These days, Kurt Russell is known for his thirty-year relationship with actress Goldie Hawn and his recent rough-and-tumble cowboy roles. Once upon a time, though, he was a squeaky clean teenager appearing in dozens of wholesome Disney films. In fact, he was so beloved by Walt Disney himself, that “Kurt Russell” were the final words of the famous animator.
In 1966, at the age of 13, Kurt Russell starred in the Walt Disney film, Follow Me, Boys! Disney regular Fred MacMurray starred as Boy Scout master who adopts Russell’s character. Walt Disney was apparently so taken with the actor that he signed Russell for a 10-year contract.
Kurt Russell on Walt Disney
Kurt Russell fondly recalled his time with Walt Disney for the book Remembering Walt by Amy Green:
“Sometimes he’d [Walt]) come down to the set and ask, ‘Do you want to see part of a movie that’s being put together?’ So I’d watch a movie or parts of a movie with him and we’d talk about it, and he’d ask me questions.”
“What was interesting about Walt, as I look back on it now, is that he was picking the mind of an uninhibited 13-year-old. He would ask, ‘What do you think of this?’ and we’d kick ideas back and forth. I think he was finding out how a young mind worked.”
“The script lady pulled me aside one day and said, ‘I think they’re going to offer you a contract. Do you know why Walt likes you? Because you’re not intimidated by him.’ I never could figure out why anybody would be intimidated by him.”
“He didn’t blurt things out like a child. He sat and thought. I think he was a realistic dreamer. He was slower and a little more thoughtful and had an awareness about him. You felt like he was taking in the whole room.”
On Walt Disney’s Legacy
“When I was over at Universal working on a Western while under contract at Disney, I was shooting a close-up and noticed there was some hubbub going on off camera. Then everybody went quiet. They were looking at me and I thought, ‘What the hell’s this?’”
“This guy came over to me and said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, Kurt, but Walt Disney died.’ They were all very sweet. The director asked me if I was okay to work and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, sure. Go ahead.’”
“His death was a surprise and I was saddened by it. But, I don’t look at death as some sort of finality. It’s sad you won’t be able to spend time you had together. At that moment, I immediately appreciated the time I shared with Walt more than ever.”
“What Walt represented to me was someone who was constantly aware of what might be fun to do, not necessarily cutting edge or different or what would blow people away, but what might be fun. I remember he would always say, ‘Wouldn’t that be fun?’”
Walt Disney’s Deathbed Mystery
In 1966, as Walt Disney lie on his deathbed, he mysteriously wrote the name “Kurt Russell” on a piece of paper right before he passed away. Many have speculated on the reasons.
Russell himself confirmed the rumors in an April 2007 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
“It’s true. I don’t know what to make of that. I was taken into his office one time after he died and I was shown that,” Russell said.
What do you think? Why would Walt Disney write “Kurt Russell” before dying?