At age 16, he lied about his age to join the army and fight in World War I, but the war was soon over and he was stationed in liberated Paris without ever having seen a fight. He soon returned home, where he won a
scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute. There, he met a fellow animator, Ub Iwerks. The two soon set up their own company. In the early 20's, they made a series of animated shorts for the Newman theater chain,
entitled "Newman's Laugh-O-Grams." Their company soon went bankrupt, however. The two then went to Hollywood in 1923. They started work on a new series, about a live-action little girl who journeys to a world
of animated characters. Entitled the "Alice Comedies, " they were distributed by Margaret Winkler. Walt was backed up financially only by winkler and his brother Roy, who would remain his buisiness partner for
the rest of his life. Hundreds of "Alice Comedies" were produced between 1923 and 1927, before they lost popularity. Walt then started work on a series around a new animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
This series was successful, but in 1928, Walt discovered that Margaret Winkler and her husband, charles Mintz, had stolen the rights to the character away from him. They'd also stolen all his animators, except for Ub
Iwerks. While taking the train home, Walt started doddling on a piece of paper. The result of these doddles was a mouse named Mickey. With only Walt and Ub to animate, and Walt's wife Lilly and Roy's wife Edna to ink in
the animation cells, three Mickey Mouse cartoons were quickly produced. The first two didn't sell, so Walt added synchronized sound to the last one, Steamboat Willie (1928), and it was immediately picked up. It became
the first cartoon to use synchronize sound. With Walt as the voice of Mickey, it premiered to great success. Many more cartoons followed. Walt was now in the big time, but he didn't stop creating new ideas. In 1929, he
created the Silly Symphonies, a cartoon series that didn't have a continuous character. They were another success. One of them, Flowers and Trees (1932), was the first cartoon to be produced in color and the first
cartoon to win an Oscar; another, The Three Little Pigs (1933), was so popualar it was often billed above the feature films it accompanied. The Silly Symphonies stopped coming out in 1939, but Mickey and friends,
(including Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and plenty more), were still going strong and still very popular. In 1934, Walt started work on another new idea: a cartoon that ran the length of a feature film.
Everyone in Hollywood was calling it "Disney's Folly, " but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was anything but, winning critical raves, the adoration of the public, and one big and seven little special
Oscars for Walt. Now Walt listed animated features among his ever-growing list of accomplishments. While continuing to produce cartoon shorts, he also started producing more of the animated features. Pinnochio (1940),
Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942) were all successes; not even a flop like Fantasia (1940) and a studio animators' strike in 1941 could stop Disney now. In the mid-40's, he began producing "packaged features, "
essentially a group of shorts put together to run feature length, but by 1950 he was back with animated features that stuck to one story, with Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953). In
1950, he also started producing live-action films, with Treasure Island (1950). These began taking on greater importance throughout the 50s and 60s, but Walt continued to produce aniamted features, including Lady and
the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and 101 Dalmatians (1961). In 1955, he even opened a theme park in southern California: Disneyland. It was a place where kids and their parents could take rides, just explore,
and meet the familiar animated characters, all in a clean, safe environment. It was another great success. Walt also became one of the first producers of films to venture into telvision, with his series
"Disneyland, " which he began in 1954 to promote his theme park. He also produced "The Mickey Mouse Club" and "Zorro." To top it all off, Walt came out with the lavish musical fantasy Mary
Poppins (1964), which mixed live-action with animation. It is considered by many to be his magnum opus. Even after that, Walt continued to forge onward, with plans to build a new theme park and an experimental prototype
city in Florida. He never did finish those plans, however; in 1966, he contracted lung cancer. He died in December at age 65. But not even his death, it seemed, could stop him. Roy carried on plans to build the Florida
theme park, and it premiered in 1971 under the name Walt Disney World. What's more, his company continues to flourish, still producing animated and live-action films and overseeing the still-growing empire started by
one man: Walt Disney, who will never be forgotten.
'Lillian Bounds' (1925 - 15 December 1966) (his death); 2 daughters Diane and Sharon
(15 December 1997) Spouse, Lillian, died.
