Bowing to pressure from advocates for the homeless, the Walt Disney Co. has decided to stop selling a toy figure of a tramp.
The Rev. Christopher Rose, rector of Grace Episcopal Church, inspired the protests early this month when he cited "Steve the Tramp" as one of the most offensive toys of the 1990 Christmas season."I'm glad somebody there got a conscience," Rose said when he learned of Disney's action this week. "But I feel it is a hollow victory because it is only a week before Christmas."
The 5-inch-high plastic figure is one of a series of 14 "coppers and gangsters" based on the movie "Dick Tracy," which was produced by Disney-owned Touchstone Pictures.
The tramp is described on the package as "hardened and bitter after a life on the mean streets . . . a lout who would just as soon take your life as your wallet . . . (and) will use and abuse any young, helpless prey he comes across."
"We feel that the action figure, when viewed outside the fantasy world of `Dick Tracy,' is being misunderstood," said a statement released by the Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, Calif., Monday evening.
Disney spokesman Chuck Champlin acknowledged that it was too late to recall the toy from other retailers a week before Christmas.
Some chains discontinued sale of the tramp doll after advocates for the homeless protested and picketed stores.