ce399 | research archive: (anti)fascism

Walt Disney: Nazi Sympathizer (Spitfire: FTR 301)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 10/05/2011

Along with FTR-304, this pro­gram might be enti­tled “The Pol­i­tics of Illu­sion.” Few Amer­i­can cul­tural or artis­tic fig­ures have come to be asso­ci­ated with whole­some, vir­tu­ous images as film­maker and ani­ma­tion pio­neer Walt Dis­ney. In both cin­ema and tele­vi­sion, Dis­ney estab­lished him­self as an Amer­i­can icon, and the merged cor­po­ra­tion he left behind after his death is one of the giants of the media world. The real­ity behind Disney’s civic and polit­i­cal life is very dif­fer­ent from the benev­o­lent illu­sions pro­jected onto big and small screens around the world.

In fact, Dis­ney was one of the pri­mary fig­ures in the Hol­ly­wood black­list­ing era and had a long pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tion with fas­cist, anti-Semitic and orga­nized crime elements.

1. This broad­cast accesses infor­ma­tion from a pen­e­trat­ing and insight­ful biog­ra­phy of Dis­ney, which high­lights the reac­tionary, vin­dic­tive polit­i­cal fig­ure behind the benev­o­lent facade he pre­sented to his audi­ences. (Walt Dis­ney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince; by Marc Eliot; Birch Lane Press; Copy­right 1993 [HC]; ISBN 1–55972-174-X.)

2. Disney’s image as a paragon of whole­some, Chris­t­ian, “fam­ily” val­ues against the per­ceived world of immoral, sex­ual, “Jew­ish” Hol­ly­wood was estab­lished by the suc­cess of Mickey Mouse (orig­i­nally known as “Steam­boat Willie.”)

3. Eliot chron­i­cles the rise of the Hol­ly­wood film indus­try as a reac­tion to the gang­ster­ism of “the Trust,” the movie-making con­sor­tium estab­lished by sem­i­nal film­maker Thomas Edison.

4. “Two of the endur­ingly pop­u­lar myths of the his­tory of Amer­i­can film are that Hol­ly­wood gave birth to the movies and that the industry’s pio­neers were Jews who had immi­grated from Europe. In truth, the Amer­i­can motion pic­ture indus­try began on the East Coast as the exclu­sive domin­ion of the urban Amer­i­can turn-of-the cen­tury entre­pre­neur­ial elite . . . . Among these com­pa­nies, the most pow­er­ful was the Wiz­ard of Menlo Park, Thomas Alva Edi­son, the head of the stu­dio that bore his name.

5. “For more than a decade Edi­son had been the unchal­lenged pre­mier maker and dis­trib­u­tor of mostly eso­teric, non-narrative, silent motion pic­ture ‘stud­ies.’ Edi­son was greatly dis­turbed by the sud­den, sweep­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the new century’s first nov­elty, street-corner nick­elodeons, amuse­ment par­lors that first appeared on New York’s Lower East Side. He felt they cheap­ened the sophis­ti­cated art of film by offer­ing ‘peep show’ films and other lurid diver­sions meant to sat­isfy the car­nal plea­sure of the workingman.

6. “In 1910, Edi­son formed the first motion pic­ture alliance, which came to be known as the ‘Trust.’ Its pur­pose was to pro­tect the pub­lic (and his own finan­cial inter­ests) from the kind of immoral trash pro­duced by what he termed the ‘Jew­ish prof­i­teers,’ who not only ran the nick­elodeons but made their own movies to show in them.

7. “The Trust was pub­licly ded­i­cated to the preser­va­tion of the industry’s moral integrity and pri­vately devoted to pro­tect­ing Edison’s prof­itable monop­oly. Not only were nick­elodeon oper­a­tors and film­mak­ers denied mem­ber­ship in the Trust, but they were pre­vented from buy­ing raw film stock and pro­jec­tion equip­ment, all of which Edi­son held patents on and absolutely con­trolled.” (Ibid.; p. 49.)

