Although some say he was crazy and out of his mind, others thought that he was a genius, an inventor. He was an entrepreneur, an American legend. He was also ambitious, when he put his heart in his projects he accomplished it. Walt –with the help of his brother Roy Disney- created one of the top ten companies in the world. The Walt Disney Company started off as an animation company but added on television, film production and the famous theme parks.

Personal Background

Walter Elias Disney was the forth of the five children that were born to Flora and Elias Disney. They had four boys and one girl. He was born on December 5th 1901. Disney and his family moved many times when he was younger. He was born in Chicago, Illinois but lived most of his childhood in Marceline, Missouri. His father moved the family there to lookfor work. Since Walt was the youngest of the family, his older brothers usually went with their father to work on their farm while Walt spent his time helping his mother around the house. His family called him a “momma’s boy.” “It had been eight and a half years since her last son had been born, and Flora Disney lavished attention on young Walter (Thomas).” Walt also had an interest in art at an early age. So, when he wasn’t helping his mother he doodled and made small cartoons. “When he seven years old, he sold small sketches, and drawings to nearby neighbors (A. Brad).” A couple years later Flora gave birth to his sister, Ruth. Walt had to wait until Ruth was old enough to enroll in school with her, but in the meantime, his mother taught him how to write and read. When Walt reached the age of seven, he finally enrolled in school and met his closest friend, Walter Pfeiffer. Disney and Pfeiffer would spend a lor of time at Pfeiffer’s house drawing and writing small skits because Disney’s father didn’t approve of them doing such things in his house. Disney enjoyed being at Pfeiffer’s house because he loved the warmth of the family. “He began spending more at their house than he did at his own (Thomas).” As a result, his father made him and his brother, Roy, sell newspapers to keep Walt away from Pfeiffer’s house. Walt thought it was great until he noticed that all of the other paper delivery boys were getting paid excep
t him and his brother. Later he discovered that he and his brother were not being paid because the boss was their father. Their father told
them “your pay is the board and room I provide for you (Thomas).” The two brothers delivered newspapers for six years until Roy, at the age of nineteen, decided to leave one night because he “was tired of being treated like a little boy”. He went back to work on their Uncle’s farm i
n Kansas. Walt was now the man of the house, which meant he had a lot more responsibilities. But he still continued to draw and make cartoons. Walt took drawing and photography classes in his high school years. He would make comics and he publish them in their local newspaper. The comics were mostly about World War I. At the age of sixteen, he dropped out to fight in the war but was rejected because he was underage. Walt had an idea to go and join the Red Cross Ambulance Corpse, but to get into the Red Cross, he had to lie about his age. While he was there, Walt drew cartoons for the so
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After the war, Walt returned to the U.S. and moved to Hollywood in 1922. He created Laugh-O-Grams, which are short and small cartoons. But the company went bankrupt after only one year. He and his brother Roy established Disney Brother Studio where he signed for a series called the “Alice Comedies”. Later he changed the name to the famous Walt Disney Studios. In 1924, he hired his future wife, Lillian Bounds, and married only a year later. In 1928, Walt created the one and only, Mickey Mouse. Mickey first came out in a cartoon called “Steamboat Willie.” People throughout the United States went crazy for Mickey. Walt made a lot of money off of Mickey merchandise. “The craze for Mickey Mouse brought a new and important source of income to the Disney enterprise (Thomas).” A few years later in 1933, his wife gave birth to their first daughter, Diane Disney. Three years later, they adopted another daughter and named her Sharon Disney. The next year was a big year for the Disney brothers. Their first “featured-length” film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was published. Also, Walt’s mother passed away. In 1939, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs won an Academy Award and an Oscar. In 1954, Walt bought 244 acres of land in Anaheim, California with money that ABC family exchanged for a one-hour televised program of the Grand Opening. Walt lived a very full life but died alone, 10 days after his 65th birthday,in St. Joseph’s Hospital on December 15th 1966 due to lung cancer.

Personality Traits

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“A pioneer and innovator, and the possessor of one of the most fertile and unique imaginations the world has ever known (A. Brad).” Walt was very creative, he liked to make peoples dreams come true. He always tried to make people happy with his ideas and creations. Walt always said what was on his mind and liked getting his ideas out to people. “My father was not a complicated man… I think Dad was easy to read…He didn’t want to be complicated (Thomas).” explained one of his daughters. Many people who got to know Walt said that he was a very optimistic man. His creativity and imagination took him to places not many people have been to before. He came up with the idea of Disneyland when he took his daughters to many amusement parks and watched them play around on the carousel from an old rusty bench. He saw that other parents looked bored and anxious to leave the park. “What this country really needs is an amusement park that families can take their children to. They've gotten so honky tonk with a lot of questionable characters running around, and they're not too safe. They're not well kept. I want to have a place that's as clean as anything could ever be, and all the people in it [his park] are first-class citizens, and treated like guests.” – Walt Disney


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Walt had many obstacles in his life, but he always managed to overcome them. One of his biggest obstacles was that as a young boy, his father didn’t
support him going to theaters to watch shows with his
friend, Walter Pfeiffer. “Elias Disney had always considered such entertainments to be frivolous and time wasting, so when Walt and Walter Pfeiffer started going to the theaters, Walt was careful not to let his father know” (Thom
as). Disney thought that working and helping out his family was more important than anything else. Another obstacle later in life was when Walt came back from WWI, he decided to take interest in animation. He made small cartoons and animations for local businesses. “By the time Walt had started to create The Alice Comedies, which was about a real girl and her adventures in an animated world, Walt ran out of money and his company, Laugh-O-Grams, went bankrupt”(A. Brad). Luckily, his brother Roy had just enough money to continue. Walt and Roy started creating cartoons in their Uncle’s garage. Another major obstacle was when he began to create Disneyland. Walt thought he had an idea about how much it would cost to build everything, but their budget exceeded their expectations. Walt solved the problem by making a deal with ABC company where ABC gave them money to construct Disneyland.

Historical Significance

Walt made a huge impact on the world. Not only in the film industry, but also in the business industry. Disney’s inspiration to create Disneylad came from his imagination, his desire to make people happy and for the love of his children. He wanted to create a place where not only little kids can enjoy but also adults. A place where its okay for their inner child to come out. "Your dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway." –Walt Disney

Walts films and cartoons holds the record for the most Oscars ever won by a single person(25 plus 4 honorary awards). Walt created the first cartoon animated short with Technicolor and it was the first short to win an Academy Award. Also Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon to have synchronized sound.“Mickey Mouse made his screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the world's first synchronized sound cartoon, which premiered at the Colony Theater in New York on November 18, 1928.(A.Brad)” He faced many obstacles but nothing stopped him from achieving his goals and making a difference on the world. Today, Disney is one of the biggest and most successful companies worldwide and it continues to grow.

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