- Inquisitive 11-year-old boy: Mr. Disney, do you draw all those pictures yourself?
- Walt Disney: No.
- Boy: You do the first ones, don't you?
- Walt: At one time I drew them all. Then, later, I did the first ones and had the others done by other artists, but today I draw none of them.
- Boy: But you think up all the ideas, don't you, Mr. Disney?
- Walt: No, I have men who work on ideas and I work with them; then we all team up to make it come out right.
- Boy: What do you do, Mr. Disney?
- Walt: That is a good question.
OK, here we go.
I reblogged this when I wrote it five months ago (yes, I wrote it for another blog). But there’s another post about Walt’s supposed racism going around on tumblr, so I figured I should reblog it again.
One person I left out of this rebuttal is Floyd Norman, an African-American animator who started with the company in the 1950s. You can hear Floyd refute charges of Walt being a racist in his own words here. As he says, “Walt didn’t really care who or what you were; he cared about your talent and ability.”
Since the post making the rounds says that Walt “refused to hire black or brown people,” I thought it was important to shut that one down specifically.
Walt was by no means a perfect human being, but don’t let some jerkhat who can’t provide a single shred of evidence to back his claims convince you that Walt was evil.
Any of you are free to use this post, in whole or in part, with credit or without. I don’t care about getting credit, I just care about getting the truth out there.
Fowler’s Inn, Disneyland - photo by me.
Fowler’s Inn/Harbor are a reference to Admiral Joe Fowler, construction superintendent for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 1971. The harbor received it’s name when Walt Disney balked at having to include a onstage drydrock for the Mark Twain and Columbia boats, so when Fowler pressed for it, the area was designed as a rustic boat repair business and seafood restaurant and named for Fowler and his wife Marie (in the case of the restaurant, now called the Harbor Galley).
During construction of the area, Walt would jokingly refer to the drydock as ‘Joe’s ditch’ and tease him (as he had with needing an expensive lumber mill built on-site for the park) on spending all this money for repairs or infrastructure where guests would never appreciate it.
One of my favorite areas to sit and relax, especially later in the day after the restaurant is closed and the tables are generally empty.
Found this interview from early 2009 on CNN.com
- CNN: Tell me about Walt Disney. People think of him as a brand name nowadays, but he was a real person and still alive when you made the film. Was he a presence on the set?
- Dick Van Dyke: Absolutely. He was very much into this and believed in it. He hung around the set a lot. And I'm happy to say he was so pleased with the way it was going, as we all were.
- CNN: How did you end up with the part of Bert?
- Van Dyke: Well, I thought he hired me because I was such a great singer and dancer. As it turns out, he had heard me in an interview talking about what was happening to family entertainment. I was decrying the fact that it seemed like no holds were barred anymore in entertainment. ... He knew about the "Van Dyke Show," about our little sitcom, but that's why he called me in, because I said something he agreed with. And I got the part.
- CNN: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was still on at the time. Were you balancing the "Van Dyke Show" at the same time you did "Poppins," or were you on hiatus?
- Van Dyke: It was on hiatus. That whole decade of the '60s, that's what I did for 10 years -- I did the show and then a movie, a show and then a movie. I felt I'd better make hay while the sun shined. ...
- It always worked out pretty well. But I found myself getting up in the morning and taking off on the freeway and forgetting where in the hell I was supposed to go, and a couple times I showed up at the wrong studio.
- CNN: You've taken a lot of ribbing over the years for your Cockney accent.
- Van Dyke: Oh, have I ever.
- CNN: Did Andrews or David Tomlinson [who played Mr. Banks] mention things to you about the accent? Or did they just go with the flow?
- Van Dyke: They just went with the flow! It's funny -- I was concentrating on the dancing, mostly, and they had given me a [voice] coach who turned out to be an Irishman, and his Cockney wasn't much better than mine. During the making of the picture nobody kidded me about the accent, but I sure took it afterwards. [One British poll named Van Dyke's accent the second-worst British accent ever; Van Dyke observes, however, that he was beaten out by Sean Connery's "Untouchables" performance.]