8. Not con­tent with sup­press­ing eco­nomic com­pe­ti­tion with monop­o­lis­tic mar­ket prac­tices, Edi­son turned to gang­ster­ism. “Edi­son, frus­trated by his inabil­ity to wipe out his com­pe­ti­tion, resorted to hir­ing goon squads. They smashed the nick­elodeon arcades and set block-long fires in the neigh­bor­hoods that housed them. All the while Edi­son jus­ti­fied his actions in the name of pre­serv­ing the nation’s morals.” (Ibid.; p. 49.)

9. Ulti­mately, the strong-arm strat­egy of Edi­son & com­pany pre­cip­i­tated the move by their com­peti­tors to Cal­i­for­nia. “The mob tac­tics of the Trust caused the inde­pen­dents to put as much dis­tance between them­selves and Edi­son as pos­si­ble. One by one they migrated west, until they reached Cal­i­for­nia. There they found cheap real estate, a per­fect cli­mate, and the nat­ural pro­tec­tion of a three-thousand-mile buffer zone. Cal­i­for­nia gave them a sec­ond chance to make their movies. The films they made rede­fined the Amer­i­can motion pic­ture and the indus­try that pro­duced them. Unlike their early East Coast coun­ter­parts, the heads of Hollywood’s stu­dios were less inter­ested in artis­tic exper­i­men­ta­tion than profit. They put on the screen what sold the most. The pub­lic was will­ing to pay to see films filled with sex and vio­lence, and Hol­ly­wood was more than happy to make them.” (Idem.)

10. The early dynam­ics of the film indus­try framed the polit­i­cal and cul­tural debate over the “moral­ity” of the movie indus­try that sur­vives to this day. The stigma that attached to Hol­ly­wood gave rise to close scrutiny of the indus­try in Wash­ing­ton. “By the early twen­ties, all that remained of Edison’s Trust was the issue it had raised regard­ing the moral con­tent of motion pic­tures. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment kept a close watch on Hol­ly­wood, the new cap­i­tal of the film indus­try, to make sure the movies it pro­duced remained ‘socially accept­able’ films.

11. “They didn’t know if their movies were morel or immoral and couldn’t have cared less. To them, films were strictly vehi­cles of profit, not instru­ments of expres­sion. The more money a film made, the bet­ter it was. As such, they ran their busi­nesses like busi­nesses and treated their writ­ers, direc­tors, actors, and scenery movers as clock-punching employ­ees rather than artists. When­ever the indus­try came under attack for being morally cor­rupt, none of Hollywood’s own­ers believed the prob­lem had any­thing to do with morality.

12. “Which, of course, was pre­cisely the prob­lem. Among those who cor­rectly per­ceived Hol­ly­wood as dom­i­nated by Jews, to many in gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor noth­ing more than hea­thens, unable to com­pre­hend, let alone project, the essence of Chris­t­ian morality.

13. “They believed Hollywood’s Jew­ish busi­ness­men had cor­rupted an art form for the sake of mak­ing money, and by so doing had con­tributed to the widen­ing moral cor­rup­tion of Amer­ica. They were, in Henry Ford’s words, a per­fect exam­ple of America’s grow­ing prob­lem, its turn-of-the-century influx of ‘the inter­na­tional Jew.’” (Ibid.; pp. 49–50.) (For infor­ma­tion about Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism and his role in fund­ing Hitler and the Ger­man Nazi party in the 1920’s see Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M-11.)

14. With the onset of the Great Depres­sion, scape­goat­ing of the “immoral­ity” of Hol­ly­wood for America’s per­ceived “moral decay” increased. “. . . the finan­cial col­lapse of Wall Street brought renewed pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment from the most pow­er­ful inter­ests in the pri­vate sec­tor to reg­u­late the moral con­tent of motion pic­tures. This lat­est attack on the moral vacu­ity of Amer­i­can movies and the men who made them was led once more by those look­ing for a link between the nation’s eco­nomic down­turn and its moral one. And with each new attack, the nation’s Jewish-American stu­dio heads felt the chill of anti-Semitism cool Hollywood’s balmy, and quite prof­itable, cli­mate.” (Ibid.; pp. 50–51.)

