Today on November 10, 1941, Walt Disney secretly began serving as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Who would have thought that the founder of Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire served as an FBI informant? From 1940 until his death in 1966, Walt Disney secretly served in the FBI. He recruited to work for the Bureau’s Los Angeles office. As an outside agent for the FBI, Disney was tasked with reporting on the activities of Hollywood actors, writers, producers, directors, technicians and union activists suspected of political subversion. At this time, communism was on the rise around the world and American officials were concerned about these ideals spreading into society.
The earliest communication between Disney and J. Edgar Hoover (Director of the FBI) appears to have happened back in July 1936. Information about Disney’s role as an informant was only publicly released in 1993 because of the Freedom of Information Act. Over 570 pages were released about Disney’s involvement with the FBI, however many of the specific details were blacked out. Therefore, it’s impossible to know exactly which, if any, celebrity names were leaked to federal agents by Disney. He reportedly stated that he was more than happy to assist the FBI in finding troublemakers in Hollywood.
In return for Disney's cooperation, Hoover allowed Disney to film at the Bureau's headquarters in Washington. Because of the information he shared, he was eventually promoted to the role of a full Special Agent. Throughout the 1950s, the FBI also assisted Disney in acquiring permits and building Disneyland in Los Angeles. In 1961, Hoover actually helped write the script for the Disney film, Moon Pilot. The film depicted young children looking up to FBI agents and portraying them as American idols. Three episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club were also specially dedicated to the FBI. We likely never know to what extent Walt Disney was influenced by the bureau or how many communists he helped them find.