Today’s post I wrote for my Economics Project on Entrepreneurs in September, but I thought it would be fitting for his birthday today, as we take a look at the man who created and started the company that is known worldwide today. Lets take a look at Walt Disney.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1901 Walt Disney had humble beginnings in the Midwest city. He was born to Elias Disney, an Irish- American and Flora Call Disney of German- American descent, he was one of five children in the Disney household, including of four boys and only one girl. Soon after Walt was born, his family moved to Marceline, Missouri a little town from which Walt learned a lot and was inspired. He became interested in drawing while he was here; he even got his first “paid” job by a retired Doctor who hired Walt to draw his horse. Later on in his life he moved back to Chicago to attend high school at McKinley High School, and divided his interest between drawing and photography. In 1918, at just sixteen years old, Walt dropped out of High School to pursue a life in the military, but was denied because of his age. Instead, Walt and his friend joined the Red Cross, and since World War I was just beginning, the Red Cross sent him overseas to France where he worked as an ambulance driver. When he came back from France he started a new “venture” with his friend Ub Iwerks, called Laugh-O-Gram in Kansas City, Missouri.
Once Walt started his business with Iwerks, where he began producing short animated films for local businesses and he also began working on a new project, The Alice Comedies. The Alice Comedies was about a real girl having adventures in an animated world. Before Walt could finish The Alice Comedies Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupted and Walt ran out of money. And instead of giving up, Walt packed up his stuff and moved to Hollywood in 1923, with the unfinished Alice Comedies in hand and only $40 in his pocket. Meeting up with his brother, Roy Disney, who was already in Hollywood, they pooled Walt’s $40, Roy’s $250 and borrowed $500 from the bank and set up a studio in their Uncle’s garage. Soon after that they received an order for the first Alice in Cartoonland (formally Alice Comedies) from New York. With that, the brothers expanded their “studios” to the back of a real estate office. After marrying his wife, Lillian, in July 1925, he created Mickey Mouse in 1928. Originally naming him “Mortimer”, Lillian didn’t like the name, so Walt changed it. From there, he made the first Mickey Mouse silent cartoon, Plane Crazy. However, before the cartoon could be released, sound was introduced upon the motion picture industry. Mickey Mouse made his screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the world's first synchronized sound cartoon, which premiered on November 18, 1928. Walt strived to perfect the art of animation. Technicolor was introduced to animation during the production of his Silly Symphonies Cartoon Features. Walt Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, allowing him to make the only color cartoons. In 1932, the production entitled Flowers and Trees won Walt the first of his studio's Academy Awards. In 1937, he released The Old Mill, the first short subject to utilize the multi-plane camera technique. Another “breakthrough” that Walt made in animation was the first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which debuted on December 21, 1937. In 1940, the construction was completed on the new studios building in Burbank. Walt went on to make more “breakthroughs” such as The Three Caballeros, Treasure Island, and Mary Poppins, and even starting the True Life Adventures documentary series in the years that came. On July 17, 1955, another one of Walt’s Dreams came true, making his own theme park, when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. In the late 1960s, Walt yearned for more land to make a bigger and better Disneyland. With that Walt set off to find another piece of land, which would be close to a city, but not in the city, like with Disneyland. Walt bought the land for the “Florida Project” with the help of a few investors and some of his Imagineers in Central Florida. The land he bought is about twice the size of Manhattan. Walt could never see his dream come to fruition, on December 15, 1966, Walt passed away.
His Imagineers still put his dream together, on October 1, 1971 his imagineers and brother, Roy Disney, opened Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (formally the Florida Project) in honor of Walt himself. Years later the now Walt Disney Company got their own network on “cable”, the Disney Channel, in 1983. The company took a new avenue when they moved a production to Broadway, with Beauty and the Beast opening on Broadway in 1994; it opened the company into a whole new venture, now that they have had several smash Broadway hits, including The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, and Mary Poppins. Walt legacy is still living today, all around the world, with the continuation of the Walt Disney Studios around the world, and the Walt Disney Theme Parks also around the world, with one resort in Europe, and two in Asia. Walt has influenced a lot within the entertainment world. Just think, how long could it have taken to get colored animation into the main stream of full length features if Walt never made Snow White, would we have the advances that we have today, I am sure we would, but not as sophisticated. What would a child’s life be without watching classic Disney films? Or going to a Disney Theme Park? Or dreaming of becoming a Pirate or a Princess?