15. Pub­lish­ing mag­nate William Ran­dolph Hearst led the charge against Hol­ly­wood, seek­ing to sell papers and sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion. (For dis­cus­sion of the Hearst Press and its open edi­to­r­ial sup­port for fas­cism, see RFA-1.) “In 1929, need­ing a ‘hot’ issue to boost his news­pa­pers’ sag­ging cir­cu­la­tions, William Ran­dolph Hearst ran a series of edi­to­ri­als demand­ing the revival of fed­eral cen­sor­ship to reg­u­late the grow­ing immoral­ity of motion pic­tures. No friend of either Jews or the film indus­try, he con­sid­ered news­reels, shown in effect ‘free’ along with the fea­tures, a threat to his newspapers.

16. “Hearst’s cam­paign received much sup­port in Con­gress, where the def­i­n­i­tion of movie moral­ity had expanded through the years to include not only sex­ual provo­ca­tion but polit­i­cal sub­ver­sion. In March of 1929, U.S. Sen­a­tor Smith Brookhart summed up what he con­sid­ered the dete­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion in Hol­ly­wood as noth­ing more than a bat­tle for profit at the cost of sex­ual and social moral­ity between com­pet­ing stu­dios, led by ‘bunches of Jews.’” (Ibid. p. 51)

17. Enter Walt Dis­ney and Mickey Mouse (nee Steam­boat Willie), who were seen as the per­fect, “Chris­t­ian” anti­dote to the toxin of “amoral” Hol­ly­wood. “What Hol­ly­wood des­per­ately needed was a new hero who not only extolled the right virtues but under­stood what they were in the first place. What Hol­ly­wood got, as if on cue, was Walt Disney’s Steam­boat Willie, the per­fect non­sex­ual, apo­lit­i­cal movie star­ring a harm­less lit­tle talk­ing mouse who courted his sweet­heart by singing her a song. Overnight, every major stu­dio in Hol­ly­wood that had for the bet­ter part of a decade turned out the kind of lurid, vio­lent, sex­u­ally, sug­ges­tive flesh­pot films guar­an­teed to put money in their banks, was now eager to align itself with not only the very pop­u­lar, but now sud­denly polit­i­cally cor­rect, film­maker.” (Idem.)

18. Next, the pro­gram exam­ines alle­ga­tions of pre­war Nazi activ­ity on Disney’s part. As Eliot explains in his book, Dis­ney was the son of a Chris­t­ian evan­ge­list and was very anti-labor in his busi­ness deal­ings. (This was typ­i­cal of Hol­ly­wood stu­dio chiefs at the time.) These atti­tudes com­bined with resent­ment of the power of many of the Jew­ish Amer­i­can stu­dio heads. Per­haps because of these views, Dis­ney appar­ently began attend­ing Amer­i­can Nazi party meet­ings in the com­pany of Gun­ther Less­ing, Disney’s attor­ney and chief advi­sor on labor issues. “Dur­ing the time Dis­ney helped orga­nize the inde­pen­dent film­mak­ers against the industry’s main­stream, he also was accom­pa­ny­ing Less­ing to Amer­i­can Nazi party meet­ings and rallies.

19. “Accord­ing to [for­mer Dis­ney employee] Arthur Bab­bitt, ‘In the imme­di­ate years before we entered the war, there was a small but fiercely loyal, I sup­pose legal, fol­low­ing of the Nazi party. You could buy a copy of Mein Kampf on any news­stand in Hol­ly­wood. Nobody asked me to go to any meet­ings, but I did, out of curios­ity. They were open meet­ings, any­body could attend, and I wanted to see what was going on for myself.

‘On more than one occa­sion I observed Walt Dis­ney and Gun­ther Less­ing there, along with a lot of other promi­nent Nazi-afflicted [sic] Hol­ly­wood per­son­al­i­ties. Dis­ney was going to meet­ings all the time. I was invited to the homes of sev­eral promi­nent actors and musi­cians, all of whom were actively work­ing for the Amer­i­can Nazi party. I told a girl­friend of mine who was an edi­tor at the time with Coro­net mag­a­zine who encour­aged me to write down what I observed. She had some con­nec­tions to the FBI and turned in my reports.’

