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!