Year Inducted: 1995
At Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue, Wally Boag blasted audiences with squirt guns, spit out a mouthful of “teeth,” and sculpted whimsical animals from colorful “Boagaloons” three times a day, five days a week, for nearly 27 years. By the time he retired from his role as the outrageous Pecos Bill in 1982, Wally had performed in nearly 40,000 productions of the popular Revue!
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running stage production in show business history, Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue proved to be good steady work for the former vaudevillian, who once recalled, “My longest job before the Golden Horseshoe Revue was 54 weeks. And to think it all began with a two-week contract I signed with Walt Disney when the park opened.”
Wallace Vincent Boag let out his first “yaa-hoo!” on September 9, 1920, in Portland, Oregon. At age nine, he joined a professional dance team; by 16, he was running his own dance school; and by 19, he had turned to comedy, performing in nightclubs and theaters across the country and around the world. Among them, Wally played Radio City Music Hall, the Palladium in London, and the Tivoli Theatres in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1945 he won a contract with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, appearing in such films as Without Love, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and The Thrill of Romance, with Esther Williams.
A friend told him about auditions for Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue in 1955. Wally won the role and quickly became one of Walt’s favorite comedic actors, appearing on such television shows as the original Mickey Mouse Club, Disneyland, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. He also appeared in motion pictures, including The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, and The Love Bug.
At Disneyland, Wally provided the voice of the Audio-Animatronics® parrot, Jose, in the Enchanted Tiki Room. He took his act on the road in 1971 to open the Diamond Horseshoe Revue at Walt Disney World. His original Golden Horseshoe Revue act was featured in a 1980 Danny Kaye television special celebrating the 25th anniversary of Disneyland; Wally also hosted a 1981 episode of The Muppet Show, where he performed some of his Golden Horseshoe “Pecos Bill” routine.
Wally often toured and consulted on special projects and promotions for The Walt Disney Company. In 1980, he entertained audiences across the country during a 28-day, 20-city tour promoting the re-release of Disney’s animated classic Lady and the Tramp. He later traveled to Japan to help translate material for the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983. Wally published his memoir, Wally Boag, Clown Prince of Disneyland, in 2009.
Wally Boag passed away on June 3, 2011, one day before his Golden Horseshoe co-star and fellow Disney Legend Betty Taylor. Comedian Steve Martin, who worked at Disneyland as a teenager, summed up Wally’s influence: “My hero, the first comedian I ever saw live, my influence, a man to whom I aspired.”