20. “If Dis­ney and Less­ing were sym­pa­thetic to the Amer­i­can Nazi move­ment, their inter­est was most likely moti­vated by the desire to regain favor with the once-lucrative, Nazi-occupied coun­tries where Dis­ney films were now banned. To that end Walt was also com­mit­ted to the ‘Amer­ica First’ move­ment and became one of Hollywood’s most active pre­war iso­la­tion­ists. Under Lessing’s tute­lage, Dis­ney dis­cov­ered how the pas­sions and power of polit­i­cal activism could be used as weapons for per­sonal gain. And later on, for revenge.” (Ibid.; pp. 120–121.)

21. In a foot­note to the above pas­sage Eliot adds, “In her mem­oirs, Ger­man film­maker Leni Riefen­stahl claims that after Kristall­nacht she approached every stu­dio in Hol­ly­wood look­ing for work. No stu­dio head would even screen her movies except Walt Dis­ney. He told her that he admired her work but if it became known that he was con­sid­er­ing her, it would dam­age his rep­u­ta­tion.” (Ibid.; p. 121.)

22. Well before the end of World War II, Dis­ney was instru­men­tal in bring­ing gov­ern­men­tal inves­ti­ga­tors into his anti-Communist activities.

23. After ini­ti­at­ing a Cal­i­for­nia leg­isla­tive inves­ti­ga­tion of Hol­ly­wood labor activist Herb Sor­rell (a per­sonal and pro­fes­sional enemy of Disney’s), Dis­ney acted as vice-president of the Motion Pic­ture Asso­ci­a­tion to cause the House Un-American Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee to upgrade its puta­tive pres­ence in Hol­ly­wood. “Dis­ney was instru­men­tal in point­ing the orga­ni­za­tion [HUAC] in the direc­tion of its first ‘Com­mu­nist rad­i­cal crack­pot,’ Herb Sor­rell. This wasn’t the first time Dis­ney had gone after Sor­rell. Early in 1942, after his suc­cess with the Car­toon­ists Guild, Sor­rell had founded the Con­fer­ence of Stu­dio Unions. . .

“As far as Dis­ney was con­cerned, the CSU was all part of the same Com­mu­nist con­spir­acy that had struck his stu­dio and con­tin­ued to threaten all of Hol­ly­wood. As early as Octo­ber 1941, barely a month after the stu­dio strike ended, Dis­ney had con­tacted Jack Ten­ney, chair­man of the newly formed Joint Fact-Finding Com­mit­tee on Un-American Activ­i­ties of the Cal­i­for­nia Leg­is­la­ture and urged him to go after the strik­ers. After turn­ing over all the pho­tos taken dur­ing the walk­out, he urged Ten­ney to launch an inves­ti­ga­tion of ‘Reds in movies.’ Ten­ney took his cue from Dis­ney and did just that. The first wit­ness he called was Herb Sorrell.

24. “Although the Ten­ney com­mit­tee was unable to prove a con­nec­tion between Sorrell’s union activ­i­ties and the Com­mu­nist party, the hear­ings nev­er­the­less chilled Hollywood’s lib­eral left, who saw the actions of the Ten­ney com­mit­tee as a first dan­ger­ous step in the revival of the government’s belief that the enter­tain­ment indus­try was indeed an enclave of com­mu­nism.” (Ibid.; p.172.)

25. As indi­cated pre­vi­ously, Dis­ney played a piv­otal role in help­ing to focus the atten­tion of HUAC on the motion pic­ture indus­try. “One of Disney’s first offi­cial duties as vice-president of the MPA was to send a let­ter to an arch-conservative U.S. Sen­a­tor, Robert R. Reynolds (D-North Car­olina), dated March 7, 1944, urg­ing HUAC to inten­sify its pres­ence in Hol­ly­wood. Walt wanted a fell con­gres­sional inves­ti­ga­tion regard­ing the infil­tra­tion of com­mu­nism into the film com­mu­nity, for the ‘fla­grant man­ner in which the motion pic­ture indus­tri­al­ists of Hol­ly­wood have been cod­dling Com­mu­nists and totalitarian-minded groups work­ing in the indus­try for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of un-American ideas and beliefs.’ In a move rem­i­nis­cent of the tac­tics of the anony­mous anti­strike Com­mit­tee of 21, the only offi­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that appeared on the let­ter was ‘A group of your friends.’”

