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Home --> Disney --> Walt Disney --> Triumph of the Will

Triumph of the Will

Claim:   Walt Disney's will specified that a substantial bequest go to the first man to become pregnant or bear a child.

Status:   False.

Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, October 2004]

I've actually heard this quite a few times but, I was told that Walt Disney had a section of his will that the first MAN to give birth to a baby would a piece of his estate (I've heard they would get Disney World, I've also heard that they would get $10 million).



[Collected via e-mail, January 2008]

One day at lunch, we some how got on the subject of Walt Disney, and someone brought up a new thing I had never heard before, he said "It says in Walt Disney's will that the entire Disney corporation goes to the first male to get pregnant."

Origins:   The eccentric wealthy person who leaves behind a will giving a substantial fortune to the person who accomplishes some difficult feat (or meets some unusual qualification) is a common figure in entertainment and legend. Such figures are generally found more often in fiction than in fact, although real-life instances are not hard to find. (One of the most notable examples is the case of Charles Vance Millar, a Toronto lawyer whose will included a number of capricious bequests, including one that touched off years of legal wrangling in the 1930s in what came to be known as "The Great Stork Derby.")

One of the more odd (and puzzling) recent examples of this genre is the claim that Walt Disney's will specified cash or assets worth many millions of dollars be given to the first man to become pregnant or give birth to a child. Although the reason why this particular claim has become attached to the name of Walt Disney may be something of a mystery, determining that it is false is a fairly simple matter, for a number of reasons:
  • Walt Disney was, for the most part, a man whose sensibilities reflected turn-of-the-century, conservative Midwestern values. He didn't truck in the outrageous or bizarre, and the thought of a man's bearing children is something he likely would have found disturbing and repulsive, not something he would have sought to encourage or reward with the bestowment of a considerable fortune.
  • Most
    versions of this claim have Walt supposedly bequeathing something he could not give away, such as a sum of money exceeding the value of his portion of his estate, or corporate assets belonging to publicly held companies (e.g., Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney Productions). Although Walt Disney held a personal financial stake in a few Disneyland attractions (such as the railroad and the monorail) and made a good deal of money licensing the use of his name to Walt Disney Productions, he owned neither the theme park nor the company that bore his name and therefore could not direct that either be "given" to anyone. (At the time of his death, Walt and his wife Lillian jointly owned stock amounting to about 14% of Walt Disney Productions.)
  • Walt Disney's will of March 1966, which was in effect when he passed away in December of that year, contained no provisions for rewarding pregnant men (or any other unusual disbursements). Disney left 45% of his estate to his wife and daughters, another 45% to the Disney Foundation in a charitable trust (most of which was dedicated to CalArts), and the remaining 10% in a trust to be divided among his sister, nieces, and nephews.
Although some medical researchers have expressed the belief that a man might someday be able to carry a pregnancy to term (even if it isn't necessarily a good idea), and a renowned piece of Internet "performance art" presented the idea that a male pregnancy had already been accomplished, for now the subject still remains one of speculation rather than fact.

Last updated:   11 March 2008

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
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  Sources Sources:
    Gabler, Neal.   Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.
    New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.   ISBN 0-679-43822-X   (pp. 629-630).

    Barrier, Michael.   The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney.
    Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007. ISBN 0-520-24117-7   (p. 323).