Below: Lou Debney, by T. Hee
This story was told to me by Keith
Cheney Chaney (a veteran of the Diz Co. Projection Department) long ago. It's amusing, and I don't think I've told it before. (If I have, skip this post and move on. I won't hold it against you.) ...
KC: Back in the fifties, after I got back from Korea, I was the projectionist up in Projection Room 13 on the third floor of the animation building. Walt would look at dailies in that projection room just about every day after lunch. I'd have everything ready to go at one thirty, and we'd unspool film for forty-five minutes or an hour, however long it'd take that day, and then Walt would leave.
One of the first times I ran dailies, a weird thing happened. We finish, and Walt steps out of the sweat box, and along comes Lou Debney down the hall. Lou had been at the studio forever, used to sell papers outside the Hyperion Studio as a kid, had been an assistant director on Snow White and was now an associate producer on television stuff. And Walt sees him coming and starts yelling at him, just rips him a new one: "Lou! What the hell is going on about [blank]?! What was with [blank]!"
Lou stands there looking stricken, like somebody ran electric current through him. He says: "I'm sorry Walt! I'm sorry! I'll take care of it! I'll fix it!"
And Lou runs off down the hall. Walt goes back to his office. And I peer out the door thinking: "Wow, that poor guy. What lousy timing to be walking down the hall just as Walt comes out of the booth and get it like that ..."
But then, and this is the really weird part, the next day, the exact same thing happens. Walt walks out of the booth, here comes Lou down the hall, and Walt starts yelling at him again. It's a new set of complaints, but it's the same routine: Lou cowers, tells Walt he'll get right on the problem, and hurries away. And Walt goes back to his office.
So about the fifth time this happens, I finally catch on: Ah. This is part of Lou Debney's job description. He's supposed to walk down the hall every day when Walt's done with dailies, so that Walt can yell at him.
And that's when I stopped feeling so bad for Lou Debney*.
Cheney Chaney was one of my favorite people at Disney's. He had a sardonic but jovial view of life, always had a funny tale to tell (and yeah, this story might be a tad hyperbolic, but I enjoy it anyway), and was always the life of the department Christmas party.
And yes. Keith was related to Lon
* Lou Debney's son John is a well-regarded composer of motion picture scores.