Disney fans remember the expert on all things Disney

February 16, 2019, 12:57 PM · Disney fans lost one of their best friends in the company yesterday. Dave Smith, the beloved expert on all things Disney, passed away at the age of 78.

Roy Disney hired Dave in 1970 to catalog Walt's Burbank studios office, which had remained untouched since his death in 1966. That led to the creation of the Disney Archives, which Dave ran for years as The Walt Disney Company's chief archivist. The company named Dave a Disney Legend in 2007, and over the years he endeared himself to countless fans by generously sharing his time and stories about the company's history.

Overnight, many of those fans have posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram photos of themselves with Dave, sharing their memories of lunches, talks, or just chance encounters when he took to the time to answer questions and tell them more about the movies, stories, and theme park attractions they loved.

"I'm deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing," Disney CEO Bob Iger said. "He was the unsung hero of Disney's history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story. Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future."

A native of Pasadena, Dave worked for The Huntington Library and the Library of Congress before being hired by Disney. Dave wrote frequent columns for Disney's fan magazines and published several books for Disney over the years, as well as making himself available to the many reporters, researchers, and creative professionals who have covered and worked with Disney over the years. One of the nicest, warmest people ever to work in this business, he is already missed by many.

Replies (1)

February 16, 2019 at 6:49 PM

When I first started working with teams building attractions, I was a project engineer working in document control/project archives. Dave Smith set a standard that could not be matched. He provided a foundation that ensured the history of the planet's most prominent themed entertainment operator would never fade into obscurity. Rest peacefully sir.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Shop Discounted Tickets

Theme Park Guides

Get Our Newsletter