26. “The imme­di­ate result of that let­ter was the arrival in Hol­ly­wood ten days later, of William Wheeler, a HUAC rep­re­sen­ta­tive, to begin yet another inves­ti­ga­tion of Sor­rell, his Con­fer­ence of Stu­dio Unions, and their pos­si­ble link to the Com­mu­nist party. The stu­dios hap­pily opened their doors to HUAC, and the com­mit­tee took the oppor­tu­nity to expand its inves­ti­ga­tion into every branch of the film industry’s working-class pop­u­la­tion that had sought affil­i­a­tion with any union or guild dur­ing the past decade.”

27. “HUAC, with the full sup­port of the FBI, this time sub­poe­naed every­one sus­pected of hav­ing any sub­ver­sive, or merely sus­pi­cious affil­i­a­tions in their back­ground. Vir­tu­ally no one with any evi­dence of lib­eral lean­ings escaped being sum­moned before the com­mit­tee.” (Ibid.; p. 173.)

28. Dis­ney worked with Roy Brewer, who became head of the IATSE (the mob-dominated Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of The­atri­cal and Stage Employ­ees). In that capac­ity, Brewer encour­aged Dis­ney to main­tain a posi­tion of intran­si­gence toward his car­toon­ists’ demands, so that the IATSE could co-opt their loy­alty from the Car­toon­ists Guild. Eliot describes the close coop­er­a­tion between Brewer, Dis­ney and HUAC.
“Pri­vately, Roy Brewer, who had replaced Willie Bioff as the head of the Hol­ly­wood branch of IATSE, told Dis­ney a new strike would give IATSE the oppor­tu­nity to play hero by regain­ing the car­toon­ists’ lost jobs, and along with them their loy­alty.
“The first night after the lay­offs, Dis­ney met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Guild and found them more amenable than he had expected or hoped. Sor­rell, who believed Dis­ney was try­ing to pull the Guild into another strike, was deter­mined to reach a set­tle­ment. Sor­rell set­tled for the rehir­ing of only 94 of the laid-off car­toon­ists and two weeks’ sev­er­ance for the other 215. The remain­ing cler­i­cal and main­te­nance work­ers received noth­ing. Dis­ney viewed these con­ces­sions as a total victory.

29. “With­out los­ing a sin­gle day of pro­duc­tion, Dis­ney had won a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion of his staff and pay­roll and severely weak­ened the Car­toon­ists Guild’s abil­ity to dic­tate stu­dio pol­icy. Walt then promised Brewer com­plete coop­er­a­tion in help­ing to rid the indus­try per­ma­nently of Sor­rell and his fel­low insurgents.

30. “That oppor­tu­nity came in Novem­ber 1947, with the com­mence­ment of HUAC’s next series of inves­ti­ga­tions into the enter­tain­ment indus­try. Now under the chair­man­ship of J. Par­nell Thomas, a noto­ri­ously anti-labor con­gress­man, HUAC received the warm endorse­ment of IATSE, the Amer­i­can Legion, and the Catholic Church and the full coop­er­a­tion of Hollywood’s stu­dios. A group of left-wing writ­ers, which came to be known as the ‘Hol­ly­wood Ten,’ sym­bol­ized the relent­lessly per­se­cu­tory actions of Thomas’s inves­ti­ga­tion. The Ten were deemed ‘unfriendly’ wit­nesses after each cited his right under the First Amend­ment to refuse to respond to the most famous ques­tion of the era: Are you now, or have you ever been, a mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist party? All ten were imme­di­ately black­listed, their careers shat­tered, and their lives dis­rupted by jail sen­tences for contempt.

