Friday, 09 December 2016

Walt Disney

How a man – and his mouse – found world fame

Written by Ben Felsenburg
You can mark the moment that Walt Disney succeeded in conquering the world. It came when the audience began weeping in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs after theBen-Felsenburg-colour-176 apparent death of the heroine who had eaten the poisoned apple: adults and children alike had entirely bought into Disney’s vision in his first feature-length film.

But for years before the dwarfs got busy it had been off to work that the animation genius had gone, as told in the engrossing two-part documentary Walt Disney (Saturday, BBC2, 8.45pm). It begins with a young man returning from France to Kansas City with burning ambition after the First World War. A go-getter with slicked-back hair and piercing eyes, Disney possessed oodles of talent plus a fierce drive that got things done, but he ruthlessly rode roughshod over anyone standing in his way.

As film critic Richard Schickel observes: ‘What he really wanted, as we say in the Mid-West, was to make a name for himself.’ Has any man done so with greater success, seeing how simply saying ‘Disney’ excites children like few other words?

Yet note the unsung role of the woman behind the man: for when Walt devised the character he believed would finally take him to the top in Hollywood, the terrible name he came up with was Mortimer. It took wife Lillian to point out the error of judgement and suggest what I think we can all agree was a better moniker for a cheery mouse: Mickey.




NOT TO BE MISSED

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG: Pop Art Pioneer Sat, BBC2, 9.45pm
Discover the striking work of this brilliant modern painter, subject of an epic Tate Modern retrospective opening this month.

WHEN PHILLIP MET PRINCE PHILLIP Mon, ITV, 9pm
To mark the 60 years of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, Prince Philip meets Phillip Schofield to discuss how the charity inspires young people.

THE ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE Tues, ITV, 7.30pm
Charles and Camilla take their seats for a feast of music and comedy.


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