Year Inducted: 1997
Didier Fouret, former director of Hachette Publishing in Paris, played a key role in bringing Disney’s beloved cast of characters to children and their parents throughout France. Fellow Disney Legend and former chairman of Walt Disney Productions Card Walker recalled, “Didier was a good friend to Disney. He helped with our publishing for many years and developed some very popular publications for France.”
Disney’s former European special sales representative Armand Bigle added, “When I first approached Hachette about publishing books and magazines in the early 1950s, Disney was not well-known in France. Didier helped convince the company heads to publish Disney books and magazines and, as a result, Disney has since become one of Hachette’s great success stories.”
Born June 25th, 1927, in Paris, Didier earned his bachelor’s degree from the nearby Lycee Janson in 1943. He then enlisted with the French Liberated Army and served in the famed 2nd French Armored Division, commanded by General Jacques Philippe LeClerc, which helped free Paris from German occupation on August 25, 1944.
After the war, he joined his grandfather Edmond Fouret, president of Hachette Library, at the Paris publishing company. There, Didier began developing books for children and, by age 30, he was named director of the company.
Besides helping establish relations between Disney and Hachette, Didier expanded the line of Disney-themed publications in France. He worked with fellow Disney Legend Paul Winkler on the 1952 re-issue of the weekly magazine Le Journal de Mickey; the first issue had been published, in 1934, by Winkler. The magazine, which introduced Mickey Mouse to a whole new generation of French children, became an instant hit, selling between 650,000 and 700,000 issues per week.
Didier also helped guide the creation and design of the famous Hachette albums for children, which were based on the popular Little Golden Book series developed by Western Publishing in the United States. The beautifully illustrated Hachette albums featured stories from Disney animated motion pictures such as Peter Pan and Cinderella.
In 1979, Didier took a personal interest in EPCOT Center, which was being constructed at Walt Disney World in Florida. His interest soon transformed into a vision for a fine restaurant for the French Pavilion in World Showcase. After gaining the blessing of Disney corporate heads, Didier proceeded to recruit revered national chefs Paul Bocuse, Gaston LeNotre, and Roger Verge as his partners in Les Chefs de France, which continues to serve the finest French cuisine west of the Seine.
In all, Didier contributed nearly 40 years to building Disney’s image in France through publishing.
Didier Fouret passed away on July 5, 1989, in Paris.