Monday, March 15, 2010

Strange but True

I’m all about debunking Disney myths, but sometimes the crazy stories are actually true. Is truth stranger than fiction? You decide:

1. The image of a topless woman can be seen in the background of The Rescuers. I can’t deny it. It’s on my VHS copy. About 38 minutes into the film, as Bernard and Bianca are soaring through the skies via Albatross Air Charter Service, naked boobies can clearly be seen in the background. According to Disney, these images were not placed there by animators, but appeared at some point during post-production. They recalled that video (I wonder how many they actually got back?) and reissued it without the risqué images on March 23, 1999. The DVD version is sans nudity.

2. Due to racial content, The Song of the South has never been released on home video. Well, I guess this one is partly true. This film has been criticized for “making slavery appear pleasant” or “pretending slavery didn’t exist”. In fairness, the film was supposed to take place after slavery was abolished. While I don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, I would like to point out that when it was released, the NAACP acknowledged the artistic merit of the film. And James Baskett, the actor who portrayed Uncle Remus, was the first live-action actor ever hired by Disney. Baskett even received an Academy award for his role, making him the first black male performer to receive an Oscar. Oh, and while Disney is hesitant to release this movie for home viewing, I am the proud owner of a copy on VHS. Yeah, I’m that much of a Disney dork.

3.In the 1958 Disney documentary White Wilderness, lemmings were induced to jump off a cliff into the sea to document their alleged suicidal behavior. Unfortunately for Disney, lemmings aren’t actually suicidal (at least not the ones I’ve met). This is an urban legend, and Disney fell for it. Oops.

4. Harlan Ellison was fired from Disney for suggesting a “porn Disney flick”. Prolific Hollywood writer (and Cleveland, OH native) Harlan Ellison was eating lunch at the Disney commissary his first day on the job. To his tablemates and fellow writers, Ellison jokingly suggested they “do a Disney porn flick” and proceeded to act it out, using the voices of several Disney characters. Unbeknownst to Ellison, Roy Disney and several other top Disney executives were seated at the adjacent table. Rumor has it that the pink slip was already on his desk by the time he returned to his office.

5. Several people have chosen “The Happiest Place on Earth” as their final resting place. Don’t think it hasn’t occurred to me. I realize that we all have to go sometime, and the idea of my remains remaining on Disney property for all of eternity does appeal to me. However, Disney has threatened to ban people caught making, shall we say, unsolicited donations of this type from the parks, and I don’t want to be responsible for getting my heirs booted from Disney property.

These are some of my favorite weird Disney stories. What are yours?

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