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Monday, November 23, 2015

Recent Thoughts of Walt Disney

I have been away from my blogs for quite awhile now.  Quite contrary to the thought that I have nothing to write, the truth is that there are so many things happening in our world today, that focusing on a particular thought has become quite a challenge for me.  I have still continued to do my research and association with the people that help to spur on my fascination with the amazing individual.  So today I am going to try to concentrate on some thoughts on Walt Disney that have had an impact on my life and how I see it.

Walt Disney has become, truly, an enigmatic figure in our culture. People have studied him and his life for years trying to pinpoint that quality that would best description the man and his life.  It seems that, of late, there has been an approach in the general public to portray his life’s activities in as negative a light as possible by interpreting events of his historical activities though a lens of current day standards.  Most of these conclusions are draw on rather singular events in Walt Disney’s life.  Yes, there are people who have dug up factoids in support of their claims, and I am not going to discuss them here other than to point out some of the fallacies in their claims.  If you want to review any of these claims, they can be found quite easily via Google searches.

 Instead of discussing these spurious claims and the supporting evidence, both pro and con, I am going to discuss what I believe to be the essence of who Walt Disney was and some of why some people try so hard to damage that view.  First the more negative aspect because I, selfishly, want to leave this piece with more positive note of what my many years of research has left me with understanding.

Unlike many research historians, I don’t approach any single topic with a singular focus.  Time and experience has taught me, I believe, that the world we live in is so interconnected that, to truly understand history we have to approach each and every event with a much more open mind of how many multiple, seemingly unconnected, events effect the accurate interpretation of a person.  One of the great challenges with historical interpretation is that we tend to want to view historical events through the prisms of our own lives and experiences, and there are some interpretations that have become so ubiquitous that we apply their principles to our views without much thought.  I won’t discuss what those pieces might be, as I think most people are either aware, or will find offense with the notion.  But, even more in recent years we have found these principles taking hold in our thinking about many things.  I wrote a piece earlier in this blog about the Apotheosis of Walt Disney, and I think that view has spurred others to produce interpretations to counter it.  I don’t necessarily think these people are trying to malicious, but rather, see what they do as a defense of their own God(s) by pointing out their perceived fault of Walt.

True of the matter is that Walt Disney was a man and nothing more.  Talk to anyone who knew him, or has researched his history with an open mind, and that fact will quite often be born out.  I have had the great honor and opportunity to talk with a number of these individuals, and never come away with any thought other than Walt Disney was a man with an incredible thirst for knowledge, and a consummate storyteller, with an almost uncanny ability to understand what his audiences wanted, and the ability to encourage those around him to produce to levels that even they didn’t see in themselves.  Was he always right, no…  but,

I think I have discovered that one word that best describes the man and his legacy, HOPE!

Whether it is his films, animated or live action, his theme park, his dreams of EPCOT, or any of his many other activities that I have had the honor to learn about…  I am, and I think many others who are honest with themselves, left with a feel of hope.

Your comments or questions are always welcome.  If you have a correction or something you think I should look at in my research, please feel free to contact me at

You can find us on Facebook at:  Discovering Disney History on FB

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Answer to a reader

I recently receive the comment below from a reader, I am not going to publish the name here, but if you choose to go digging, you can find the reader’s Name.  I try diligently not to censor comments, except where I find them completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Hi, I know you wrote this back in 2011, but I had to comment because I can't understand how you don't see why people say he was a mason. Ok, first of all, have you ever seen Disney's animations? I imagine you have. Every single one of them contain subliminary messages with sexual content, mostly. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube to back me up. The connection I can make between WD and freemasonry without even trying hard is that the last one clearly worships the devil. A man who fills (or allows people to fill) his work with filthy content can't love God. Another thing I believe you've found out by now, since it's one of your hobbies. Believe me, they do not worship God, so you can easily realize who they really worship. Just to be clear, I'm not a conspiracy theory believer, but I do believe you can't deny what's right on your face. Sorry about my poor English. What I want to say to you is, please don't be so naive to think he was just a sweet, brilliant and respectable old man, it's clearly more complicated than that. Maybe not a mason, ok, but he was obviously connected with something bad, which is what really matters here.

To this reader, I don’t see why people continue to say Walt Disney was a Mason.  Having been raise around a few Mason in my youth, I know that, while somewhat secretive about what happens in the lodges regard their craft, I have never found Mason to be deliberately secretive about their association with the craft.  Most Masons that I know freely display the symbolic trappings of their association.  With that said, and my 10+ years of research, I have found only two verifiable Masonic associations.  One is the reference by Roy Disney, in his biography by Bob Thomas, which he states he was a Mason and gave up his membership in order to avoid creating any conflicts with his future Daughter-In-Law’s Catholic views.  The second being a single DeMolay membership card for Walt on display and the Walt Disney Family Museum.  In all the pictures I have seen over the last decade, I have not seen one displaying the symbolic association that I see regularly on display with other Masons I know.  Given all my research and unless someone can present real evidence to the contrary, I will stand by my assessment that Walt Disney was not a Freemason.  I think the whole Masonic association has been created in order to square stories people want to believe about Walt Disney and the rather secretive nature of the Masonic Order make the fabrication easier to sell.  As to whether others in the Walt Disney organization were Masonic members, as that has never been a topic of interest or research to my knowledge.  So I too have not bothered to pursue it.

