Diane Disney Miller talks Lady and the Tramp

Walt Disney's daughter Diane Disney Miller discusses Lady in the Tramp

Last week, I was invited up to the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to celebrate the Blu-ray debut of Lady and the Tramp, which arrives in three-disc Blu-ray and two-disc Blu-ray February 7. The setting was quite fitting, since one of the special features, Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad, was shot in the museum, and offers a unique glimpse into Walt Disney's life, as told by his daughter, Diane Disney Miller. The special feature gives us perspective into a rather hectic period of Walt Disney's life, when he was in production on Lady and the Tramp and also working on plans for his now-iconic theme park Disneyland.

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I had the chance to sit down with Diane Disney Miller to chat about Lady and the Tramp, the Disney Family Museum, and more. Here's what she had to say below.

I was watching the special feature on the Blu-ray, and it seemed that Walt really included his kids in his films. I believe you were in your late teens or early 20s when Lady and the Tramp was in production, so can you talk about what really struck you about the story when you first heard about it?

Diane Disney Miller: It's a story that Dad had been interested in for a long time. All of the sudden, it emerged and they were going to do it. I don't remember, exactly. I think you're right. I would have been like 16 when he started. We had just moved into our new house, but I just don't remember. I remember he was thrilled and he really liked it, but I don't have any real memories of them making it. i was too involved in my own life.

At that point, this was his 15th animated feature. I'm curious how involved he was in the day-to-day operations on a project like this?

Diane Disney Miller: That I don't know. (Director) Hamilton (Luske) was one of his most trusted guys, who was with him forever. I really can't tell you what his involvement was. He created some of the scenes with Frank Thomas (like the iconic pasta scene).

When you think of this movie, that's often the first image that comes to mind.

Diane Disney Miller: Yeah, that's interesting. It's still regarded as one of the best love stories.

Can you talk a bit about the creation of the Disney Family Museum?

Diane Disney Miller: We began when I was really angry about a certain rotten book that had been written. To combat that, we had written a CD-ROM biography, which didn't go anywhere. We felt we got a lot of great interviews for it, so then we did a film. It's been running on CNBC. From the film, a website, and the website billed itself as a virtual museum. We kept getting inquiries about where the real museum was. We started thinking then, maybe that's what we should do. We have all these Academy Awards and a lot of other awards, and we had the train (Walt Disney had a legendary train set that he would ride around his house), so we thought we should find a place someplace where people could come in and look at what we've got. It just grew to this.

Just knowing the kind of background Walt came from, working his way up, it seems the museum's trajectory is really fitting.

Diane Disney Miller: I agree.

Is there a particular favorite film of your fathers, when you think back on his work?

Diane Disney Miller: No, it's all together. It all swarms together. One of my favorites is Dumbo, and, I understand that's one of the ones he was least involved in.

One of the things I'm so intrigued by with Disney is how they put their films in the vault for, I believe, eight years, and pull them back out, to generate more interest again. Is that something that was always his idea?

Diane Disney Miller: I think so, yeah. I know with Fantasia, I was surprised to read that he compared it to a ballet company, where you go to the ballet every year, and they have your favorites and also something new. He wanted to do that with Fantasia, but he didn't, and ended up doing a sequel.

Can you talk about making the Remembering Dad special feature on this Blu-ray? What was it like revisiting that time with your dad?

Diane Disney Miller: We did that about six months ago. It was done up here. I thought people should see the museum, because not everybody will go in there. They won't know that Walt and Lillian had this charming little apartment that they spent nights in down there.

Are you planning any expansion for the Museum, or do you have any special events coming up you'd like to talk about?

Diane Disney Miller: We can't expand physically. We're limited by the space that we have, but I think, in terms of programs, we're certainly looking at ways we can supplement things, and be more of a force and a resource to the community. We will be having a Snow White exhibit, because its the 75th Anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

What would you say to any fans of your father's work about why they should pick up this new Blu-ray?

Diane Disney Miller: They should pick up the Blu-ray, definitely, because this is a timeless film and a timeless story.

That's about all I have. Thank you so much. It was a real pleasure.

Diane Disney Miller: Thank you.

You can pick up Lady and the Tramp, which arrives in three-disc Blu-ray and two-disc Blu-ray February 7. You can also CLICK HERE to learn more about the Disney Family Museum, which is located inside the famed Presidio building in San Francisco (104 Montgomery Street, The Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94129).