STAMFORD, CONN., DEC. 14 -- The Walt Disney Co. has given in to the demands of a homeless rights group by pulling its controversial "Steve the Tramp" doll off the market.
Disney also pledged today to donate $10,000 worth of toys to Stamford, Conn.-based Gateway Communities and other human service agencies for distribution to homeless children.
"Because we are concerned that this product may be conveying a negative image of our nation's homeless, we feel it is appropriate to stop selling the toy," said a joint statement issued today by Disney and its licensee Playmate Toys.
"Steve the Tramp" was one of 14 action figures of criminals and gangsters inspired by the "Dick Tracy" movie and comic strip. The biography on the package described him as "a reeking piece of filth ... dirty and scarred from a life on the streets."
A week ago, a dozen members of Homeless Not Helpless and Gateway Communities, both of Stamford, protested the sale of the toy, saying it degraded the homeless and portrayed them as villains. Their action prompted Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby to pull "Steve the Tramp" from the shelves of its 1,200 U.S. stores.
Disney initially defended the toy as "not intended in any way to represent the homeless." But after the National Coalition for the Homeless joined the campaign this week, Disney bowed to the pressure.