Feb 16, 2019

Alum and Disney Archivist Dave Smith Dies at 78

From Los Angeles Times

Walt Disney Co. archivist Dave Smith, an 'unsung hero' who cataloged company secrets, dies at 78

By Daniel Miller and Todd Martens

For almost 50 years, those within and without the Walt Disney Co. had a simple response when it came to almost any question regarding the history of the entertainment giant: “Ask Dave.” Whether seeking obscure ephemera, wondering whether Prince Charming has a real name or needing a long out-of-date contract, Dave Smith no doubt had the answer.

Smith, who created and maintained the Walt Disney Archives for 40 years, died Friday, the Walt Disney Co. said. While the company did not release an official cause of death, those who knew him said he had been in fragile health for much of the past year. He was 78...

After earning a B.A. in history and a master’s degree in library science from the UC Berkeley [School of Librarianship], Smith was able to reunite with Disney. In 1970 — four years after the animation tycoon died — the company hired him to be its first archivist.

When Smith created the archives, it was a one-man operation; by 2016, the workforce had grown to 24 people.


Dave Smith was an alumnus of the School of Librarianship, a predecessor to the School of Information. He was the founder and chief archivist of Walt Disney Archives at Walt Disney Studios.


More Information

Remembering Dave Smith (The Walt Disney Company)

Dave Smith
Dave Smith, a Pasadena native, was the author of several books, including "Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia." (Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

Last updated:

September 27, 2019