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Walt E. Disney
Born Walter Elias Disney
December 5, 1901(1901-12-05)[1]
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died December 15, 1966 (aged 65)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Occupation Film producer,
Co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, formerly known as Walt Disney Productions
Spouse(s) Lillian Bounds (1925–1966)
Signature

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon and philanthropist. Disney is famous for his influence in the field of entertainment during the twentieth century. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Disney became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately U.S. $35 billion.

Disney is particularly noted for being a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created a number of the world's most famous fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, a character for which Disney himself was the original voice. He has won 26 Academy Awards out of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year,[2] giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual. He also won seven Emmy Awards. He is the namesake for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States, Japan, France, and China.

Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Contents

1901–1937: The beginnings

Childhood

10 year old Walt (center right) at a gathering of Kansas City newsboys in 1912.

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 to Elias Disney, of Irish-Canadian descent, and Flora Call Disney, of German-American descent, in Chicago's Hermosa community area at 2156 N. Tripp Ave.[3][4] Walt Disney's ancestors had emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny in Ireland. Arundel Elias Disney, great-grandfather of Walt Disney, was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1801 and was a descendant of Hughes and his son Robert d'Isigny, originally of France but who travelled to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.[5]. The d'Isigny name became Anglicised as Disney and the family settled in the village now known as Norton Disney, south of the city of Lincoln, in the county of Lincolnshire.

His father Elias Disney moved from Huron County, Ontario to the United States in 1878, seeking first for gold in California but finally farming with his parents near Ellis, Kansas until 1884. He worked for Union Pacific Railroad and married Flora Call on January 1, 1888 in Acron, Florida. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1890,[6] where his brother Robert lived.[6] For most of his early life, Robert helped Elias financially.[6] In 1906, when Walt was four, Elias and his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri,[7] where his brother Roy had recently purchased farmland.[7] While in Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing.[8] One of their neighbors, a retired doctor named "Doc" Sherwood, paid him to draw pictures of Sherwood's horse, Rupert.[8] He also developed his love for trains in Marceline, which owed its existence to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through town. Walt would put his ear to the tracks in anticipation of the coming train.[4] Then he would look for his uncle, engineer Michael Martin, running the train.

The Disneys remained in Marceline for four years,[9] before moving to Kansas City in 1911.[10] There, Walt and his younger sister Ruth attended the Benton Grammar School where he met Walter Pfeiffer. The Pfeiffers were theatre aficionados, and introduced Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Soon, Walt was spending more time at the Pfeiffers' than at home.[11] During this time he attended Saturday courses as a child at the Kansas City Art Institute [12] While they were living in Kansas City, Walt and Ruth Disney were also regular visitors of Electric Park, 15 blocks from their home (Disney would later acknowledge the amusement park as a major influence of his design of Disneyland).

Teenage years

Disney as an ambulance driver during World War I.

In 1917, Elias acquired shares in the O-Zell jelly factory in Chicago and moved his family back there.[13] In the fall, Disney began his freshman year at McKinley High School and began taking night courses at the Chicago Art Institute.[14] Disney became the cartoonist for the school newspaper. His cartoons were very patriotic, focusing on World War I. Disney dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen to join the Army, but the army rejected him because he was underage.[15]

After his rejection from the army, Walt and one of his friends decided to join the Red Cross.[16] Soon after he joined The Red Cross, Walt was sent to France for a year, where he drove an ambulance, but not before the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.[17]

In 1919, Walt, hoping to find work outside the Chicago O-Zell factory,[18] left home and moved back to Kansas City to begin his artistic career.[19] After considering becoming an actor or a newspaper artist, he decided he wanted to create a career in the newspaper, drawing political caricatures or comic strips. But when nobody wanted to hire him as either an artist or even as an ambulance driver, his brother Roy, who worked at a bank in the area, got a temporary job for him at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio through a bank colleague .[19] At Pesmen-Rubin, Disney created ads for newspapers, magazines, and movie theaters.[20] It was here that he met a cartoonist named Ubbe Iwerks.[21] When their time at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio expired, they were both without a job, and they decided to start their own commercial company.[22]

