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🏆 Meet the 2019 Disney Legends honorees

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Every D23 Expo, the Disney Legends Awards ceremony has honored many of Disney’s brightest stars and notable luminaries starting with Fred MacMurray way back in 1987. Since then, The Walt Disney Company has celebrated 288 Disney Legends, including the 11 talented individuals who will be inducted this year. 

This year, Robert Downey Jr., Bette Midler, Wing Chao, Jon Favreau, James Earl Jones, Kenny Ortega, Barnette Ricci, Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Ming-Na Wen and Hans Zimmer will be honored for their remarkable contributions to the Disney legacy.

Wing Chao

Chao helped in the Disney’s expansion in markets such as China and Hong Kong, handling businesses worth more than USD $12 billion. He was with Disney for over 37 years from 1972 to 2009, and led over 100 projects including Disneyland resorts, luxury hotels, and cruises.

Robert Downey-Jr

Robert Downey Jr. is a two-time Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner who has appeared in more than 80 films. His films have grossed over $5.3 billion in North America and over $12.9 billion worldwide, making Downey the second highest-grossing domestic box-office star and the highest-grossing worldwide box-office star of all time.

Bette Midler

Bette Midddler appeared in a string of hit comedies, including Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), and Big Business (1988). Touchstone’s 1988 drama Beaches not only proved to be a smash with audiences, but it also included Bette’s platinum-selling rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” In a career spanning almost half a century, Midler has won three Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award. She has sold over 30 million records worldwide and has received four Gold, three Platinum and three Multiplatinum albums by RIAA.

Kenny Ortega

Kenny Ortega is an multi-award-winning director, choreographer, and producer. In 2006, he helmed the Disney Channel smash hit High School Musical, and the success of the first film would bring him back to direct—and choreograph—the sequels High School Musical 2 (2007) and High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008). Kenny also produced and staged the High School Musical: The Concert tour, as well asthe Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers Best of Both Worlds Tour. His other Disney credits include directing the 2014 short The Making of Frozen, The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006), and, most recently, the international phenomenon Descendants (2015), Descendants 2 (2017), and Descendants 3, which will be released this summer.

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts joined ESPN in 1990 and would quickly become a frequent contributor to the network’s programming. In her 15 years at ESPN, she contributed to NFL Primetime and hosted SportsCenterand In the Game with Robin Roberts. Robin began making appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America(GMA) in 1995, and in 2005 left ESPN to join the show full-time as co-anchor. 

Ming-Na Wen

Ming-Na Wen is currently found to be saving the day as Agent Melinda May, aka “The Cavalry,” on the ABC series Marvel’sAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ming-Na is also known for her seven years playing Jing-Mei Chen on ER. She found success on the big screen when she appeared in the acclaimed Hollywood Pictures adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Five years later, she would find animation immortality as the title star of the Disney classic Mulan, a role for which she would receive an Annie Award. 

James Earl Jones

Jones is an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning actor is well known for his iconic voice acting, beginning with the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). This villainous vocal performance was reprised in subsequent Star Wars films, including most recently in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and TV shows like Star Wars Rebels (2014–18). James also is known for the role of Mufasa in The Lion King (1994), a role James Earl would return to in The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (1998), The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar (2015) and this summer’s reimagining of The Lion King.

Barnette Ricci

Barnette Ricci started her career with The Walt Disney Company as a choreographer at Disneyland. In the late 1960s, Barnette created and directed Kids of the Kingdom before going on to choreograph and direct many parades, including Christmas parades, America on Parade, and the Main Street Electrical Parade. Perhaps her biggest project to date is the creation of Fantasmic! Debuting at Disneyland in 1992, the production combines state-of-the-art special effects with live performers along the Rivers of America. The show continues a successful run at Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, and now Tokyo DisneySea. Following Fantasmic!, Barnette moved to The Walt Disney Studios as the vice president/show director of Special Events.

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer has scored more than 160 projects which, combined, have grossed more than $28 billion worldwide. Hans has been honored with an Academy Award®, two Golden Globes, three Grammys, an American Music Award, and a Tony Award. His groundbreaking, Academy Award-winning instrumental score for The Lion King (1994) was followed by many memorable projects, including Crimson Tide (1995), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), The Rock (1996), Pearl Harbor (2001), King Arthur (2004), and Iron Man (2008). Hans is the guiding force behind the music of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, serving in various composing, editing, and producing capacities for The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man’s Chest (2006), At World’s End (2007), and On Stranger Tides (2011). Hans composed the music for this summer’s reimagining of The Lion King.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer is an ABC News anchor, tackling some of the biggest issues of our time with original reporting, primetime specials, long-form interviews, and in-depth investigations. Her primetime documentaries have won critical acclaim for shedding light on difficult and previously under-reported topics, including her reporting on the realities of poverty in America. She was named co-anchor of Good Morning America in January 1999, and held the post until taking over the World News anchor chair in December 2009.

Jon Favreau

Favreau started his career with appearances in film and television and has since become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors. His directing credits include Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), the live-action remake of The Jungle Book (2016) and this year’s reimagining of The Lion King. Jon also made appearances in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films as Tony Stark’s loyal bodyguard, Happy Hogan. As an executive producer for Marvel Studios, John holds credits on such films as Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2(2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

Honorees receive a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture that signifies the imagination, creativity, and magic they have brought to the Company.

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