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Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince : a Biography

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A creative genius, Walt Disney's films and characters brought love and laughter to children everywhere and inspired the great Disney theme parks. Now Marc Eliot presents the dark side of Walt Disney, revealing his 25 year association with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI as an informant, rooting out Communists, subversives and Jews. His phobic behaviour is also examined in detail, as A creative genius, Walt Disney's films and characters brought love and laughter to children everywhere and inspired the great Disney theme parks. Now Marc Eliot presents the dark side of Walt Disney, revealing his 25 year association with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI as an informant, rooting out Communists, subversives and Jews. His phobic behaviour is also examined in detail, as is his obsessive hand-washing, heavy drinking, sexual inadequacies, anti-Semitism and paranoia about having been adopted. Marc Eliot shows how these psycho-sexual conflicts drove Walt to despair and how they found expression in his animated characters.


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A creative genius, Walt Disney's films and characters brought love and laughter to children everywhere and inspired the great Disney theme parks. Now Marc Eliot presents the dark side of Walt Disney, revealing his 25 year association with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI as an informant, rooting out Communists, subversives and Jews. His phobic behaviour is also examined in detail, as A creative genius, Walt Disney's films and characters brought love and laughter to children everywhere and inspired the great Disney theme parks. Now Marc Eliot presents the dark side of Walt Disney, revealing his 25 year association with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI as an informant, rooting out Communists, subversives and Jews. His phobic behaviour is also examined in detail, as is his obsessive hand-washing, heavy drinking, sexual inadequacies, anti-Semitism and paranoia about having been adopted. Marc Eliot shows how these psycho-sexual conflicts drove Walt to despair and how they found expression in his animated characters.

30 review for Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince : a Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Wictor

    I wasn't surprised to learn of Walt's unsavory side. He had that Midwestern male's defecacentric mindset. Everything always led back to toilets and rear ends. Look at Disney cartoons. They're a carnival of butt-celebration on a par with...Brazil's Carnaval. Disney cartoons always gave me headaches. I wasn't surprised to learn of Walt's unsavory side. He had that Midwestern male's defecacentric mindset. Everything always led back to toilets and rear ends. Look at Disney cartoons. They're a carnival of butt-celebration on a par with...Brazil's Carnaval. Disney cartoons always gave me headaches.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Wilson

    Entertaining, but ultimately disappointing biography of an obviously flawed man. The description promised intrigues into Disney's sexual inadequacies, but was rather disappointing in that regard. The book also relies far too much on the testimonies of disgruntled former employees, who spread incorrect rumors like Disney wearing a Goldwater button when presented with a Medal of Freedom by LBJ (which is false). The book should have featured more details on Disney's ratting out animators to HUAC to Entertaining, but ultimately disappointing biography of an obviously flawed man. The description promised intrigues into Disney's sexual inadequacies, but was rather disappointing in that regard. The book also relies far too much on the testimonies of disgruntled former employees, who spread incorrect rumors like Disney wearing a Goldwater button when presented with a Medal of Freedom by LBJ (which is false). The book should have featured more details on Disney's ratting out animators to HUAC to retaliate against union agitators, which is the REAL reason Disney was a "dark prince" in Hollywood. The book does, however, feature one of the most amusing anecdotes I've read in a long time... "For the film's (Pinocchio) New York premiere, Walt hired eleven midgets dressed in Pinocchio outfits and ordered them to frisk about on the roof of the theater marquee. At lunchtime, food and refreshments were passed up to them, including, without Disney's knowledge, a couple of quarts of liquor. By three o'clock that afternoon things got so out of hand an amused crowd was regaled by the spectacle of eleven stark-naked midgets belching noisily and enjoying a crap game atop the Broadway marquee. Police with ladders were called to remove them in pillowcases. Walt decided not to duplicate these festivities in other cities."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lorianne

    I wanted to read a Disney bio and found this one first. I guess the title should have tipped me off better because it was a completely slanted view of the man. Everyone has their weaknesses but this author seemed to glory in highlighting Disney's failings and heavily downplay his good. I stopped reading half way when it just became too much and switched to Leonard Mosley's biography which was much better. I wanted to read a Disney bio and found this one first. I guess the title should have tipped me off better because it was a completely slanted view of the man. Everyone has their weaknesses but this author seemed to glory in highlighting Disney's failings and heavily downplay his good. I stopped reading half way when it just became too much and switched to Leonard Mosley's biography which was much better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Montgolfier

