Disney denied a request to have a father use a Spider-Man image on the gravestone of his son Ollie Jones following his death at the age of 4 from a rare genetic disease, leukodystrophy.
Ollie’s father, Lloyd wanted to honor his son and his love of Spider-Man by placing an image of the famous character on his gravestone. However, when he approached Disney about using the character, his request was denied.
A Disney representative issued a statement to The Sun regarding their denial:
“We extend our sincere condolences. If we played a small part in Ollie’s happiness we are honoured.
Generations of fans have responded to our characters with the same wonder and delight that Ollie did. In fact, many believe the characters to be real.
We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy.
For that reason, we follow a policy that began with Walt Disney himself that does not permit the use of characters on headstones, cemetery or other memorial markers or funeral urns.”
According to the Independent, Disney did offer to commemorate Ollie with a hand-inked and hand-painted personalized celluloid.
“Although we cannot grant the family’s request, we would be pleased to commemorate your nephew with a hand-inked, hand-painted, personalised celluloid that recognises his love for Spider-Man, which will read: ‘For your _______ (nephew’s name), Thank you for letting us share in the magic of your life. Your friends at the Walt Disney Company.
We feel privileged to have had him as a fan.'”
Lloyd Jones did not buy Disney’s denial. Lloyd told The Sun, “I really wasn’t expecting this – it’s another massive blow. I felt sure they would allow it.”
He would add, “We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy. But now he has died and we won’t be spending any more money, they don’t care.”
Ollie’s Uncle Jason Jones added:
“This meant everything to us. My brother’s life has been shattered, it has shattered the whole family.
We can’t move on until we have his headstone done – Spider-Man was Ollie’s entire life. He loved it so much.”
I didn’t expect it to be an issue – my funeral director, who’s also my friend called me and told me they can’t do it. I thought he was joking at first.
We understand copyright but I don’t see why Marvel would have any issues with this.”
Ollie was buried in Maidstone Kent and his funeral procession was led by Spider-Man. The Sun also reports that the character was on his coffin.
A Maidstone Burrough Council spokeswoman stated, “Maidstone Borough Council is trying to help a family who have asked whether they can place a Spider-Man headstone at the grave of their young son.” She concluded, “Sadly, these types of stones have to adhere to copyright and while we understand this is a very emotional time for the family we have made contact with Marvel to ensure the family are complying with their terms and conditions.”
What do you make of Disney’s decision to refuse the request to have Spider-Man on Ollie’s gravestone?