William “Bill” Disney

Inducted May 16, 1971

Bill was born April 3, 1932 and passed away April 22, 2009. He was National and North American Indoor Champion in 1955, and in 1959 narrowly qualified to be on the 1960 US Olympic Team.

In the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley he skated an excellent time of 40.3 seconds to finish second to the Russian great, Yevgeny Grishin. The skaters later joked that the difference between their times was equivalent to the length of a cigarette. Although it was never recognized by the International Skating Union, only a few weeks before the Olympics, Disney had skated 500 meters in 40.1 seconds to break Grishin’s world mark. Grishin, however, in an unofficial test on the same track, was the first to break the 40 second barrier on the 500 m, skating 39.6 just after the Winter Olympic Games. Like most speed skaters Disney also competed as a cyclist, but not with the success of his brother, [Jack Disney], who made the U.S. Olympic team three times in that sport.

In Innsbruck, Austria, at the 1964 Winter Olympics, Disney carried the American flag during the opening ceremonies. In 2002 in Salt Lake City he carried the torch from the stadium to the awards center.

Throughout his life he was a National official, promoter of the sport, and coach, working with skaters in Los Angeles with the DeMorra skating club.

He was inducted to the National Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 16, 1971 in Lake Placid, New York.

Havasu News great article about Bill Disney – February 17, 2002

 

US Team  in  1959

Disney started skating when his older brother Richard, a figure skater, took him to a local rink on a Saturday afternoon. Disney liked skating right away and for his 14th birthday received a pair of hockey skates. He began racing but noticed that the boys with racers were always beating him so he borrowed money from his brothers and sisters for a used pair of racing skates. From then on he was a force to be reckoned with. He started winning nearly every race he entered. In 1951 he entered the U.S. Coast Guard and was on a brief skating hiatus until his honorable discharge in 1954.

The photo is of Disney and Dick Hunt c. 1950s-60s.

1960 Squaw Valley

Inducted May 16, 1971

Bill was born April 3, 1932 and passed away April 22, 2009. He was National and North American Indoor Champion in 1955, and narrowly qualified to be on the US Team in 1959.

In the 1960 Olympics he skated an excellent time of 40.3 seconds at Squaw Valley to finish second to the Russian great, Yevgeny Grishin. Although it was never recognized by the International Skating Union, only a few weeks before the Olympics, Disney had skated 500 meters in 40.1 seconds to break Grishin’s world mark. Disney like most speed skaters, also competed as a cyclist, but not with the success of his brother, [Jack Disney], who made the U.S. Olympic team three times in that sport.

In Innsbruck, Austria, at the 1964 Winter Olympics, Disney carried the American flag during the opening ceremonies. In 2002 in Salt Lake City he carried the torch from the stadium to the awards center.

Throughout his life he was a National official, promoter of the sport, and coach, working with skaters in Los Angeles with the DeMorra skating club.

He was inducted to the National Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 16, 1971 in Lake Placid, New York.

Havasu News great article about Bill Disney – February 17, 2002

 

With the US Team  in  1959