The sudden death of the 65-year-old American entrepreneur and pioneer of the American animation industry, Walt Disney, still remains a mystery to most.
The 100th episode of the REELZ docu-series, “Autopsy,” reveals exclusive never-before-seen details of the Academy Award winner’s departure.
After Walter Elias Disney’s death in 1966, many were left with unanswered questions. The REELZ docu-series takes viewers behind the scenes of Disney’s private stress and provides exclusive insight from people closest to him during his successful Hollywood career.
The animator for Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King, Tom Sito, discloses: “Disney was a stress junkie. He just lived on stress. There was always another idea, another project, another job.”
As a film producer and founder of Disney Studios, Disney won a record of 22 Academy Awards during his 43 years in Hollywood. He also had two Golden Globes and an Emmy under his belt.
While the Chicago-born legend had success after success in Hollywood, his stress continued to build when his workers went on strike in 1941 demanding better conditions in the middle of the production for the film Dumbo.
Sito recalls at that time, “The animators are like, why can’t we have regular wages, why can’t we have standardized hours?
Another Disney animator, Floyd Norman, explains “It was a terrible time for Walt Disney, a traumatic time.“
“Uncle Walt" was known as an obsessive workaholic who let the protests affect his mental state.
“To him it was really an attack on him personally,” film historian Sarah Nilson adds. “This was his studio, he put everything of himself into it and people are attacking him for being cruel, mean, and it became ugly.“
The series expert, Dr. Michael Hunter, offers “Chronic stress can affect your mental health and I can see that Walt had the first of several breakdowns.”
“One of his secretaries walked past his office and Walt was sitting at his desk just weeping, just looking off into space and crying,” Sito says.
The questions remain: Did stress and mental health issues contribute to Disney’s early death at 65?
Tune-in to Autopsy: The Last Hours of… Walt Disney, Sunday, August 9th at 8 ET / PT on REELZ for all the details.