31. “HUAC’s inves­ti­ga­tion, the head of the Hol­ly­wood branch of IATSE sent let­ters to every major indus­try fig­ure, on-screen tal­ent and off-, warm­ing that if they didn’t now declare their open sup­port for IATSE, they would be con­sid­ered ene­mies of the Hol­ly­wood estab­lish­ment. He warned that fail­ure to sup­port IATSE would make them sub­ject not only to indus­try boy­cott, that is, inclu­sion on the black­list, but inves­ti­ga­tion by Thomas’s HUAC.” (Ibid. pp. 188–189)

32. Eliot writes that, even­tu­ally, many Hol­ly­wood labor lead­ers went with the polit­i­cal tides that were flow­ing through the coun­try, and that Dis­ney had begun an active col­lab­o­ra­tion as an FBI infor­mant. “By May 1947, the mere receipt of a HUAC sub­poena implied Com­mu­nist affil­i­a­tion, and inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI’s ‘com­pic’ (Com­mu­nist pic­tures) team of Hollywood-based inform­ers, in which Walt was by now an active par­tic­i­pant. Among the first to capit­u­late to the specter of HUAC and Brewer’s black­list were the lead­ers of the Screen Actors Guild, one­time lib­eral Roo­sevelt sup­porter Ronald Rea­gan and song-and-dance-man George Mur­phy, who hastily con­vinced their mem­ber­ship to reject Sor­rell and the CSU in favor of IATSE.” (Ibid.; p. 191.)

33. Even­tu­ally, Rea­gan and Brewer were to team up again, after Rea­gan became Pres­i­dent. “Accord­ing to Dan Moldea, in Dark Vic­tory, pp. 65–69, 332: ‘Instead of try­ing to rid the union of its gang­ster image and all rem­nants of mob con­trol, Brewer was obsessed with elim­i­nat­ing the ‘Com­mu­nist Influ­ence’ within the union and the movie indus­try in gen­eral. ‘When Browne [and Bioff] went to jail,’ Brewer insisted, ‘that ended any con­nec­tion with the mob in IATSE . . . the truth is, [the Com­mu­nists] had this town in the palm of their hands, and they were call­ing the shots.’ Brewer was appointed by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan in 1984 as chair­man of the Fed­eral Ser­vice Impasse Panel, which arbi­trated dis­putes between fed­eral agen­cies and the unions rep­re­sent­ing fed­eral work­ers.’” (Ibid.; p. 188.)

34. Dur­ing the course of the HUAC hear­ings, Disney’s per­sonal tes­ti­mony lent con­sid­er­able momen­tum to the pro­ceed­ings. “Disney’s tes­ti­mony helped strengthen Brewer’s industry-wide black­list. The mere whis­per of a name was enough to elim­i­nate some­one from con­sid­er­a­tion for a job. Because no proof was required, nor any defense short of con­fes­sion accept­able, the assump­tion of guilt until proven inno­cent replaced the con­sti­tu­tional rights of every­one accused, and plunged Amer­ica into one of its dark­est polit­i­cal peri­ods.” (Ibid.; p. 196.)

35. Eliot chron­i­cles the destruc­tion that the black­list brought to the pro­fes­sional lives of those affected. One of the most famous film per­son­al­i­ties to fall vic­tim to the anti-Communist witch hunts was Char­lie Chaplin.

36. “Of those most directly affected by the black­list, some, like the Hol­ly­wood Ten, served time in fed­eral prison on con­tempt charges. Oth­ers, includ­ing actor John Garfield, died pre­ma­turely. Like Sor­rell, Garfield suf­fered a fatal heart attack while still in his late thir­ties. Still oth­ers, like vet­eran actor Philip Loeb, grew despon­dent and, their pro­fes­sional lives shat­tered, com­mit­ted suicide.

“And still oth­ers, like Char­lie Chap­lin, were lit­er­ally exiled. Long a thorn in the side of con­ser­v­a­tive Hol­ly­wood, Chap­lin had been immune to the pow­ers of the indus­try because he him­self was one. After amass­ing a for­tune for his work in silent films and his par­tic­i­pa­tion in form­ing United Artists, he began his own studio.

“Through­out the thir­ties, up to and includ­ing The Great Dic­ta­tor, he made highly enter­tain­ing movies infused with pop­ulism. His active cam­paign for a sec­ond front against the Axis pow­ers dur­ing World War II and his pleas for the cur­tail­ment of anti­com­mu­nist pro­pa­ganda angered Dis­ney, who had once so idol­ized Chaplin.

