Hollywood icon Meryl Streep says the legendary Walt Disney was anti-Semitic.
During her speech at the National Board of Review Awards in New York on Tuesday, Streep ripped into Disney in a lengthy nine-minute rant saying the famous cartoonist "was supposedly a hideous anti-Semite" and a "gender bigot."
"Disney, who brought joy, arguably, to billions of people, was perhaps, or had some … racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobby. And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company's policies, a gender bigot," Streep said during the ceremony.
Streep backtracked on her insults of the creative mastermind explaining that "most creative people are often odd, or irritating, eccentric, damaged, difficult. That along with enormous creativity comes certain deficits in humanity, or decency. We are familiar with this trope in our business. Mozart, Van Gogh, Tarantino, Eminem"
Streep was giving an ode to the upcoming film "Saving Mr. Banks," which follows the relationship between Mary Poppins' author P.L. Travers with Walt Disney. The film will star Emma Thompson, who Streep believes to be a true artist, juxtaposing the true nature of Disney, something that is sugarcoated in the film, according to Streep.
According to the New York Times, in 1938, a month after the Nazi assault on German Jews known as Kristallnacht, Walt Disney gave Hitler’s personal filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, a tour of his studio. When Riefenstahl offered to show Disney her depiction of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Eventually, the Times reported Disney turned down the German artist when he realized working with her might ruin his reputation.
In his biography of Riefenstahl, author Steven Bach writes that upon her return to Germany, she thanked Disney for receiving her, saying it “was gratifying to learn how thoroughly proper Americans distance themselves from the smear campaigns of the Jews.”