Changing the world one cartoon at a time
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his childhood in Marcelene, Missouri where he would spend the days drawing and painting pictures, in which he would sell to family friends and neighbors. His family moved to Kansas city in 1911, where he developed a love for trains. Later, Walt worked a summer job at the railroad, where he would sell snacks and newspapers. He attended McKinley High School in Chicago, where he took drawing and photography classes. He also got a job as a cartoonist for the school's paper. He took courses at the Chicago Institute of Art at night. When he was 16 years old, he dropped out of school to enroll in the army, but was rejected because he was underage. Instead, he took a job at the Red Cross, driving an ambulance in France.
Begginning a Career In Animation
Walt then moved back to Kansas city, where he was trying to become a newspaper artist. His brother got him a job in the Pesmin-Rubin Art Studio. Later, he worked at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he made animated commercials. After making commercials, he decided to start his own animation business. He hired Fred Harman, from the ad company, as his first employee. Together they made a deal with the Kansas City Theater to show their films, which they called Laugh-O-Grams. These cartoons were really popular, and soon Disney opened a studio which he also called Laugh-O-Gram. They hired many more employees and did a series of seven minute fairy tales, which they called Alice in Cartoonland. Unfortunately, in 1923 the company had become overloaded with debt, and they went bankrupt. Soon, Walt and his brother gathered up their money, moved to Hollywood, and created the Disney Brothers' Studio. They made a deal with a New York distributor to distribute their Alice cartoons. They also made a new character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and contracted the short films at $1,500 each.
The Disney Brothers' Studio distributor, along with her husband, had stolen the rights for Walt's character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Soon after, Disney and his partners created a new character called Mickey Mouse. He was first featured in the two short films, Plane Crazy, and The Gallopin' Gaucho. Both silent films had failed the process of distribution. Disney then created a third, featuring Mickey, called Steamboat Willie. Walt was the voice of Mickey, and soon the short film became a hit.
Mickey Mouse: Steamboat Willie (1928)
More Characters and Huge Success
In 1929, Silly Symphonies was made featuring Mickey Mouse's new friends, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. One of the most poplar films, called Flowers and Trees from the series, was the first one to be in color, and to win an Oscar. Then, in 1933 the Three Little Pigs and its title song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" was a theme for America during the Great Depression. On December 21, 1937, the first full length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in Los Angeles. The movie made a whopping $1.499 million and won a total of eight Oscars. In the next five years, Disney produced a string of full length movies, including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. In the 1950s through the 1960s, they also made Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. Over all, more than 100 films were made in his studio. His last huge success was Mary Poppins, which included animation and real people acting.
Disney's $17 million theme park opened in the summer of 1955, taking the place of an old orange grove. After a exhausting opening day, including a few problems, the park was known as a great place for the family to explore, go on fun rides, and meet the characters themselves. In a very short time, the park was a huge success, and tourists from around the world came to visit. Over time it has branched out to all over the world, with parks in Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.
A few years after the opening of Disney Land, Walt made plans to open another theme park in Florida. During the construction in 1966, he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He died on December 15, 1966 at the age of 65. Walt was cremated and his ashes were buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. Walt's brother then went on building the theme park in Florida. It opened in 1971 and named Disney World.
An Impact on the World
Over all, Walt Disney made a huge impact on the whole world. He teaches kids and adults alike to never give up on their dreams, even if it takes a little extra work. Even after he died, he left a legacy that will last forever. As he once said, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."