    Marc Eliot has, as any good biographer would, done extensive research into the life of America's epitomized family man. And, what he found was not pretty. I feel that this book is both wildly underrated and unfortunately under-read. Eliot offers us an alternative to the reality that us Americans grew up with, a reality that allows for only one possibility: Disney is great, Disney is good. We have been duped into believing that this man was a loving, fatherly, genius that was more patriotic and m Marc Eliot has, as any good biographer would, done extensive research into the life of America's epitomized family man. And, what he found was not pretty. I feel that this book is both wildly underrated and unfortunately under-read. Eliot offers us an alternative to the reality that us Americans grew up with, a reality that allows for only one possibility: Disney is great, Disney is good. We have been duped into believing that this man was a loving, fatherly, genius that was more patriotic and more committed to the American family than any president has ever been. But, what we need to take into consideration is that everybody has their faults, even the voice of America's favorite mouse. I think that everyone would do well to at least read the Author's opening note, which sums up the arguments that he presents in his text. Not only does the biography reveal the darker side of Walt, it unearths the shadows that Hollywood's historians have been hiding for decades, including McCarthyism, anti-semitism, mob ties, and the exploitation of both the average cartoonist and the average cartoon producer. .

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    News flash: His head is NOT frozen for future thaw.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt Midlock

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. You would have to be naive to think Walt Disney was as perfect as his portrayal over the years. Any man in Hollywood with that much power had to have a dark side. This book tells Walt's story along with all the dark stuff we all want to hear. I don't feel like it sensationalized anything, just told it like it was - warts and all. Overall a very interesting, readable and fascinating book. You would have to be naive to think Walt Disney was as perfect as his portrayal over the years. Any man in Hollywood with that much power had to have a dark side. This book tells Walt's story along with all the dark stuff we all want to hear. I don't feel like it sensationalized anything, just told it like it was - warts and all. Overall a very interesting, readable and fascinating book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Keith Flint

    More a balanced biography than a conspiracy narrative, Eliot describes Walt's triumphs and periods of despair. Disney is portrayed not as a mythical figure, but a real person who rose to great success while overcoming constant struggle. More a balanced biography than a conspiracy narrative, Eliot describes Walt's triumphs and periods of despair. Disney is portrayed not as a mythical figure, but a real person who rose to great success while overcoming constant struggle.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David McClendon, Sr

    This book paints a picture of Walt Disney that we seldom see. The book is not “anti-Disney” as might be expected. It just shows us some things that we would not normally know about. For instance, Walt was a Special Agent in Charge for the F.B.I. according to the book. Walt fought many demons like the question of his parentage. Was he adopted or was he actually the child of the people who raised him? No records exist one way or the other. Disney had many battles along the way with studio heads, fi This book paints a picture of Walt Disney that we seldom see. The book is not “anti-Disney” as might be expected. It just shows us some things that we would not normally know about. For instance, Walt was a Special Agent in Charge for the F.B.I. according to the book. Walt fought many demons like the question of his parentage. Was he adopted or was he actually the child of the people who raised him? No records exist one way or the other. Disney had many battles along the way with studio heads, financiers, investors, Roy and others. There is also an allusion to the idea that he may have been inappropriate with his adopted daughter when she was a teenager while he and she took a trip to the artic together without his wife. The book was interesting, but I am not sure I put too much faith in all that it says. Book Review Policy My policy on book reviews is to give you my honest opinion of the book. From time to time publishers will give me a copy of their book for free for the purpose of me reading the book and writing a review. The publishers understand when they give me the book that I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you will look at all my reviews, you will see that there have been occasions when I have written a negative review after having been given a book. I often provide links to books on Amazon.com where you can purchase books and help support the continued operation of this blog. However, I strongly encourage you to check out your local library. Many libraries now offer electronic borrowing for free. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 I obtained this book from the publisher, Insert name of publisher here. This did not influence my opinion or review in anyway. I purchased this book through Friends of the Library. Contact your local library and find out what excellent deals they offer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    After reading the sanitized biographies of Disney, I knew this one would have all the speculative dirt the others omitted. Granted, we all have dirt in our lives, just how much of it is true is as good a guess as anyone reading any of the celebrity gossip magazines. The research was good and the observations candid without always being conclusive. It leaves you knowing less than the whole, but no one can no anyone wholly, can they?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Petlak

