Episode 220: Walt Disney: Mickey, Nazis, and Frozen Bodies

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we talk about the life and works of one of America’s greatest creators, Walt Disney. Born in 1901, Disney was raised in Marceline, Missouri, which people to this day claim was the basis for Disneyland’s Main Street. Disney developed a love for trains as a child, and he also was identified as a talented artist while he was very young, selling work at the age of seven. While he was only sixteen, he tried to join the Army, but they discovered his age and wouldn’t let him. Instead, he volunteered for the Red Cross, where he became an ambulance driver in France during World War One.

Once he returned to the states, he became a cartoonist and shortly after that was experimenting in animation, a relatively new art form and way to film. He started making shorts that showed in a local theater, but they failed, and his studio went bankrupt. Eventually, he, his brother, and a partner created the Disney Brother’s Studios, and they created a character named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. They met with enough success to hire several animators and grow, but the distributor stole the rights to Oswald as well as most of his employees, and he was back to broke. At this point, he was working on another character named Mickey Mouse. After releasing two silent shorts, his third included sound and was called Steamboat Willie. It was a huge hit, and it gave Walt Disney the money to start his real work. He soon made feature films such as Snow White in 1937, and the movies were all surprise hits, despite the depression in America. Once World War Two started, Disney was recruited for the war effort and made anti-fascist propaganda films for the government. This is interesting because a lot of people accuse him of being a Nazi sympathizer himself.

By the 1960’s, Walt Disney was a household name. He launched Disneyworld in California (to a very rocky start) and expanded his reach. Eventually, he started the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) in Florida, but he died of lung cancer before it could be completed. With all of this, comes of course rumors and controversy.

Was Walt Disney in fact a secret Nazi? What stance did he take during the anti-communist McCarthy era that hit Hollywood so hard? Was he a monster to his employees? Why did Walt Disney himself claim there were two versions of himself? Was he an anti-Semite? Most importantly, is his body actually frozen, and why do people think this might be the case? You might be surprised by some of the answers. Listen, laugh, learn.

 

A link for his film, Education For Death: The Making of the Nazi

A link for the anti-Nazi Donald Duck cartoon called Der Fuehrer’s Face

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzH1iaKVsBM

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