Walt Disney

The man that overcame failure by pursuing his dreams

Mikey Mlakar

Who is Walt Disney?

Walter Elias Disney was born December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He lived with his parents, Elias and Flora Call Disney and his four other siblings. Disney spent a lot of his pastime as a child drawing, painting, and selling pictures to family friends and neighbors. For most of his childhood, his family lived in Marceline, Missouri. However the family soon moved to Kansas City in 1911. There, Disney attended McKinley High School in Chicago. He took drawing and photography classes and became a cartoonist for the school paper. To further his skills, Disney also took night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. When he is 16, Disney drops out of school to join the army but is rejected because of his age. Instead he joins the Red Cross and is sent to France for a year to drive an ambulance.
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Young Walt Disney in 1917 before he had dropped out of school

Disney's Road to Success

When Walt Disney gets back from France, he gets a job as cartoon artist at a local newspaper. However he was soon fired by his boss for having a lack of creativeness and imagination and for having no original ideas. Crushed, Disney was helped by his brother Roy and was able to get another job at Pesmen-Rubio Art Studio. While working there, he met Ub Iwerks who later becomes a business partner of Disney's. In addition, he hired a man named Fred Harman who also becomes a business partner of his. Disney then gets a job at the Kansas City Film Ad Company where he makes commercials based on cut-out animation. With this work, Disney and the rest of his team was able to make a deal with the a theater in Kansas City to screen their cartoons. They call these "Laugh-o-Grams," which become popular fast. Disney acquired his own studio and hired Harman and Iwerks. Unfortunately, this studio goes bankrupt. In a last attempt to achieve his dreams, Disney, his brother Roy, and Iwerks all move to Hollywood to create the Disney Brother's Studio. They began work and soon produce the character Mickey Mouse, known then as Steamboat Willie. It becomes an instant sensation and is just the start of the studio's success.
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Walt Disney with cartoon Mickey Mouse during a photo shoot to promote the character

Walt Disney's Legacy

Disney was a smoker for his entire adult life. In 1966, doctors discovered a tumor in his left lung. He then had the lung removed and was told he had six months to two years to live. Nineteen days later, Disney collapsed at his home. He was revived by fire department personnel and was rushed to the hospital. On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of circulatory collapse. He left behind his wife, Lillian Disney and his two daughters, Diane and Sharon Disney. Disney created a giant in the entertainment industry and has delighted many for generations. To this day, he holds the record for Academy Awards. He produced a number of films, television shows, and even two amusement parks. The things that Walt Disney has left behind are immense and could not even be attempted to be measured. All in all, he was truly an amazing man that shall never be forgotten.
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Walt Disney's place of burial located in Los Angeles, California.


Walt Disney has been recognized multiple times for his achievements in the film industry. He has been given four honorary Academy Awards, twenty-two Academy Awards, and seven Emmy awards. Disney was and is still considered today to truly be a visionary with the work he had done in his life.
A preview of a documentary on Walt Disney

What Should we Take out of Disney's Failure?

A lot can be learned from the struggles that Walt Disney faced during his lifetime. First of all, even after Disney was told that he was not creative, imaginative, and had no original ideas, he continued to pursue his dream. After that, his studio went bankrupt, and instead of giving up, he stayed determined to accomplish his goals. If someone were to get anything out of Disney's story, it would simply be to never give up. Even when people are against you, when nothing seems to be going right, it's not worth giving up, especially not a dream. When Disney was asked about his failure, he said, "I failed... I think it's important to remember to have a good hard failure when you're young... I learned a lot out of that."(Disney). Walt Disney is a truly inspirational person who has overcome more than one obstacle in his life.

Works Cited

Alison Nastasi. Photograph. Flavorwire, December 5, 2015. Mar 17 2016

Biography.com Editors. The Biography.com Website. A&E Television Networks. Mar 17 2016

Cory Doctorow. “Walt Disney’s Grave.” Photograph. Flickr, August 16, 2007. Mar 17 2016

Frank Licari. “Young Walt Disney.” Photograph. Frank Licari. Mar 17 2016

Jack Spence. Photograph. AllEars, October 29, 2012. Mar 17 2016

PBS. “American Experience: Walt Disney.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 24 August 2015. Web. Mar 17 2016

Photograph. Hollywood Golden Guy, 2008. Mar 17 2016

"Walt Disney." 2016. The Famous People website. Mar 17 2016