Disney legends die within a day of each other
By CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press
Sun Jun 5
ANAHEIM, Calif. – They shared a stage at Disneyland five days a week for nearly three decades and died within a day of each other.
Betty Taylor, who played Slue Foot Sue in Disney's long-running Golden Horseshoe Revue, passed away Saturday — one day after the death of Wally Boag, who played her character's sweetheart, Pecos Bill.
The 91-year-old Taylor died at her home in Washington state, Disneyland announced on its web site. Boag, who was 90, died Friday. He was a resident of Santa Monica, Calif.
The causes of death were not announced and attempts to contact relatives for comment were not immediately successful.
"Betty's role as leading lady in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue helped turn it into the longest-running stage show in entertainment history," George Kalogridis, the president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. `'It is a tragic coincidence that her passing comes just one day after the death of longtime co-star Wally Boag."
Boag, a former vaudeville performer, signed a two-week contract with Walt Disney in 1955. He originated the role of Pecos Bill in the revue, taking the stage three times a day and logging nearly 40,000 performances before retiring in 1982.
Most of those shows were alongside Taylor, who joined the revue a year after Hoag. Her run on the show — which closed in 1986 — lasted nearly 45,000 performances.
The Golden Horseshoe Revue is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running stage production in show business history.
"Wally was instrumental in the development of live entertainment during the early years of both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World Resort," Kalogridis said. "His characters will continue to live in the hearts of our guests, while his larger-than-life personality will forever make him the true Clown Prince of Disneyland."
Boag's comedic timing influenced generations of performers, including actor Steve Martin, who called Boag his "hero." Martin tweeted Saturday that Boag was "the first comedian I ever saw live, my influence, a man to whom I aspired."
Boag and Taylor both appeared on television in "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color."
And before joining Disney, Boag appeared in a number of films during the 1940s, including "Without Love," starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and "The Thrill of Romance," with Esther Williams.
He later appeared in Disney films such as "The Absent-Minded Professor," "Son of Flubber" and "The Love Bug."
Born in Seattle, Taylor began taking dance lessons at age 3. At 14, she sang and danced in nightclubs across the country, and by 18, led her own band called Betty and Her Beaus, which included 16 male musicians and appeared regularly at the Trianon Ballroom in Seattle.
In 1956, while living in Los Angeles and performing as a drum player with a musical group, Taylor heard about auditions for a song-and-dance job at Disneyland. She got the gig, which she held for 30 years, leading to appearances on a USO tour of Greenland and Newfoundland and a show for President Richard Nixon and his family in The White House.
She performed at the park until 1987, but continued to appear in special events, such as Walt Disney's Wild West, a 1995 retrospective at the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles.