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'American Experience' profiles Walt Disney Sept. 14-15 on AETN

Posted 08 Sep 2015

'American Experience: Walt Disney' offers an unprecedented look at the life and legacy of one of America's most enduring and influential storytellers in a new, two-part film premiering on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 14-15, beginning at 8 each evening.

Exploring Disney's life from its humble Midwestern origins through his death in 1966, the documentary features rare footage from the Disney archives, scenes from some of his greatest films and a broad range of interviews. Featured dialogues include conversations with biographers and historians, animators and artists who worked on early films such as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' and designers who helped create Disneyland.

'Like many Americans, I was entertained and transfixed by Walt Disney's films, TV programs and theme parks,' AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said. 'The elementary school I attended in Missouri is now known as Walt Disney Elementary, and my classmates and I heard about him our entire lives.

However, there was much more to this creative master, and AETN is proud to present this film from PBS and 'American Experience,' which paints a balanced and three-dimensional portrait of an American cultural icon.'

'American Experience: Walt Disney' will air in two parts. Segments include:

• 'Part One: 1901-1941,' an examination of the complex life and enduring legacy of the emblematic filmmaker, from his early days creating Mickey Mouse through the triumph of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' the first full-length animated film.

• 'Part Two: 1941-1966,' which continues delving into Walt Disney's life and enduring legacy as he makes films such as 'Cinderella' and 'Mary Poppins,' and realizes his dream project, Disneyland.

A polarizing figure – though true believers vastly outnumber his critics – Disney's achievements are indisputable. He created one of the most beloved cartoon characters in history, Mickey Mouse; conceived the first ever feature-length animated film, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;' pioneered the integration of media and marketing with thousands of branded products; and envisioned Disneyland, the world's first theme park and a realization of his own utopian universe.

'Walt Disney' features interviews with artists who worked at the studio, including Rolly Crump, Robert Givens, Don Lusk, Floyd Norman and Ruthie Tompson, Disney executive Marty Sklar, Disney producer Don Hahn, costume designer Alice M. Davis, composer Richard M. Sherman, son-in-law Ron Miller, and academics and authors who have written extensively about Walt Disney, including Neal Gabler, Susan Douglas, Richard Schickel, Steven Watts, Ron Suskind, and Carmenita Higginbotham.

'American Experience' has been ranked as television's most-watched history series for more than 27 years. On air and online, the documentary series brings life to the incredible characters and stories that have shaped our nation's past and present, earning every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four DuPont-Columbia Awards, 17 George Foster Peabody Awards and an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2015 for 'Last Days in Vietnam.' 'American Experience' is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.

Financial support for 'American Experience' is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. Major funding for 'Walt Disney' is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).