This first-edition copy of Walt’s Time: From Before to Beyond, written by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman and released in December 1998, has been hand-signed on the title page by both authors, as well as editors and Walt Disney Imagineers Bruce Gordon and David Mumford.
The 252-page book, which also includes the editing talents of Jeff Kurtti and book design and layout by Gordon as well, is licensed by Disney Enterprises and published by Camphor Tree Publishers in Santa Clarita, California. It features a preface by Roy E. Disney (nephew of Walt and senior executive of the company for many years), foreword by Martin A. Sklar (president of Imagineering), introduction by Leonard Maltin (film critic and historian), and afterwords by all three editors. The book is divided into three sections: “Walt’s Time,” which focuses on the Sherman Brothers’ Disney career specifically; “Al’s Time,” which centers on their father’s songwriting career and their own upbringing; and finally, “Our Time,” which highlights much of their careers outside the Walt Disney Company.
The Sherman Brothers grew up in New York City, the sons of a Russian-immigrant father who kept the family’s rich musical legacy alive by making his living as a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. The elder Sherman became very well-known throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, writing over five hundred songs. His most notable success was “Now’s the Time to Fall in Love,” a Depression-era love song that put a positive spin on the country’s hardships. Richard and Robert’s big break came on the heels of their father’s impressive career, when in 1959 famed Mouseketeer Annette Funicello turned their song “Tall Paul” into a hit record (reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100). Shortly after, Walt brought them on full-time at the studio, and for the next thirteen years, they scored such live-action films as The Parent Trap, In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, The Happiest Millionaire, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and of course the Academy-Award-winning masterpiece Mary Poppins, for which they took home two Oscars themselves (Best Score and Best Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). The pair also contributed to several animated projects including the Winnie the Pooh series of films, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats, and of course, penned some of their most notable work—at least among theme-park fans—for classic Disney attractions the likes of It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and Journey into Imagination. Outside of their time with Disney, they became equally successful, scoring the acclaimed films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the musical adaptation of Tom Sawyer, and the animated Charlotte’s Web, as well as several stage musicals, including the Broadway shows Over Here! and the stage adaptation of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (in addition to the Broadway smash Mary Poppins). All told, their work would garner a total of nine Academy-Award nominations (two victories), five Golden-Globe nominations, and nine Grammy-Award nominations (three victories). They were named Disney Legends in 1990, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, and three years later, awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush.
Alongside the Sherman Brothers’ signatures is that of editor Bruce Gordon (1951-2007), a Walt Disney Imagineer, who began at the company as a model designer in 1980. Early in his career, he contributed to the construction of EPCOT Center, and went on to serve as show producer for attractions like Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan’s Treehouse, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and the 1998 renovation of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.
The fourth and final signature belongs to that of Gordon’s fellow editor and Imagineer, David Mumford (1956-2001), whose tenure with WDI began in 1979, assisting (like Gordon) with the production of several EPCOT attractions. In addition to the Florida and California parks, he also contributed various design elements to both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Gordon and Mumford worked on a number of book projects together, including Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, a 368-page history of the park told through vintage postcards, which is considered by many to be the definitive text on the original Magic Kingdom. Other titles on which the pair collaborated include A Brush with Disney: An Artist’s Journey and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real.
This book’s original printing was a relatively short run, and as a result copies are somewhat scarce, especially those featuring the authors’ and editors’ signatures. As the legendary songwriters’ official autobiography, the work represents a comprehensive source of information, both personal and professional, on two of the most prolific artists to ever work under Walt Disney, or within the modern American music scene.