As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Last month, I had opportunity to review The Easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit by Dave Shute & Josh Humphrey. That book sparked my interest in Theme Park Press and the other books that they have available. So, watch my blog over the next weeks and months, as I’ll be reviewing more books from this publisher.
About the Book
A Searing, Scathing Disney Memoir
From 1935-1950, story artist Homer Brightman worked on the biggest Disney projects: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, the Oscar-winning short film Lend a Paw, and many others. A dream come true? Not really. Brightman’s life in the Mouse House during Disney’s Golden Age of Animation was tarnished by self-serving, power-hungry animators; by draconian policies and broken promises; and by Walt Disney himself.
Will the Real Walt Disney Please Stand Up?
Homer Brightman first encountered Walt Disney in the men’s room of the Disney Studio in 1935. Another employee had just complained about Walt, not knowing that Walt himself was standing at the next urinal, and by lunchtime that employee found himself on the street, and out of a job.
Over the next fifteen years, Brightman experienced the highs and lows of working for a driven, complex, often ruthless businessman and creative genius, Walt Disney—the real Walt Disney, not the kindly, smiling “uncle” seen on television, nor the caring, patient mentor immortalized in company-sanctioned literature. Brightman presents the good and the bad, as he experienced them, and lets you ponder the contradictions of Walt’s character.
Fun and Games and Politics in the Mouse House
When the Disney animators weren’t creating classic films, they were pulling pranks—sometimes mean-spirited pranks—on one another. Brightman recounts how he and Harry Reeves once vandalized Roy Williams’ (later the “Big Mooseketeer” on The Mickey Mouse Club) black limousine, and how Williams got back at Reeves that night by flattening the tires of his car. The prank includes improbable appearances by H.G. Wells and Charlie Chaplin, who dropped by Brightman’s office on a tour of the studio with Walt, right after an angry Williams had smashed the glass panel of the office door.
When not pranking, the animators were politicking: Brightman goes into detail about the toxic political culture at the Disney Studio, where animators would jump to their feet and hide their work whenever another animator came around, steal credit for one another’s ideas, and compete—often shamelessly—for the fickle favor of Walt Disney. The politics reach their crescendo in Brightman’s nailbiting account of the Disney Studio Strike of 1941, and how Walt retaliated against those he felt had betrayed him.
In Life in the Mouse House, you’ll read about:
- Brightman’s penniless start at the Disney Studio on a cold day in 1935
- What really caused the Disney Strike, how Walt lost his cool, and the sad aftermath
- The foibles and eccentricities of well-known Disney artists, animators, and executives
- Walt’s ill-fated “Field Day”, his trip to Mexico, and his talent for physical storytelling
- What Brightman did after he left Disney, despite Walt telling him he’d never work again
And much more!
About the Author
Homer Brightman was one of the members of Disney’s Story Department from 1935 to 1950, right in the middle of the Golden Age of Disney animation.
During those fifteen years, he was often teamed with another legendary story artist, Harry Reeves, and was instrumental in developing dozens of storyboards for some of the most famous Disney shorts, many of them featuring Donald and Pluto. Among the classic shorts tackled by Brightman: Alpine Climbers, The Fox Hunt, Clock Cleaners, Beach Picnic, The Fire Chief, and Lend a Paw. Brightman also worked on several of the features, including Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and Cinderella.
As part of the Story Department, Brightman was at the very heart of the Disney Studio, and worked with some of its stars, including Ted Sears, Dave Hand, Perce Pearce, Roy Williams, Carl Barks, Ham Luske, and Frenchy de Trémaudan.
After Disney, Brightman joined UPA, MGM, and Walter Lantz. He passed away in 1988.
Heidi Says . . .
Just keeping it perfectly real here . . . I didn’t really enjoy this book. While the idea behind this book really appealed to me – going behind-the-scenes at the Disney Studios with someone who actually worked there – the story just left me feeling depressed.
I’m pretty sure I speak for many of us Disney-obsessed fans when I say that we picture Walt Disney as the man we’ve seen on various video clips (and on the Wonderful World of Disney, for those of us who are old enough to remember it!) We have seen the movies that he has produced and the parks that he has created, and we think of a man with a creative, kind, giving mind and heart. The Walt portrayed in this book is none of those things.
In fact, he’s portrayed as a grouchy, dirty-mouthed, greedy man. And, honestly, it made me sad. While it may very well be true, and Walt may have acted like this at work, I wish I didn’t know about it. Sometimes it’s just easier to be naive and believe what you want to believe, you know?
So, while parts of this book were interesting to me, I’m not going to add this one to my Disney Resource List out of courtesy to my fellow Disney fans. However, if you like scandal and that sort of thing, then by all means, grab this book! You might love it!
You can find out more about Life in the Mouse House by visiting Theme Park Press. You can read an excerpt of the book, see the Table of Contents, and more!
Stay tuned here at Heidi’s Head. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some more books by Theme Park Press, including Who’s the Leader of the Club? by Jim Korkis and Amber Earns Her Ears by Amber Michelle Sewell.
***This post made possible by Theme Park Press.***