It's always a good idea to have a look sometime on the LIFE pictures website as you can find some treasures. Last year, if you remember, i found amazing color pictures of Disneyland opening day and everyone enjoyed them a lot. And yesterday, i don't know why, my instinct told me to go back on the LIFE website to have a look again. And, bingo! as they have uploaded dozens of new pictures, this time shot during the famous Disneyland 1959 event, the one during which was inaugurated three E-Tickets the same day, the Matterhorn, the Submarine Voyage and the Monorail!
It was for this event that Richard Nixon, at that time vice-president of Ike Eisenhower, was invited by Walt and came with his wife and their two daughters. Walt was of course there with Lilian and his grand children. The LIFE photographers who were there shot almost each minute of the event, from the parade to the new rides inauguration, and of course Nixon and his family. As you might think, i'm not at all a fan of Nixon, but here the pictures have a historical value and also - most of all i should say - you will discover dozens of new pictures with Walt that you've never seen before. You probably have seen pictures of this 1959 event and even the video of it, but not these pictures, and some of them with Walt are even unique as you will see tomorrow in the part two. I've selected 110 pictures, half of them are in this part one and the others will come tomorrow in the part two. Definitely click on each picture to see them in big size!
Let's start with the 1959 event parade, and Walt and Nixon were opening it in vintage cars, each in a different vehicle with their children / grand children. I tried to put the pictures in chronological order but as i wasn't there i'm pretty sure that the pictures order is sometime wrong, which is no big drama.
Below, the arrival backstage of Nixon with his wife Pat and their daughters Tricia and Julie, for the start of the vintage cars parade;
There we go!
Walt was right behind with his grand children, and one of them apparently didn't give a damn' about all these people applauding his grand father!
Arrival of the vintage cars on Central Plaza!
Walt is now out of his vehicle and walk towards the stage from where Nixon and VIP guests will watch the parade.
Walt talking with Nixon daughters Tricia and Julie...
Nixon moving to the stage...
Walt bringing his grand children to Diane Disney Miller. Right behind the Nixon Family, you can see Roy O. Disney and his wife Edna.
All-right, everyone is in place, after a little talk between Nixon and Walt, the 1959 Disneyland event parade can start!
There is something new in the picture below: Nixon now have a stetson in his hands! And i suspect it was given to him because of the next parade scene, coming now.
A parade float with a saloon gun fight, believe me, you won't see this again at Disneyland anytime soon!
Yes, the great Guy Williams as Zorro was there too!
No kidding, a fleet of Autopia cars part of the parade and moving on Main Street! Here is something else that you won't see at Disneyland ever again!
On the left, the man who was king, looked on the right with envy... by the man who wanted to be king! Nixon will have to wait 10 more years before becoming President.
Below, in the center, Art Linkletter!
Lilian, taking care of her grand children.
Unbelievable, Clint Eastwood was there too during this memorable day! At that time Clint was already very popular for his role in the Rawhide TV Series.
After the parade, Nixon and family went to enjoy a drink and ice cream at what seems to me to be Disneyland Plaza Inn...
Apparently it was time for them to move for the rides inauguration and this is what you will discover in tomorrow's part two article which will include pictures of Walt that you've never seen before, so don't miss it!
Pictures: copyright LIFE MAgazine.