Interview: Renie Bardeau (Disneyland/Walt Disney official photographer)

Renie Bardeau, and two of his well-known photos of Walt Disney
Renie Bardeau, and two of his well-known photos of Walt Disney

Renie began working as a photographer for Disneyland in 1959 and remained for 40 years. He became the chief photographer for the park, and in addition to shooting countless celebrities and dignitaries that would visit Disneyland, such as Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Prime Minister Nehru of India, and a number of US Presidents, Renie also photographed some of the most well-known photos of Walt Disney. He captured all the shows, parades, attractions and special events at Disneyland during his time there. Renie also took some of the most well-known photos of Walt Disney himself. Perhaps his best known photograph is of Walt, walking alone through the castle, an image that has later been dubbed “Footsteps,” and in a fire truck in front of the castle, which turned out to be Walt’s last visit to Disneyland.

Walt's last visit to Disneyland
Walt’s last visit to Disneyland
Renie's first photoshoot, the opening of the Monorail, 1959
Renie’s first photoshoot, the opening of the Monorail, 1959
Walt surrounded by children
Walt surrounded by children
Walt at the Creole Cafe (Now Cafe Orleans)
Walt at the Creole Cafe (Now Cafe Orleans)
Pinocchio's Daring Journey in Disneyland
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey in Disneyland
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Sleeping Beauty Castle with fireworks
Sleeping Beauty Castle with fireworks

 

AUDIO INDEX

2:06 Charlie Nichols, Disneyland’s first chief photographer; Renie’s start at Disneyland; He began summers only, and then began working full time

4:35 Walt Disney; A story of Walt at the Hills Bros. Coffee shop in Disneyland; “It’s not Mr. Disney, it’s Walt”; Renie first met Walt at the opening of the Pack Mules attraction at Disneyland; Walt’s philosophy on the Disneyland Guest; Everybody in the photography department took pictures as a team, they did not get credit

10:38 Renie watched Walt buy popcorn for the ducks; Renie photographed Walt under the castle, the photo now known as “Footsteps”

13:40 Renie never visited Disneyland before working there; The photography department at Disneyland, which was located above Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln; His first photoshoot was the grand opening of the Disneyland Monorail in 1959

15:40 The camera equipment, flash bulbs and film, and the photographing process; Missing shots

17:48  Some of the people that Renie photographed include Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Buck Owens; James Garner, Johnny Cash

20:38 Renie took over 10,000 photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle; Maintenance assignments included photographing pigeon poop on the castle; Photographing inside attractions and the Main Street Electrical Parade; Daily duties, a fish bowl filled with things to photograph; Uses of the photos included advertising, newspapers, magazines, etc.; Photographing fireworks

31:31 Walt Disney’s last photo in Disneyland, Walt and Mickey in the fire truck in front of the castle; Walt told Renie, “If you don’t have the shot in the can, you don’t have it.”

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