November 14, 2011

Walt Disney's Mother

Elias and Flora Disney
Behind the popular movies, Disneyland (“the happiest place on earth”) and the Mickey Mouse empire, Walt Disney carried a tragedy with him that he refused to speak about even with his family members - his mother’s untimely death.

When Walt was growing up, his family was far from well off. They struggled to make ends meet, moving many times to pursue better job opportunities and trying to keep food in the mouths of their five children (Herbert, Raymond, Roy, Walt and Ruth). Flora was described as a lively, even-tempered woman who enjoyed reading stories to her children and playing games with them.

In 1906 the family moved to a farm near Marceline, MO. Walt’s boyhood home, this town later became his inspiration for Disneyland and WDW’s Main Street, USA.  

Walt and his mother, Flora 
After the success of their 1937 film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", Walt and Roy presented their parents with a new home in North Hollywood, near the Disney studios in Burbank, CA. Less than a month after moving in, Flora started to complain of headaches and said she felt constantly ill. Suspecting the furnace, Walt sent a Disney Studios handyman to look into the matter, but the problem was not adequately fixed.

One morning, the Disney housekeeper felt lightheaded and went to get Elias and Flora out of the house. Elias had collapsed in the hallway; Flora had fallen on the bathroom floor. They were able to revive Elias, but it was too late for Flora. 

She passed away from asphyxiation on November 26, 1938, at the age of 70. Elias Disney was released from the hospital in time to attend his wife's funeral at Forest Lawn Glendale, at the Wee Kirk Church

Roy had an inspection done on the furnace, which stated: “installation of the furnace showed either a complete lack of knowledge of the requirements of the furnace or a flagrant disregard of these conditions if they were known.”

Walt, paid tribute to his father with a small sign on his
Main Street USA attraction at
Disneyland which is still in place today.
The accident plagued Walt with guilt and he refused to talk about the matter for the rest of his life – to anyone. Even many years later, when his daughter asked where her grandparents were buried, he wouldn’t discuss it.

Many have speculated that Walt’s guilt over his mother fueled the tragic fates of the mothers in so many of his films, but in truth the stories are pre-existing plot lines from fairy tales.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I did not know that! Very interesting! I love all things Disney, but I am no expert! Thanks for sharing!