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Ever Notice the Symbol on Walt Disney’s Neckties? Here’s the Meaning Behind the Mysterious Insignia

walt disney emblem on his necktie
Credit: Disney Archives/Canva

Fans of the genius animator and creative visionary Walter Elias Disney may have noticed it. Disney’s business colleagues probably took note of it. Even viewers at home who watched Walt Disney’s evening programs on ABC during the 1950s and 1960s likely noticed it as well. But it’s likely that very few know the significance of the embossed emblem on most of Walt’s neckties.

Related: Walt Disney Secretly Shares His Recipe for Success From Beyond the Grave

walt disney in a top hat

Credit: Walt Disney Archives

But about a half-hour on the clock and a few online searches finally yielded the answer that some diehard fans have wondered about for years.

The 1940s, 50s, and 60s: An Era of Sharp Dressing

When it comes to choosing clothing to wear for work, a popular suggestion encourages employees to “dress for the job they want, not the job they have.” But in early and mid-20th century America, it’s likely that less of that type of advice was necessary.

In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, clothing was very different from the clothing worn today, and attitudes about appropriate attire were vastly different as well. During that time, women often wore below-the-knee skirts that were straight and donned along with boxy jackets that featured padded shoulders. Even in the home, women often wore simple dresses–and even heels.

ethel and fred mertz i love lucy

Fred and Ethel Mertz at dinner with the Ricardos in “I Love Lucy”/Credit: CBS

Men often wore suits for every occasion–from working in the office to dinner with the neighbors. And those who didn’t wear a suit coat at dinner still had it with them and could be seen wearing long-sleeved button-up pressed shirts with neckties. Television sitcoms during that era, like I Love Lucy, underscored this trend.

Related: Walt Disney and Lucille Ball: The Dots You Probably Never Connected Until Now

the donna reed show

“The Donna Reed Show”/Credit: ABC

During the forties, fifties, and sixties, Americans placed a greater emphasis on wearing somewhat formal and always neat attire as everyday wear, as clothing styles were heavily influenced by societal norms, as well as by expectations and the typical roles played by men and women at the time.

Walt Disney: A Sharp Dresser If Ever There Was One

Because of this, it comes as no surprise that Walt Disney could almost always be seen wearing a full suit. In fact, in the majority of photos of Walt Disney, the visionary is hardly ever wearing plainclothes, except in images of the husband and father of two at home with his family.

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Walt Disney with his wife Lillian/Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

Even in those images, he is still seen wearing button-up shirts–though short-sleeved–with casual, belted pants.

walt disney and his family

Credit: Walt Disney Family Museum

A Mysterious Part of Walt’s Attire

Walt Disney could almost always be seen wearing a suit, complete with pants and matching jacket, dress shirt, and necktie. Even when Walt was filmed working with Imagineering and various miniature models of projects, he still wore either a suit or a button-up sweater with his dress shirt and tie.

walt disney with imagineer rolly crump

Walt Disney with Imagineer Rolly Crump and model of the Tower of the Four Winds/Credit: Walt Disney Archives

But regardless of whether he wore a suit jacket or a sweater, when Walt Disney donned a necktie, it often displayed a symbol with no explanation. The insignia can be seen in numerous photos of Walt in which he’s pictured wearing a necktie, though the symbol is not present on every one of his ties.

walt disney with symbol on his neckties

Credit: Disney Archives/Canva

The symbol was of great importance to Walt Disney–so important that it was included by sculptor and Disney Legend Blaine Gibson in the Partners statue at Disneyland Resort and at the Walt Disney World Resort. It was also included in the costuming for Tom Hanks in the 2012 film Saving Mr. Banks, during which Hanks played the role of the animator and theme park tycoon.

tom hanks as walt disney

Tom Hanks in “Saving Mr. Banks” (2012)/Credit: Disney

What Does the Symbol Mean?

So, what is the significance of the emblem worn on many of Walt Disney’s neckties? It’s really a very simple meaning, especially for the mystery in which it is steeped.
emblem on walt disney's tie

Credit: Smoke Tree Ranch

The symbol, which resembles a letter written in a different language, is actually a combination of three separate letters in the English alphabet: S, T, and R. Together, the letters form a symbol, which stands for “Smoke Tree Ranch.”
According to the website, Walt’s Folly, Walt Disney wore the symbol on his neckties because he loved the location so much:
Walt and Lillian purchased a lot in Smoke Tree Ranch in 1946 and had a home constructed there in 1948. Walt, Lillian, and their daughters, by all accounts, loved spending time at their vacation home at the ranch and could be found there on most major holidays. Walt often referred to it as his own “laughing place.” That affinity is evident by the fact Walt regularly wore ties embroidered with the Smoke Tree Ranch logo. 
Walt disney on a ranch in the desert

Walt Disney marks off the edges of his lot at Smoke Tree Ranch/Credit: D23

Smoke Tree Ranch can still be found in California today. It can be found in the South Mojave Desert on the northern side of the towering San Jacinto Mountains. Today, fans can see two homes and six cottages at Smoke Tree Ranch, but the land had its beginnings with Walt and Lillian Disney in the 1940s, when there was nothing out there but cacti and tumbleweeds.
And now, fans know the significance of the emblem on Walt Disney’s neckties. If nothing else, it’s an interesting bit of Disney trivia and makes for a great icebreaker in a group setting.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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