In January 1920, Disney and Iwerks formed a short-lived company called, "Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists". However, following a rough start, Disney left temporarily to earn money at Kansas City Film Ad Company, and was soon joined by Iwerks who was not able to run the business alone.[23] While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he made commercials based on cutout animation, Disney took up an interest in the field of animation, and decided to become an animator.[24] He was allowed by the owner of the Ad Company, A.V. Cauger, to borrow a camera from work, which he could use to experiment with at home. After reading a book by Edwin G. Lutz, called Animated Cartoons: How They Are Made, Their Origin and Development, he found cel animation to be much more promising than the cutout animation he was doing for Cauger. Walt eventually decided to open his own animation business,[25] and recruited a fellow co-worker at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Fred Harman, as his first employee.[25] Walt and Harman then secured a deal with local theater owner Frank L. Newman-arguably the most popular "showman" in the Kansas City area at the time-[26] to screen their cartoons — which they titled "Laugh-O-Grams" — at his local theater.[26]

Laugh-O-Gram Studio

Presented as "Newman Laugh-O-Grams",[26] Disney's cartoons became widely popular in the Kansas City area.[27] Through their success, Disney was able to acquire his own studio, also called Laugh-O-Gram,[28] and hire a vast number of additional animators, including Fred Harman's brother Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, and his close friend Ubbe Iwerks.[29] Unfortunately, with all his high employee salaries unable to make up for studio profits, Walt was unable to successfully manage money.[30] As a result, the studio became loaded with debt[30] and wound up bankrupt.[31] Disney then set his sights on establishing a studio in the movie industry's capital city, Hollywood, California.[32]

Hollywood

Disney and his brother pooled their money to set up a cartoon studio in Hollywood.[33] Needing to find a distributor for his new Alice Comedies— which he started making while in Kansas City,[31] but never got to distribute— Disney sent an unfinished print to New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She was keen on a distribution deal with Disney for more live-action/animated shorts based upon Alice's Wonderland.[34]

Alice Comedies

Virginia Davis (the live-action star of Alice’s Wonderland) and her family were relocated at Disney's request from Kansas City to Hollywood, as were Iwerks and his family. This was the beginning of the Disney Brothers' Studio. It was located on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district, where the studio remained until 1939. In 1925, Disney hired a young woman named Lillian Bounds to ink and paint celluloid. After a brief period of dating her, the two got married the same year.

The new series, Alice Comedies, was reasonably successful, and featured both Dawn O'Day and Margie Gay as Alice. Lois Hardwick also briefly assumed the role of Alice. By the time the series ended in 1927, the focus was more on the animated characters, in particular a cat named Julius who resembled Felix the Cat, rather than the live-action Alice.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

By 1927, Charles B. Mintz had married Margaret Winkler and assumed control of her business, and ordered a new all-animated series to be put into production for distribution through Universal Pictures. The new series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was an almost instant success, and the character, Oswald— drawn and created by Iwerks— became a popular figure. The Disney studio expanded, and Walt hired back Harman, Rudolph Ising, Carman Maxwell, and Friz Freleng from Kansas City.

In February 1928, Disney went to New York to negotiate a higher fee per short from Mintz. Disney was shocked when Mintz announced that not only he wanted to reduce the fee he paid Disney per short but also that he had most of his main animators, including Harman, Ising, Maxwell, and Freleng (notably, except Iwerks, who refused to leave Disney) under contract and would start his own studio if Disney did not accept the reduced production budgets. Universal, not Disney, owned the Oswald trademark, and could make the films without Disney. Disney declined Mintz's offer and lost most of his animation staff.

With most of his staff gone Disney now found himself on his own again.[35] It took Disney's company 78 years to get back the rights to the Oswald character. The Walt Disney Company reacquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from NBC Universal in 2006, through a trade for longtime ABC sports commentator Al Michaels.[36]

Mickey Mouse

After losing the rights to Oswald, Disney felt the need to develop a new character to replace him. He based the character on a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in a Kansas City studio.[37] Ub Iwerks reworked on the sketches made by Disney so that it was easier to animate it. However, Mickey's voice and personality was provided by Disney. In the words of a Disney employee, "Ub designed Mickey's physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul."[37] Besides Oswald and Mickey, a similar mouse-character is seen in Alice Comedies which featured a mouse named Ike the Mouse, and the first Flip the Frog cartoon called Fiddlesticks, which showed a Mickey Mouse look-alike playing fiddle. The initial films were animated by Iwerks, his name was prominently featured on the title cards. The mouse was originally named "Mortimer", but later christened "Mickey Mouse" by Lillian Disney who thought that the name Mortimer did not fit. Mortimer later became the name of Mickey's rival for Minnie, who was taller than his renowned adversary and had a Brooklyn accent.

