"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."

Happy birthday Walt Disney!

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Walt Disney (December 5, 1901—December 15, 1966) was an American animator, producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, and business magnate. Along with his brother, Roy Disney, he founded the Walt Disney Company, which produced some of the most popular animated films of the 20th century including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), and many others.

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Disney was born in Hermosa, Illinois to Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney. His father had originally moved from Ontario to California in search of gold before settling in Kansas. During his childhood, the Disney family moved first to Chicago, then to a farm in Missouri. It was on that farm that Disney developed an affinity for drawing. There, he also developed an interest in trains, often listening to the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in anticipation of the train's arrival.

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In 1911, the family moved to Kansas City, where he attended Benton Grammar School. There, he was introduced to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures.

When his father acquired shares in the O-Zell jelly factory in Chicago, Disney began attending McKinley High School there, drawing cartoons for the school newspaper.

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After dropping out of high school and driving ambulances in France after the armistice was signed in 1918, Disney returned to Kansas City to begin his career. He soon began drawing advertisements for newspapers, magazines, and movie theaters. 

In 1920, Disney and fellow artist Ubbe Iwerks started their own company called "Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists." However, a rocky start led them both to work for the Kansas City Film Ad Company. He got access to the company's cameras and began experimenting. Before long, he decided to open his own animation company. He hired a coworker, Fred Harman, from the Kansas City Film Ad Company and they secured time at the most popular local theater for screenings of their cartoons, called Laugh-O-Grams.

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After adding a few employees and later succumbing to their debts, Disney and his brother pooled their money and moved his company to Hollywood. One of the company's first popular characters was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but the character was stolen by a couple that became involved in the distribution of the company's work.

Before long, however, Disney and his colleagues developed a new character—Mickey Mouse. The first animated shorts to feature the mouse were Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho. The first to include sound and to find its way into theaters was Steamboat Willie. The cartoon was a huge success.

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After a few more very successful shorts, Walt Disney Studios produced its first full-length animated film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The film earned $1.499 million, a huge sum during the Depression, and won eight Oscars. Disney went on to produce a series of successful full-length films during the next decade, including Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942). The company moved to a new campus in Burbank in 1940.

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After spending the 1940s on packaged shorts as a result of an employee strike, Disney came back to features during the 1950s. Films included Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Treasure Island (1950), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and 101 Dalmatians (1961).

In 1955, the Disneyland Theme Park opened its doors. Plans for a park in Florida developed, but were interrupted by Walt Disney's death in 1966. Disney's brother, Roy, carried out the plans and Walt Disney World opened in 1971.

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Selected works:

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 05 December 2014
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