If you've ever visited one of the many Disney theme parks around the world, you may have seen a photograph of Walt Disney in which he appears to be pointing with two fingers. But he isn't guiding visitors in the direction of the most popular rides.
Instead, all of the photos of the man who dreamed up the most famous mouse in history have been altered to disguise the fact that he was constantly holding a cigarette. Disney usually smoked two packs every day, but park management didn't want the wholesome Disney image tarnished by Walt's unhealthy habit, so every such image was altered to remove the cigarette from Walt's hand.
Over the years, Walt Disney's two-fingered point (minus the cigarette, of course) has been adopted by park employees, who have been encouraged to imitate the pose, in part because pointing with the index finger is considered rude in some cultures. Tom Hanks even adopted the two-fingered point when he portrayed Walt Disney in the biopic Saving Mr. Banks.
Most recently, however, the Walt Disney Company no longer makes it a policy to airbrush the cigarettes from Disney's image, and has since acknowledged that smoking was almost certainly linked to Walt Disney's death from lung cancer at the age of 65.
What do you know about Walt Disney?
- From 1928 until 1947, Mickey Mouse was voiced by his creator, Walt Disney.
- Walt Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, with 22 (from 59 nominations), along with four honorary Oscars.
- Disney named his original cartoon mouse Mortimer, but he changed it to Mickey after his wife said that Mortimer wasn't catchy.