One of Walt Disney’s most memorable creations was “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln”

The 1960s found Walt Disney busy creating and dreaming up concepts and ideas for the World’s Fair.

These creations have become the stuff and story of legend and many of them eventually made their way into the theme parks where they are beloved attractions. They are considered “classics.’

Most are familiar with the breakthrough in audio-animatronics with the creation of Abraham Lincoln for the World’s Fair attraction “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

Walt had promised that he would create a version of the rail splitting, larger than life president…even though no one had ever created a robot that looked and acted human. Walt went as far to promise to create a robot that would fool Lincoln’s own mother.

The things that needed to be done and the details to be accomplished were endless.

As a way to help create the figure’s speech and movements, Walt arranged to film an actor named Royal Dano as he delivered a speech once given by the late president. Royal Dano looked like Abe Lincoln and the idea was to film the performance and have a real life model to use as their guide.

Royal Dano gave the speech and all agreed it was good. Everyone except Walt. He interrupted the production and yelled…

“No, no! That’s not what I want!”

Dano did another take, then another, and then another…this went on and on and each time Walt said it was wrong.

Dano was finally tapped out. He was tired, he was discouraged, and he didn’t know what to do next.

This is the moment when Walt Disney did what only Walt could do…he worked his Disney magic.

Sensing that things had come to a screeching halt, Walt stood and demanded the attention of the entire production crew. Everyone in the studio assembled and followed Walt’s lead. Standing in front of the them, Walt Disney directed the entire studio crew in singing “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.”

The soundstage came to life with energy, passion, and raw emotion. The crew was moved and as they sang the powerful song…as Walt directed…they began to weep. Now there was not a dry eye in the studio and as the song came the end…a quiet filled the room…it was at that moment that Walt cued Dano to begin, he waved his hand to start  recording…and the actor gave a powerful and memorable performance.

Dano was weary, he was somber, he was speaking words laced with emotion, his voice on the verge of choking back tears…just like the war weary president must have been as he
stood on the battlefield where blood has been spilt at Gettysburg.

It was preciously what was needed…close enough to perfect.

It was exactly what Walt Disney was looking for.

That recording became the soundtrack for the exhibit. Those who saw “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” were amazed at the emotional punch of the performance.

It was real, it was laced with a genuineness that had ultimately been inspired by Walt’s ability to connect the production crew and the actor with how what they were doing really mattered, there was a reason they were doing it, and they found the motivation to do more than they thought they could do.

He knew they could do it and he was willing to do what it took to get them there.

In your life, I hope that you have surrounded yourself with others who encourage, strengthen, and bring out the best in you. A real friend, someone who really loves you…will not let you take the easy way out or take a shortcut…they want to bring out the best in you so you can be the best you can possibly be…and that is a gift.

Not only do I hope you have those people in your life…but I really hope you are one of those people to someone else as well. You need to bring out the best in others.

In doing so you will make the lives of those you are pouring yourself into better…and you will be changing the world…one person at a time.