Interview: Sonny Anderson (His career as Disney’s longtime talent booker)

Disneyland/Disney world talent booker Sonny Anderson on Main Street
Disneyland/Disney world talent booker Sonny Anderson on Main Street

Sonny Anderson was a legendary award-winning talent booker in the music industry, and was much loved as the director of talent booking for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He began his career with Disneyland playing drums in the Disneyland band in 1956.

1:07 Director of talent booking for Disneyland, Stan Freese, describes Sonny Anderson and recalls working with him

4:15 Sonny Anderson’s start with Disney; Played in band in Long Beach and was teaching percussion; He was asked to play on the Disneyland Band record album, and was offered a job; Starting performing at the Disneyland Hotel at night

7:32 Sonny was writing musical arrangements for the band; Disneyland director of entertainment Tommy Walker made Sonny a full-time arranger at Disneyland; His secretary, singer Kay Bell; Sonny’s started a rock band and performed with that band; The band was called the Spacemen and also the Mustangs; Dress code at Disneyland; Walt Disney said he wanted to build a new stage in Tomorrowland12:56 Stan Freese talks about the Tomorrowland Terrace stage, that Walt Disney told Sonny he would have built; Sonny had a talent at discovering up and coming bands; More about the Tomorrowland Terrace, the stage that rose up from the ground; Stan’s sons Josh Freese and Jason Freese performed at Tomorrowland Terrace

16:09 Stan talks about the Night of Joy at Disneyland; Sonny talks about coming up with the idea for Night of Joy; Dick Nunis was skeptical about it

18:03 Stan remembers The World Symphony Orchestra which was put together for and performed at the grand opening of Walt Disney World; Sonny talks about Bob Jani; Bob had unique ideas and came up with the idea for the World Symphony Orchestra

22:06 Bob Jani promoted Sonny to talent booker; Sonny sat in with a band and Bob told him he could not do that; Sonny grew a moustache, which was not allowed at Disneyland

25:20 Stan discuss Sonny Anderson’s musical arrangements; Bob Jani was a genius in live entertainment; Stan remembers his first Disneyland Band concert and a warning he received from Bob Jani about some out of place jewelry he was wearing

30:17 Sonny discusses the authentic talent for the World Showcase at Epcot; Had to go twice a year to each country; Was working at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the moved back to Florida full-time; Sonny wanted authentic talent; Hired authentic singers and dancers from Hawaii for the Walt Disney World show at the Polynesian; Sonny also hired authentic talent for Disneyland; Hired famous jazz musicians to perform on the Mark Twain Riverboat; Stan Freese continues talking about some of the musicians Sonny hired such as Teddy Buchner and Jewel Hall; Jack McVea and Ernie McLean became two of Disneyland’s Royal Street Bachelors jazz group

Disneyland Band Concert record album that Sonny was first hired for
Disneyland Band Concert record album that Sonny was first hired for
Sonny Anderson with Johnny Schmidt and Kay Bell
Sonny Anderson with Johnny Schmidt and Kay Bell
This ad for Disneyland Date Nites mentions Sonny's group Kay Bell and the Spacemen
This ad for Disneyland Date Nites mentions Sonny’s group Kay Bell and the Spacemen

Interview: Peter Marshall (Career and music; Hollywood Squares; Big Bands at Disneyland)

Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall is a big band singer, television and radio host including “Hollywood Squares” and “Big Bands at Disneyland.” As an actor he’s appeared in both television and film, and in the feature film, “Annie,” he sings, “You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile.” He’s appeared in a number of stage musicals, such as The Music Man, La Cage aux Folles, and Skyscraper on Broadway. (Be sure to see all the photos below.)


1:56 Peter was an usher at the world famous Paramount at the age of 14. At the age of 15, Peter became a pageboy at NBC in the days of radio.

3:10 Peter wanted to be a singer and got a job in the early 1940s singing with Bob Chester and his orchestra at the Adams Theatre in Newark, New Jersey.

4:16 At 16 years old Peter went back to high school at his home in Huntington, West Virginia. Moved to California and was drafted and served in Italy during World War II, from 1944 to 1946. In the military, Peter became a disc jockey and program director of AES Naples (American Expeditionary Station). Peter would play “V discs” (victory discs).

9:45 After the war, Peter went to Florida and got a job in radio, had a 15 minute radio show where he talked and sang. It was called “Peter and the Wolf” with pianist Wolf Catlett. Peter mentions that he also sang in the military.

11:15 Peter went to New York and then California. Had a group called the Upstarts. He got a role in a show called “Tongue in Cheek.” Paired up with Tommy Noonan in a successful comedy act because Peter’s sister, actress Joanne Dru was dating Tommy Noonan’s brother. Peter teamed with Tommy Noonan to pay a dental bill. Opened at the Zambawanga and later at Billy Gray’s Band Box comedy club. Performed with Tommy Farrell for about four years. He then teamed back up with Tommy Noonan for two more years.

