Disney is slowly, slowly, slowly adding more movies from its immense library to the Disney+ streaming platform. This month, the studio added The Happiest Millionaire (1967) to Disney+, giving Disney fans a chance to see the last live-action musical produced by Walt Disney himself. The movie stars Fred MacMurray, who had become a Disney regular, and '60s British teen idol Tommy Steele.
The Happiest Millionaire is based on the book My Philadelphia Father by Cordelia Drexel Biddle, which itself was inspired by the true story of Biddle's father, the eccentric Philadelphia millionaire Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle Jr. Anthony was the son of a banker, and his family's fortune gave him the opportunity to pursue athletics, writing and theatrical interests until he died in 1948. MacMurray starred as Biddle, with Greer Garson as his wife, Cordelia Rundell Bradley. The rest of the cast features Steele. Geraldine Page, Gladys Cooper, Hermione Baddeley, John Davidson, and Lesley Ann Warren.
Although the project was based on a book and play, Disney turned it into a musical, and like many 1960s musicals, it is bloated. The film runs a whopping two hours and 49 minutes. The songs were written by the Sherman Brothers, the same team behind the Mary Poppins songs. Unlike Mary Poppins though, The Happiest Millionaire was a box office disappointment and earned negative reviews at the time of its release. The film earned only one Oscar nomination, for Bill Thomas' costume design. (The award went to another negatively-reviewed musical, Camelot.)
Over the years, The Happiest Millionaire has mostly been forgotten by moviegoers, aside from Disney obsessives. It is notable as one of the last projects Disney himself was involved in before his death in December 1966. Now that it is available on Disney+, perhaps more people will discover it and be surprised that it hit theaters the same year that In The Heat of the Night did.
You can also check out two other live-action comedies starring MacMurray - The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog - on Disney+. Notably, both of those movies were remade, with The Absent-Minded Professor turning into Flubber starring Robin Williams, and The Shaggy Dog with Tim Allen. It doesn't seem likely that The Happiest Millionaire will get the same remake treatment.