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Just like so much is true and good and so many-- just don´t want to believe it.
Of course, no one in their legalistic right mind would say such a thing in print. It wouldn’t just be deformation of character, libellous, slanderish, hearsay calumny, rumour mongering, or downright dangerous gossip. Perish the thought!
It would stretch the very limits of the imagination to the breaking point that would trouble our own childhood concept of fantasy. Walt Disney was as American as they came.
You can say it out loud: "Mother, apple pie, green backs (dollar bills) and Uncle Walt." A man of such immense importance and universal acclaim could only have come from far away golden shores. The image is appropriate. Disney fits together like all great American myths: Superman-- "truth, justice and the American way." And the best of that tradition was represented by the very ideals Disney espoused: imagination, optimism, and self-made success in the best of American traditions. Even the slightest murmur of that hallowed Disney name conjures up the finest reminisces of childhood: Snow White, Dumbo, Captain Nemo: pure fantasy served up on a big candy mountain.
For generations the Disney company with the same home drawn milk of comical commercialism that nurtured the American family of the 50’s hasn’t missed feeding the world it´s environmentally correct concepts. Whether it be nature films, travel logs, cartoons, educational documentaries, TV specials, theme Park fun, feature films, or a slight peek into what the future holds for mankind-- Disney was always there. Leading from the front, showing others how it was done.
One big block-buster song, film, or park followed the next. The whirlwind of fantasy never ceased. But in all the hull-a-la-boo very few examined the man.
Normal in most ways, he drank scotch heavily, smoked 70 specially rolled black cigarettes daily (and died from it youngish at 65), washed his hands thirty times an hour and spent his eighteen working hours dreaming of unusual characters from a world within himself: a talking mouse, a duck that became so famous he learned to quack in every known language; Goofy dog´s, Cinderella’s losing slippers, charming princes´ that awoke sleeping beauties, Lion Kings, Indian Princesses , beasts and of course fairies. You might say that other than his Kafkaesque habits, Walt Disney never grew up. He remained his entire lifetime locked into a living character resembling the antimated Peter Pan. Disney relived his childhood every day. Not unsuccessful at his work he won more than 950 honours and citations world-wide, including 48 Academy Awards, 7 Emmys, 29 Oscars, and had received special commendations from every US president and many heads of states of Foreign countries for "his universal good will." Disney just didn´t give a nation what they wanted.
His concept of the future helped to remind the working class that they too could laugh and enjoy themselves. That done, the life of leisure was just down the road. That being so, Disney expanded out from just the motion picture industry and created theme parks for his new liege of followers to enjoy their universal "feel good concept." Now, it wasn´t just the thrill of individual assimilation but the whole family travelled there and shared the excitement together.
But while the media focused its attentions on Disney´s whimsical industry of escapism rumours persisted, spurred on by intimate friends, that Disney had an unusual past. Some suggested that this man that correlated to the American dream had an un-American background, an adopted childhood.
The exact historical situation is complicated because Walt Disney himself never once denied his Hispanic origins. According to his life long friend Salvador Dali, they mutually discussed the situation on more than one occasion in private and Dali contended frequently "that Walt too was convinced of his Spanish origins".
In the states every public document asserts that he was born at 1249 Tripp Avenue in Chicago on December 5th, 1901. This much we know only from his legitimate daughter Diana (the other heir, Sharon Mae, was adopted). Diana insisted in her biography of her father this certain fact! However, two other biographer’s Richard Sickley and Bob Thomas contradict her both contending that when they queried Disney if he was from Mojacar "he smiled a far off nostalgic grin and would only repeat "Quien sabe?" Who knows? No one has been able to come up with an authentic birth certificate either from the Windy City or here in Mojacar where all the records were destroyed during the civil war.
MOJACAR Don Jacinto, the former mayor of Mojacar that made the village famous by giving away free houses to lure the foreigners here to live tells the story that many years ago in the early 50´s men arrived at the then lonesome rugged hill top village attired in dark suits and examined the archives for traces of Disney. The detectives found little in their search but did announce themselves as working for Disney.
The street story of Mojacar is that Walt Disney´s real name was Jose Guirao, the son of a man by that name and a local beauty, one Isabel Zamora Asensio (popularly known as "la bicha"). Walt Disney, or better said, Jose Guirao was born in the village barrio of Espiritu Santo sometime in 1900. The father died young. As the mother had relatives in Villaricos she went there to live, met a sea captain that took the boy to Boston and sheltered him with a farming family from Kansas. Plenty of older residents keep this story alive as a matter of historical fact. "Where else could such a talent have come from but the very CORNER OF ENCHANTMENT."
Another version exists which I shall refer to as the GUAZAMARA tale in which the same woman became romantically enlaced with another Mojaquero, Pedro Gonzalez Carillio, married and father of quite a few other children. In her disgrace she left Mojacar and took up residence in nearby Guazamara (some 25 kms away near Pulpi).
I went there. You start asking important questions by going to the bars. Buy a few drinks. Let the people know that you´re not a tax inspector. I was surprised. The very old folks remembered "something of the story". Apparently there had been a recent TV documentary done. News to me! The general consensus is that relations of "la bicha" (which isn´t necessarily an endearing term) live up one of the back roads. Lots of Zamora families have small cortijos near town. I discovered that the farms were located in a region known as EL Guirao (ring a bell?). It would have been a real kinda caper if Walt Disney had been born in one of them. The area is famed for alcaparas, in fact about 95% of the world´s capers come from there. The mother, Isabel Zamora then later moved to Murcia, then to Valencia, and it was there that she met the captain of a ship that transported minerals from Villaricos to California. They left together, Isabel becoming the maid in the house of her patron, a Disney that allowed the boy to use the name.
Another researcher on #Disney, Ken Polsson who maintains a very good Disney write-up on the webb has written to me suggesting that I "beg, borrow, buy, or steal a copy of "Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince". It goes into some detail the darker side of Walt that few books ever mention. It mentions that Walt suspected he was adopted, that his father (Elias) had an affair with a Spanish woman, and then adopted the resulting child (who was supposedly born in Spain). The book mentions that even the FBI investigated this in Spain. I don't know the facts or details of how much truth there is to it."
The more recognized public American version had him growing up in Kansas on a farm, attending art school, then moving to Chicago where he studied at McKinley High and later at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1917 with war spirit moving him he decided to enlist but could never find an authentic birth certificate. He became suspicious himself. His parents helped him forge one so that during WW I he could serve as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. Following the war and a bankruptcy failure from early cartoons he moved to California.
In reality, nothing documentary was every known about his early years. But, amongst the many American versions there is definite mention of Walt Disney himself being suspicious about his true parents. What few documents remain regarding the subject is that during the height of the Hollywood purge of anti-communism and un-American activities US President Eisenhower sent a memo to FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, asking for a quick name check on Walt Disney and three others, as persons considered for appointment to the Advisory Committee on the Arts, National Cultural Centre. As a result of the report, Walt was not appointed to the committee.
For my part I like leaving this story just where it is. Confused but factual. Mojacar deserves to claim him just as much as anywhere else. Walt Disney belonged to the world. That unique status is confirmed every generation by children that become enamoured with the same childhood antics that we all perceived: Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Huwey, Dewey and Louie still bringing smiles and giggles to Japanese, Arabs or Laplanders. It makes no personal difference to me whether you accept my research or not. Like all good things from abacus to zeena... if you want to believe-- it´s true!
I think he did come from #Mojacar. Yes, born in the barrior of Espiritu Santo. Come over and I will show you the exact house. As all of us true life explorers say around the camp fire when such momentous issues are discussed: "If it ain´t true-- it should be."