About the Author

Disney Legend Tom Nabbe began work for the company in 1955 as a newsboy on Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. selling copies of the park newspaper until Walt hand-picked him the next year to portray Tom Sawyer. As an adult, Tom took on many other roles for the company: he managed the Disney World monorail, helped open Disneyland Paris, and then retired in 2003, the last working member of Club 55 (admission to which requires a paycheck signed by Walt in the year 1955!). Tom's work even earned him the special honor of his name on a Main Street shop window at Disney World. For much more on Tom, see his profile on Disney's official Legends site.

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The Adventures of Tom Nabbe

by Tom Nabbe

In 1955, twelve-year-old Tom Nabbe was selling newspapers at Disneyland. He heard that Walt Disney needed someone to play Tom Sawyer in the park. What happened next was a real-life American dream, the kind that Mark Twain himself could have written: Walt chose Tom to be the Tom, and for the next forty-eight years, Tom Nabbe grew up with Disney. He rubbed shoulders with celebrities, his face appeared on the cover of national magazines, and until he outgrew the role he was indeed the 'luckiest boy in the world'. These are his adventures...

From Character to Cast Member

MAY 10 Tom Sawyer never grew up. Tom Nabbe did. When Tom Nabbe turned 18 in 1961, he could no longer play Tom Sawyer, but his career at Disneyland (which would stretch nearly five decades) was just getting started.

The Adventure of Growing Up

APR 26 Growing up is bittersweet, especially when maturity means unemployment! For Disney Legend Tom Nabbe, hired as a child by Walt Disney to play Tom Sawyer, turning 18 meant no more Tom Sawyer, who stays stubbornly young. What's next for Nabbe?

The Adventure of the Suspicious Secretary

APR 5 You'd think, if Walt Disney said you were hired, that was the end of it. Not so for young Tom Nabbe, whose good fortune at being hired in person by Walt to play Tom Sawyer soon became a minor bureaucratic dust-up.

Tom is in the Parade!

MAR 29 Let's rock 'n roll the clock back to 1957. Disneyland has that new park 'smell'. Walt ambles down Main Street every afternoon. Tom Nabbe baits hooks on Tom Sawyer Island - and talks to famous Parade journalist, Lloyd Shearer, about life in the park.

The Adventure of the Wormy Inventory

MAR 22 You think working for Walt is all soda and ice cream? Tom Nabbe soon learned that his duties included not just celebrity photo ops but also cleaning (as in gutting) fish caught by Park guests and making sure the company got every worm it paid for.

The Adventure of the C Average

MAR 15 It wouldn't do for Tom Nabbe to fail in school while working for Walt Disney. So Walt made sure Tom kept up a C average - he checked, too! Did Tom ever disappoint? Find out! (Bonus story: Tom Nabbe meets Richard Nixon!)

Young Tom Rubs Shoulders with the Stars

Tom, say hello to Milton and Jerry...

MAR 8 In his role as Tom Sawyer, Tom Nabbe was a Disneyland celebrity - and, of course, celebrities draw celebrities. This week's Adventures with Tom Nabbe recounts a few of his star encounters. 'I had developed a good rapport with Eddie Meck, the manager of publicity at Disneyland. He was around the park all the time. Eddie was... MORE

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

How Tom Nabbe in 1955 parlayed a paper route into a park pass

MAR 1 In Tom's first adventure, we meet him outside the employee gate of Disneyland. He's selling newspapers - though not yet for Disney. Tom used to sit on his bike atop a freeway overpass watching Disneyland being built from the ground-up, and now the new park is nearly ready for its grand opening with young Tom... MORE