My Perspective: Disney’s The One and Only Ivan

Sammy the elephant on the merry go round as featured in Disney's The One and Only Ivan

I watched the newly released Disney movie, The One and Only Ivan, over the weekend. For many, this may be a fascinating movie, but for me, it was epic.


We were not affiliated with this production, but is incredibly surreal to have a family story portrayed through a Disney lens. Not many people can say that.Click To Tweet


The film had captivated me from the beginning.

It opened with the introduction of Henrietta, a chicken that played baseball. We actually did have a chicken that played baseball!

Before Ivan’s chapter at the B&I, there was in fact a seal pool in the middle of the store which gave birth to the Frankie character in the film. At night, the seals  would often get out of the pool & play in the store. During this era, the B&I did house an elephant named Sammy who had gotten loose one day & destroyed the entire paint department.


In its day, the B&I Circus store truly was the biggest little store in the world & it sparked the imaginations of countless children, but when my grandfather Earl had died in 1973, much of the magic had gone with him. Click To Tweet


This movie was fiction, but they did their research well.

Many elements of the movie struck a very strong, true chord. Some of these brought back many fun memories & others were very sad, dark recollections that I had long forgotten.  This is a story that we did not come across one day, we were born into it. We lived this story & we have been shaped by it, both the good and the bad.

Disney’s telling of The One and Only Ivan had reminded me of all the bright imaginative colors of my childhood while grounding me to the black & white reality of my adulthood.  They broke my heart & put it back together again. From the remaining members of Ivan’s family to the entire Disney family, I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude for a story so brilliantly told.

Special thank yous go to Angelina Jolie for being inspired by her daughter Shiloh to bring Katherine’s novel to life, Bryan Cranston for a brilliant portrayal of a character who represented many family members, and to Sam Rockwell for giving a voice to my friend. To all the cast and crew, Thank you.



  1. Pam on August 26, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    I had the opportunity to actually talk to Ivan at the Atlanta zoo, I was asked to tell him that Ruben, the man that took in Ivan had passed! Ivan sat and listened to every word I said! I told him that Larry missed him but was very happy to know he had a beautiful home at Zoo Atlanta! When I was finished talking to him he got up and walked into his compound to have his dinner! The zookeeper and a young couple were there to witness this exchange! The couple said wow , he knew you! He really didn’t but knew who I was talking about! It was magical!

    • Earl Borgert on August 26, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      What a great story, Pam. Thanks for sharing!

      • Susan martinez on August 29, 2020 at 4:51 am

        I knew ivan father was tony Gangi.he built ivan home at the B&i…this just blew my mind..boy do I have story’s about him..he used to drink my sodas and ask for kisses threw the bars in his old box car..memories..

        • Susan martinez on August 29, 2020 at 5:16 am

          I remember one birthday mrs Irwen got a life size gorilla cake for ivan was the biggest cake I’d ever seen..I grew up there..I still smile at the memory of ivan hitting that glass window….he would wait tell he had a crowd..he would be face to face..and get this expression of joy and hit that window so hard…iv seen folks get bloidy noises..

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