Artist Carson van Osten (b.1945) died on December 22. Van Osten began drawing for Disney in 1970 and over the years worked on comic books and animation for Disney and other studios. He created the Disney Comic Strip Artist’s Kit, a primer on perspective. In 1980, he moved into management at Disney and was named a Disney Legend earlier this year.
Fan Daniel Fleetwood (b.1983) died on November 9. Fleetwood, a Star Wars fan, was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma and given two months to live. His final wish was to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney arranged for him to see an unfinished cut at his home last week and he also received a call from director J. J. Abrams.
Disney has announced that J. J. Abrams will direct Star Wars episode VII, scheduled for release in 2015. They’ve also announced that in addition to the sequel trilogy, they will be releasing films based on individual characters, with the first two films following a young Han Solo and Boba Fett, respectively. The Solo film will be set prior to the events of the original Star Wars film while the Fett film will take place concurrent with the original trilogy. No actors or directors, have been announced for either project, but Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are involved in the scripts for both the trilogy and stand-alone projects. Kasden was also involved with the script for The Empire Strikes Back.
The Walt Disney Company has purchased LucasFilm for 4.05 billion dollars in cash and stock. The deal gives Disney the rights to not only Star Wars, but also Indiana Jones and other LucasFilm properties. Disney has already announced plans to release a new Star Wars trilogy, beginning in 2015. The new trilogy will take place after the original trilogy and Disney says it will continue to release new Star Wars films every couple of years after the new trilogy is completed.
Actress Ginny Tyler (b.1925) died on July 13. Tyler’s voice appeared in numerous Disney animation, including Mary Poppins, The Sword in the Stone, and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. She also provided the voice of Sue Storm in the 1970s The Fantastic Four cartoon and provided voice work in Space Ghost. In 2006, she was named a Disney Legend.
Actress Ilene Woods (b. Jacquelyn Ruth Woods in 1929) died on July 1. Woods only made two films and is best known for her second role, providing the voice of Cinderella in the 1950 Disney film of the same title. She performed on radio and recorded a demo of several of the film’s songs for Jerry Livingston and Mack David to pitch to Disney and Disney cast her in the role.
Disney has announced that it has agreed to purchase Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, pending shareholder approval of the deal. If Marvel shareholders approve the deal, they will receive $30 in cash and .745 shares of Disney stock for each share of Marvel they currently hold.
Voice actor Wayne Allwine (b.1947) died on May 18. Since 1977, Allwine has provided the voice of Mickey Mouse for Disney. In addition, Allwine worked as a sound effect editor on the films Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Alien Nation, The Black Cauldron, and others. Allwine was married to Russi Taylor, who provides the voice for Minnie Mouse.