Why Walt Disney visit Argentina
In 1941, on the eve of America’s entry to World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to curb the influence of Nazis and fascists in South America.
So the President enlisted someone who embodied the American capitalist spirit: Walt Disney. Guest host Mandalit del Barco talks to film director Ted Thomas, who’s new documentary ”Walt & El Grupo” chronicles Walt Disney’s adventure and public relations mission to South America:
“The Argentine theme, on the contrary, was not so easy, nor so obvious.
Here was a temperate country, with none of the glamour of the rich jungle background of flora and fauna. The most conspicuous common denominator of understanding was the pampas and the hardy colorful gauchos. The vast seas of grass, the simple humor and hardships of those rugged horsemen of the plains seemed the source and the clue to our best efforts.”
The focus in Argentina
Gaucho culture became the group’s primary focus. Ted Sears’s pretrip story suggestions for a gaucho series were now augmented with direct primary research into the customs, costumes, and lore of the real gauchos.
Members of the group visited gaucho museums and gaucho libraries, attended gaucho concerts, and entertained authorities on gaucho culture at the Alvear Palace.
Larry Lansburgh took his pursuit a step further by going to Mataderos Municipal stockyards to see working gauchos in action. After putting his command of Spanish to the rest, explaining his purpose there, Lansburgh was allowed inside.
Thanks to Jim Brodero´s contacts, the entire group was invited to a tour in an all-day asado, an Argentine version of an outdoor barbecue, at Estancia El Carmen on Sunday, 14 September.
How was the visit of Walt Disney
This was the first sight of the Argentine pampa countryside for the group as whole, and the artists feasted on a banquet of mouthwatering food, sketched animal and plant life, shot copious amount of 16mm film and still pictures, and were treated to an exhibition of gaucho riding and roping.
The locals enjoyed costuming Walt Disney in Argentina as real gaucho. This was a token of their sincere affection for him and, happily, he looked the part. “He had the dark eyebrows and the dark eyes and the mustache” Herb Ryman later pointed out.
Extracted from the book: South of the border with Disney by J. B. Kaufman