Walt Disney: His Fascination with Space and His Collaboration with a Controversial Scientist – Actus Cine

Walt Disney was fascinated by the conquest of space and enthusiastic support of the program set forth by NASA. To the point of working with Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi scientist in charge of the program, on an educational program that would make a mark.

The Walt Disney Company

The brilliant builder of a sprawling empire combined with a visionary spirit, Walt Disney left a truly huge imprint on the cultural world, beyond measure. Fascinated by stories of space conquest, he was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of ​​staying with the space program established by NASA in the 1950s, to the extent that it ultimately aimed to send the first man to the moon.

In the early 1950s, With the impressive growth of television arrivals in American homes, Walt Disney wanted to create programs that were both entertaining and educational; Whom he will also call “Education”.

Why not dedicate one to conquering space? And while you’re at it, you might as well hire the services of the man who will play a major role in the American space program. A famous ex-Nazi SS scientist: Wernher von Braun.

A Nazi scientist expelled by the Americans

Born in 1912 in Poznań and died on June 16, 1977 in Alexandria, Virginia, Wernher von Braun was a chief engineer during World War II who allowed the flight of the German V2 type rocket, the first ballistic missile. The story.

Rising ranks in the administration of the Third Reich SS-Sturmbanführer (equivalent to the rank of Commander)Von Braun was transferred to the United States after the German surrender during the famous operation Paper clip, which aimed to extricate and recruit some 1,500 German scientists from Nazi Germany’s military-industrial complex to fight the USSR and recover the secret weapons of the Third Reich. Naturalized to American in 1955, Brown played a major role in the development of rockets, particularly those that enabled American space conquest during the Apollo program.

Between March 1952 and April 1954, von Braun, along with other scientists, published a series of articles in a well-known magazine. of the necklace. A magazine read by 4 million Americans, in which he significantly outlined his vision of conquering space.

Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun.

These articles caught the attention of Ward Kimball (1914–2002), one of Walt Disney’s key collaborators. At the time, with the impressive growth of television arrivals in American homes, Disney wanted to create shows that were both entertaining, but also educational; Whom he will also call “Education”. Shows that will be a huge success. All the successes are even more widespread, with an estimated 15 million American homes having televisions in 1952. In 1954, they were 26 million.

That year, Ward Kimball convinced Walt Disney to dedicate a program for Man in Space (which incidentally changed names several times during its existence). Disney then hired Wernher von Braun, the world’s leading rocket expert, as a technical advisor on all three shows, supported by emerging space medicine expert Heinz Haber.

If Von Braun is a technical advisor, he will introduce specific sequences. The first show, titled Man in spaceBroadcast on March 9, 1955, lasting 49 minutes. More than 42 million Americans were glued to their screens, stars in their eyes, dreaming of conquering space.

Such was the success of the show that it was rebroadcast three months later, on 15 June, then again on 7 September. A shortened version, this time in Technicolor, would even be shown in cinemas shortly before the screening of Davy Crockett and the River Pirates in July 1956. In total, it is estimated that more than 100 million Americans watch the show.

Below, an excerpt from the show “Man in Space” in Technicolor version, with Wernher von Braun…

Second broadcast Man and the Moonwhich specifically called for the construction of a space station, was issued on December 28, 1955. Third emission, Mars and BeyondThe satellite will be broadcast on December 4, 1957, two months after its launch Sputnik d by the USSR.

It specifically deals with speculation surrounding the supposed presence of intelligent life on Mars and describes an expedition to inhabit the Red Planet. Educational, entertaining, scientifically absent, these programs were of great quality. It is also said that the then President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted a copy of the first broadcast to show to his aides.

Here is an excerpt from “Mars and Beyond”.

In April 1965, ten years after their first collaboration, Wernher von Braun invited Walt Disney and his brother Roy (among other guests) to visit NASA’s three main space stations: the Human Space Station in Houston, Texas; Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, of which Von Braun is director.

“Just a few years ago I had the pleasure of working with you on a project that turned out to be most prescient. I know you maintain a keen interest in our space program, and space flight in particular, so you may find it interesting how much you Come and see for yourself that he was wise.” Von Braun addressed Walt Disney. Who can only be proud of such cooperation and marks of respect.

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