Born at 12:30am-CST
Death caused by circulatory failure due to complications from lung cancer
Was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale CA
Is rumored to be cryogenetically preserved
Father-in-law of Ron Miller (married to Disney's daughter Diane)
As a teenager, Walt Disney was a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization affiliated with Free Masons.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA. Facing the Freedom Mausoleum, to
your left hand side are two small private gardens. His is the one farthest back. Plaque is on the wall behind the trees (to your left standing at the gate).
Holds the record of winning the most Academy Awards (32).
Identified as the founder of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in film clips shown in the queue area of Rocket Rods (formerly, the CircleVision 360
Theater) at Disneyland
Became interested in personalizing animals' characters after carelessly killing a small owl as a young boy. He felt deeply remorseful and guilty and vowed never again to kill a living
Father of Diane Marie Disney (born December 18, 1933).
Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2000.
Worked as a paperboy as a youth.
Briefly worked for Walter Lantz as an animator.
In the animated short "Mickey's Rival", a character named Mortimer Mouse was modeled after him.
Chose Burbank, California for the location of
Disneyland after demographics experts convinced him it would become a major population center within 10 years (They were right).
His death was not publicly announced until after his funeral, which was attended
only by close family members.
Reportedly, his famous trademark signature was designed for him by one of his animators.
Was a frequent target of satire by animator Jay Ward (I).
that shortly after his death, Disney Company executive board members were shown a short film that Disney had made before his death, where he addressed the board members by name, telling each of them what was expected of
them. The film ended with Disney saying, "I'll be seeing you."
"I don't make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures.
"I'd rather entertain and hope that people learn, than teach and hope that people are entertained."
Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Producer. (b. Dec. 5, 1901, Chicago; d. Dec. 15, 1966.) The most successful and influential producer in the history of moviemaking, Walt Disney started as a
cartoonist, became an animator, virtually reinvented the medium of animated cartoons, moved on to live-action fantasy, and then found other worlds to conquer. The company that bears his name still trades on the goodwill
he developed during his lifetime.
In his early teens he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, which enabled him to find work as a commercial artist later on. In the early 1920s he and a young friend, Ub
Iwerks, had their first brush with animation at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where they worked on commercials for local merchants which appeared in the city's theaters. Disney decided to strike out on his own, with
Iwerks at his side. Their "Newman's Laugh-O-Grams" cartoons appeared onscreen at the Newman's Theatre; a subsequent series of ambitious fairy-tale parodies marked their first attempt to make full-fledged films
on their own. But Disney spent more on the films than he made, and quickly went broke.
In 1923 he set out for Hollywood, retrenched, with the help of his brother Roy (his lifelong business partner), and sent for
Iwerks and other Kansas City colleagues to make a new series of "Alice" films with a live-action girl cavorting in a cartoon world. (It was a switch on Max Fleischer's successful "Out of the Inkwell"
series, which had a cartoon Koko in a live-action setting.) The series was modestly successful, enough so to launch Disney's career and enable him and Roy to settle comfortably in Los Angeles.
series, "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," was launched in 1927, and saw the studio's animation growing more fluid and imaginative. But when Disney's distributor snatched Oswald-and most of his staff-from under his
nose during a bitter contract negotiation, Disney had to start from scratch. It was then that Mickey Mouse was born, sketched by Ub Iwerks and patterned closely after the rubberylimbed Oswald. Disney determined to
retain control of the films-and the character-himself, so he made his first two Mickey Mouse cartoons "on spec," before realizing that adding sound would give him a leg up on his competition. The third Mickey
short, Steamboat Willie (1928), was made with a synchronized soundtrack, and when Disney managed to get it into theaters, it was a sensation. He and his mouse were "overnight" successes.
Within a few
short years Mickey Mouse was one of the biggest stars in movies and Walt Disney was being hailed as a genius. He launched the "Silly Symphonies" series, and developed supporting characters like Pluto, Goofy,
and eventually Donald Duck in the ongoing Mickey cartoons. He experimented with color in the 1932 Flowers and Trees and as he had with sound, forced his competitors to follow suit. (In return for trying out the new
three-strip Technicolor, however, he won exclusive use of its brilliant color system for three years.)
