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New film depicting WALT DISNEY “Saving Mr. Banks” which stars TOM HANKS hides the deadly secret that killed the chain-smoking imagineer.
As countless Mouse House employees will testify Disney was well known to be a chain smoking maniac, a habit which led to the lung cancer that killed him.
Not so ironically, with Disney Studio’s ban on showing people smoking on screen, “Saving Mr. Banks”, the new flick about Walt wooing author P.L. Travers to secure the rights to her book “Mary Poppins”, will not showing him lighting up even once!
Born in 1901, future cartoonist Walter Elias Disney began smoking as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War.
While he took care to not smoke around children and he is rarely photographed smoking, his employees said he suffered from an incessant smoker’s hacking cough.
Disney’s favorite brand of cigarettes were Lucky Strike -- unfiltered. Disney also smoked a pipe.
When Disneyland first opened in 1955 a tobacconist store was available on Disneyland’s Main Street. The smoke shop closed in 1991 although its traditional “cigar store Indian” remains still looming over Main Street America.
The producer and director of “Saving Mr. Banks” admitted they were overly concerned that Disney studio execs might try to micromanage the production depicting their fabled founder but they only had one BIG caveat.
“They told us there could be no smoking,” producer Alison Owen told filmgoers at the Napa Valley Film Festival.
Walt Disney Productions first banned all depiction of cigarette smoking in films back in 2007 saying: “We expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney-branded films will be non-existent.”
While “Saving Mr. Banks” does depict Hanks as Disney putting out a smoke – the cigarette and the smoke are not visible in the film – only the vigorous action of him snuffing it out in an ashtray -- as pert P.L. Travers (Emma Thomson) enters the imagineer’s lair.
When “Mary Poppins” was finally released in 1964, the live-action animated musical became one of the studios’ biggest money-making hits of all time. Shortly after the film’s release, Disney entered the hospital and had his left lung removed. He died from complications due to lung cancer in December 1966 at age 65.