- CNN: Tell me about the way the movie was shot. There were a lot of scenes with animated characters, and today those would be shot with a blue screen or computer animation.
- Van Dyke: I think it's such a shame that Walt didn't live to see computer animation, because he would have had a good time with it. ... In those days it was before the blue screen. They used what was called yellow sulphur lighting -- the screen was yellow, and we worked with that all day, and by the time the day was over you couldn't see anything. ...
- It was just an empty soundstage. And sometimes we didn't even have the music -- we would just dance to a click rhythm. But I think technically it holds up today just as well as anything.
- CNN: Did you know what some of the animated sequences were going to be?
- Van Dyke: Yes, that was in the script. But I had to go to Walt and talk him into letting me do the old [bank president]. I said, I'll do that part and I won't even charge you. So he made me do a little screen test and gave me the part. ... And he didn't pay me -- I had to donate $4,000 to his CalArts school. He was a little horse trader.
- CNN: You worked with Ed Wynn in the film, and I know you're a huge fan of the old comedians. What was Wynn like?
- Van Dyke: He was in his [late 70s] at the time, and not very well. He did all that "I Love to Laugh" stuff hanging from the ceiling, and it was just so hard on him, but he was a trouper. He was a sweet old guy. He had a palsy -- his head would move from side to side, kind of involuntarily. But the minute they would say "Action," it would stop. And he'd do the scene, and the minute they said "Cut," it would start in again.
- CNN: Let me change gears. Michelle Obama has said that "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is one of her favorite shows.
- Van Dyke: I've heard that, and I sent them a note and said, "Thank you for making me famous all over again." I call them the black Rob and Laura.
- CNN: Is it nice that so much of your work has had longevity?
- Van Dyke: I just lucked into working with geniuses like ["Van Dyke Show" creator] Carl Reiner and Walt. I just lucked out.
Today in my history class while we were talking about revolution in France we somehow got onto the Nuremberg trials and someone said something about Wernher von Braun and I was like “I know that name somehow.” So I looked it up.
Yup. Everything comes back to Disney somehow with me.
Back in my high school social studies class my teacher mentioned Nikita Khrushchev and the only reason I knew that name was because I read on a Disney trivia card that he was denied entrance into Disneyland because security feared for his safety.
More specifically, it was the Los Angeles police chief that wouldn’t let Khrushchev go to Disneyland. He was not happy about it…he was taken to the Fox movie studio instead for lunch, where, after having been insulted by Fox president Spyros P. Skouras and not in a good mood at all, he had this to say:
We have come to this town where lives the cream of American art. And just imagine, I a premier, a Soviet representative, when I came here to this city, I was given a plan — a program of what I was to be shown and whom I was to meet here.
But just now I was told that I could not go to Disneyland. I asked: ‘Why not?’ What is it, do you have rocket-launching pads there? I do not know.
And just listen — just listen to what I was told — to what reason I was told. We, which means the American authorities, cannot guarantee your security if you go there.
What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken over the place that can destroy me? Then what must I do? Commit suicide? This is the situation I am in — your guest. For me the situation is inconceivable. I cannot find words to explain this to my people.
Yeah, I can’t say I blame the guy for being upset. I react about the same way when I’m told I can’t go to Disneyland.
There are a couple different versions of what happened (like the Secret Service being the ones who denied the visit) at snopes.
But I just figured it was worth pointing out that it wasn’t Disneyland security that made the decision. In fact, Walt was looking forward to the visit…especially showing off his new naval fleet of Disneyland submarines. Here’s what Walt had to say about it:
Huge Carousel of Progress Post with lots of photos and history: http://www.imagineeringdisney.com/blog/2012/9/6/tomorrowland-67-part-3.html