    As a huge Disney fan, I enjoyed reading this book. It showed me a different side of Walt. I ran through emotions of anger and hatred at the things Walt did to his employees and was intrigued at the process and time scheme of how things happened. I wish there were more books about this side of Walt, except for what the Disney Archives chooses to release. I now have mixed feelings about Walt Disney, but Still Love Everything Disney. Worth the read, weather you end up liking/believing any of it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Can you give negative stars to books? This book is terrible.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    A completely erroneous account of Walt Disney's life. A completely erroneous account of Walt Disney's life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Much of this book is truly a stretch. Although much of the biography about Walt Disney out there is well polished to project the image of Uncle Walt, this book disregards any forgivingness to being a product of the times, or any of Walt's true virtues. It felt unresearched and not well put together. It is obvious that the author had lost the pixie dust and realized that Disney was human and had flaws- like they had been duped and wanted to raise the veil for others. Perhaps, I simply had know a Much of this book is truly a stretch. Although much of the biography about Walt Disney out there is well polished to project the image of Uncle Walt, this book disregards any forgivingness to being a product of the times, or any of Walt's true virtues. It felt unresearched and not well put together. It is obvious that the author had lost the pixie dust and realized that Disney was human and had flaws- like they had been duped and wanted to raise the veil for others. Perhaps, I simply had know a bit of the information that was in here and had even seen it put into context better in other volumes. The author often repeated the exact sentence in other chapters of the book. One thing they seemingly could not get over that seemed unsubstantiated and honestly not that surprising, and the only thing in the book that became memorable: Walt Disney dipped donuts in whiskey.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    As an avid lover of all things Disney I was hesitant about reading this book. In all honesty my boyfriend bought it thinking it was an ordinary bio, no reading the Dark Prince cover. I began the book and was hooked. I enjoyed learning about the ups and downs, the brights and darks of his past. It was well written. Walt was human like the rest of us.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jon Shai

    A fairly good brief biography. I believe the book failed to give both sides of an argument sometimes not acknowledging that there was in fact an explanation or secondary view of his actions and feelings.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    An intriguing insight into the character of a well-known name.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James

    Good Read. Well documented facts. Tells a different side to Walt Disney. Highly recommend

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I guess that I was expecting a book bashing Walt Disney because of the use of "Dark Prince" in the title...so I was surprised that I didn't find too much bashing about Walt Disney. This biography painted Walt Disney as a creative human being, with emotions ranging from joy and wonderment to dark and gloomy. "Uncle Walt" was mischievous, hard-headed, opinionated, passionate, and more. He was a creative genius and had multiple visions on his direction in life. This book detailed the working relati I guess that I was expecting a book bashing Walt Disney because of the use of "Dark Prince" in the title...so I was surprised that I didn't find too much bashing about Walt Disney. This biography painted Walt Disney as a creative human being, with emotions ranging from joy and wonderment to dark and gloomy. "Uncle Walt" was mischievous, hard-headed, opinionated, passionate, and more. He was a creative genius and had multiple visions on his direction in life. This book detailed the working relationships with Walt - the feeling of desertion of "family" when the workers went on strike, how mercurial Walt could be during the working process, the feelings that Walt took all the credit. Most of the book dealt with events that are rather common knowledge and discussed in the other Disney biographies that I read (even though I only read 2). The surprising note was Disney's employment as a Special Agent in Charge (SAC). This detail is probably what made this book include the title "Dark Prince" - that Walt Disney was really a spy of a sort. Either way, this book did not change my overall attitude about Disney. It did open my eyes to acknowledge that Walt Disney was a human being so he wasn't without any faults. But, his legacy of Disneyland, DisneyWorld, and all of the Disney movies/products/projects will continue on and began with him.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Haley Garate

    This biography sure is an interesting piece. I found it very exciting to know what Walt Disney was like behind the scenes of his magical making. Getting to know how Mickey Mouse was created, I got the butterflies because I love Disney with all my heart! I think that Walt Disney was and is still a very inspiring person- even though he is no longer alive physically, he is still alive through all his fancy work, dream- just like most Americans, he started from the bottom, but with his imagination, This biography sure is an interesting piece. I found it very exciting to know what Walt Disney was like behind the scenes of his magical making. Getting to know how Mickey Mouse was created, I got the butterflies because I love Disney with all my heart! I think that Walt Disney was and is still a very inspiring person- even though he is no longer alive physically, he is still alive through all his fancy work, dream- just like most Americans, he started from the bottom, but with his imagination, he made it to the top. If you have a dream, go and follow it, because your dreams will come true.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Magda

