Thelma Howard, Walt Disney's Maid, Received Shares Of Disney Stock Every Christmas
By | December 12, 2019
For Thelma Howard, Walt Disney's housekeeper, stock in the Mickey Mouse operation was the gift that keeps on giving.
What does your boss give you for Christmas? A gift card? A couple of extra bucks? Getting anything for Christmas is nice, but some bosses go above and beyond - one of them being Walt Disney. The very first imagineer didn’t run his own house, instead he hired a woman that he referred to as “the real-life Mary Poppins,” Thelma Howard. She was such a treasured employee that Disney gave her stock in the company every year for Christmas and her birthday. By the time she passed away in 1994 her stocks were valued at $9 million; today that’s close to $22.5 million. Not bad for a housekeeper.
Howard’s Early Life Was Fraught With Pain
Born into an incredibly poor family in 1914, Thelma Howard’s mother passed away giving birth when the girl was only six-years-old, and when she was seven her sister burned to death in a freak accident. After growing up in Idaho Howard moved to Spokane, Washington to train as a stenographer, but she had to drop out of school because she couldn’t afford it. In 1931 she moved to Los Angeles where she took a series of low wage jobs before finding full time employment in 1951 as a live-in maid at Disney’s Holmby Hills estate. It didn’t take long for Howard to endear herself to Disney’s two children, Diane and Sharon who found that Howard actually treated them well rather than treating them as if they didn’t exist. Diane Disney Miller said:
The housekeeper before Thelma banished my sister and me from the kitchen. But when Thelma came, we spent all our time there. She could put on a full dinner with a roast and fresh pie and have kids drawing pictures at the kitchen table.