Was Walt Disney really born in Mojácar?
Few people are as well known around the world as Walter Elias Disney. For many of us, hearing this name means dreaming of a whole fantasy world that has accompanied us since childhood. Stories and tales of fairies, princesses, pirates and adventures that sound very distant but that perhaps could have their origin much closer than we think.
Today we travel to Mojácar, a beautiful Andalusian town famous for its intricate alleys of white houses, dressed with geraniums and lilies that climb the Sierra de Almería so as not to lose sight of the sea at any time. An essence so particular that it makes it one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. There is no doubt that it is a magical place, but you will feel it even more when you discover the secret that is hidden between its streets.
A historical character
Walt Disney may be the greatest filmmaker of all time and is considered the father of cartoons.
Entrepreneur, screenwriter, voice actor and producer among many other roles within the industry, Disney pioneered the world of animation by completely reinventing cartoons and elevating them to the category of art. In addition to countless accolades, Walt Disney is, with 22 statuettes and 59 nominations as a film producer, the person who has won the most Oscars to date.
But his legacy goes far beyond cinema. The 14 theme parks that the Disney brand has all over the world are another of the great hallmarks of identity that keep alive all the fantasy that Walt Disney once devised.
Did you know that before its construction in Paris it was considered that the Disney park in Europe should be built in the Marina Alta? Can you imagine another theme park in Benidorm about the World of Disney?
But his relationship with our country goes much further...
Walt Disney was Spanish, right?
To get to the bottom of this matter we have to go back to rural Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, specifically to the small town of Mojácar on the coast of Almería.
There are many rumours about the origin of Walt Disney, do you want to know the legend?
The gossip, at the time, firmly affirmed the idyll between a married doctor in a very good position and a poor laundress, Isabel Zamora, popularly known as "La Bicha" and famous for her art when it came to singing and dancing she was always at any organised party. She had an overwhelming beauty and a captivating self-confidence, and from her dabbling with the doctor little José Guirao Zamora was born.
Disowned and hoping to find better opportunities, "La Bicha" emigrated to America where she had a brother and settled in Hermosa, very close to the city of Chicago. Her situation did not prosper as she expected, and the devoted mother saw in the adoption of her son, by a wealthy and reputed married couple from the city, formed by Elias and Flora Disney, the best option for the future of her little one.
It is at this point where the legend and official biography of our protagonist can be found, which states that he was born in Chicago in 1902, just a few months after the arrival of the mojaquera to the big city. Just a coincidence?
He himself believed in the legend
Although this version of his biography was never proven, Walt Disney himself sent a couple of researchers to Mojácar in 1940 to inquire about its possible origins. The duo in suits arrived from America causing a real fury in the town, that despite never having heard the name of the magnate, they did know very well who Isabel Zamora was.
A few years before, during the course of the Civil War, the municipal archives had all been burned and these men, despite spending several days investigating and interviewing the local people, did not find any reliable evidence of the birth of Walt Disney in Andalusia.
But at the same time, the birth certificate of little Walt never appeared in Chicago either, but those of his brothers did...
The only document that his “adoptive” parents kept was his baptismal certificate, dated a few years later. Just another perfect coincidence?
Walt Disney's admiration for the Spanish
Be that as it may, Walt Disney was always curious about the land that could have been his. The influence of Spanish culture permeated the filmmaker's production on multiple occasions and that attraction he felt for the Spanish and his artistic vanguards as he confessed to his great friend, Salvador Dalí, with whom he produced a short film titled "Tocata y Fuga" which was included in the feature film «Fantasia».
The Catalan painter and Walt Disney met on the set of "Remember", the Alfred Hitchcock film for which Dalí had painted the backdrops and sets. From there a friendship was born that would lead them to share parties and work for years with such confidence that Disney came to ask for help from his friend Dalí, who through the Church and the parish records of Mojácar tried to get some proof of his birth.
Who knows what would have happened if all of these inquiries had been confirmed?