Kurt Russell wasn’t always the star of films like Escape from New York, Hateful Eight and Big Trouble in Little China. He began his career as a child actor in television and had early films like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
So, as a comparatively minor child television star, how important was he?
Apparently important enough to be the dying words of Walt Disney. For years, people have puzzled over why Disney would focus on Kurt Russell as he was passing away. The bizarre nature of it created many skeptics, and it was considered an urban legend… until Kurt Russell himself confirmed it.
Kurt had previously spoken about Disney many times, including for the book Remembering Walt by Amy Green.
“What was interesting about Walt, as I look back on it now, is that he was picking the mind of an uninhibited 13-year-old. He would ask, ‘What do you think of this?’ and we’d kick ideas back and forth. I think he was finding out how a young mind worked.”
“The script lady pulled me aside one day and said, ‘I think they’re going to offer you a contract. Do you know why Walt likes you? Because you’re not intimidated by him.’ I never could figure out why anybody would be intimidated by him.”
So the two certainly had a good working relationship, but Russell had not been shown any particularly strong bond with Disney, or vice versa. In various venues, he’s believed to have confirmed it.
There’s only one issue here… if you pay attention, Kurt Russell does NOT confirm it. He says that a secretary took him in, showed him a sheet of paper that was among the last things that Walt was working on before he died.
Written. And “working on”. So, Kurt Russell… then a child star that Disney was looking to promote… was slated for Disney’s final project. Which certainly ties in with the final footage revealed on The View clip, above.
That interpretation of events is confirmed during a tour of one of Walt’s offices that was hosted by Dave Smith, who was working for Disney at the time.
He talks in this about bringing Kurt Russell up to the office and showing the writing to him… complete with the misspelling of Kurt’s name by Disney. So, this is the person who brought Russell in, and the actor confirmed the event from his side. Neither of them said that “Kurt Russell” were Walt Disney’s dying words.
And apparently, even if they had been, Disney would have been spelling it “Kirt” in his mind.
Question of the night : What’s your favorite Disney movie?