fantastmic”. She retired in 2013.
  • Robin Roberts – started at ESPN in 1990, but moved over to ABC’s “Good Morning America (GMA)” in 2005 as co-anchor. Since then, the show has won four Emmys for Outstanding Morning Program, and Roberts has hosted many additional programs for ABC.
  • Diane Sawyer – an ABC News anchor and one of the most respected journalists in the world. Sawyer has been recognized with countless awards for her work, including duPonts; Emmys; Peabodys; and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1997. She currently is the anchor for “World News”.
  • Ming-Na Wen – currently portrays Agent Melinda May, aka “The Cavalry” on ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. Wen is also known for playing Jing-Mei Chen on “ER” and being the voice of the titular heroine in Disney’s animated film “Mulan”.
  • Hans Zimmer – scored more than 160 projects, which, when combined, have grossed more than $28 billion worldwide. Zimmer has scored films like “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “The Lion King”, “Iron Man”, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and more. He also composed the music for this summer’s reimagining of “The Lion King”.
  • Christina Aguilera – member of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, performed “Reflection” from Disney’s “Mulan,” and has appeared on many Disney TV shows and specials during her three-decade career as a musician and entertainer.

Honorees will receive a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture, as well as take part in a handprint ceremony at the end of the event. Their bronzed prints will be displayed in the Disney Legends Plaza at the company’s Burbank headquarters.

Admission to the ceremony will be on a first-come, first-served basis and is included in the price of a ticket to D23 Expo 2019. 

Tickets for this year’s Expo are available for $89 for one-day adult admission and $69 for children ages 3-9. Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club can buy tickets for $77 for a one-day adult admission and $59 for kids ages 3-9. To learn more about tickets to this year’s event, head to D23Expo.com.

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