Walter Elias “Walt” Disney, is the creator of Disney studios. He gifted us with Mickey mouse, the most loved cartoon character of all – young and old. He was an American pioneer of cartoon films, a showman, a motion picture and television producer. Like all great minds evolve with struggle, passion and persistence, Walt Disney too, is one great name in the animation world who woke up each day to make it big in the creative world. He was born on December 5, 1901 to Elias and Flora Call Disney. He had five siblings. Walt was born in Hermosa section of Chicago and lived most of his childhood in Marceline, Missouri. He began drawing, painting and selling pictures to neighbours and family friends.
In his school days, Disney and his brother Roy would deliver newspapers every morning and evening as their father had purchased a delivery route of two newspapers. As the routine was very hectic, young Disney would fall asleep in the class and would often receive poor grades. But undeterred, he continued the paper delivery route for more than six years. Also, he attended Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute and took a correspondence course in cartooning.
In 1917, Disney enrolled at McKinley High School and became the cartoonist of the school newspaper. At night, he took courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He dropped out of school to join the Armed forces but got rejected for being underage. He then joined the Red Cross and was sent to France for a year to drive an ambulance. After two years, Disney moved again to Kansas City to pursue a career as a newspaper artist. His brother got him a job at the Pesmen- Rubin Art Studio where he met the cartoonist Ubbe Eert Iwwerks, better known as Ub Iwerks. Little by little, Walt Disney started working on the big picture of his passion and laid a foundation of his own animation business.
From the Kansas ad company, where previously he made commercials, he recruited Fred Harman as his first employee. Disney and Harman made a deal with a local Kansas City theatre to screen their cartoons, which they called Laugh-O-Grams. The cartoons gained huge popularity and very soon, Disney was able to acquire his own studio, upon which he conferred the same name. Laugh-O-Gram hired several employees, including Iwerks and Harman’s brother Hugh. They did a series of seven minutes fairy tales that combined both live action and animation, which they called Alice in Cartoonland. But, in the following years, the studio had become burdened with debt, and Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy.
Failures did not stop the spirits of Walt Disney. He shifted to Hollywood along with his brother and Ub Iwerks and the trio began ‘The Disney Brothers Studio’ which changed to Disney Studios later. Oswald the lucky Rabbit was one of the earlier creations of Disney Studios. With Ub Iwerks, Walt developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928. He also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. Steamboat Willie, starring Mickey mouse was his first animated movie equipped with sound and music , the first of its kind.
As the studio grew, Disney became more experimental, introducing various technical developments in cameras and so gifted the animation industry classic masterpieces like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. New animated and live-action films followed World War II, including the critically successful Cinderella and Mary Poppins, the latter of which received five Academy Awards. These were some of the famous films created by Disney Studios and many more followed. Even today we can see some great animation works created by Disney. In his entire career, Walt Disney won 26 academy awards, 3 Golden Globe awards and 1 Emmy award.
Disney now was a famous name in the animation world but this did not stop Walt Disney to prove that he was a showman. He decided to open a theme park in which both, the children and their parents could have fun together. He built his theme park – Disneyland in Anaheim which truly was a wonderful place for children and elders too. The construction work of the theme park commenced in July 1954, and Disneyland opened in July 1955; the opening ceremony was broadcast on ABC, which reached 70 million viewers. The park was designed as a series of themed lands. Although there were early minor problems with the park, it was a success, and after a month’s operation, Disneyland was receiving over 20,000 visitors a day; by the end of its first year, it attracted 3.6 million guests.
Such was the inspiring life of Walt Disney who lived it up to his dream of giving the animation world a new dimension.He gave all the generations sweet fond memories and cartoon characters who proved to be best friends of all kids and elders too. Walt Disney breathed his last on December 15,1965. He died of lung cancer. His remains were cremated two days later, and his ashes were buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. He will always remain a central figure in the history of animation. With his creative and technical acumen, he transformed a minor studio to a multinational entertainment industrial giant. He was and is a living legend for the world of entertainment.