Shocking Things That Prove Walt Disney Was Actually a Horrible Person

Chances are, you remember the first Disney movie you ever watched as a kid. Or you can still recall bits and pieces of your first trip to a Disney theme park. Some of Walt Disney’s greatest animated films were based on much darker fairy tales, but the filmmaker himself had an equally dark history to match.

He may have been a little bit racist (page 3), yet he still managed to set the bar for all future animated feature films and their creators. Here’s why your favorite Disney classics have a much darker backstory than you probably wanted to know.

Walt Disney refused to hire women

Night shot of Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasyland

The world of Disney wasn’t always open to women. | iStock.com/moophoto

He apparently replied to an aspiring female animator in a letter saying he wouldn’t hire her because he didn’t believe women should do that sort of job. With this information, also consider that in 1938 there were a lot of jobs men thought women weren’t suited for. But he could have hired her anyway.

Next: You were lucky to keep your job if you worked for him.

He frequently fired his animators

American animator and director Walt Disney

He burned bridges with many of his former animators. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At one point, his animators went on strike because of pay disparities — and many of them never got the checks they thought they deserved. He cycled through many staff members so frequently that a bunch of them came together to start a rival company.

Next: Disney may have had some interesting opinions about other races.

He was (maybe) super racist

Black and white photo of Walt Disney

Walt Disney pushed racist stereotypes in early films. | R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images

Some claim that Disney’s questionable portrayal of black stereotypes in his early films echoed his real-life racist attitude. Though sources can’t confirm whether his views did go to that extreme, it’s important to remember the era in which the filmmaker grew up.

By today’s standards, it might seem he was. But Disney also hired his studio’s first African-American animator in the late 1950s. His views may have progressed as time did.

Next: Was Disney anti-Semitic?

He attended pro-Nazi organization meetings

Disney park

Why was he at pro-Nazi meetings? | Keystone/Getty Images

Looking back, many question Disney’s political loyalties in the time preceding and during World War II. Some say he may have been a Nazi sympathizer, attending meetings of the American Nazi Party on more than one occasion, though it’s never been confirmed exactly why he was there.

Next: He may have been an expert micromanager.

He was a major ‘control freak’

Creator of Mickey Mouse Walt Disney (1901-1966) arrives in London

He hated giving up control of anything. | Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

People who knew Disney personally and professionally claimed he had a difficult time giving up control of his film projects. Some said it was because he was hyper-focused on making his films as good as he believed they could be. But he didn’t always give credit where credit was definitely due.

Next: He lost many staff members because of this “bad habit.”

He took most of the credit for his studio’s early films

American animator and producer Walt Disney with one of his creations Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney took most of the credit for the company’s creations. | General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Walt Disney won more Academy Awards and received more Oscar nominations than any other person in history, but his fellow creators weren’t always pleased. He had a habit of not bothering to acknowledge their contributions when accepting the awards.

Next: This may be why Disney wasn’t considered a great guy.

He didn’t have the best role model growing up

The family theme park came from a man who had a traumatic childhood. | Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Images

Despite creating an entire family theme park, Walt Disney might not have had the happiest family himself. He had a rough childhood, living under the same roof as an abusive, neglectful parent. This likely didn’t help when it came time to raise his own children — or in interacting with his employees.

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