Disney was always trying to push animation forward; he had his staff take art classes to improve their
drawing, and eventually established a school on the studio premises. By the mid 1930s he was talking seriously about making a featurelength cartoon. This was considered madness; no one, he was told, would sit through
such a film, and what's more, it would hurt people's eyes. But Disney worked toward that goal, increasing his staff and improving their skills to get them ready for the challenge. When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
(1937) opened, Disney had the last laugh. It was a milestone, both artistically and financially. It also solidified the importance of music in Disney's work, producing a handful of songs that led the hit parade and went
on to become standards.
Rather than repeat himself, which would have been the conventional wisdom after such a success, Disney followed other paths. Pinocchio (1940) was another sensation, more sophisticated than
Snow White in its techniques and in its storytelling. But Fantasia (also 1940) was even more daring, a bold experiment combining music and art that many consider the pinnacle of Disney's career. It was destined never to
be a commercial success, but in fact it nearly bankrupted the visionary producer. With the coming of World War 2, and his heavy involvement in training and morale-building films, it took many years for Disney to get
back on his feet, financially. A bitter 1941 strike disrupted his staff, and left him further embittered about his dreams for a bright new future in animation.
But Disney had an uncanny way of rebounding from
every setback. Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942) showed the studio in full command of its powers, while The Reluctant Dragon (1941) offered moviegoers a look behind the scenes at Disney's. The wartime Victory Through Air
Power (1943) explored the dramatic power of animation for propagandistic purposes, as did such popular wartime shorts as Der Fuehrer's Face (1942). A government-sponsored tour of South America, promoting our wartime
"Good Neighbor Policy," led to the delightful features Saludos Amigos (1943) and The Three Caballeros (1945).
Those South American films also experimented with the blending of live-action and animation,
several leaps beyond what Disney had done with his "Alice" series of the 1920s. The process was further refined in Song of the South (1946), in which the interaction between live and animated characters was
positively astounding. From here it was only a short step to branching out into full-time production of live-action movies, which Disney did in earnest in the 1950s. A chance meeting with nature photographers Alfred and
Elma Milotte led to his bankrolling a series of "true-life" films which wound up winning multiple Academy Awards-for a series of short subjects and the feature films The Living Desert (1953) and The Vanishing
Prairie (1954). Heading off in another unexpected direction, he took advantage of frozen funds in England to make colorful period adventures and swashbucklers like Treasure Island (1950), The Story of Robin Hood (1952),
and The Sword and the Rose (1953) there, before embarking on his most expensive home-grown project, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).
Moving into TV production, and consumed by the opening of his amusement
park Disneyland, Disney let his live-action slate languish in the mid-1950s. The surprise success of a simple slapstick comedy with fantasy overtones, The Shaggy Dog (1959), led him into a new and highly profitable
arena, followed in earnest by The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and then bled dry in a series of increasingly formulaic feature comedies in the 1960s and 1970s. The box-office success of Pollyanna (1960) showed that
Disney also had a corner on Americana in Hollywood, and this too became a studio stock in trade. (It also marked him as a star-maker, for bringing Hayley Mills to Hollywood.)
Disney had never abandoned animation
during this time. There was always an animated feature in the works, each one taking several years to complete, and drawing on the talents of the same solid staff that had been with him since Snow White (A regular slate
of cartoon shorts continued along, as well.) Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Lady and the Tramp (1955), the groundbreakingly expensive Sleeping Beauty (1959), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and
The Sword in the Stone (1963) all bore the unmistakable Disney stamp.
But in 1964 Disney produced a film that topped everything he'd done before. The magical Mary Poppins drew on every Disney resource to create a
masterpiece of fantasy, storytelling, music, and animation. It marked the culmination of his career.
A lifelong smoker, Disney succumbed to lung cancer in December 1966. He had been working on a live-action
musical, The Happiest Millionaire and an animated feature, The Jungle Book at the time of his death; both were released posthumously in 1967. His studio continued to function on sheer inertia for a number of years, but
everyone knew that the magic ingredient was missing. Walt Disney was irreplaceable.