The first animated short with Mickey in it was titled, Plane Crazy, which was, like all of Disney's previous works, a silent film. After failing to find a distributor for Plane Crazy or its follow-up, The Gallopin' Gaucho, Disney created a Mickey cartoon with sound called Steamboat Willie. A businessman named Pat Powers provided Disney with both distribution and Cinephone, a sound-synchronization process. Steamboat Willie became an instant success,[38] and Plane Crazy, The Galloping Gaucho, and all future Mickey cartoons were released with soundtracks. Disney himself provided the vocal effects for the earliest cartoons and performed as the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1946. After the release of Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney would continue to successfully use sound in all of his future cartoons, and Cinephone became the new distributor for Disney's early sound cartoons as well.[39] Mickey soon eclipsed Felix the Cat as the world's most popular cartoon character.[37] By 1930, Felix, now in sound, had faded from the screen, as his sound cartoons failed to gain attention.[40] Mickey's popularity would now skyrocket in the early 1930s.[37]

Silly Symphonies

Following the footsteps of Mickey Mouse series, a series of musical shorts titled, Silly Symphonies was released in 1929. The first of these was titled The Skeleton Dance and was entirely drawn and animated by Iwerks, who was also responsible for drawing the majority of cartoons released by Disney in 1928 and 1929. Although both series were successful, the Disney studio was not seeing its rightful share of profits from Pat Powers,[41] and in 1930, Disney signed a new distribution deal with Columbia Pictures. The original basis of the cartoons were musical novelty, and Carl Stalling wrote the score for the first Silly Symphony cartoons as well.[42]

Iwerks was soon lured by Powers into opening his own studio with an exclusive contract. Later, Carl Stalling would also leave Disney to join Iwerks' new studio.[43] Iwerks launched his Flip the Frog series with first voice cartoon in color, "Fiddlesticks," filmed in two-strip Technicolor. Iwerks also created two other series of cartoons, the Willie Whopper and the Comicolor. In 1936, Iwerks shut his studio to work on various projects dealing with animation technology. He would return to Disney in 1940 and, would go on to pioneer a number of film processes and specialized animation technologies in the studio's research and development department.

By 1932, Mickey Mouse had become quite a popular cinema character, but Silly Symphonies was not as successful. The same year also saw competition for Disney grow worse as Max Fleischer's flapper cartoon character, Betty Boop, would gain more popularity among theater audiences.[44] Fleischer was considered to be Disney's main rival in the 1930s,[45] and was also the father of Richard Fleischer, whom Disney would later hire to direct his 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Meanwhile, Columbia Pictures dropped the distribution of Disney cartoons and was replaced by United Artists.[46] In late 1932, Herbert Kalmus, who had just completed work on the first three-strip technicolor camera,[47] approached Walt and convinced him to redo Flowers and Trees, which was originally done in black and white, with three-strip Technicolor.[48] Flowers and Trees would go on to be a phenomenal success and would also win the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons for 1932. After Flowers and Trees was released, all future Silly Symphony cartoons were done in color as well. Disney was also able to negotiate a two-year deal with Technicolor, giving him the sole right to use three-strip Technicolor,[49][50] which would also eventually be extended to five years as well.[42] Through Silly Symphonies, Disney would also create his most successful cartoon short of all time, The Three Little Pigs, in 1933.[51] The cartoon ran in theaters for many months, and also featured the hit song that became the anthem of the Great Depression, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf".[52]

Walt Disney's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

First Academy Award

In 1932, Disney received a special Academy Award for the creation of "Mickey Mouse", whose series was made into color in 1935 and soon launched spin-off series for supporting characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto; Pluto and Donald would immediately get their individual cartoons in 1937,[53] and Goofy would get solo cartoons in 1939 as well.[54] Of all of Mickey's partners, Donald Duck—who first teamed with Mickey in the 1934 cartoon, Orphan's Benefit—was arguably the most popular, and went on to become Disney's second most successful cartoon character of all time.[55]

Children

The Disneys' first attempt at pregnancy ended up in Lillian having a miscarriage. When Lillian Disney became pregnant again, she gave birth to a daughter, Diane Marie Disney, on December 18, 1933. The Disneys adopted Sharon Mae Disney (December 31, 1936 – February 16, 1993).[56]

1937–1941: The Golden Age of Animation

"Disney's Folly": Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White theatrical trailer.

