Walter Elias “Walt” Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O. Disney, he was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation is now now known as The Walt Disney Company and has annual revenues of approximately USD $35 billion.
Disney is particularly noted as a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself provided the original voice. During his lifetime he received four honorary Academy Awards and won twenty-two Academy Awards from a total of fifty-nine nominations, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history. Disney also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the U.S., as well as the international resorts Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyland Hong Kong.
The year after his December 15, 1966 death from lung cancer in Burbank, California, construction began on Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. His brother Roy Disney inaugurated the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.
10-year old Walt Disney (center right) at a gathering of Kansas City newsboys in 1912.Disney was born on December 5, 1901, at 2156 N. Tripp Avenue in Chicago’s Hermosa community area to Irish-Canadian father Elias Disney and German-American mother Flora Call Disney. His great-grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney, had emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny, Ireland where he was born in 1801. Arundel Disney was a descendant of Robert d’Isigny, a Frenchman who had travelled to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. With the d’Isigny name anglicised as “Disney”, the family settled in a village now known as Norton Disney, south of the city of Lincoln, in the county of Lincolnshire.
In 1878, Disney’s father Elias had moved from Huron County, Ontario, Canada to the United States at first seeking gold in California before finally settling down to farm with his parents near Ellis, Kansas, until 1884. Elias worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and married Flora Call on January 1, 1888, in Acron, Florida. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1890, hometown of his brother Robert who helped Elias financially for most of his early life. In 1906, when Walt was four, Elias and his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri, where his brother Roy had recently purchased farmland. In Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing with one of the family’s neighbors, a retired doctor named “Doc” Sherwood, paying him to draw pictures of Sherwood’s horse, Rupert. His interest in trains also developed in Marceline, a town that owed its existence to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through it. Walt would put his ear to the tracks in anticipation of the coming train then try and spot his uncle, engineer Michael Martin, running the train.
The Disneys remained in Marceline for four years, before moving to Kansas City in 1911 where Walt and his younger sister Ruth attended the Benton Grammar School. At school he met Walter Pfeiffer who came from a family of theatre aficionados, and introduced Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Before long Walt was spending more time at the Pfeiffers’ than at home. As well as attending Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute, Walt often took Ruth to Electric Park, 15 blocks from their home, which Disney would later acknowledge as a major influence of his design of Disneyland).
Golden age of animation :
Following the success of Snow White, for which Disney received one full-size, and seven miniature Oscar statuettes, he was able to build a new campus for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which opened for business on December 24, 1939. Snow White was not only the peak of Disney’s success, but also ushered in a period that would later be known as the Golden Age of Animation for the studio. Feature animation staff, having just completed Pinocchio, continued work on Fantasia and Bambi as well as the early production stages of Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Wind in the Willows while the shorts staff carried on working on the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto cartoon series, ending the Silly Symphonies at this time.Animator Fred Moore had redesigned Mickey Mouse in the late 1930s after Donald Duck overtook him in popularity among theater audiences.
Pinocchio and Fantasia followed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into the movie theaters in 1940, but both proved financial disappointments. The inexpensive Dumbo was then planned as an income generator, but during production most of the animation staff went on strike, permanently straining relations between Disney and his artists.