This week two more Disney Legends are reuniting with Walt. On Friday, June 3rd, the perennial funny man of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, and voice of Jose in the Enchanted Tiki Room, Wally Boag passed away at the age of 90. Then on Saturday, June 4th, Betty Taylor, Sluefoot Sue, also from the Golden Horseshoe Revue, passed away at the age of 91.
It is truly a sad weekend in the Wonderful World of Disney. L
Wallace Vincent “Wally” Boag was born in Portland, Oregon in 1920, and was in dance troupe by the age of 9. By the age of 19 Wally was pursuing his comic chops in nightclub, theaters, and hotels around the world. It was during an appearance at London’s Hippodrome that Wally brought a young girl on stage to help with his balloon act. The girl, 12 year-old Julie Andrews, amazed the audience with voice, and was ultimately kept in the show.
After learn of auditions at Disneyland and winning the role in the Golden Horseshoe Revue, Wally joined the Disney Cast in 1955. With his Pecos Bill character, and an almost infinite supply of broken teeth spit out during his act, and his signature balloon animals (Boagaloons), Wally and the Golden Horseshoe Revue are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most performances (number) of any theatrical presentation. In 1963, Wally and Julie Andrews reunited on the Golden Horseshoe stage, along with the Dapper Dans, for a press-only event to promote the coming release of “Mary Poppins.”
Along with his role as Pecos Bill, Wally also provided the voice of Jose, in The Enchanted Tiki Room, as well as writing the script for most of the show. Boag also participated in the development of the “Haunted Mansion” in Disneyland, and Walt Disney had small roles written for him in “The Absent Minded Professor” and “Son of Flubber.” Wally took Pecos Bill to Walt Disney World in 1971 and the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, re-crafting the show into a faster and funnier Diamond Horseshoe Revue. Wally returned to Disneyland 3 years later and finished his career entertaining guests at the Golden Horseshoe, retiring in 1982. Wally was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1995, and has a window on Main Street in Disneyland. The window above The Blue Ribbon Bakery reads, “Theatrical Agency – Golden Vaudeville Routines – Wally Boag, Prop.”
Betty Taylor joined the cast of the Golden Horseshoe Revue as “Slue Foot Sue,” in 1956, the spirited head of a group of dance hall girls, harkening back to the turn of the century saloons and dance halls that peppered to old west. This saloon happened to be the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Disneyland’s Frontierland. Slue Foot Sue was the Saloon Owner and Co-host of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, a show she did, 3 times a day, 5 days a week, for over 30 years. In almost 45,000 performances, she was the effervescent blond who never lost her youthful passion for playing Pecos Bill’s sweetheart.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Betty started taking dance lesson at the age of 3, and by 12 was appearing in her first professional production. At 18, Betty led her own band called “Betty and Her Beaus,” a band comprised of herself and 16 male musicians. Betty also performed with “Sons of the Pioneers”, and western band formed by one of my other childhood heros, Leonard Slye. Don’t recognized the name? You may remember him better as Roy Rogers. As well, Betty travel with big band leaders Les Brown, Henry Bussey, and Red Nichols, even doing a short stint in Las Vegas, with Frank Sinatra.
In 1956, readying to go out on the road again, Betty heard about auditions for a singer/dancer job at Disneyland, and she threw her garter onto to stage. Betty was hired to play the role of “Slue Foot Sue,” a character she described as, “not a hard character, but rather like a Mae West or a Kitty on the vintage television series ‘Gunsmoke.’” Betty, and the ten-person Revue troupe, even performed outside of the Disneyland on a few occasions, doing a USO tour of Greenland and Newfoundland in 1968, and even a performance at the White House for President Richard Nixon in 1970. Walt Disney even asked her to do a variant of her Golden Horseshoe routine with Ed Wynn in an episode of the “Wonderful World of Color” television series. Betty was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1995, alongside her Golden Horseshoe sweetheart Wally “Pecos Bill” Boag.
Wally Boag and Betty Taylor, as Pecos Bill and Slue Foot Sue, are but two of the many cast members who have helped Walt Disney create the magic that is Disneyland over the years. But, they are two of Walt’s originals, and two who have set the standards for others to come. They have left an indelible image on Disneyland that will be hard to match. I only remember seeing the Golden Horseshoe Revue once in 1970, as I was unfortunately away from the Park from 1971 to 1997, but I can tell you that it is a performance that I remember to this day. I am saddened by the fact that my children never got the chance to see these two magical entertainers perform, and too by their passing. But, that sadness is tempered my memories of the joy and magic they created, if even briefly, in my life, and the thought that they have reunited with the man who brought them to us.
Here is to the hope that you all experiencing as much magic and amazement now as you created here.
Wally, Betty, and Walt, thank you!!!
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