“Chaplin’s actions also angered HUAC. After three post­pone­ments of his sub­poe­naed tes­ti­mony he sent HUAC a telegram in which he stated that ‘I am not a Com­mu­nist; nei­ther have I ever joined a polit­i­cal party or orga­ni­za­tion in my life.’ Although HUAC was appar­ently sat­is­fied by his response and wrote back that his appear­ance was no longer nec­es­sary, the mat­ter was far from closed. Chap­lin, who was British, had never applied for U.S. cit­i­zen­ship. In 1952, at the height of the black­list era, while Chap­lin was on a six-month tout of Eng­land and Europe, the Immi­gra­tion and Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Ser­vice barred his return to the United States under a code deny­ing an alien entry on grounds of morals or Com­mu­nist affil­i­a­tion. Chap­lin vowed never to set foot in Amer­ica again and blocked state­side show­ings of most of his fea­ture films.

37. “Thus ended the Hol­ly­wood career of per­haps the great­est sin­gle tal­ent the world of film had ever pro­duced. Although Walt declined to com­ment pub­licly on the mat­ter of Chaplin’s exile, in pri­vate he told one of his ‘Nine Old Men’ stu­dio loy­al­ists that the coun­try was bet­ter off with­out ‘the lit­tle Com­mie.’” (Ibid.; pp. 196–197.)

38. Even­tu­ally, Dis­ney was pro­moted by the FBI to the posi­tion of Spe­cial Agent in Charge con­tact, which enhanced his polit­i­cal power against his pro­fes­sional asso­ciates. The bureau’s was seek­ing an insider to pro­vide them with infor­ma­tion about the nascent tele­vi­sion indus­try, and felt that Dis­ney (a trusted oper­a­tive in the past) would fill the bill.

39. “Next to that report was a let­ter he had received from J. Edgar Hoover, the con­tents of which meant as much to him as the finan­cial report. In his let­ter Hoover informed Walt he had been offi­cially pro­moted to the posi­tion of Spe­cial Agent in Charge contact.

40. “Here is the con­fi­den­tial 1954 FBI inter-office memo that describes the pro­mo­tion: ‘Mr. Walt Dis­ney is the Vice-President in charge of pro­duc­tion and the founder of Walt Dis­ney Pro­duc­tions, Inc., 2400 West Alameda Street, Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia. Mr. Dis­ney is extremely promi­nent in the motion pic­ture indus­try and his com­pany is the fore­most orga­ni­za­tion in the pro­duc­tion of car­toons.’ Mr. Dis­ney has recently estab­lished a busi­ness asso­ci­a­tion with the Amer­i­can Broad­cast­ing Com­pany . . . for the pro­duc­tion of a series of tele­vi­sion show, which for the most part are sched­uled to be filmed at Dis­ney­land, a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar amuse­ment park being estab­lished under Mr. Disney’s direc­tion in the vicin­ity of Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia. Mr. Dis­ney has vol­un­teered rep­re­sen­ta­tives of this office com­plete access to the facil­i­ties of Dis­ney­land for use in con­nec­tion with offi­cial mat­ters and for recre­ational purposes. . . .

‘Because of Mr. Disney’s posi­tion as the fore­most pro­ducer of car­toon films in the motion pic­ture indus­try and his promi­nence and wide acquain­tance­ship in film pro­duc­tion mat­ters, it is believed that he can be of valu­able assis­tance to this office and there­fore it is my rec­om­men­da­tion that he be approved as a Spe­cial Agent in Charge (SAC) contact.’

41. “Being made an offi­cial SAC con­tact pleased Walt greatly, because it meant that in addi­tion to con­tin­u­ing to sup­ply his data to the bureau, other infor­mants could now sup­ply reports to him. It was Hoover’s Christ­mas present to Walt, the tim­ing of which was no acci­dent. Hoover, as he implied in his direc­tive, wanted to cap­i­tal­ize on Disney’s involve­ment with net­work tele­vi­sion. The FBI had thus far been unable to pen­e­trate the mid­dle ech­e­lon of the new medium’s power loop. What the Bureau wanted was some­one it could trust on the inside. As far as J. Edgar Hoover was con­cerned, the man most qual­i­fied for that assign­ment was the Bureau’s proven Hol­ly­wood vet­eran, the man every­one, includ­ing the head of the FBI, called ‘Uncle Walt.’” (Ibid.; pp. 224–225.)

