Iconic Disneyland Photographer Renie Bardeau Passes Away

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renie bardeau and mickey mouse

Credit: Debbie Bardeau

Renie Bardeau, a photographer who spent much of his career capturing iconic images of Disneyland Resort, has died at age 86.

The photographer and Disney Parks iconic passed away from kidney failure on Monday, January 4, after contracting COVID-19, the OC Register confirmed.

Debbie Bardeau, Renie’s daughter, shared a touching Facebook post remembering her father on the Disneyland Photography Facebook group. It reads:

It is with an extreamly heavy heart that I let my Disney family know…My Father Renie Bardeau Passed this Am. My dad was Disney’s chief photographer for close to 43 yrs. Footsteps was one of his most loved and admired photographs of his career. He left a photographic history that will endure He loved his Disney Family and leaves behind an amazing legacy. We send blessings to all.

Debbie shared the following photograph of her dad, which another group member, Peggy Matthews Rose, commented on, sharing a fun story about how Renie taught her to use a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera:

This is the Renie I remember best. Had to buy a camera strap just like that. He helped me figure out a bit of what I was doing with an SLR camera, including how to pick one out. I recall him having a stroke around 1978 or so. Pretty rough but he made a full recovery.

OC Register shared a report about Bardeau’s death, noting details about the photograph Debbie specifically mentioned in her post:

He was responsible for one of the most iconic photos ever taken of the park: An image of Walt Disney strolling  in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Snapped in 1964, it became known as the “Footsteps” photo, and was subsequently printed and sold on shirts, coffee mugs, lithographs and posters. He estimated that he’d taken hundreds of thousands of other pictures over the years, including 100,000 of Mickey Mouse.

footsteps bardeau
Credit: Disney

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Fans have also shared tributes to Bardeau on social media.

George Savvas wrote:

Remembering Renie Bardeau, who we lost yesterday. Renie, along with Charlie Nichols, showed the rest of us how it’s done. My biggest takeaway from his prolific catalog of iconic Disneyland imagery is this: No matter who else may be in the photo, Disneyland is the star

Another Tweet, from Twenty One Royal Street, reads:

Former Disneyland Chief Photographer Renie Bardeau, responsible for many of the iconic photos of Walt Disney and other celebrities in the park, has died. His daughter broke the news on Facebook.

Finally, Richy shared the following Tweet, accompanied by a photo of an autographed copy of “Footsteps,” signed by Bardeau in 1999:

Renié Bardeau sadly passed away earlier today. His most notable work across his 43 year career as Disneyland’s chief photographer was the iconic “Footsteps”.

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A 1996 Los Angeles Times article shared this about Bardeau’s storied Disneyland career:

“He has probably shot every nook and cranny at Disneyland,” said Bardeau’s supervisor, Tom Brocato. “What he brings to the job is more than 35 years’ worth of history that you can’t get out of a book.”

But what a book he could make, from his very first assignment in 1959, to photograph Walt Disney and then-Vice President Richard Nixon at the opening of Tomorrowland, to Elizabeth Taylor’s star-studded 1992 birthday bash, to the more mundane jobs like shooting Sleeping Beauty’s castle over and over again to record the slightest permutations for publicity shots.

Bardeau even took the very last photograph of Walt Disney at Disneyland Park — riding in the Disneyland fire engine with Mickey Mouse with a huge smile plastered on his face, the Mr. Disney every fan still knows and loves to this day.

walt and mickey last photo
Credit: Disney

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Bardeau, although many Disney fans may not realize it, is probably the reason that so many people recognize Walt Disney to this day — his hundreds of thousands of images are sure to stand the test of time.

The entire ITM team sends our best to Renie Bardeau’s loved ones during this difficult time. 

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