Disneyland Comic Legend Wally Boag Dies at 90
An inspiration to Steve Martin, the performer worked at the the Golden Horseshoe Revue for 27 years.
Wally Boag, who performed nearly 40,000 productions of the Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland from the Anaheim park’s opening in 1955 until he retired in 1982, died Friday in Santa Monica. He was 90.
The loose-limbed, double-jointed Boag blasted audiences at the Frontierland attraction with squirt guns, spit out a mouthful of “teeth” and sculpted whimsical animals out of colorful balloons five days a week, three times a day, for nearly 27 years. He also brought his act to the Diamond Horseshoe Review at Walt Disney World Resort when it opened in Orlando in 1971.
On Saturday, Betty Taylor, the longtime female star of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, died at age 91.
In 1955, a friend told Boag about auditions at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue, and he soon became one of Walt Disney’s favorite comic actors, appearing on such television shows as the original Mickey Mouse Club, Disneyland and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color as well as in such motion pictures as The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), Son of Flubber (1963) and The Love Bug (1968).
Boag later toured and consulted on special projects and promotions for the Disney Co. In 1980, he entertained audiences across the country during a 28-day, 20-city tour promoting the rerelease of Disney’s classic film Lady and the Tramp. He also traveled to Japan to help translate material for the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983.
As a youngster selling Disneyland maps, comedian Steve Martin happened upon Boag’s show and was transfixed.
“Wally had something about him, an infectious happiness and a mysterious something else I later learned was called comic timing,” Martin said in a tribute posted on the Disney Parks blog. “He was immensely likable, and youngsters and oldsters responded with equal hilarity. There was a dose of naughtiness about him too, which worked well in the squeaky-clean Disneyland environment.”
Boag also provided the voice of the Audio-Animatronics parrot, Jose, in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland.
Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running stage production in show business history. Boag was named a Disney Legend in 1995.
Before landing the Disneyland job, the Portland, Ore., native performed in nightclubs and in such theaters as Radio City Music Hall In New York, the Palladium in London and the Tivoli theatres in Australia and New Zealand. In 1947, he appeared in the revue Starlight Roof at the London Hippodrome alongside a 12-year-old Julie Andrews.
Boag had a film contract with MGM and appeared in such movies as Without Love, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and The Thrill of Romance, with Esther Williams, both from 1945.