DISNEY'S WORLD by Leonard Mosley
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Hollywood insiders have contended for years that Walt Disney identified himself with his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse. If Mosley's revelations are to be believed--and there's no reason why they shouldn't be--a more likely role model was the Wicked Witch. Megalomaniacal, bigoted, vindictive and tyrannical around the studio, moody and undemonstrative at home, Disney was nevertheless perceived, thanks to a public relations campaign of Dumbo-esque proportions, as a good-natured and benevolent ""uncle"" by millions of Americans. As the author points out in his Acknowledgments, it was this official version of Disney as demigod that first aroused his interest (and suspicions). How this deception was maintained over the years is just one of the fascinating stories in Morley's no-holds-barred biography. Not that Mosley has produced a sensationalized account of Disney's life; his understanding of, if not exactly sympathy for, his subject is evident throughout the work. That Disney was a kind of genius is never questioned. His ability to inspire extraordinary loyalty from his overworked and underpaid employees through the brilliance and innovativeness of his concepts is mentioned again and again. At the same time, Disney's single-minded search for perfection, coupled with his penny-pinching and his pathological refusal to acknowledge the contributions of others to his success, brought him into constant conflict with his colleagues--his brother Roy; Ub Iwerks, his first partner; Art Babbitt, who led a strike against the Disney Studio in 1941 and was never forgiven; even the women in the inking department of the studio who, Disney felt, ate too many cookies during their morning coffee breaks. As his health declined and his drinking increased toward the end of his life, Disney became a pathetic figure, isolated and feared, a victim of his own demons and the image that he and others had created. Mosley's book is a clear-eyed and generous portrait of a man seemingly unable to express human feeling who nonetheless created an aura of enchantment that has captivated the world's senses for over half a century. Although Walt himself would undoubtedly sail into a rage over Disney's World, it is, from a more objective view, a fitting testimonial to an enormously flawed but ultimately forgivable creative genius.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Stein & Day