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Hazel Inez Gilman was an American lyricist on a number of Disney songs in the 1950s, including the title songs for Old Yeller, Tonka, and The Light in the Forest, as well as the Disney Studio nurse.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, in 1904 to Merton R. Gilman, a copper miner, and Cora Shinkle. Hazel was the eldest of three children, the others being her brothers, John (called "Hoogie") and Francis. At age thirteen, she attended an I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World, known as the "Wobblies") meeting as a lark. A few days later, in July 1917, she was a witness to the Bisbee Deportation. For a time she was a juvenile ward of the state.

Hazel graduated from UCLA, training to be a psychiatric nurse, in 1928 and married Emerald George from Missouri that same year and they later moved to Los Angeles. Hazel and her child lived with her divorced mother and younger brother Francis in 1930. She eventually found work as a nurse at the LA County Hospital, while her husband worked as an office manager for an insurance agency. Sometime after April 1940, Hazel was hired by the Disney Studio. She treated Walt Disney for a neck injury from a polo game in 1938. He then made her his personal nurse, therapist, and confidante. Most afternoons around five she used to visit his office suite to treat this injury and his chronic sinus trouble. Walt called the room his "Laughing Place", and would sip a scotch while unburdening himself of the day's frustrations.

In 1952, Walt Disney first proposed his "Mickey Mouse Park", to be built in Burbank near the studio, to his brother, Roy O. Disney, and was only allotted $10,000 of company money for preliminary planning. Walt mentioned this to Hazel, then casually asked if she would be willing to contribute money to it. She consented, and then he asked her to solicit funds from other studio employees. When Roy heard that employees believed enough in the idea to lend their own money, he decided to support the project himself. The idea eventually blossomed into Disneyland.

When Disney launched Mickey Mouse Club, he hired Hazel to help write songs for the show. Under the name "Gil George", and working alongside Paul Smith, George Bruns, and most notably Jimmie Dodd, she wrote or co-wrote more than 90 songs for the series, in addition to penning songs for films. Such songs include "Talent Round-Up", "The Wrong Syl la ble", "Painting Aunt Polly's Fence", "Roll Up the Rug", and "Mickey Mouse Club Newsreel". She wrote all the songs for the ‘’Corky and White Shadow’’ serial as well as penned most of the Doddism ditties for Jimmie, like "Beauty Is As Beauty Does", "Good Samaritan", "Safety First", and "Everything is Fun".

By the 1960s, Hazel left songwriting to continue caring for Walt up until his death in 1966. In 1975, Hazel was interviewed by Disney biographer Bob Thomas where she shared her experiences with Walt as well as anecdotes and Walt often expressing self-doubt. When he could no longer play polo, she suggested he take up another hobby which led to his interest in railroading and even first mentioned cryonics to him, arousing his interest in a subject that even today spawns rumors and urban myths surrounding the disposal of Walt's remains. Later, in life Thomas met Hazel again where he introduced her to Michael Jackson who continued to visit her for ten years, regularly sending her flowers and bringing classical CD's as a gift. Another regular visitor was Diane Disney Miller.

In her last years Hazel was cared for by nurse-companion Olga Sekulic and nephew Richard Gilman. She died in Burbank, California, on March 12, 1996. Her oral interviews of her were also utilized by Neil Gabler in his 2006 biography of Walt Disney.

Filmography[]

Year Film Position
1953 The Simple Things Lyricist: "The Simple Things"
1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea First Aid - uncredited
1955-1959 Mickey Mouse Club Songwriter
1956 Westward Ho, the Wagons! Lyrics: "Pioneer's Prayer"
1957 Perri Songwriter: "Perri"
"Together Time"
1957 Old Yeller Lyrics: "Old Yeller"
1958 The Light in the Forest "The Light in the Forest"
1957-1959 Zorro Composer: additional music
Songwriter: "Sergeant Gonzales Theme" (The Ghost of the Mission)
"Elena" (Zorro's Romance)
"Here's to a Soldier of the King" (Zorro's Ride Into Terror)
"Because I Think So" (Death Stacks the Deck)
"Tamales" (The New Order)
1958 Tonka Lyrics: "Tonka"
1959 The Magical World of Disney Songwriter: "Open Your Eyes" (The Peter Tchaikovsky Story)
1959 The Shaggy Dog Lyrics: "The Shaggy Dog"
1960 Pollyanna additional music - uncredited: "Pollyanna's Song"
"Jimmy Bean"
"Whoop Ta Doodle Dey"

External links[]

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