Walt Disney’s bride was born on this day in 1899 in Spalding, Idaho. While it’s impossible to say for sure, Lillian’s biggest contribution to her husband’s success may have come when she convinced Walt that Mortimer was a terrible name for his new mouse character. Walt instead went with Mickey. The decision worked out pretty well.
Lillian Bounds moved to Los Angeles in 1923. Soon after her arrival she landed a job at the upstart Walt Disney Studio as a secretary and animation cel inker. Eventually, Walt asked Lillian, “I’m going to buy a new suit. When I get it, would it be all right if I called on you?” She agreed. In 1925, the couple married in Idaho.
When Walt first discussed his desire to build a theme park, Lillian was one of many early skeptics of his idea. “Why would you want to get involved with an amusement park? They’re so dirty and not fun at all for grown-ups. Why would you want to get involved in a business like that?” Lillian asked. Walt responded, “That’s exactly my point. Mine isn’t going to be that way. Mine’s going to be a place that’s clean, where the whole family can do things together.” Walt understood that Disneyland couldn’t just appeal to children, but needed to provide a good experience for mothers like Lillian as well.
Lillian passed away in 1997 at the age of 98. In 2003, she was named as a Disney Legend.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".