FIFTEEN MINUTES with C. Northcote Parkinson
by Paul F. Anderson

Today’s memory comes from a “Walt’s People” want-to-be. Interesting how throughout history numerous people proposed or sent ideas to Walt. By digging into the various biographies of history’s influential people in the past, I have discovered quite a few little “Walt Fifteen Minutes” anecdotes–that is a brief picture in time of when some famous or historical individual had their fifteen minutes of “Walt” (compared to “fame” — with all respect to Andy Warhol). Seemingly, the more esoteric they are, the more intriguing they are (today’s essay certainly being proof of that — can you imagine Walt’s thought process concerning a Disney Productions film on … idleness? Starring none other than … well, read the essay!). So, watch for future segments of Walt’s People featuring “Fifteen Minutes” (and if you have any to share, by all means send them along to the Institute). Enjoy.

C. (Cyril) Northcote Parkinson [image at left], the world renowned economist who originated a philosophy from idleness, was apparently a Walt Disney fan. The fact was not discovered until the historian and author passed away on March 10, 1993 in Canterbury, England, and his obituary printed, albeit tucked away in the nether regions of the newspapers. He was the author of over 60 books, and was most famous for his article in the London Economist in 1955 where he offered the now legendary maxim that came to be known as Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He went on to prove this using his experiences from World War II where he served on the general staff of the British War Office.

As one of the world’s acclaimed intellectuals his blend of a dry scholarly approach with the humor of a satirist made him notably popular–especially when lampooning bureaucratic institutions, which he excelled in.

“Although he regarded most Americans as illiterate,” the Times of London said in its obituary on March 11, “Parkinson made an exception with Walt Disney, whom he considered a genius–`not a very well educated genius, but a genius all the same.’ “

“His attempts to interest Disney in film rights to a screenplay based on the law floundered because no part could be found in it for the studio’s latest signing, Hayley Mills,” the Times said.

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