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  • Writer's pictureJared Pitzer

Kurt Russell and Mr. Disney

Everything I know about wine I learned from Kurt Russell. While that may sound intriguing it's simply because I knew absolutely nothing about wine before Kurt Russell made a surprise appearance at the 2021 Disney EarMarked Owner's Summit earlier this month at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

A little background on the Owner's Summit. It is an annual conference for Disney's top travel agency accounts. MousePros Travel Agency is designated as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and EarMarked agency so we are proud to attend this conference each year.

On the last day of the conference we returned from a refreshment break to find two glasses of wine on each table with a paper that gave information on the wine. These were GoGi Wines and as I read over the paper trying to make sense of what the composition of wine meant I had no idea of what was about to happen. The conference resumed and they announced that the founder of GoGi Wines was here to talk about his wines. I had no idea who this was until I looked up and saw Kurt Russell walk across the stage.

Please remember, I know absolutely nothing about wine. I have drank maybe 4-5 glasses my entire life and the few bottles that I have bought over the years were chosen from a quick Google search or by random choice. As Kurt Russell talked about how he developed his love of wine while cycling with Goldie Hawn and his family though France, Italy, and California it was clear that this man had a passion for wine. He talked about his winery and enthusiastically went through the details of the process that it takes to go from vine to bottle. It's truly a labor of love. (You can learn more about GoGi Wines and even order from their website

After we had the pleasure of tasting the 2018 Chardonnay named "Goldie" (after Goldie Hawn) and the 2016 Pinot Noir named "29" for his son Wyatt he began to talk about his history with the Walt Disney Company and a man that made a tremendous impact on his life, Walt Disney. However Kurt never referred to him as Walt Disney, Walt, Uncle Walt, was always Mr. Disney. I didn't catch on at first, but as soon as my colleague pointed it out, it made Kurt's stories even more powerful.

It all started out when he was 13 years old and got his first film role for Walt Disney's "Follow Me Boys." While Kurt Russell was an actor, at that age his focus was on baseball. He was a prospect for a major league team and his father negotiated his contract for the film with the stipulation that Kurt had to work certain hours to ensure that he could make his baseball games in the evening. They didn't think the studio would go for it and while walking out they were called back to the set where they would encounter "Mr. Disney" who understood and agreed to the schedule.

Mr. Disney saw something in a young Kurt Russell and would take him around the Walt Disney Studios lot to show him the filmmaking process. He explained to Kurt that while he understands that his focus is on baseball that sometimes things don't work out as planned and that he thought he would like the movie business and do well in it. At the time a teenage Kurt Russell was not able to full understand and appreciate the impact that Mr. Disney's advice would have on his life.

Fast forward to 1973 and Kurt Russell is close to having his baseball dream a reality. He expects to be called up to make his major league debut with the Anaheim Angels when his baseball dreams would be derailed. While playing for the El Paso Sun Kings in the AA Texas League he collided with a runner heading towards second base and tore the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. Kurt Russell's doctor told him that his baseball career was over and while he processed the devastating news he remembered what Mr. Disney told him about his future in film. At the point, he made the decision to become a full time actor.

The rest is history. Kurt Russell has starred in over 12 Disney films, voiced Copper in the animated feature film "Fox and the Hound," introduced the public to the "Haunted Mansion" attraction during an episode of the "Wonderful World of Disney" and even served as the villain in Marvel Studio's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." Kurt Russell was named a Disney Legend in 1998.

I felt very fortunate to be able to listen to someone who had such a special relationship with Walt Disney and it was obvious that he genuinely cherished the relationship that he had with the man that saw his potential, Mr. Disney.

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