Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A few days ago, I sent the following question to Diane Disney Miller:

[I received the following question on the blog:

"Do you know if Walt visited the Cote d'Azur while in Europe? I'm sure he must have: I was recently drawing in Eze near Monaco and a friend informed me Disney was known to have visited the village. Can you verify that?"

A reader comented:

"Denise Fabre, famous French TV hostess and a native of Nice, mentions in her autobiography (I don't have it handy, right now!) that, when she was 18, she babysat for Diane's children. Diane was so pleased with Denise that she offered to take her to California, but Denise declined!"

Any truth in this?]

Diane was kind enough to answer with a very detailed email:

[My parents might have been on the Cote d'Azur when they traveled to Europe with Edna and Roy Disney in 1934. During this trip dad was presented with the League of Nations Award in Paris, and he also made sure that they saw the Strasbourg Clock that had impressed him so much in 1918.

In 1948 my sister and I traveled to England and the continent with our parents. It was during the making of Treasure Island. We stayed at La Reserve, in Beaulieu sur Mer, and it was wonderful. Several years ago I found a strip of film that dad had shot of Sharon and me around the swimming pool at La Reserve.

In 1961 much of the film Bon Voyage was shot in France. Mother and dad had been there on the location survey, and Ron was associate producer with Bill Walsh. I met them in New York, and we set sail the next day on the SS United States. Film was shot on the voyage. Fred MacMurray, his wife June and their 5 year old twin daughters were aboard, as well as Bill and Nolie Walsh and their two children, ages 7 and 4, and the whole crew. Our children were Chris, age 6, Joanna, 5, and Tamara, 4. We'd left our youngest daughter at home, in the care of Thelma Howard, my parents' wonderful housekeeper/cook/ nanny. It was difficult for me to leave her behind for such a long time .. about 3 weeks. At this time I was pregnant with Walter, who was born in November of that year.

We stayed in the George V Hotel in Paris, and I had a wonderful time with my children, all over Paris. This is the only time we might have had a baby sitter, because I recall Ron and I going out to dinner with Joe McEveety, the assistant director and Ron's good friend, and my parents requested that we get a sitter from the hotel, even though we were sharing a suite with them.

The [shooting] location moved to the south of France, and we stayed at Eden Roc, Cap d'Antibes, this time. The Walshes and the MacMurray families were always along, of course. It was really a family trip for everyone. We went to lunch in Eze once, and loved it, at the Columbe d'Or. My parents had been there with friends, Mary and Bill Sprackling, on a previous trip, and, before I joined the group in New York, had taken Ron and Bill Walsh... maybe several others... to dinner there.

My kids and I really enjoyed the ocean at Eden Roc, and we ate dinner as a family every night. We had no baby sitters during this trip, and Ron and I had a year earlier hired a lovely young Swedish woman to help with the house. She was in our Encino home while we were gone, and stayed with us for 3 or 4 years. I would never have asked anyone to come to California and work for us. This woman must have met someone else connected with a Disney project.

P.S.: I forgot to mention: Going way, way back, dad spent about 3 weeks in Monaco and other places waiting to sail home from France in 1918. From several of his letters to friends from that time, I sense that it was quite an exciting experience for this 17 year old Kansas City kid.]


mnmears said...

For your thoughts, memories, recollections and clarifications on this site and others, all I can say is thank you Diane.

Anonymous said...

Well, that tends to prove that one can't believe what one reads!

The Colombe d'Or restaurant Diane refers to is in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, close to Eze, and a favourite hangout for Simone Signoret and Yves Montand for many years!

Scott in Encino, CA said...

My wife, our two children and I now live in Diane's former home in Encino. It's kind of a kick to watch my toddler girl and nearly 3-year-old boy watching Disney DVDs in the living room where "Grandpa Walt" must have sat.

Great blog, by the way!