Year Inducted: 2004
Bill Anderson was one of The Walt Disney Company’s most prolific and trusted film and television producers; he also dedicated 24 years of service to its board of directors from 1960 to 1984. During his 44-year association with the Studio, Bill brought immense skill and personal philosophy to Disney family entertainment, once saying, “Tell a good story in a lighthearted manner. Family entertainment should be fun; life is melodramatic enough.”
A native of Smithfield, Utah, born October 12, 1911, Bill followed his boyhood dream to become an actor, arriving in Los Angeles in 1929. During the Depression, he obtained minor roles on local radio stations and went to work for an auto financing subsidiary of Ford, where he rose to regional sales manager.
Casting calls weren’t steady, though, so he landed a job at Firestone Rubber Company and used his small salary to enroll in pre-law, at Compton Junior College and later the University of Southern California.
In 1943, in the midst of World War II, Bill was hired by Disney when the Studio’s artistic community was dedicated to producing training films for the United States Armed Forces. He started in the Studio’s production control department before being tapped to oversee the reorganization and expansion of feature animation’s ink and paint department. This subsequently led Bill to a position as assistant to the Studio’s production manager.
By 1951, Bill was named production manager for the Studio and, five years later, vice president in charge of studio operations. After the death of Walt Disney in 1966, Bill was selected to be part of a small group of producers who would guide Studio motion picture production over the next decade.
Among film and television contributions, Bill served as associate producer of the beloved Disney live-action classic “Old Yeller” in 1957, and went on to produce other memorable motion pictures including Third Man on the Mountain, Swiss Family Robinson, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive, The $1,000,000 Duck, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Shaggy D.A., The Treasure of Matecumbe, and more.
For the small screen, Bill produced 58 episodes of Zorro during the late 1950s, as well as popular programs for The Wonderful World of Disney including “The Swamp Fox” series, “Texas John Slaughter,” and “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.” His feature film co-producing credits include Moon Pilot, Savage Sam, The Fighting Prince of Donegal, and The Happiest Millionaire.
Bill Anderson passed away on December 28, 1997, in San Francisco, California.