42. Even­tu­ally, Dis­ney him­self came under sus­pi­cion, iron­i­cally enough, as the result of his hav­ing attended a memo­r­ial ser­vice on whose guests he reported to the FBI. “That same year, 1956, Disney’s rela­tion­ship with the FBI took an unex­pected turn. It was a bizarre episode that demon­strated the spread­ing infec­tion of polit­i­cal para­noia. The FBI had begun to ques­tion the alle­giance, patri­o­tism, and loy­alty of one of its own, most revered, and pre­sum­ably immune operatives.

‘The trou­ble began early in the year, in Jan­u­ary, when Dis­ney sent pro­ducer Jerry Sims to Wash­ing­ton to final­ize plans with the Bureau for a two-minute ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ news­reel of a group of chil­dren tour­ing the Bureau’s D.C. head­quar­ters. Sims sub­mit­ted a pre­lim­i­nary script to an FBI agent iden­ti­fied as Kem­per, who duti­fully passed it on to Lou Nichols, the Bureau’s head of pub­lic rela­tions. Nichols reviewed the mate­r­ial and ini­tially approved the ven­ture. How­ever a week later he appar­ently changed his mind when he returned Kemper’s report with a mes­sage scrawled in ink across the bot­tom that read “i don’t think we should.” Kem­per then called Sims and told him the bureau would be unable to assist on the project.

“When Walt received news of the FBI’s turn­down he phoned Hoover to find out why. Hoover told Dis­ney he would per­son­ally look into the sit­u­a­tion and ask his close friend Clyde Tol­son, the Bureau’s assis­tant direc­tor and sec­ond to com­mand, to inves­ti­gate the mat­ter. Tol­son ordered a com­plete review of what had now become in FBI head­quar­ters as the ‘Dis­ney Sit­u­a­tion,’ after which he reaf­firmed Nichols’s deci­sion not to coop­er­ate with Dis­ney.” (Ibid.; pp.238–239.)

43. “The unsigned memo was prob­a­bly requested by Hoover. Incred­i­bly, some mid-level bureau­crat, unaware of Disney’s sta­tus within the FBI, had turned up what he believed was infor­ma­tion that linked Walt Dis­ney to sub­ver­sive Com­mu­nist orga­ni­za­tions and activ­i­ties in the early for­ties. Even more aston­ish­ing, of the two ‘inci­dents’ cited, the first, the ‘Coun­cil for Pan-American Democ­racy’ had been attended by Dis­ney as an under­cover spy for the FBI, either by his own ini­tia­tive or at the Bureau’s direc­tive, after which he sup­plied a detailed report to his Los Ange­les SAC. As for the ‘trib­ute’ to Art Young, Dis­ney had never made a secret of his admi­ra­tion for the renowned artist’s work, and upon Young’s untimely death in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent, Walt attended a pub­lic memo­r­ial, made a small dona­tion to a memo­r­ial fund for Young’s fam­ily, and filed a com­plete report about who else attended the trib­ute to his SAC. Some­how, the FBI had con­strued from these two inci­dents that Walt’s polit­i­cal loy­al­ties were ques­tion­able. They did so in spite of his offi­cial SAC sta­tus and long his­tory of inform­ing, his anti­com­mu­nist activ­i­ties, his gov­ern­ment con­tracts, his involve­ment with the Hol­ly­wood Alliance, his friendly tes­ti­mony before HUAC (which he had been instru­men­tal In bring­ing to Hol­ly­wood), and his active sup­port of the blacklist.”

44. “When Hoover finally read the memo, he was aghast and imme­di­ately approved the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ seg­ment.” (Ibid.; p. 241.)

See also; RFAs 2, 37. (Recorded on 5/10/2001.)



2 Responses

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  1. Rob said, on 04/06/2011 at 23:10

    So, in essence, this is saying that facing lewd, corrupt and unethical business practices from Jews, people who want to preserve morals of the society turn to Nazi doctrine ?

    I guess we are still a vastly immoral society…

  2. […] you can check for more quotes from the book here:  https://ce399fascism.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/walt-disney-nazi-sympathizer-spitefire-ftr-301/ […]

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