After the creation of two cartoon series, Disney soon began plans for a full-length feature in 1934. In 1935, opinion polls showed that another cartoon series, Popeye the Sailor, produced by Max Fleischer, was more popular than Mickey Mouse.[57] Disney was, however, able to put Mickey back on top, and also increase Mickey's popularity further by colorizing him and partially redesigning him into what was considered to be his most appealing design up to this point in time.[37] When the film industry came to know about Disney's plans to produce an animated feature-length version of Snow White, they dubbed the project as "Disney's Folly" and were certain that the project would destroy the Disney studio. Both Lillian and Roy tried to talk Disney out of the project, but he continued plans for the feature. He employed Chouinard Art Institute professor Don Graham to start a training operation for the studio staff, and used the Silly Symphonies as a platform for experiments in realistic human animation, distinctive character animation, special effects, and the use of specialized processes and apparatus such as the multiplane camera; Disney would first use this new technique in the 1937 Silly Symphonies short The Old Mill.[58]

All of this development and training was used to elevate the quality of the studio so that it would be able to give the feature film the quality Disney desired. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as the feature was named, was in full production from 1934 until mid-1937, when the studio ran out of money. To acquire the funding to complete Snow White, Disney had to show a rough cut of the motion picture to loan officers at the Bank of America, who gave the studio the money to finish the picture. The finished film premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater on December 21, 1937; at the conclusion of the film, the audience gave Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a standing ovation. Snow White, the first animated feature in America and Technicolor, was released in February 1938 under a new distribution deal with RKO Radio Pictures; RKO had previously been the distributor for Disney cartoons in 1936, after it closed down the Van Beuren Studios in exchange for distribution.[59] The film became the most successful motion picture of 1938 and earned over $8 million in its original theatrical release.

The Golden Age of Animation

The success of Snow White, (for which Disney received one full-size, and seven miniature Oscar statuettes) allowed Disney to build a new campus for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which opened for business on December 24, 1939; Snow White was not only the peak of Disney's success, but it also ushered in a period that would later be known as the Golden Age of Animation for Disney.[60][61] The feature animation staff, having just completed Pinocchio, continued work on Fantasia and Bambi and the early production stages of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan while the shorts staff continued work on the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto cartoon series, ending the Silly Symphonies at this time. Animator Fred Moore had redesigned Mickey Mouse in the late 1930s, when Donald Duck began to gain more popularity among theater audiences than Mickey Mouse.[62]

Pinocchio and Fantasia followed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into the movie theaters in 1940, but both were financial disappointments. The inexpensive Dumbo was planned as an income generator, but during production of the new film, most of the animation staff went on strike, permanently straining the relationship between Disney and his artists.

1941–1945: During World War II

Disney and a group of animators were sent to South America in 1941 by the U.S. State Department as part of its Good Neighbor policy, and guaranteed financing for the resulting movie, Saludos Amigos.[63]

Shortly after the release of Dumbo in October 1941, the United States entered World War II. The U.S. Army contracted most of the Disney studio's facilities and had the staff create training and instructional films for the military, home-front morale-boosting shorts such as Der Fuehrer's Face and the feature film Victory Through Air Power in 1943. However, the military films did not generate income, and the feature film Bambi underperformed when it was released in April 1942. Disney successfully re-issued Snow White in 1944, establishing a seven-year re-release tradition for Disney features. In 1945, The Three Caballeros was the last animated feature by Disney during the war period.

