2011 was at least an interesting year for my Disney History Discovery journey. I was able to attend several Disney and Walt Disney related presented presentations throughout the year, and I learned a lot. I’ve also had the opportunity to do more online research, as well. So, I am going to circle back to the Man himself for the next few posts.
One person I had the chance to meet and get to know a little bit this last year is Disney historian, author, and authority, Jeff Kurtti. One of the things I respect about Jeff and enjoy in his presentations is his willingness to at least acknowledge some of the darker issues surrounding Walt Disney, without dwelling on them. I find this refreshing, because, in my research, I’ve found primarily two camps: Those close to The Disney Company, and not will to even acknowledge any controversy, and those in a much smaller group willing to take the small piece of information and spin it into a full blown hullabaloo. There are very few who come at it from Jeff’s position.
We all know of the controversial Masonic connections to Walt Disney, I’ve even written of them on my blog. There is one and only one artifact, which I have seen, at the Walt Disney Family Museum which could connect Walt in any way to Freemasonry – a DeMolay membership card from early in Walt’s young adulthood. Yet, there are many claims (mostly internet based) that Walt Disney was an Illuminati Master Mason bent on world domination. Absurd!!!
I mention this only because I found a little piece recently claiming that in 1933, Walt Disney visited the Oaxaca region to Mexico to partake of the local “magic” mushrooms for creative inspirations. I am not going to dignify the website with a link here, as I don’t want to create traffic for the site. But, the short article making the claim is based are recent story relay recently from Vietnam era veteran, who had traveled to the same region in the 70’s, claimed to have discovered Walt Disney signature dated 1933, on a rock behind a waterfall. This claim, based on this short story, is as absurd as the Masonic claim!!! Just as a little enlightenment for consideration: Walt’s oldest daughter, Diane, was born in December of 1933. This would have precluded that Lillian Disney was pregnant for most of 1933. Have learned, during my explorations, just how much Walt doted on Lillian, even as busy as he was and with the Great Depression ongoing; I would suspect that Walt was not far from her side during her pregnancy. It might also be interesting to note that by 1933 Mickey Mouse had become a huge success, and Walt’s creative chops, well established.
I only mention this because, as fun as it is to read this tabloid style junk, yes I look at the tabloids at the checkout stand and laugh, there are those who read this stuff and believe it, without verification. It is the world we live, and Walt Disney has become an almost mythic persona in our culture. It becomes easy to lose the real man in all the myth, legend, and lore… Anyone who visits any of the many Disney Fan sites can witness the seemingly inevitable obscurity of the man by the myth. While I find some of the myth fascinating, it is Walt Disney “the man” who interests me the most, so I try whenever possible to truly expose the real Walt Disney, and I am thankful that the Walt Disney Family Museum exists to do this as well.
I would rather listen to the many (and I do mean many) individuals who worked with Walt, or have done immense research on him. I also find it very fascinating that of all the material written on Walt Disney, the vast majority is about the positive contributions he has made to our culture. To those who try to make this man’s contributions negative, not one of you has produced anything really other than unsubstantiated innuendo, rumor, and gossip. I have yet to see any negative claim substantiated by even the barest of actual documented proof. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does… and, I will speak out whenever possible. I do understand The Walt Disney Company, and/or the Walt Disney Family Museum not waste their time addressing each and every one of these purveyors of tabloid negativity when they arise, but I feel someone needs to say something…
So like Don Quixote, I will tilt at those windmills when they spin. Or many in honor of Walt, I will challenge that “Old Mill.” So, as I have said before, if you have a question about Walt Disney, find a reliable source of information, and take the unsubstantiated tripe with a grain of salt.
But, for my next post, I’m going to spend some time on Animation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find us on Facebook at: Discovering Disney History on FB