The man who created the iconic character, Mickey Mouse and his friends

Walt Elias Disney, Walt Disney, Walt and Mr. Disney are all names that we have at least heard once or a few times before. Disney not only created the main character, Mickey Mouse, but he also created the the loving characters we know today.
The Walt Disney Company has created hundreds of cartoon characters for all cartoon lovers. Merchandise, movies, and amusement parks(Disneyland in California & Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.) Walt built his company upon fantasy and fun. Disney’s imagination and determination helped his company grow through some historical events, such as the Great Depression, WWll, and the Cold War. Today, Disney’s company still entertains us all today.

Early Years:
Walt Disney was born December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, to Elias and Flora Disney. He had 4 siblings, Herbert, Ray, Roy, and Ruth. His brother, Roy, helped to make the company become the successful business that it is today. Becoming tired of their lives in Chicago, the moved closer to family on a farm outside of Marceline, Missouri, in 1906. The small town life Walt had, inspired him to start drawing animals and indulge his imagination. Walt’s father became ill. Walt, thanks to his mother, joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in Europe. He headed to France in 1918. When Walt’s tour was over, he briefly returned to Chicago, and instead of returning to school to receive his high school diploma he headed back to Kansas City in 1919.

The family moved to Kansas City in 1911. While there, Roy and Walt woke up at 3:30 a.m. everyday, seven days a week to fold and deliver newspapers for two hours. Walt then would go to grammar school. Walt attended the Kansas City Art Institute on Saturday mornings, and performed skits and vaudeville routines with friends at local theaters and later on, living in Kansas, graduated from the Benton School and soon the family moved back to Chicago. Walt started McKinley High School in 1917 and he began to draw for the student newspaper.

Early Career in Kansas City:
Disney achieved financial stability in Kansas City, but he experimented with and learned animation, created his first animated series, and trained a number of young artists in this new field. Through his first job at Pesman-Rubin Commercial Art Studio designing letterhead and advertisements, he met his longtime friend and coworker Ub Iwerks. Disney and Iwerks were soon laid off, and they decided to start their own company, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. Which lasted only one month. In May of 1922 left his job to start Laugh-O-Gram Films in the McConahy building at 31st Street and Forest Avenue. Disney’s first popular film, Alice’s Wonderland, was created here. Walt’s company only lasted for a year and a half. The talented animators, who got their start in Kansas City eventually followed Disney to California, making up the core of professional cartoonists in the early days of the Hollywood animation scene. They included Ub Iwerks, Rudolf Ising, Hugh Harman, and Friz Freleng. With financial help from his uncle, and more help from Roy, Disney started the Disney Bros Studio. Throughout the years Disney’s staff grew and he built a new studio on Hyperion Avenue. In 1927 Disney created the lovable character,Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was also a huge hit.

Mickey Was Born:
After an experience with Charles Mintz, Disney was determined to become the sole owner of all his cartoons. He needed a new idea. Disney, Roy, and Iwerks worked together to shape the character we all know and love today, Mickey Mouse. Iwerk drew Mickey while Disney voiced the lovable mouse.
( According to Disney, the inspiration for Mickey Mouse came from an actual pet mouse he kept in his office in Kansas City.) Disney released Steamboat Willie in 1928, and contracted with Pat Powers and his Cinephone technology to put the cartoon to music, making it the most successful sound cartoon.  You guys might also remember theSilly Symphonies Series followed in 1929. Sadly, disaster struck. Powers wanted to control the new Mickey Mouse cartoons. Again, most of the Disney staff left to work for Powers, including his longtime friend, Iwerks. Disney and Roy purchased their contract from Powers, found a new distributor, and made Mickey Mouse the most beloved cartoon character of all time.

From Disney Bros Studios to Walt Disney Studios:
Aside from renaming his company, Disney had gotten married to one of his employees, Lillian Bounds, that same year. The Disney’s had two daughters, Sharon and Diane. Disney continued to experiment with animation, color, and sound, buying exclusive rights to use Technicolor, a new three-color process, in his films. Disney needed a bigger studio to expand his career. He bult Burbank Studios. In the early 1940s, Disney favorites such as FantasiaPinocchioDumbo, and Bambi were released.

Disney in the 1950s and 1960s:
Disney recovered from the turmoil of the 1940s to give the public Cinderella, Alice in WonderlandPeter PanLady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. He also created live actions movies such as The Parent Trap. Disney took advantage of television to promote his movies and his theme parks. Episodes of Davy Crockett appeared on the television show, Disneyland, between 1954 and 1956, and were so popular that young boys everywhere wore coonskin hats to idealize their frontier hero. Disney’s staff was known as the Imagineers. The theme parks allowed Disney to enter a new type of creativity, audio-animatronics. Disney began buying land and designing a second park in central Florida that would become Walt Disney World in 1971.

Walt Disney’s Final Goodbye:
Before he died on December 15, 1966 of lung cancer, Disney visited his hometown, Marceline, Missouri, several more times. On July 4, 1956, he and Roy attended the dedication of the Walt Disney Municipal Park and Pool. Disney returned in 1960 for the Walt Disney Elementary School dedication. He never forgot the small Missouri town that influenced his work so much.

Shayna Mitchell

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