Walt Disney. He was a good man, a wonderful entertainer, and the one who revolutionized what animation could do in the filmmaking business. His troupe of artists, technicians and filmmakers gave us an entertainment experience like no other. With their help, animation moved beyond just drawings and text in a book, and pushed forward to the big screen. There was no filmmaker on Earth like Walt Disney.
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 to parents Elias and Flora Disney. He had three older brothers: Herbert, Raymond and Roy, and later got a little sister named Ruth.
In the small town of Marceline, Missouri in 1904, Disney began an interest in drawing. Later, in Kansas City, Missouri in 1911, Walt and Roy took part in a newspaper delivery job under their father. Also, Walt took an interest in filmmaking, thanks to his schoolmate, Walter Pfeiffer and his family.
In the 1920’s, Walt started the Laugh-O-Gram film company, which produced some of his earliest shorts. During this time, he hired more artists, including an ink artist named Lillian Bounds, who he married in 1925. Together, they had a daughter named Diane born in 1933, and adopted a second daughter named Sharon three years later.
In 1928, Walt produced his first big cartoon star, Mickey Mouse, one of history’s greatest cartoon heroes. Mickey’s girlfriend, Minnie Mouse, his loyal dog Pluto, the hilarious Goofy, and the hot-tempered Donald Duck would be among the characters that would join him in years to come.
Before long, Walt Disney decided to make movies. He started with the first ever animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Many co-workers were worried about this, as was Walt’s family. Despite it all, Snow White premiered in December 1937 to immediate positive reaction.
Before long, Walt produced more animated films. Some of the films Walt made were Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi. Also, Walt moved into live action with films like Song of the South and Treasure Island.
Walt enjoyed taking his family to theme parks. Because of this, he decided to make his own theme park. That way, people could experience Disney magic outside of a theater. The result? Disneyland, which opened in 1955, and is still widely visited today.
Sadly, Walt Disney would not live to see his second park, Walt Disney World, opened. He passed away in 1966, just ten days after his 65th birthday. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, Roy dedicated the park in honor of his brother.
It’s been almost 50 years since Walt died. But as long as we remember him in our hearts, his legacy will live on.