The Real Story Behind Walt Disney's Rumored Last Words

One of Hollywood's more bizarre urban legends has worked its way into back into the mainstream.

Walt Disney Reading a Book to Donald Duck
Photo: Hulton Deutsch / Contributor/ Getty Images

One of Hollywood's more bizarre urban legends, that Walt Disney's dying words were "Kurt Russell," has worked its way into back into the mainstream. Despite being debunked numerous times, most recently by the Washington Post, the tale has somehow survived the five decades since the film icon's death, in large part due to its basis in reality. The truth is, that Disney didn't actually utter the actor's name, but he did write it down. Kurt Russell was one of the last things he wrote in his office.

On December 15, 1966, the day Disney succumbed to lung cancer, a 15-year-old Russell was on the set of Universal Studios filming a western TV show. Disney had identified Russell—who would go on to star in such classics as Overboard, 3000 Miles to Graceland, and Forrest Gump—as a promising up and coming talent. In fact, just a few months before he died, Disney publically predicted "a great acting future" for the youngster.

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Here's where the story gets odd. One of the last things the mogul wrote prior to his death was a list of names, scribbled at the bottom of printed page titled, "TV Projects In Production: Ready for Production or Possible for Escalation and Story." The note reportedly reads:

Ron Miller —

2 Way Down Cellar

2. Kirt [sic] Russell

3. CIA — Mobley

Disney's desk and the rest of the contents of his office (including the note with Russell's misspelled name) were preserved and recreated as a public attraction, first at Disneyland and later at Walt Disney World. And thus an urban legend was born.

The strange rumor started circulating again recently with Russell's appearance in Disney Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. The movie's writer and director, James Gunn, told the Washington Post that Russell loves the story—but, ultimately, feels compelled to correct it.

So there you have it!

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