Disney Parks can be an overwhelming experience of sights and sounds — even for the most seasoned Guest. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to miss the unique touches and backstories that are part of the history and magic of Disney. But it is also possible to find the history and magic of Disney outside the Parks — sometimes when you least expect it.
Who is Edward Holcomb Plum?
In the annals of animation, Plum is celebrated as the composer and orchestrator of several treasured Disney tunes. I had heard the name, but imagine my surprise when I found the name Edward H. Plum on a street mural in Streator, Illinois.
Streator is a city approximately 100 miles southwest of Chicago. In 2018, The Walldogs, a highly-skilled community of artists and sign painters, converged on Streator and created 18 murals. The murals decorate buildings throughout the City and portray people, places, and events that depict Streator’s rich, historical heritage.
Edward H. Plumb was born in Streator, Illinois, in 1907. At the height of the motion picture heyday of the 1930s, Plum relocated to California to work in the film industry as a composer and orchestrator. He worked for several film studios, including Walt Disney Studios where he orchestrated the music for Lady and the Tramp, Song of the South, Peter Pan, and Dumbo. But it was his collaboration with song-writer Frank Churchill on the film Bambi that would earn Plum the first of four Academy Award nominations.
In the 1950s, Plum orchestrated the music for Westward Ho the Wagons, a live-action western starring Fess Parker. When Walt Disney Studios entered the television industry, and at the advent of the space race, Plum worked with animator Ward Kimball on Man in Space. The episodes featured on the Disneyland television series. Plum ended his career with Disney after the 1957 film Johnny Tremain.
The Walldogs have created a spirited yet refined mural that honors a man who is a notable figure in the history of Walt Disney Studios as well as the history of Streator, Illinois. Finding this unexpected connection to the Disney story in the real world was — as thrilling as finding a hidden Mickey!
Designed by Andrew Patrick Henry, the Plum mural is on Hickory Street outside the Majestic Theater. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say, “hello” to Mr. Plum. And thank him for the magic and the memories.
Have you had an unexpected Disney find in the real world? Tell us about it in the comments below!
To learn more about Kathy Wicks and read some of her other posts, visit her author page.
(All photos from the personal collection of Kathy Wicks.)