Walt Disney Biography
Walter Elías Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1901, and died in Burbank, California, on December 15, 1966. Walter was a director, producer, animator, cartoonist and screenwriter from the United States, winner of the Oscar Award 22 times, plus 4 honorary awards of the Academy, and of the Emmy in 7 opportunities.
Walt Disney is known for his famous children’s characters such as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, and for founding one of the most important animations, film, and entertainment companies, Walt Disney Productions.
Walt Disney is the son of Elias Disney, a farmer of Irish ascendancy who had come from Canada, and Flora Call, a school teacher. Walt was the fourth of five children. When he was five years old, the family moved to Marceline, Missouri, where Walt spent a happy childhood drawing and playing with his sister Ruth. However, in 1909, his father became ill with typhoid fever and was unable to work in the field, so he had to sell the farm and go to Kansas City to work as a delivery boy for the Kansas City Star, with the help of his children Walt and Roy. Due to this work, Walt graduated from the Benton Grammar School in 1911. Then he did several jobs while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and at McKinley High School, where he was a school newspaper cartoonist.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney
During the First World War, Walt Disney wanted to imitate his brother, who was in the Navy, and he appeared in the army after leaving the Institute but was not admitted because of his age. Preventing the same thing happening, he presented himself to the Red Cross lying about his age, and this organization sent him to Europe when Germany had already signed the armistice. In Germany, he drove ambulances in which he drew and took some officers from one place to another until in 1919 he returned to America, to Kansas City.
While in Kansas City and thanks to his brother Roy, he got a job where he had to create ads for magazines, cinemas, and newspapers. In this job, he met Ubbe Iwerks, with whom he founded an advertising company in 1920, which they had to leave shortly afterward because of the lack of clients. Later, they both were hired at Kansas City Films Ad, where they learned basic animation techniques.
After studying anatomy and physics, and experimenting with his work team, Walt Disney started his own studio called Laugh-O-Gram Films. In it, he dedicated himself to producing animated short stories of popular stories, but that cost them more than they earned. This is why his studio went bankrupt in 1923 and Disney traveled to Hollywood in search of opportunities.
In Hollywood after knocking on doors looking for an opportunity without success, so he decided to send the last short film he had produced in his previous studio, Alice’s Wonderland, to the distributor Margaret Winkler, who hired him to make more films. To do this, Walt set up a studio in his uncle’s garage and entrusted his brother Roy with the financial issues, founding the Disney Brother’s Studio, which would be the beginning of Walt Disney Productions.
After successfully exhibiting nine Alice films, Disney created Oswald, a character whose show, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, quickly triumphed when it was distributed by Universal Pictures. Before this, the husband of Margaret Winkler asked Disney to continue working on this new series for a lower salary, and that it did not really matter if he refused because he and Universal Studios had the rights of the character. Walt Disney refused and preferred to create a new character, Mickey Mouse. This one appeared for the first time in 1928, but in its beginnings, it did not attract much attention. It was not until the implementation of sound that became a resounding success, having the voice of Walt Disney himself.
After 1930, there were already different products of Mickey Mouse, and several personalities had admitted their sympathy for the character, among which were politicians such as Jorge V, Roosevelt, and Mussolini. By 1935, all Disney short films already had sound and color image.
“Ask yourself if what you’re doing today will get you where you want to go tomorrow.” Walt Disney
After making several series of short films, such as the Silly Symphonies, Disney wanted to make his first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was seen by the public as a too risky bet. The study ran out of money before finishing the film, reason why Walt had to borrow money from the Bank of America.
After two years of production, from 1935 to 1937, Snow White was released, managing to raise more than six times the enormous sum that the production had cost. With the income, Disney opened some studios in Burbank and hired more employees. However, in 1941 several workers called a strike to complain about the poor salary and the lack of prominence they had in the credits. Disney, which refused to recognize the demands at the beginning, had to agree at the end because of the bad image that the strike was having on his name and his company.
In the forties, the company was economically affected by the World War II, but he was able to recover thanks to the adaptation he made of the market, which now asked for different formats than the short film. By the 50s, Disney was introduced in the market of the television and the action movies. In 1955, the Disneyland amusement park was completed. Already by the 1960’s, Walt Disney’s company was considered to be the most important family training company in the world and after receiving 26 Oscar Awards for his productions, 10 feature films, 12 short films and 4 honorary awards, one of them for having created Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, due to cardiorespiratory arrest.