Walter E. Disney

Overcoming Obstacles

By: Autumn Kovach

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Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1901. He was the fourth of Elias and Flora Call Disney's five children. Walt was usually set to work on the farm with his younger brother Roy, but when his 'leisure time' came around he liked to visit his neighbors, 'Doc' Sherwood and 'Grandpa' Taylor. In addition he sometimes visited his grandmother and his aunt. These people were the first to encourage Walt's artistic abilities. Only a little while later, Walt's father Elias, became ill and was forced to sell the farm. The Disney family then moved to Kansas where Walt and his brother Roy sold newspapers for a living.

Struggle with Society

In 1917, Walt and his sister Ruth graduated seventh grade. But shortly after Elias moved back to Chicago with his daughters to work for a jelly company he invested in. Walter, though, stayed behind. He worked with his brother Roy, as a 'news butcher' selling concessions on the trains that passed through Kansas city. Already customers and coworkers played jokes on him. Walt always knew that he didn't have the knack for business. At the age of sixteen, Walt wanted to join the army, but he was rejected due to his age. So instead, he lied about how old he was to join the American Ambulance Corps. But after falling ill during the Great Flu epidemic, he didn't land in France until World War 1 had ended. Walt then ended up returning to Chicago. Once he had returned he landed a job as an apprentice at a commercial art studio. But once again the job only lasted for less than a month before he was laid off. Though this didn't stop him from pursuing his dream. After learning more about the art of animation he started to produce films for the theater at no cost. Soon after though, the theater went bankrupt and Walt left for California with only forty dollars in his pocket.


All of Walter's failures and let downs were not for nothing though. Once he moved to Hollywood with his brother Roy, Disney began working as a cartoonist once again. He then created the character of Mickey Mouse, whom was called Mortimer at the time, and began creating the first Mickey Mouse cartoons. At first Walt failed to find a distributor for the first two films, but them Steamboat Willie was created and better yet, with sound! Before long, Mickey Mouse had surpassed Felix the Cat to become the world's most popular cartoon character. Disney had success with the Mickey Mouse cartoons and received his first Academy Award. Soon afterward he began to work on a film based on the fairy tale 'Snow White'. Once Snow White was produced, this began what was called the 'Golden Age' for Disney. For this film he won a full size Oscar and seven miniature ones. This allowed him to build a new studio in Burbank, California. The animation staff of the studio had already started the production of Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. He also continued to work on the Mickey Mouse cartoons.
First Hug - Summer Vacation | Walt Disney World Resort

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney

What we can learn from Disney

Disney stopped formally learning in the eighth grade. A theory behind his struggle with education and his many jobs was that he in fact had attention deficit hyperactive disorder. However, there is little evidence behind this theory. It was more likely that his poor performance in school was because of having to go to work and repeatedly going through each grade. Sometimes he would even fall asleep in class. But, despite all of this, Disney never stopped learning: reading, teaching himself animation, tirelessly experimenting and working to improve his craft. He showed us that it is still possible to be successful even though you take a different path than expected. "All you've got to do is own up to your ignorance honestly, and you'll find people who are eager to fill your head with information" (Disney 1). Disney wants us to learn the value of hard work. He encourages our modern society to set goals, be curious, and have big dreams.

The End of Disney's Career

One of the last and most memorable things that Walt left behind with his legacy is the famous theme park which resides within Florida. But shortly after this idea was proposed, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Walter E. Disney died on December 15, 1966, at the age of sixty-five. Disney was cremated. His ashes were interred at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. After his brother's death, Roy Disney carried on the plans to finish the theme park, which opened in 1971 under the name of Disney World.

In Memory of Walt Disney

Walt Disney was placed under many setbacks in his life, like many of the people in our generation. But slowly he overcame those problems and was able to become an inspiration to people around the world. Many others have faced problems like these, but we remember Walt Disney because he made such a mark on this world that it would be nearly impossible to forget him. And I believe that even someone in our generation could become the next Walt Disney. You just have to believe in yourself and face your problems. Maybe one day the world will remember your name and your mark on the world as they remembered Disney's.

Works Cited A&E Networks Television. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.

"Overcoming Obstacles: Hard Work and Persistence Paid Off For Walt Disney - K12 - Learning Liftoff - Free Parenting, Education, and Homeschooling Resources." K12 Learning Liftoff Free Parenting Education and Homeschooling Resources. 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.

"Walt Disney: Long Biography." Walt Disney: Long Biography. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.

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