Disney kicked off its bi-annual D23 Expo this weekend on a serious and slightly emotional note as it continued its tradition of giving thanks to those who have left their mark on the World of Disney.
The 2017 Disney Legends Award honorees (listed alphabetically) are: Carrie Fisher (Film), Clyde “Gerry” Geronimi (Animation), Whoopi Goldberg (Film & Television), Manuel Gonzales (Publishing), Mark Hamill (Film), Wayne Jackson (Imagineering), Jack Kirby (Publishing), Stan Lee (Film & Publishing), Garry Marshall (Film & Television), Julie Taymor (Theatrical) and Oprah Winfrey (Film & Television).
This year’s ceremony was definitely one filled with tons of emotion, especially when it was announced that the late Carrie Fisher was amongst those being honored as a Disney Legend for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars film franchise. Fisher’s daughter, 24-year-old actress Billie Lourd, contributed to the ceremony by writing an emotional acceptance speech on behalf of her mother, who passed away suddenly in December.
“As far back as I can remember, my mom and I have been Disney fanatics,” Lourd wrote. “I was so obsessed with Ariel that I wanted to change my name. We went to Disneyland so much that I now realize she might have even loved it more than I did. Becoming part of the Disney family was truly an amazing moment for her. She secretly always wanted to be a Disney princess, so getting to be a Disney princess and a Disney legend would have been her ultimate dream.
“I wish I could be there to accept this award on her behalf, but unfortunately, I am currently working on American Horror Story. I am beyond grateful to Mr. Iger and everyone at Disney for this incredible honor. Thank you again, and may the force be with you always.”
A video tribute featuring scenes from Carrie’s many roles was also shown.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Disney Legends Awards. The first Disney Legend was Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Happiest Millionaire), who was honored in 1987.