Disney awards 11 legends including Marvel's Stan Lee, Star Wars' Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher

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LOS ANGELES, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The 3-day ultimate Disney fan event, D23 Expo, kicked off Friday at Anaheim Convention Center, Southern California, with the reveal of winners of the 2017 Disney Legends Awards.

The 2017 Disney legends include Mark Hamill, and late Carrie Fisher, best known as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia from "Star Wars" movies, Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Oscar winning actress Whoopi Goldberg and six more.

The awards were granted to the 11 winners as a way to recognize the extraordinary and integral contribution made by each individual to the Walt Disney Company.

Lee made an appearance to accept the award, just a few days after his wife passed away. "I loved Walt Disney," Lee said, "he was more than a man, he was an inspiration. He was something to reach for, to be like him. To think that today I'm standing here in the house that Disney built... it is so thrilling."

Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, sent a tribute read by the company's chairman and CEO Bob Iger. "We went to Disneyland so much that I now realize she might have even loved it more than I did," Lourd wrote. "So to become part of the Disney family is a big moment for her... Being a Disney princess and a Disney Legend would have been her ultimate dream."

"I would love to give my deepest respects for the super cool space sis I have in Carrie Frances Fisher," Hamill, Fisher's co-star in "Star Wars" movies, said when he received the award, "we were like siblings -- the good and the bad. There was a comfort with her. We can rely on one another."

Established in 1987, the Disney Legends Awards used to be an annual private event. Since the first D23 Expo in 2009, it has been awarded biennially and publicly. Over 5,000 fans attended this year's award ceremony.

"I am very glad to see this year's award winners," Ashley Gilmore, a Disney fan told Xinhua after the Awards ceremony, "I would not be more honor to see Mark Hamill, and to be here to honor Carrie Fisher." Enditem

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