As for the claim of filthy content, I think this claim, while somewhat accurate, is seriously overblown.  I think many people have made some associations with art work in some releases that is more than is present.  In others there is a frame here and there that may be of a more risqué nature.  However, I think it’s important to note that in the average theatrically released animation feature, there are around 130,000 individually created cells.  If we look at those features release while Walt was alive, that would put the cell count at in excess of 2 million piece of artwork.  I think it is a ludicrous notion to assume that Walt Disney himself reviewed every single cell that went into each of his features.  Now, I know found my research that animation artists can have a rather interesting sense of humor, and have from time to time admitted to sneaking risqué frames into their animations. According to my research, when Walt did discover the inclusion of this risqué content, he made sure it was removed, and I think we do a disservice to history when we try to judge past events based on currently morals and standards.  There are many cases where something that was acceptable behavior long ago, are no longer acceptable by today’s norms.  Also interestingly, most of the more sexually oriented ones have been in features release years after Walt’s passing, and I think unfairly attributed to Walt.

Finally, with regards to what I think of Walt Disney, I do not delude myself into thinking that Walt Disney was a saint.  He was a very creative and talent, forward thinking individual, but he was a man, just a man and fallible like any other man.  I think that we have many individual who have attempted to deify the man, and as such has caused many in the religious community to try to demonize him in defense of their particular God.  Anyone who has really done the research on Walt Disney, I think will tell you that, while he was a very detail oriented individual; he had some many different interests and activities, that he didn’t allow himself to get bogged down in the day to day minutiae of his businesses.

My job as an historian, amateur or not and Disney relate or otherwise, is to present my findings as unbiased as possible.


Your comments or questions are always welcome.  If you have a correction or something you think I should look at in my research, please feel free to contact me at

You can find us on Facebook at:  Discovering Disney History on FB



Monday, March 30, 2015

Moose: Chapters From My Life by Robert B. Sherman

Yes, I have been away for awhile.  Some might say that I lost my muse, but, more appropriately… My focus and activity has been necessarily elsewhere.  More about that in another future post…  For now, I am fulfilling a promise made a while back:

Anyone who knows me, know of my interest in and love for all things Disney.  That love and interest lead to a membership in the Walt Disney Family Museum, and a rare opportunity to meet and hear from many Disney Legends and Luminaries.  One such Legend was in the person of Richard Sherman:  One half of the Sherman Brothers team of Disney lore.  Think “It’s A Small World” or maybe you remember a little movie they wrote the music for: “Mary Poppins.” Richard has been most kind and generous with his time and stories to members of the Museum, and served to remind me just how much he and his brother Robert B. Sherman had really influenced my life from a very early age.  Actually, if you have visited a Disney theme park, viewed any number of films or stage plays, you have been influenced in some way by the Sherman Brothers’ magic.    Meeting Richard left me with a great desire to one day meet his brother, Robert.

In the 2002 Robert, with his youngest son Robbie, moved to London after losing his beloved wife Joyce the year earlier.  In March of 2012 we lost Robert and the age of 86, and thus dashed my chances of ever having the privilege of meeting Robert, in this life.  However, shortly after learning of Robert’s passing, I was fortunate to be accepted in to a group on Facebook dedicated as a tribute site to the Sherman Brothers, run by Robert’s youngest son Robbie.  I have been able to learn much more about the Sherman Brothers, and in particular Robert through this site and my interactions, and somewhat to my surprise, I have been able to provide some of my own insights that have been found of value to some.  I am most thankful that Robbie, in particular, has found value in some of my input.  The relationships that I have had the great and rare fortunate chance to grow out of my association what that site are amazing, and would fill a post all by themselves.  All I can say right now is a deep and personal Thank You to Gregg, Jeff and Wendy, Laurie, and very especially to Robbie for the kindness, generosity, and friendship you have all shown me over the last couple of years.  It has meant more than any of you might realize.  Tracy, you are still on my “Still to Meet” list.

Anyway, to the book, it was through my association with the Sherman Brothers page that I learned that Robert had written and autobiography – Moose: Chapters From My Life, and the Robbie, as editor, was working toward getting it published for his Dad, posthumously.  I have two copies of this book in my collection, a working copy that I use for research, and a 2nd hard bound copy which is part of my treasured signed collection of Disney related books.  As I said earlier, I was never able to meet Bob in person, so his book is most fittingly signed by the person, whose tireless efforts got it published, the editor… Robbie Sherman – Thank You again!

I am not going to reveal many, if any, details from the book, you should read and discover for yourself the truly amazing history of this man and to some degree his Brother and the team we know today as the Sherman Brothers.  This is not what many would consider a traditional biography, auto or otherwise.  It is a personal story, told by a master storyteller; about a life lived in both private and public, sometimes even very publicly, one of the challenges of being a publicly known figure.  This is the story of a man of many lives and many talents, some that not many know much about.  This is the story about a man who was often more charitable of his assessments of others than he was his own person experiences.  Yet, even so, he exposed what he felt were his own flaws with an honesty that is both charitable and understanding tone.  If you want to learn about a man, from the man himself, and more about what made him the incredible individual he was than just all that he did, this is the book for you.  And to the editor ;-), I disagree; I think the last chapter is as important a read as the first.  This is more than just a story about a man we should all want to know more about, it is a story about a man who all man should aspire to emulate.

As you might gather, I highly recommend this book for any Disney fan, or Sherman Brothers fan, and remember, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” 

Finally, for those of you who what to know even more about The Sherman Brothers, you can check out a copy of The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story a documentary about this legendary team, or Walt's Time - From Before to Beyond, a book done in 1998 by Richard and Robert with editorial help another legend – Bruce Gordon.

Your comments or questions are always welcome.  If you have a correction or something you think I should look at in my research, please feel free to contact me at

You can find us on Facebook at:  Discovering Disney History on FB