14:29 In 1961, Peter performed in Bye Bye Birdie with Chita Rivera, kicking off a string of theatrical performances including High Button Shoes, Anything Goes, Panama Hattie and Bye Bye Birdie in Las Vegas. He performed in New York in Skyscraper with Julie Harris and Charles Nelson Reilly.

14:50 Got his job doing Hollywood Squares, he thought it was a 13 week job and he hosted for 16 years. He needed a “straight man” who could work with comics. Continued to have an act in Las Vegas, opening for acts like the Mills Brothers, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby and Jerry Lewis. He hosted the Peter Marshall Variety Show for two years. Peter did 35 commercials for Kelloggs, which led to hosting the Hollywood Squares.

18:15 At the start of the Disney Channel, Peter and Steve Allen did interviews with people who had done Disney films for Disney Channel interstitials. He then hosted “Big Bands at Disneyland,” which featured the great big bands and their leaders such as Count Basie, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Les Brown, Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton.


Peter Marshall, singing
Peter Marshall, singing


Peter hosting the television series “Big Bands at Disneyland” at Carnation Plaza Gardens


Peter with the legendary Lionel Hampton in “Big Bands at Disneyland”


1978 article announces Peter’s appearance in Walt Disney’s World’s “Top of the World” club

Interview: Orlando Ferrante (Coordinating Disney parks and classic attractions)

Walt Disney Imagineer of 40 years, Orlando Ferrante
Walt Disney Imagineer of 40 years, Orlando Ferrante

Orlando Ferrante started working at Disneyland in 1962, and for the next 40 years continued in the planning of Disneyland projects, as well as Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and the Disney Cruise Line. (See photos and audio index below)

Orlando Ferrante football card from his days with the San Diego Chargers
Orlando Ferrante football card from his days with the San Diego Chargers
Four Disney Legends, all of whom have been interviewed for Mouse Clubhouse. Bob Gurr, Blaine Gibson, Harriet Burns, Orlando Ferrante
Four Disney Legends, all of whom have been interviewed for Mouse Clubhouse. Bob Gurr, Blaine Gibson, Harriet Burns, Orlando Ferrante
Orlando Ferrante's window on Main Street in Disneyland
Orlando Ferrante’s window on Main Street in Disneyland
Orlando Ferrante's window on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
Orlando Ferrante’s window on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World


1:33 Orlando met Ron Miller and Dick Nunis; He became a professional football player for the San Diego Chargers; Ron helped get him a job at WED (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering); Orlando was the 50th person hired by Walt Disney Imagineering

3:03 Working on Disney’s shows for the New York World’s Fair, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, his first project; Mapo was developed, the building for Imagineering’s animation; Attending the World’s Fair and visiting attractions with the public; Bringing the World’s Fair shows back to Disneyland

8:06 What his work as coordinator entailed; PICO, Project Installation Coordinating Office for Disneyland and Walt Disney World; Project engineers; During EPCOT Center creation, they changed to a project management system

11:26 What Imagineering was like while Walt Disney was alive; All levels of employees were treated great; About WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering); About Admiral Joe Fowler; Quality was most important with Walt, more than cost; Transporting pirates on the freeway for “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” television series;

17:17 More about working at Imagineering and the coordinating process; Coordinating from the start of design through installation: Orlando some of his fellow Imagineers and the model shop, which was like the hub of Imagineering

21:05 The grand opening of Walt Disney World and other Disney parks; Worked on EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland at the same time; Working on the production end of the show, working with operations and maintenance; Show/ride elements of Walt Disney Imagineering; Lived in Paris for 2 ½ years and then worked on Tokyo DisneySeas

26:49 Working on the Disney Cruise Line, helping with coordination on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder ships in Italy; Working on a Wedway system for the Houston airport

30:29 Retiring in 2002 and becoming an official Disney Legends Award recipient; Orlando was originally offered a job working at the Celebrity Sports Center in Denver that Walt Disney bought with a number of Hollywood celebrities; A picnic at Disneyland months before its opening; Grand opening of EPCOT Center

Interview: Jack Lindquist (His pre-Disney Hollywood days)

Jack Lindquist in the 1943 film "Best Foot Forward"
Jack in the 1943 film “Best Foot Forward”

Jack Lindquist appeared in the Our Gang comedies and movies such as “Best Foot Forward” before becoming Disneyland’s first advertising manager, beginning in 1955. He continued with the company in marketing for Disneyland. Walt Disney World and international Disney resorts. His many accomplishments include the creation of the Disneyland Ambassador program, the creation of the Walt Disney Travel Company, the international waters ceremony for the opening of the it’s a small world attraction, Disney Dollars, and in 1990 Jack became the first president of Disneyland.


1:11 An extra in the Our Gang comedies (aka The Little Rascals) making $5.10 a day; The first movie Jack was in called “Midget Millionaires; Took dancing lessons at the school Shirley Temple attended; Worked in movies from 7 years old until he came out of the service; was in “Best Foot Forward” with Lucille Ball
7:40 Jack never wanted to be an actor; Learning to take rejection; Lived two block from RKO