His classic films illuminated everyone' s childhood. The theme parks are on every tourist itinerary. The movie empire is one of Hollywood' s biggest. Walt Disney is one of the few men who unquestionably changed our culture. And Neal Gabler is the first author to have had complete access to the Disney Archives, enabling him to write the definitive biography of this remarkable man.
Gabler charts Disney' s journey from running a fledgling studio with short cartoons featuring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, to the reinvention of animation with full-length films like Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi and Dumbo. Chronicling Walt' s profligacy and expansionism, as well as his obsessive perfectionism when working on the briefest of sequences in Fantasia, Gabler describes how it was left to Walt' s brother Roy to keep the business solvent.
The successes speak for themselves - Disney then moved beyond animation with huge hits like Mary Poppins, and mixed utopianism and merchandising to conceive the world' s first modern theme park, Disneyland. In addition to the towering achievements, Gabler shows the dark side of Walt Disney - ruthless towards long-serving staff, cavalier with contracts, neglectful of his family - but also the vulnerability, born of loneliness and ill health, in an admirably balanced portrait.
Neal Gabler writes often for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. He is currently a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Centre for the Study of Entertainment and Society at the University of Southern California. His books include Walt Disney: The Biography, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollwood, Life, the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality and a biography of the journalist Walter Winchell. He lives in Amagansett, New York.