The Life of Walt Disney

13 Mar

2nd. article in our 5 week series on Disney

Walt Elias Disney was born on the 5th of December 1901 in Chicago. He moved to Marceline, Missouri and lived on a farm where he developed a passion for drawing. In 1911 he became friends with Walter Pfeiffer who introduced him to the theatre world. He was inspired to start taking art classes in Kansas City.

Walt would move back to Chicago where he drew cartoons for school paper. He dropped out of school at 16 and Tried to join the army at 16 but was denied so he decided to join as a Red Cross driver. He was sent to France but only after Armistice Day! (11-11-1918).

His brother Roy got him a job at Pesmen-Rubin Art Studios helping with their advertisements. There he met Ub Iwerks and they decided to create their own commercial company with Ub. It was called Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists but the company didn’t last long and both went back to Kansas City to earn some money in an advertisement company. After working on cut out animations, Disney decided to become an animator. He decided to open up his own animation company and managed to get a deal with a local cinemater to show their cartoons.

Known as the Laugh-O-Grams, the cartoons became extremely popular. Disney opened his own Studio (Laugh-O-Gram Studio) but they didn’t make enough profit and the studio would eventually go into bankruptcy.  Undeterred, Walt and his brother Roy moved to Hollywood and created a cartoon called the Alice Comedies. During this time Disney fell in love and married a woman called Lillian Bounds whom he met through his new studio Disney Brothers Studio.

Unfortunately Walt lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and a number of his staff left and went into business with Universal run by Charles Mintz who took with him Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney only got the copyright back in 2006! Obviously Walt needed something to replace Oswald and chose it to be based on a pet mouse he had at Laugh-O-Gram. Ub Iwerks redesigned the cartoon mouse Walt had previously drawn and the voice was provided by Walt. The character, which was first named Mortimer but it was later changed to Mickey was popular but add in sound being used for the first time on a cartoon and Disney had a massive success!

Walt would go on to make many more cartoons and films. He also earned 59 Oscar nominations and won 22 of them. Walt would continue to come up with new ideas like his theme parks. Unfortunately he didn’t survive to see his largest theme park (he died of lung cancer) but his brother, Roy, would see to it that the park would be finished and dedicated to him!

Also see: Should Oz be Disney’s Next Theme Park Ride? 


25 Responses to “The Life of Walt Disney”

  1. Open Book March 14, 2013 at 7:30 AM #


    Fascinating and cool to watch all the B&W animation. What did u learn about Walt Disney u did not know previously?

    • Open Book March 14, 2013 at 7:40 AM #

      P.S. I can watch these old cartoons all day. Did u have trouble finding them?

      • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:32 PM #

        Once I knew the name and date it was quite easy which surprised me. There were a couple where the first cartoon wasn’t available so I had to go with the second one.

    • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM #

      Does debunking urban legends count? Lol! I found out he didn’t have his head frozen! I mostly learned bits and pieces about him. He and his wife struggled to have children. They had one biological daughter and adopted a daughter. Also he never made sequels! He didn’t want to look back and prefered to go forward to create new things. That was very interesting considering Disney often does sequels now! So I mostly learned trivia about him. It was still very interesting though!

  2. Open Book March 14, 2013 at 7:37 AM #


    Have u seen a doc called Waking Sleeping Beauty?

    Here is the trailer.

    • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM #

      Nope, I haven’t. I’m bookmarking that so I’ll remember to see if I can find somewhere to watch it. Looks good!

  3. Comic Relief March 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM #


    Thanks for producing this mini early Walt museum. Given the quality of the work, (I don’t know whether) it’s hard to believe this is where it all started. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

    It’s easy to forget this work was executed in a day prior to the xerox machines, disposable cameras, tape recorders, we all use and or grew up with. They didn’t have the kinds of store house’s or collection’s of prior century animation we take for granted. When we are curious we merely look things up on the internet or find a corner library. speaking of libraries, this easy access may not have even been available in the early twentieth century. “Character” animation may not have even been a common term.

    I hope we do more to recognize how fortunate we have been in all of these respects.

    • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

      Yes, it really is mind blowing! It took alot of dedicated and passionate people to have to the patience to make these films.

  4. Comic Relief March 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM #

    It would be so much more appropriate to enjoy the “funnies” but can’t help but be shocked by the wizardry of these old films.

    Sorry for being so technical but I can’t believe “Alice Comedies Short 1 Alice’s Wonderland (1923).” Shocking is an understatement. It doesn’t feel this way but, for most people, taking a transatlantic flight was still a challenge at that time.

    • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:42 PM #

      I understand what you mean! 🙂

  5. Comic Relief March 14, 2013 at 10:32 AM #

    Look at how well synced the sound is for “Steamboat Willy.”

    The film starts with ragtime in the background, and eventually graduates to country music. All along supplying as many appropriate sounds as audiences of that time probably could not imagine. No wonder that this was an instant classic.

    • Open Book March 14, 2013 at 8:53 PM #

      I know its so amazing to watch. He was so ahead of his time. Do u think its harder today for the little guy to take chances like Walt did? What do u think is the next innovation for animation?

  6. Comic Relief March 14, 2013 at 10:41 AM #

    With so many films featuring cows or cattle, seeing the animals must have been fairly common back then.

  7. Open Book March 14, 2013 at 8:47 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  8. Open Book March 14, 2013 at 8:49 PM #


    Have u ever been to Disney World? If so what’s your favorite ride?

    • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

      Yes, I have. I loved the Haunted Mansion ride. I’m a scaredy cat and only like tame rides, lol!

      • Open Book March 16, 2013 at 11:07 AM #

        This is for u Oz!

  9. Open Book March 14, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

    A show of hands. If Disney World made a Jeff Gordon Test Drive ride? Who would go on it?

    • parisienne March 15, 2013 at 2:43 AM #

      I would. However, I don’t think they will. Disney isn’t the type to offer that type of thrill rides (their not into making you piss your pants) They cater more toward families with children. Universal might though.

      • ozzie20 March 15, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

        I would too! They did have one like that at Epcot (that’s my favourite there) but I think they updated it and it lost it’s spark. 😦 If Universal did one, I’d have to think twice about going on it. I can no longer go on water rides because they scared the hell out of me! Although I did go on the Harry Potter dueling dragons ride and that was scary…. Never again!

        • parisienne March 16, 2013 at 3:52 AM #

          I love dueling dragons! First time i went on it I cursed like a sailor. LOL

          • Open Book March 16, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

            Lol!! Cursed like a sailor. Hahaha! What were some of the choice words used?

            • parisienne March 17, 2013 at 3:13 PM #

              Words I cannot say on here. I’ve been on both sides of the dragon and ice is my favorite.

              • Open Book March 17, 2013 at 9:04 PM #

                Ahh! Thanks for being respectful. I will use my imagination. LOL!

                Ice looks fun. I see why u like it.

        • Open Book March 16, 2013 at 11:18 AM #

          Oz! If u like Dueling Dragons u are tough. Hahaha! We have to go. Love it.

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