American Experience

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Monday 9:00 PM on PBS Premiered Oct 04, 1988 In Season

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  • American Experience: Walt Disney

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    Part 1 of 2. The life and legacy of Walt Disney (1901-66), featuring archival footage from the Disney vaults scenes from his greatest films remarks from biographers and historians and insights from animators, artists and designers who worked with him. In 1966, the year Walt Disney died, 240 million people saw a Disney movie, 100 million tuned in to a Disney television program, 80 million bought Disney merchandise, and close to seven million visited Disneyland. Few creative figures before or since have held such a long-lasting place in American life and popular culture. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE offers an unprecedented look at the life and legacy of one of America?s most enduring and influential storytellers in Walt Disney, a new two-part, four-hour film premiering Monday and Tuesday, September 14-15, 2015, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Executive produced by Mark Samels, directed and produced by Sarah Colt, and written by Mark Zwonitzer, the film features rare archival footage from the Disney vaults, scenes from some of his greatest films, and interviews with biographers and historians, animators and artists who worked on Snow White and other early films, and designers who helped create Disneyland. "Walt Disney is an entrepreneurial and cultural icon," said AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Executive Producer Mark Samels. "No single figure shaped American popular culture in the 20th century more than he." From Steamboat Willie to Pinocchio to Mary Poppins, Disney's movies grew out of his own life experiences. He told stories of outsiders struggling for acceptance and belonging, while questioning the conventions of class and authority. As Disney rose to prominence and gained financial security, his work became increasingly celebratory of the American way of life that made his unlikely success possible. Yet despite the success he achieved, he was driven and restless, a demanding perfectionist on whom decades of relentless work and chain-smoking would take their toll. He wanted his films to make people feel deeply, yet often buried his own emotions. Aspiring to create great artistic films, he felt he wasn't taken seriously by the movie industry, and was stung when critics panned his productions. Never satisfied with his previous efforts, he always pushed forward to a "new adventure," but his attention to detail and quest for innovation frequently meant delays and cost overruns. When his employees organized and went on strike, Disney felt betrayed, not able to understand how people who worked for him could be unhappy years later he called them "communists" before the House Un-American Activities Committee. 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 conceived Disneyland, the world's first theme park and a three-dimensional realization of his own utopian universe.moreless
  • American Experience: The Circus

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    The Circus explores the colorful history of this popular, influential and distinctly American form of entertainment, from the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century to 1956, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey big top was pulled down for the last timemoreless
  • The American Experience: The Forgotten Plague

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    By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the most deadly killer in human history, tuberculosis, had killed one in seven of all the people who had ever lived. The disease struck America with a vengeance, ravaging communities and touching the lives of almost every family. Rich, poor, young, or old, the disease struck indiscriminately and death could be sudden or painfully prolonged. The battle against the deadly bacteria had a profound and lasting impact on the country. It shaped medical and scientific pursuits, social habits, economic development, western expansion, and government policy. Yet both the disease and its impact are poorly understood: in the words of one writer, tuberculosis is our "forgotten plague."moreless
  • American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act

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    Examine the 1882 law that made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America.
  • American Experience: The Bombing Of Wall Street

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    Explore the story behind the mostly-forgotten 1920 bombing in the nation's financial center.
  • American Experience: The Big Burn

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    Inspired by Timothy Egan's bestseller, this is the dramatic story of an catastrophic 1910 wildfire that defined the fledgling U.S. Forest Service and the nation's fire policy for the rest of the 20th century and beyond. In the current American landscape, The Big Burn provides a cautionary tale of heroism and sacrifice, arrogance and greed, hubris and, ultimately, humility, in the face of nature's frightening power.moreless
  • American Experience: Gilded Age

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    Meet the titans and barons of the glittering late 19th century.
  • American Experience: Triangle Fire

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    Explore how a tragic 1911 New York factory fire that left 146 dead led to workplace safety laws.
  • American Experience: The Secret Of Tuxedo Park

    Trailer

    Meet the unknown tycoon whose secret lab developed the technology that altered the course of WWII.
  • American Experience: Into The Amazon

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    Explore Theodore Roosevelt's perilous 1914 journey into the deadly heart of the Amazon rainforest.
  • American Experience: Cold War Roadshow

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    Revisit Nikita Khrushchev's historic American tour in 1959, at the height of the Cold War.
  • Death and the Civil War Extended Promo

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    9/19/12

  • Clinton Behind the Scenes

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    2/20/12

  • Clinton Behind the Scenes

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    2/20/12

  • Jubilee Video: Ford Fairlane Giveaway

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Paint by Numbers

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Fashion Show

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Fashion Show

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    2/14/12

  • Tupperware Jubilee: Motorboat Wish

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Ford Fairlane Giveaway

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Paint by Numbers

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    2/14/12

  • Jubilee Video: Top 25

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    2/12/12

  • Jubilee Video: Top 25

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    2/12/12

  • Ghost Riders: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

  • Sunset: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

  • Sunset: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

  • Ghost Riders: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

  • Custer Behind the Scenes

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    1/17/12

  • River Dawn: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

  • River Dawn: the Wild West

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    1/17/12

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