Walt Disney loved to entertain children and wanted to fill everyone's life with joy. Maybe that's because he kept a tragic secret that he only ever hinted at in one crucial way.
Have you ever noticed that no Disney movie has both parents?
From Dumbo to Beauty and The Beast, almost none of our favorite Disney characters make it through without feeling the gut-wrenching loss of a parent. Bambi's mother is shot dead, Belle only had her father, who ended up getting lost. Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White...there's no mother to be found.
It's because Walt Disney's own mother was the victim of a horrible tragedy, that Walt never forgave himself for.
In the early 1940s with Disney riding high on a number of successes bought his parents a new home. Giving back to those who raise us is a dream that few of us realize, but Disney found himself in position to do just that.
His parents moved in but experienced problems with their furnace. It should have been a simple enough fix so Disney ordered some of his studio hands to take a look and fix it up - it was a fatal mistake.
The next day a housekeeper started her day and found Disney's parents unconscious. She pulled them out to the front yard just in time to save his father. Sadly Disney's mother was already dead.
Don Hahn was a long time Disney producer and shared the startling revelation with Glamour magazine.
"He never would talk about it, nobody ever does," he said. "He felt personally responsible."
Thankfully the characters that we've loved all these years got happy endings, but Disney never did.