Broadway alums Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Kenny Ortega, Ming-Na Wen, and Hans Zimmer will be named Disney Legends at a special award ceremony, to be held during the 2019 D23 Expo on August 23 in Anaheim, California. The honor recognizes a variety of artists who have, as Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger explains, "made an indelible mark on our company and our creative legacy."
Also being honored as Disney Legends this year are Robert Downey, Jr., Wing Chao, Jon Favreau, Barnette Ricci, Robin Roberts, and Diane Sawyer.
Midler, who won a Tony Award in 2017 for her star performance in Hello, Dolly!, is recognized for a long resume of live-action and animated titles released by Disney and its subsidiaries, including Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, Big Business, Beaches, Stella, Scenes from a Mall, Oliver & Company, and Hocus Pocus.
Jones voiced Darth Vader in the now-Disney-controlled Star Wars films, but is perhaps more associated with Disney for his performance as Mufasa in 1994's The Lion King, 1998's The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, and 2015's The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar. Jones will reprise his performance in this summer's upcoming reimagining of The Lion King, produced and directed by fellow 2019 Disney Legends-inductee Favreau.
Ortega, director and choreographer of Broadway's short-lived Marilyn, directed and choreographed Newsies and Hocus Pocus on the big screen and helmed the High School Musical and Descendants movie series for the Disney Channel.
Wen, who starred in David Henry Hwang's Golden Child on Broadway in 1998, also voiced the title role in Disney's animated Mulan. Wen has returned to that role in Mulan 2, House of Mouse, Sofia the First, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Zimmer scored The Lion King on screen in 1994 and is credited with additional music and lyrics in the long-running Broadway adaptation. Zimmer has also scored many other films for Disney and its subsidiaries, including White Fang, Cool Runnings, Crimson Tide, Muppet Treasure Island, The Rock, Pearl Harbor, King Arthur, Iron Man, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Past Disney Legends—which have been named annually since 1987—include Julie Andrews, Bea Arthur, Howard Ashman, Whoopi Goldberg, Elton John, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, Alan Menken, Hayley Mills, Dick Van Dyke, and Robin Williams.