Cartoon patriarch Walt Disney, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated by Hollywood this week, was a Mickey Mouse father, according to his daughter.
The animation pioneer, whose name has become a byword for cartoons and fairytales, hid behind the alter ego of one of his best-known creations -- the chirpy, white-gloved Mickey Mouse, Diane Disney Miller said.
"In many ways Mickey Mouse was my father," she said before a nostalgic Hollywood tribute held late Wednesday to mark the centenary of Disney's birth, which featured home movies and behind-the-scenes clips of the cartoon mogul.
"My mom has said that after my dad died, she could not watch Mickey Mouse (cartoons). When I see that (home movie) film (of Disney), I see my father. He was so animated," she said.
Mickey's growing comfort and family in his pictures mirrored the increasing prosperity and visibility of Disney as he grew older, she said.
Disney even gave his own voice to Mickey in his early years, until he gave up the public identity in the mid-1940s when the studio chief began feeling "a little foolish" behind the microphone, historian Leonard Maltin said.
Disney was just a "normal, sweet guy," Miller said.
"He was just my dad and I'm proud to be his daughter," said the 67-year-old born just a few years after Mickey Mouse entered the world in the late 1920s.
But despite Disney's legendary imagination and story-telling ability, he wasn't much of a bedtime storyteller, Miller said.
"He would tell us about the stories he was working on at the time, and later we would see the story was in pre-production," she said. "He was more interested to find out what we were reading by ourselves."
More than 1,000 guests applauded and cheered Disney at the packed Hollywood tribute hosted by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which runs the Academy Awards.
They were treated to clips of Disney's best-known films, including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," "Cinderella," "Pinocchio," "Bambi" and "Sleeping Beauty," as well as a host of interviews and home movies featuring Disney.
The three surviving members of Disney's "nine old men," his core team of animators who produced his best known pictures, also reminisced about their times with Disney, who died of cancer aged 65 in 1966.
Also among the guests were veteran actor Robert Stack, who agreed Mickey Mouse's character bore a striking resemblance to his longtime friend and polo buddy, and Ilene Woods, who gave Cinderella her voice in 1950 -- AFP
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