Walt Disney was a patriot through and through, and he loved his country.
When America entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Disney company did everything but suit up and grab a weapon to help with the war.
At the time, the animation studio was riding the high of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and invested the money they made into making Pinocchio. Then, on December 8, 1941, after President Roosevelt declared the previous day to be one that would live in infamy, the animation studio gave half of their building to the U.S. Troops. Soon after, 25% of the 600 Disney employees were either drafted or voluntarily entered the service.
Disney did more than just give space and men, they also gave the most powerful thing of all during war: Hope and laughter. Through military training videos, movie shorts, and military insignias, Disney helped the American people remain lighthearted in a dark time. In fact, in 1943 it is reported that 90% of Disney’s work was for government agencies. Poor Pinocchio will just have to wait!
Among the most infamous propaganda videos were Der Fuehrer’s Face and Education for Death, which ironically, the Disney company has tried to separate from. These are shorts that you will NEVER see on Disney+!
During the 1940s, America banded together to do their part to win the war, and Disney used their characters on posters to buy war bonds, and even books designed to teach children to save money to buy war bonds! Don’t forget the posters reminding Americans to conserve food and supplies for the troops. Can you imagine having an official government document with Mickey Mouse and Bambi on it?
Perhaps the most interesting use of Disney licensing during the 1940s was the Mickey Mouse gas mask. Yes, you heard that correctly, a Mickey Mouse gas mask. With the American population fearing chemical warfare on American soil, many people started purchasing gas masks. There was a major problem with them, however. They were scary for children. Companies felt that children love Mickey, so that would make the mask less scary… We’re here to tell you, nope, they’re, in fact, more terrifying.
This post is part of the MDT Patriotic Disney Series!
See the Post about Sgt. Donald Duck!
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This MDT Post By: Jenn Scranton
Jenn is a MilSpouse who loves going to Walt Disney World with her family, pin trading, and collecting Minnie ears and coffee mugs! Check out her Bio.
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