Have you ever noticed that a lot of the classic Disney flicks are seriously lacking in the mother department? Think about it: From “The Little Mermaid” to “Beauty and the Beast” to “Bambi,” mothers in the old-school animated Disney classics are often killed off.
So, why is that?
Longtime Disney producer Don Hahn, who most recently served as executive producer of “Maleficent,” opened up to Glamour about why there are so few mommies in Disney’s movies.
“I’ll give you two stories that are the reasons. I never talk about this, but I will. One reason is practical because the movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up,” he explained. “They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility. Simba ran away from home but had to come back. In shorthand, it’s much quicker to have characters grow up when you bump off their parents. Bambi’s mother gets killed, so he has to grow up. Belle only has a father, but he gets lost, so she has to step into that position. It’s a story shorthand.”
The other reason has a lot more to do with Walt Disney himself, Hahn divulged.
“The other reason—and this is really odd—Walt Disney, in the early 1940s, when he was still living at this house, also bought a house for his mom and dad to move into. He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mom and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died,” Hahn said. “The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died. He never would talk about it, nobody ever does. He never spoke about that time because he personally felt responsible because he had become so successful that he said, ‘Let me buy you a house.’ It’s every kid's dream to buy their parents a house and just through a strange freak of nature—through no fault of his own—the studio workers didn’t know what they were doing.”