Walt Disney was one of the most successful and famous American film producers of the 20th century. He was also an accomplished animator and entrepreneur.
Disney is credited with the creation of the famous cartoon figure, Mickey Mouse. He went on to establish The Walt Disney Company.
Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901 to a struggling family. He developed an early interest in drawing and mastered the use of crayons, water colors and other mediums. Through his friends, he would also get exposure to the motion pictures at an early age.
During his school days, Disney would deliver newspapers in the morning and evening to help his family make ends meet. He later tried to enlist in the United States Army during World War I but was rejected for being too young. He subsequently joined the Red Cross and served for about a year in France.
Disney began his professional career as an artist and animator with a fellow artist, Ub Iwerks. Right from the beginning, Disney sought to establish a business of his own. But during his early years, he failed to attract any customers.
He worked on both animations and drawn cartoons, getting projects from various clients such as the Newman Theater. In 1923, Disney achieved some success with his animated series ‘Alice’s Wonderland’. The same year, he founded the Disney Brothers Studio which would later evolve into The Walt Disney Company.
In 1928, Walt Disney worked with his partner Ub Iwerks to create the famous character, Mickey Mouse. He initially named it the Mortimer Mouse but his wife persuaded him to change the name. The cartoon series centered on Mickey Mouse initially garnered little success.
In 1931, Disney signed a contract with Columbia Pictures to distribute the series. Soon afterwards, Mickey Mouse cartoons began to gain in popularity. By 1933, Disney had won more than one Academy awards and many of his productions had received widespread fame, recognition and success.
From 1934, Walt Disney and his company experienced the golden age of animation. During this period, Disney expanded the size of his company to include more than 200 workers. One of the most notable productions of the period was the production of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
It took four years and nearly $1.5 million to complete the production. Many critics claimed that it would be a complete failure. Instead, the film became a smashing success, earning $6.5 million in gross revenues. In the subsequent years, Disney oversaw the production of Pinocchio, Fantasia and other iconic animations.
In 1950s, Walt Disney envisioned the creation of a theme park. He wanted a park that people could visit with their children and where they could have fun and adventure. He created a separate company for this purpose and work on the park began in 1954. In a year, the park was complete and opened to public. The park became an overwhelming success and remains one of the most enduring pieces of Disney’s legacy.