Original 'Peter Pan' star shares personal memories of Walt Disney: 'He was one of the gang'

Kathryn Beaumont was barely a teenager the first time she met Mr. Walt Disney, but the memory is still clear as day.

"I was so in awe of [Walt]. My mother and I went to his office -- and he opened the door, which floored me!" Beaumont told AOL as she reflected on that moment in the early 1950s. "He brought me in, showed me a place to sit next to him, and we sat down and started our conversation." (A photo from that same meeting is in the gallery below.)

More than six decades after she voiced Wendy Darling in the original "Peter Pan," Beaumont's voice is still instantly recognizable. Airy with just a light English accent, it's comforting yet upbeat, nearly spellbinding.

"He was head of the studio, but he was one of the gang," Beaumont recalled. "He would come into the cafeteria, go through the line, and just sit down next to whomever -- wherever there was a place for him to join."

See Kathryn Beaumont with Walt Disney:

6 PHOTOS
Kathryn Beaumont, star of 'Peter Pan' and 'Alice in Wonderland'
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Kathryn Beaumont, star of 'Peter Pan' and 'Alice in Wonderland'
(Original Caption) Walt Disney looks on as 11-year-old Kathryn Beaumont, a virtual unknown in Hollywood, signs a contract to act as the voice of Alice in Wonderland in the lavish cartoon production of the famous book. The classic role was originally assigned to Margaret O'Brien, but she was unable to accept. London-born Kathryn has a slight British accent, in keeping with the Carroll heroine.
Walt Disney with 14 year old Kathryn Beaumont, the off-screen voice of Alice, attending the premiere of the Disney animated version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Kathryn Beaumont, 11 year old actress who was the voice of Alice in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
Kathryn Beaumont, who was the voice of Wendy Darling in the original Peter Pan film, arrives at the Gala screening of Walt Disney's animation Peter Pan, held to celebrate its restoration and arrival onto Disney DVD, at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, London. (Photo by Clara Molden - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Actress Kathryn Beaumont attends Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Commemoration Screening at AFI Fest at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 9, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 02: Voice Actress of 'Wendy' Kathryn Beaumont attends the Street Food Cinema Presents 65th Anniversary Screening Of Disney's 'Peter Pan' at Griffith Park on June 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Liliane Lathan/Getty Images)
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That assessment is consistent with those of other voice actors who worked with the iconic figure, says Disney historian Mindy Johnson.

 "He was a very hands-on producer and very personable, particularly with voice talent. The voice was the link, the connection between the artistry and the audience -- a large part of encasing this illusion of life," Johnson told AOL. "[Actors] had a lovely bond with Walt as they were shaping the films."

"Peter Pan" came out in 1953, just two years before the official opening of "Disneyland," a major focus for Walt during the later years of his life. But, Johnson noted, even while designing the massive park, he still made time to focus on the film: "'Peter Pan' had been in development for nearly fifteen years, so this was a story he'd been cultivating for quite some time."

Despite her enchanting experience working on the film, Beaumont, who also voiced Alice in "Alice in Wonderland," would soon step away from the glare of Hollywood, choosing instead to become an elementary school teacher (where, every so often, students and their parents would recognize Ms. Beaumont's voice as they watched their favorite Disney films.)

Beaumont was still a teenager when Walt passed away in 1966. "Oh, I was very saddened," she said. "He was somebody I got to know who was very special."

In celebration of the 65th anniversary of "Peter Pan," Disney just released its Peter Pan Signature Collection on Blu-ray so fans young and old can experience the magic for themselves.

13 PHOTOS
Walt Disney over the years
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Walt Disney over the years
UNSPECIFIED - NOVEMBER 27: Walt Disney's father and mother late 19th century (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
Actor Leslie Howard and producer Walt Disney shake hands after playing in a polo match together.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney (1901-1966), famed orignator of full-length animated motion pictures, at work at his drawing board.
(Original Caption) Portrait of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), originator of the vast Disney empire consisting of theme parks, cartoons, and movies. Disney is waving and smiling for the camera in this 3/4 length photograph.
Walt Disney with kittens.
(Original Caption) 2/1942: Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Walt Disney, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, John L. Sullivan, Assistant to the Secretary George Buffington, Disney Artist Joseph Grant, and Disney writer Richard Huemer look over Disney's sketches for 'The New Spirit,' Disney cartoon for the Treasury Department.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney takes an imaginary spin high on an old Eagle racing bike while his daughter, Diane, paces him on an 1870 model tricycle. The bikes are part of a collection in Ford's Edison Museum. Undated photograph.
(Original Caption) Walter E. Disney, famous producer of animated cartoons, is shown with doll replicas of his most famous characters which were responsible for his being conferred an honorary degree of Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University Commencement. President James Bryant Conant made the presentation before 5,800 special guests, alumni, students, faculty and members of the graduating class.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, with Louis Lumiere, French Grand old man of films, during the former's visit to Paris.
American film producer and creator of Disney World, Walt Disney, holds sheet music with actor Eddy Nelson.
(Original Caption) 1939-Los Angeles, CA- Shirley Temple presents an Academy Award to Walt Disney for his outstanding cartoon, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' one big statue and seven little ones, at the 11th Annual Academy of Motion picture Arts & Sciences dinner.
(Original Caption) Arriving on the Rex is Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is the animated cartoon character who cavorts his way over the silver sheet much to the delight of America's younger generation.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney learns to do El Gato, one of the colorful and traditional dances of the Argentine countryside. During the survey trip which Disney and a group of his artists made to South America, they spent many hours studying and recording through sketches and photography, the ins and outs of numerous dances and costumes.
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