Our (Almost) Disney Princess - Word&Way

Our (Almost) Disney Princess

This year, Disney has been celebrating its 100th anniversary. They held special commemorations at their theme parks. They partnered with Lego to release special kits. ABC aired a documentary last week on “a century of dreams.” (A Republican presidential candidate chose an odder way to mark the year by engaging in a losing fight with the corporate behemoth.)

At Word&Way, we have our own unique connection with the Disney family. In 1896, Sanford Brown and Robert Maiden started Word&Way in Kansas City, Missouri. The two continued together as co-editors until Maiden retired in 1928. At that point, Brown’s son Joseph joined as the new co-editor. When the elder Brown passed away in 1938, Joseph became the first solo editor of Word&Way until he left the role in 1945.

At some point after his time at Word&Way, Joseph moved to California. That’s where the Brown family intersected with another family who had previously moved from Kansas City to the Golden State: that of Walt Disney. In 1959, the younger Disney daughter, Sharon, married Joseph’s younger son, Robert. The news of their nuptials made it in newspapers across the country — but apparently it was due to Walt’s fame and not because the groom was the son and grandson of Word&Way editors.

Sharon Mae Disney is kissed by her father Walt (left) and new husband Robert Brown (right) on May 10, 1959, in Hollywood, California. (Don Brinn/Associated Press)

The couple adopted their daughter Victoria a few years later. But the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Robert Brown died in 1967 at the age of just 39. Sharon later remarried and had twins, but due to developmental disabilities they have found themselves in legal fights over their inherited wealth in what a judge called “the unhappiest place on earth: probate court.”

There’s a lot of money for the Disney family to fight over. But despite our ties, none of it was left for Word&Way. That’s where you come in.

Just like when Sanford Brown and Robert Maiden started Word&Way over 127 years ago, we depend on the support of our loyal readers. We’re glad to have you here reading and sharing our pieces. We’re especially thankful to our paid subscribers.

If you are not a paid subscriber to A Public Witness, we invite you to join the growing community that makes it all possible. In honor of Disney’s anniversary and us almost being family, we’ll give you a special 15% discount if you upgrade or give a gift subscription this week. Or if you’d like to give an end-year donation, you can make a tax-deductible gift online.

We’re not running some Mickey Mouse operation here. We give you quality reporting you won’t find elsewhere.

As a public witness,

Brian Kaylor