On his discussion thread at WDWMagic, Eddie Sotto posted a link to this video from 1965’s The Jack Benny Hour. In an attempt to take his entire studio audience to Disneyland, the notoriously stingy Benny heads to Walt’s office to hit him up for some free tickets. There’s an animatronic bird, a tiger, and much wackiness. And if that doesn’t sell you, there’s 1965-era Elke Sommer. So, that.
The first thing that always jumps out to me is what a natural “ham” Walt is; as a child he always wanted to be an actor, and he might have actually been a pretty good one. He has the Midwest-deadpan thing going for him, but his timing is really quite good – in fact, he’s better than Benny, who admittedly I’ve never “gotten”. Benny hams it up and plays to the camera, but Walt manages to hit the right notes perfectly.
You have to love how smooth Walt is at promotion. He stages the bit so that it starts with product placement for the then-upcoming That Darn Cat – “The title of the picture is important! You gotta punch it!” You sure do, Walt! Well played. He also drops Mary Poppins in there. And while he doesn’t like to talk about the charity work that Disneyland does, he apparently does keep huge bricks of tickets in his desk just in case!
Just another day at the studio, I suppose. No wonder kids of this era thought Walt was just this side of Santa Claus – he hangs out in his huge office with magical birds, tigers roaming the halls, and deskfulls of free Disneyland tickets. What a life!
While Benny managed to make out like a bandit on this visit, Walt had managed to get some money out of him previously; when Walt’s Celebrity Sports Center opened near Denver in 1960, one of its investors was the tightfisted Benny.