There have been a number of reported legends when it comes to the man who created some of our most beloved childhood characters and memories, Walt Disney. And being the creative and eccentric man he was, it's hard to say with certainty which are true and which are just rumors.
One rumor that PBS is happy to disprove is the one saying Walt Disney was anti-Semitic and a Nazi sympathizer. On September 14, PBS will release the 2-part, 4-hour long documentary, American Experience, which focuses on the personal and professional life of Walt Disney.
Sarah Colt, the film's producer, said at the Television Critics Association press tour that the film will refute or completely overlook these anti-Semitic claims since they hold no truth and have no evidence to back it up:
"That's just not based on any truths, so there's no reason to bring it up in the film. It wasn't relevant. There isn't any evidence."
She went on to state that it becomes easy to believe some of these claims, fraudulent or not, because we all feel as if we knew him. While the world he created gave us a glimpse into his life and mind, but he's far more complex than previously thought. This film is going to attempt to grapple with these ideas by making such a legendary character more realistic:
"The real challenge to this project is that Walt Disney is so mythic and people think they know him, but don't know him…The challenge of the film and the success of the film is that after four hours, he becomes human and you do feel like you know him."
Neal Galbler, the author of the book Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, the comprehensive 912 page portrait Walt Disney's life, has read every paper in the Disney company archives and agreed with Colt's assessment of the claims saying:
"There are many charges against Walt Disney, and if you answered every one of them, you'd have a four-hour film that was nothing but rebutting charges. I saw no evidence, other than casual anti-semitism that virtually every gentile at that time would have, that Walt Disney was an anti-semite."
Richard Sherman and his brother Robert, who wrote iconic songs for films like Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and the theme park song of "It's a Small World (After All)," are the sons of Jewish immigrants and two former Disney employees who were close to Walt Disney. Richard is quick to confirm Walt Disney was nothing but kind to him and his brother during their tenure at the Walt Disney Company.
"He was just nice to me and to my brother. He was the mellow Walt Disney. We got him in the golden years."
While the anti-Semite rumors that have surrounded Walt Disney's name for years appear to be unfounded, he was still flawed, just like the rest of us. American Experience promises to shed a new light on Disney, and help us understand more about the man who influenced so many of us.
Check out the preview for the television event that will surely be a must-watch for any Disney fan below:
The four hour documentary, American Experience, will air on Sept. 14 and 15.
(Source: USA Today)