|By Keith Mahne|
A hand-made spiral-bound book popped up at an auction in 2011. Titled “Walt Disney demonstrates an appendectomy with Drs. Bowers, Avery & Nelson,” the photos depict Walt doing all sorts of crazy things like wearing his suit inside-out, checking his heartbeat, wearing a make-shift surgical cap and mask, and performing an operation on an orange. The set ends with a priceless maniacal look as he cuts into an orange. Continue after the page break for a rare look at Walt Disney like you’ve never seen before…
Sometimes people can advertise Walt Disney as being all business. Aside from his TV appearances and his time spent at Disneyland, its been said that behind close doors while getting business done he could be a little gruff and slow to crack a smile. That’s not the Walt I think of though. The Walt I imagine is displayed in these revealing snapshots taken at a private party, away from the confines of work and business, which unveil a man who knew how to have a good time, who could be playful and goofy, and who doesn’t fit the stereotypes often invoked about him. Disney animator Ward Kimball, who knew Walt on a more personal basis than almost any other Disney employee, often described Disney as excitable and child-like. These photos are the clearest visual evidence of that side of Walt.
The original mailing envelope was from Warner Bros. Pictures, and was addressed to Disney’s story director William Cottrell, who also happened to be Walt’s brother-in-law. The photographer of these pieces was Earl Theisen, who had a knack for taking candid snapshots of famous people.
What a great time this must have been for Walt and all the people in the room being entertained by him. This is certainly a moment in time that I would love to travel back to.
We sure do miss you Walt.
Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.