Dave Smith, the Founder and First Head of the Walt Disney Archives, Has Passed Away

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Archiving is one of the most important jobs in the entertainment industry. Without the work of archivists, generations’ worth of entertainment artifacts can be easily lost amidst the fervor of the market and its incessant drive to the future.

Among archivists in entertainment, Dave Smith, who passed away on Friday, was one of the most influential. Smith was the founder and first head of the Walt Disney Archives, a department within Disney dedicated to archiving the company’s films, TV shows, and production materials, producing a massive, extensive archive of Disney history that has given the company and the world a better view at the history of one of modern entertainment’s most influential entities.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a released statement. “He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story.”


Smith, who retired from his position at Disney in 2010, died at the age of 78, in Burbank, California. His contributions will outlive him for some time yet.