The typical image we have of Walt Disney is that of a well groomed magic wizard responsible for creating the most beloved and recognizable cartoon and cinema characters of the past 80 years. But behind that impeccable pencil width mustache, well pressed suits and thinly veiled antisemitism is a man so patriotic he was willing to break the most sacred man rule, no snitching. On this date in 1940 Walt Disney officially turned narc when he sold his soul to the FBI in an effort to rid the Hollywood based American entertainment industry of fascism, socialism, and communism.
Patriotism is nothing new to Disney who unsuccessfully quit school at 16 to join the Army during WWI. Following a stint as Red Cross ambulance driver in France after the war, Disney’s career took off after his development of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mikey Mouse and the success of animated movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Alice in Wonderland. Neutered mice, the acid dropping psychedelic adventure of a prepubescent girl and the horrifying story of a talking puppet gave Disney enough clout in the business to be Herbert Hoover and the F.B.I.’s choice as the eyes and ears of big brother in Hollywood.
Disney’s involvement as an FBI informant never led to the capture or even identification of tinsel town saboteurs but that doesn’t mean that The Bureau was not appreciative of Disney’s assistance. During animator strikes Disney frequently called in his favor and had union leaders arrested as communist sympathizers. Like Scorsese’s The Departed, Disney and the FBI worked within an intricate web of deceit, misinformation and pant-less angry ducks.
Whether you think Walt Disney was simply a proud patriot looking to weed out red communist pigs within his own industry or a power hungry anti-Semitic rat, dropping the dime on regular Joes just because he didn’t like the cut of their jib, one thing is for certain: Never trust a man who can raise his voice two octaves unless he’s singing about Little Red Corvettes.