Walt Disney, the man, has had a squeaky clean reputation much like the entertainment empire that he founded.
While there have been reports of Disney being a union buster, racist and anti-Semitic, his name is still synonymous with wholesome entertainment and family values.
Actress Meryl Streep questioned his legacy at the National Board of Review dinner last night, noted Variety.
Streep was not there to accept an award, but rather to honor fellow actress Emma Thompson who played “Mary Poppins” creator P.L. Travers in the Disney film “Saving Mr. Banks.”
After praising Thompson, Streep slammed Disney for his reported sexist and anti-Semitic positions, which are not mentioned in “Saving Mr. Banks," noted Entertainment Weekly.
“Disney, who brought joy arguably to billions of people was, perhaps, or had some racist proclivities," stated Streep. "He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group and he was certainly, on the evidence of his company’s policies, a gender bigot.”
“Some of his associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women,” added Streep, who quoted Disney animator Ward Kimball: “He didn’t trust women or cats.”
Streep then quoted a 1938 letter in which the Walt Disney company rejected a female animator and informed her that only men worked on their cartoons.
“When I saw the [Saving Mr. Banks], I could just imagine Walt Disney’s chagrin at having to cultivate P.L. Travers’ favor for the 20 years that it took to secure the rights to her work," said Streep. "It must have killed him to encounter in a woman an equally disdainful and superior creature, a person dismissive of his own considerable gifts and prodigious output and imagination.”