    I couldn't hate it, because of whom it was about, obviously. But I was counting on something more, something better. I'm not entirely satisfied after, having finished. Many things remain unclear, have been written in a vague way, or were simply not interesting. It was hard and quite boring to read. I wouldn't recommend it; having finished, I think I will look for another Disney biography to actually get to know his life. I couldn't hate it, because of whom it was about, obviously. But I was counting on something more, something better. I'm not entirely satisfied after, having finished. Many things remain unclear, have been written in a vague way, or were simply not interesting. It was hard and quite boring to read. I wouldn't recommend it; having finished, I think I will look for another Disney biography to actually get to know his life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Walt Disney, the man was not what we grew up believing. He took credit for animation work done by others, treated his staff members unfairly, wasn't a good father or husband and was antisemitic. Yet he created an entertainment empire that stands for all that is good and pure. I felt disillusioned by what I read. But that didn't affect my rating. The biography details were written in such a boring, unentertaining way. Walt Disney, the man was not what we grew up believing. He took credit for animation work done by others, treated his staff members unfairly, wasn't a good father or husband and was antisemitic. Yet he created an entertainment empire that stands for all that is good and pure. I felt disillusioned by what I read. But that didn't affect my rating. The biography details were written in such a boring, unentertaining way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

    Walter Elias Disney... half real-person and half self-created.. Sure he was odd and quite a despot, but he had the vision and the desire to succeed. Thanks to him there are countless happy people around the globe that constantly buy into the brand that bears his name. This book only takes a little of the shine away and is a good balanced to all of those "authorised" books, Walter Elias Disney... half real-person and half self-created.. Sure he was odd and quite a despot, but he had the vision and the desire to succeed. Thanks to him there are countless happy people around the globe that constantly buy into the brand that bears his name. This book only takes a little of the shine away and is a good balanced to all of those "authorised" books,

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rick Ludwig

    I approached this book with trepidation after reading another very unsatisfying book that was purported to be an excellent critic of Disney. This one was, on the whole, more balanced. The author still pushed a couple of questionable suggestions too far with little to no supporting evidence, but this didn't keep me from gaining insight from the book. I approached this book with trepidation after reading another very unsatisfying book that was purported to be an excellent critic of Disney. This one was, on the whole, more balanced. The author still pushed a couple of questionable suggestions too far with little to no supporting evidence, but this didn't keep me from gaining insight from the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    TMM

    Who was the real Walt Disney? Creator of fairytale myths and magic, he was a complex person who had anti-semitic leanings. Interesting social portrait that reveals some dark secrets not in keeping with his 'Uncle Walt' image. Who was the real Walt Disney? Creator of fairytale myths and magic, he was a complex person who had anti-semitic leanings. Interesting social portrait that reveals some dark secrets not in keeping with his 'Uncle Walt' image.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    This was the first time I have ever read anything on Walt Disney so I would definitely like to read another opinion. I loved the fact that both Walt and Roy never gave up on the studio when faced with tough times. Looking forward to reading more on the Legend of Walt.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amélie

    A truly fascinating view on Walt Disney, quite a contrast to the recent "Saving Mr. Banks" debacle. Even if you don't want to take everything this book presents for granted, it's difficult to deny that Walt Disney was definitely not a good man... A truly fascinating view on Walt Disney, quite a contrast to the recent "Saving Mr. Banks" debacle. Even if you don't want to take everything this book presents for granted, it's difficult to deny that Walt Disney was definitely not a good man...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelianne

    The information is interesting and sometimes surprising, but the title is far more dramatic than the content.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    He's not kryogenically frozen and was a really difficult person. I still love him....even if he did make his animators timeclock out when they got up to sharpen their pencils. He's not kryogenically frozen and was a really difficult person. I still love him....even if he did make his animators timeclock out when they got up to sharpen their pencils.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kezza22

    Great biography for real fans researched well and very well written

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    I love this book. It is very well written. It really shows an indepth view of who Walt Disney really was. After reading this book you will want to go back to Disneyland.

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