RIP: Journalist-Turned-Disney-Publicist Charlie Ridgway

He passed away at his South Florida home on Christmas Eve.

LifeMagazine1971CoverHe retired in 1994. He was inducted into Disney’s “Legends” ranks in 1999. And on this Christmas Eve, at age 93, Charlie Ridgway ascended to the happiest place beyond earth.

From an obituary written by Orlando Sentinel breaking-news reporter Christal Hayes:

Ridgway was behind the iconic Life magazine cover showing cast members in front of Cinderella Castle during the opening of Magic Kingdom.

He also was behind some of the more quirky and creative ideas to promote the park over the years. Ahead of Donald Duck’s 50th birthday, Ridgway arranged for the character to introduce himself to baby ducklings at birth. The ducklings formed an attachment so they would follow Donald around the park. They also appeared on a float for the birthday celebration, wearing birthday hats.

Ridgway moved from the realm of Los Angeles daily newspapers to Disney in 1963. Very soon after he joined the publicity ranks, he helped coordinate a dinner in 1964 at Disneyland for the U.S. Olympic team. From a write-up at the time of Ridgway’s aforementioned “Disney Legends” induction, by fan club D23:

According to Charlie, “We had a stage set up and Walt made a short speech and got a lot of good laughs. Then he sat down, and Bob Hope walked up to the microphone, when one of the whistles on the nearby train went ‘toot, toot.’ Hope didn’t miss a beat and said, ‘Walt, your waffles are ready.’ He brought the whole house down.”


Image courtesy: Time Inc. (click to enlarge)

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.