Burt Payne 3 and Stephen Hillenburg
Frozen Walt Doll (Green Tie)
WALTsicle Productions, 1996
5 3/4 x 2 3/8 x 2 3/8"
Edition of 1000 signed and numbered copies
Walt Disney, who reportedly smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, died of lung cancer on December 15th, 1966, at the age of 65. He was cremated two days later, but a popular myth of him being cryogenically frozen took hold in the early '70's.
In 1972, Bob Nelson, then the president of the Cryonics Society of California, was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and mentioned that Disney had called and asked elaborate questions about the process, the facilities and the staff. Despite explicitly noting in the interview that Disney was cremated, the legend took hold that Walt was frozen and stored in the basement of Cal Arts, the prestigious art school founded by Disney (other have suggested he is hidden beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride).
In fact, the first frozen subject didn't take place until early 1967, a few weeks after Disney was cremated. “The truth is, Walt missed out,” Nelson later said. “He never specified it in writing, and when he died the family didn’t go for it. ... If Disney had been the first it would have made headlines around the world and been a real shot in the arm for cryonics.”
The myth is the subject of the Frozen Walt Doll, a collaboration between artist Burt Payne 3 and SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg. The original iterations (Black Tie, in 1989 and Red Tie, in 1991) were produced in an edition of 100 copies each. They helped finance their creators education at Cal Arts.
Hillenburg died of ALS in 2018.