D23 Expo: Disney Legends honorees unveiled to kick off weekend

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017, 8:17 PM EDT

The Disney Legends awards ceremony was the first presentation to kick off the first day of the D23 Expo in California.

Disney CEO Bob Iger took the stage to welcome guests to the fan event. Before highlighting the accomplishments of this year's honorees, Iger spent a few minutes to recap the company's recent successes.

In 2016, Disney's highly successful film franchises broke box office records, becoming the first studio to gross $7 billion.

At the parks, Disney also had a few accomplishments. The company opened Shanghai Disney Resort and Pandora-The World of Avatar. A sizzle reel featuring Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and ABC TV shows accompanied Iger's address.

Oprah Winfrey was the first honoree to receive an award during the ceremony. Winfrey, who headlined the long-running The Oprah Winfrey Show on ABC, is set to appear in the upcoming Disney adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.

Other honorees included Mark Hamill, Julie Taymor, Whoopi Goldberg and Stan Lee.

Hamill spent time remembering his "Star Wars" co-star Carrie Fisher, who died last year. Her last appearance in the films will be in the upcoming "The Last Jedi."  Iger also read a letter from Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

“She secretly always wanted to be a Disney princess,” Lourd wrote. “So getting to be a Disney princess and a Disney Legend would have been her ultimate dream.”

Stan Lee thanked Disney and his longtime collaborator Jack Kirby, who was also an honoree.

2017 Disney Legends:

  • Carrie Fisher, actress
  • Clyde Geronimi, animator
  • Whoopi Goldberg, actress, comedienne
  • Manuel Gonzales, Sunday Mickey Mouse comic strip
  • Mark Hamill, actor
  • Wayne Jackson, Disney imagineer
  • Stan Lee, Marvel Comics creator
  • Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics creator
  • Garry Marshall, director
  • Julie Taymor, director
  • Oprah Winfrey, producer, actress