We all know Walt Disney. From Mickey Mouse to Disneyland, the brand spans almost every country and city worldwide. Children singing Frozen’s “Let it go” to the point that parents have nightmares is more than enough proof that the Disney experience is truly magical AND addictive! One only has to step into a children’s clothing shop to spot the most popular Disney characters spread throughout the store.
How much do we actually know about Walt Disney himself?
There has always been speculation about Walt Disney outside of the Disney brand. Especially after there were claims made that he was working as an informant for the FBI. It’s pretty much a given that if the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)really wanted Walt Disney as an informant, he very likely would have done so. This was a time of Communist threat, which struck a sour note from the 1940s to the early 1950s.
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This begs the question – WAS he in fact an informant for the FBI?
Paperwork from 1954 was released to the public a while back and it got people talking. The documents saw FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover, approve of making Walt Disney a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Contact. This in turn had people assuming he was in fact an informant for the FBI. But that’s not really the case.
“I don’t believe there is a challenge anywhere in the world that is more important to people everywhere than finding the solution to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin? Well, we’re convinced we must start with the public need. And the need is not just for curing the old ills of old cities. We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a community that will become a prototype for the future.” Said Walt Disney over his efforts in the local community.
What is a SAC Contact?
A SAC contact is just a term used to describe someone ‘friendly with the FBI.’ Someone the FBI agents could turn to for information about their industry if ever needed. As one can imagine, Walt Disney would have fit the criteria pretty well. He was, after all, an expert in the field of television, film, and animation.
So as much as he could have been super useful as an informant to agents when involving the silver screen, he never actually did assist them in any way or form. In fact, it seems that the FBI and Walt Disney actually ended up having a fallout over Walt, including the FBI in some of his animations and short films.
Most of America worshipped the FBI back then, and Walt Disney was no exception. He admired their service to his country and ended up writing and producing a series of short films in the 1950s based on the FBI. These were produced for the Mickey Mouse Club House and starred a much younger Dirk Metzger.
The FBI was originally shown rough cuts of the production, and they came forth with suggested changes. Walt Disney worked closely alongside them through the production phase. He did, however, make it very clear that he had the final say over the very much pro-FBI series. This angered them and soured the FBI/Disney relationship, and saw the end of their partnership.
The 60s further saw Walt Disney produce two comedies showcasing federal agents
In the 1960s, Walt Disney worked on the production of two film comedies, Moon Pilot and That Darn Cat. Both films portrayed FBI agents in more comedic roles. The FBI was outraged. This, in turn, saw the majority of their files on Disney being them complaining about his comedies based on them. What a silly turn of events!
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- “Was Walt Disney Seriously An FBI Informant?” CBR. Jim Korkis and Brian Cronin. July 27, 2019
- “Disney Link To the F.B.I. And Hoover Is Disclosed” New York Times. May 6, 1993.
- “About Walt Disney.” D23