Favorite

Disney in full 

A local writer delivers the comprehensive biography on Walt Disney.

07books-lead-art.jpg

The first thing you notice about Michael Barrier’s “The Animated Man: The Life of Walt Disney” is the comprehensive research. Barrier, who lives in Little Rock, began interviewing subjects in 1969, two-and-a-half years after Disney died, and interviewed more than 150 people before he was through. Many of the interviewees have since died. To preserve their memories of a giant of popular culture is a public service.

In spite of his huge impact on American life, still felt today, Disney has remained a distant, even mysterious, figure to most of the public. Those who are old enough can vaguely remember a smiling, avuncular fellow on the early Disney TV show, but that was hardly the real Disney, according to people who knew him. The real Disney worked, dreamed and fretted over his reach exceeding his grasp, they say. He seldom smiled.

But it’s not that the man who made children laugh was himself deeply unhappy, or that he was hiding dark secrets, as some would have it. There’s no scandal here. It appears that Disney’s chief sins were smoking, swearing and, sometimes, being mean to his employees. Millions of American men were equally guilty, and they weren’t making “Snow White.”

An interesting subject, somewhat illuminated, and writing that’s smooth enough so that reading it isn’t drudgery, are about as much as can be expected of a biography. Barrier passes the tests. There’s more here about the process of creating animated cartoons than the general reader will want to know, but those parts can be skipped through easily.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Books

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation