“We kep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Today, we are going to be talking about the life of the man who is behind the biggest and most appreciated animated fairytales. The man whose passion created “the happiest place on earth” aka the largest and most profitable amusement parks in history. You guessed it, we’re obviously talking about Walt Disney. Born in 1901 in Chicago, Walt Disney is considered as the pioneer of motion pictures animated films and one of the biggest and most successful businessman and film producers of all time. His impact on the cinema industry was such that, even 54 years after his death, Walt Disney still holds the record of the most rewarded artist by the Academy Awards, with a total of 59 nominations and 22 wins. To understand where his passion and his sense of creativity came from, we’re gonna have a look at 10 important events and dates that shaped Walt Disney’s life. Let’s do dive right into it.
Walt Disney’s family moved to Kansas City from Chicago. There, young Walt meets his best friend, Walter Pfeiffer. The two kids spent hours together putting on acts and going to the local theatre and they called themselves “The Two Walts.” The Pfeiffer family was also passionate about theatre, which increased Disney’s passion for entertainment, theatre and cartoons. Walter and Walt Disney remained friends throughout their lives, as Walter was employed by Walt Disney Productions from 1935 until his retirement in 1972.
Walt Disney moved to Chicago from Kansas. He attended the McKinley High School where his passion for drawing and photography only increased, as he worked for his school newspapers. At night, he took courses at the Chicago Art Institut.
Walt Disney tried to join the army but he was rejected because he was underaged at the time. He then joined the Red Cross where he worked as an ambulance driver. His ambulance was covered in drawings and cartoons.
Walt Disney formed his company Laugh-O-gram Films. He is joined by his friend Ub Iwerks (whom he met a couple of years before) who becomes his Chief Animator. The company went bankrupt shortly after its opening.
Walt Disney leaves Kansas City to go to Hollywood, with only $40 in his pocket and a completed animated film. His brother, Roy O Disney, already lives in California and financially contributed to the construction of a camera stand. They soon received an order from New York and they both started the animation of the first “Alice Comedy” short films with their company called the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio (Renamed Walt Disney Studio in 1926). They were soon joined by Walt’s friend, Ub Iwerks.
The birth of Mickey Mouse. The legend says that Walt Disney first started sketching Mickey on the train back to Los Angeles from New York. The character was inspired by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit ( a cartoon character previously created by Walt and Ub Iwerks). He created a character closer to a mouse. Ub Iwerks finally sketched and designed Mickey Mouse as we know it nowadays. Mickey’s first appearance on screen was made in Steamboat Willie, which is considered to be the first synchronized sound cartoon. Mickey Mouse became extremely popular as a lot of production companies wanted to acquire the rights of the famous mouse.
Flowers and Trees, the first colored animated cartoon of the Silly Symphonies series. The film is a commercial and critical success. It also won the first Academy Awards for Best Short Subjects, Cartoons (a category introduced for the first time in 1932). Ub Iwerks served as Chief Directing Animator for the Silly Symphonies series. This is also the year Walt Disney won an Academy Honorary Award for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated musical feature is screened at theCarthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, earning a standing ovation. A lot of stars had attended the premiere, such as Charlie Chaplin who told the Los Angeles Times that the animated had “even surpassed (their) high expectations. In Dwarf Dopey, Disney has created one of the greatest comedians of all time.” The following years were a success for Disney, who came up with many others full-length animated films, such as Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) or Bambi (1942). Disney had wanted to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ever since he had watched a silent version of the story back in 1917.
This year is a milestone in Walt Disney’s life, as it is the opening year of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC. The park opened with 5 themed lands and 20 attractions. Walt Disney opened the park with his famous speech “To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land.(…) Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America…”
After witnessing the success that was Disneyland, Walt Disney later purchased 43 square miles of new lands in Orlando, Florida, in order to built Walt Disney World. The park opened to the public in 1971.
Mary Poppins was released and one of the biggest successes of Disney’s life in the 60’s. The movie combined live action sequences and the cartoon medium. The movie is based on Pamela Lyndon Travers’s stories. He was trying to acquire the rights of Mary Poppins since the 40’s. The movie received 13 Oscar nominations and won five of them, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Best Visual Effects.
“First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.” A quote from Walt Disney that sums up his life pretty well. Walt Disney is the vivid exemple that dreams do come true, as cheesy as it may sound, if you none only believe in them, but if you also do your best to give life to them. Disney was non only a pioneer of the animated world, but he was also a fine businessman and a “go-getter” kind of dreamer.
What’s your favorite Disney Animated? Let us know in the comments!