The 1993 book Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince was, at best, a borderline prosecuting attorney-style rant using hostility-fueled witnesses to paint a portrait of a Walt Disney who was a real bastard. At its shockingly ridiculous core is the implication that Mr. Disney was a spy for the FBI.
If you’re a conspiracy theorist who believes that any and all facts/statements that contradict your fear-driven narrative are well-planned lies, then yes, he’s a spy.
So, were Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover the best of friends who palled around on golf courses and held hands during 4th of July parades?Hardly. In fact, Director Hoover had some serious (and completely ridiculous) concerns about Walt.
In 1956, a Walt Disney aide asked Director Hoover for permission to film a few scenes showcasing the FBI, with MousketeersOoh-ing and Ahh-ing over the crime-fighting G-men. The proposal was vague, merely a spitballing of ideas. Without a specific outline, Hoover replied to Walt that the bureau was simply too busy and could not accommodate him. Meow!
Once an outline was created, the Bureau allowed cameras to roll, but insisted on final say over script and editing of the four 12-minute newsreels as well as a vetting of the young actor being used in the footage. This dragged on until the summer of 1957, but it was eventually completed and Hoover was happy.
Of the 450 documents released, nearly 100 are dedicated to this incident, an incident that amounts to several minutes on a show geared toward children.After the airing of these shorts, Walt Disney received a copy of the book Masters of Deceit, autographed by its author J. Edgar Hoover.
In 1961, one of Hoover’s tireless workers uncovered some truly earthshaking, allegiance-shattering evidence: an FBI agent was to be portrayed in an upcoming Disney film…for laughs. (It should be noted that the information uncovered came from a casting tid-bit found in a Hedda Hopper column, a copy of which appears mimeographed for the Director’s convenience).
Upon hearing that the movie included possible scenes of FBI agents tapping phones, an agent who tries to ‘pick up a floozy’ and the interpretation that all agents will be portrayed as “bumbling, heavy-footed incompetents,” Hoover advised the SAC (Special Agent in Charge) to contact Disney and “tactfully advise him of our objections to this story.”
Because of Disney’s respect and admiration for Hoover, the script was changed so that the F.B.I. agent instead became a generic Government security agent. Still, Nothing-Makes-Me-Happy Hoover wasn’t satisfied. He felt betrayed.
In fact, written on a copy of a critic’s favorable review of the farcical Disney film is a telling “observation”. It reads: I am amazed Disney would do this. Had probably been infiltrated.
Was the overthrow of the guardians of American law and justice really teetering enough that the communists not only infiltrated a movie studio but –gasp- made a comedy?
Well, Disney probably got the idea that Hoover was mad and learned his lesson, right?
Beginning in 1963, special agency attention was placed on Disney’s intention to make a motion picture based on the bookUndercover Cat by Gordon Gordon. Gordon Gordon was a former former agent agent with the FBI who used his experience to write books.
Memos from 1964 mention that a Walt Disney Studios informant confirmed (that’s right, confirmed!) that the movie was to go into production. That same informant was unable to get a copy of the script, however. In fact, a majority of 1964 documents revolve around the agency’s inability to get a copy of the script.
The story revolves around a cat who witnesses a bank robbery and is the only one who can lead the “generic Government security agents” to the criminals. Seems innocuous and innocent enough, right? Wrong! Rearrange the letters so they correspond to Marxist ideals, remove the word ‘cat’, substitute the letters S, L and M for a hammer and sickle and you have the coded messages: Kill J. Edgar Hoover and Buy Disney Stock.
But seriously, what exactly was Hoover’s concern? One memo, in explaining the story:
A cat who is an undercover F.B.I. agent known as D. C. (short for “Darn Cat”), “happily forages in garbage cans every night,” which “seems to ridicule the F.B.I. agents.” This memo ends with, “The Crimes Records Division will continue to follow this matter closely through the Los Angeles Office to insure that if the proposed movie is made the Bureau’s interests are protected.”
No changes were made, the film was successful, a sequel was planned and Hoover was not happy.
After Disney died in 1966, Hoover sent a personal letter to Walt’s widow, Lillian, expressing his heartfelt condolences. Director Hoover even met with Roy Disney, Walt’s brother, and his family in 1969 and described him as “very pleasant.”
What is the lesson from this?
Once someone dies, all is forgiven–BUT don’t trust that they won’t stab you in the back the first chance they get while they’re still alive?
It’s hard to say…
Or have I just been infiltrated?