Home Deceased Founder of the Walt Disney Archives, Dave Smith, Dies at age 78

Founder of the Walt Disney Archives, Dave Smith, Dies at age 78

Dave Smith Disney Archivest

Dave Smith, the first-ever archivist at Disney and the founder of the Walt Disney Archives, had died.  Smith passed away in Burbank, California today, Friday, February 15, 2019.  He was 78.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story. Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future.”


Smith was born on October 13, 1940 and raised in Pasadena, California. He appreciated Disney movies as a child and having lived in California, visited Disneyland frequently. He later graduated from University of California, Berkeley and spent a year and a half as an intern at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He then moved back to California and worked as a librarian at UCLA for five years. In the late 1960s, Smith was working on a bibliography on Walt Disney when he first heard of a possible archive being created by The Walt Disney Company. Smith, still working at UCLA at the time, wrote a letter to the Disney Company offering his services, which was accepted.

Dave Smith (archivist) Disney Legends plaque

He joined the company on June 22, 1970, as its first archivist.  His first task was to document all the items in Walt Disney’s office which had sat dormant since his death in 1966.


Smith has written many books, including Disney A to Z, an official encyclopedia of Disney knowledge, as well as the Walt Disney Trivia Books, and also co-authored Disney: The First 100 Years. In 2007, Smith was honored with the Disney Legends Award, an honor given to people who have made significant contributions to The Walt Disney CompanyDuring his acceptance speech, he stated that he has at one time worked with nearly all the other Disney Legends.

On Thursday, June 24, 2010, forty years after he began work at Disney, Smith announced he would soon be retiring.  After retirement, he worked for Disney as a consultant until his death.(Wikipedia)

Dave Smith and Mickey Mouse