In 1944, William Benton, publisher of the Encyclopædia Britannica, had entered into unsuccessful negotiations with Disney to make six to twelve educational films annually. Disney was asked by the US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), to make an educational film about the Amazon Basin and it resulted in the 1944 animated short, The Amazon Awakens.[64][65][66][67][68]

1945–1955: Disney in the post-war Period

The Disney studios also created inexpensive package films, containing collections of cartoon shorts, and issued them to theaters during this period. This includes Make Mine Music (1946), Melody Time (1948), Fun and Fancy Free (1947) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). The latter had only two sections: the first based on The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and the second based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. During this period, Disney also ventured into full-length dramatic films that mixed live action and animated scenes, including Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart. After the war ended, Mickey's popularity would also fade as well.[69]

By the late 1940s, the studio had recovered enough to continue production on the full-length features Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, both of which had been shelved during the war years, and began work on Cinderella, which became Disney's most successful film since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The studio also began a series of live-action nature films, titled True-Life Adventures, in 1948 with On Seal Island. Despite rebounding success through feature films, Disney's animation shorts were no longer as popular as they used to be, and people began to instead draw attention to Warner Bros and their animation star Bugs Bunny. By 1942, Leon Schlesinger Productions, which produced the Warner Bros. cartoons, had become the country's most popular animation studio.[70] However, while Bugs Bunny's popularity rose in the 1940s, so did Donald Duck's;[71] Donald would also replace Mickey Mouse as Disney's star character by 1949.[72]

During the mid-1950s, Disney produced a number of educational films on the space program in collaboration with NASA rocket designer Wernher von Braun: Man in Space and Man and the Moon in 1955, and Mars and Beyond in 1957.

Walt Disney meets Wernher von Braun in 1954.

Testimony before Congress

Disney was a founding member of the anti-communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.  In 1947, during the early years of the Cold War,[73] Disney testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he branded Herbert Sorrell, David Hilberman and William Pomerance, former animators and labor union organizers, as Communist agitators. All three men denied the allegations. According to Peter Schweizer, an author of the time, Archives of the Soviet Union released by the Russian government implicate Sorrell as a Communist spy.[74] However, Sorrell testified before the HUAC in 1946 but there was insufficient evidence to link him to the Communist Party.[75][76] Disney accused the Screen Actors Guild of being a Communist front, and charged that the 1941 strike was part of an organized Communist effort to gain influence in Hollywood.[73]

1955–1966: Theme parks and beyond

Planning Disneyland

Aerial view August, 1963 from NW to SE. New Melodyland Theater at the top. The Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) upper left corner. Disneyland

On a business trip to Chicago in the late-1940s, Disney drew sketches of his ideas for an amusement park where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. He got his idea for a children's theme park after visiting Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California. This plan was originally meant for a plot located south of the Studio, across the street. The original ideas developed into a concept for a larger enterprise that was to become Disneyland. Disney spent five years of his life developing Disneyland and created a new subsidiary of his company, called WED Enterprises, to carry out the planning and production of the park. A small group of Disney studio employees joined the Disneyland development project as engineers and planners, and were dubbed Imagineers.

When describing one of his earliest plans to Herb Ryman (who created the first aerial drawing of Disneyland which was presented to the Bank of America while requesting for funds), Disney said, "Herbie, I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train."[77] Entertaining his daughters and their friends in his backyard and taking them for rides on his Carolwood Pacific Railroad had inspired Disney to include a railroad in the plans for Disneyland.

Disneyland grand opening

Walt Disney giving the opening day speech July 17, 1955.

Disneyland officially opened July 17, 1955. Among the thousands of people who came out for the opening were Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Art Linkletter, who shared cohosting duties, as well as the mayor of Anaheim. Walt gave the following opening day speech:

To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past ... and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America ... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

Carolwood Pacific Railroad

The Lilly Belle on display at Disneyland Main Station in 1993. The caboose's woodwork was done entirely by Walt himself.

During 1949, Disney and his family moved to a new home on a large piece of property in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles, California. With the help of his friends Ward and Betty Kimball, owners of their own backyard railroad, Disney developed blueprints and immediately set to work on creating a miniature live steam railroad for his backyard. The name of the railroad, Carolwood Pacific Railroad, originated from the address of his home that was located on Carolwood Drive. The railroad's half-mile long layout included a 46-foot (14 m)-long trestle, loops, overpasses, gradients, an elevated berm, and a 90-foot (27 m) tunnel underneath Mrs. Disney's flowerbed. He named the miniature working steam locomotive built by Roger E. Broggie of the Disney Studios Lilly Belle in his wife's honor. He had his attorney draw up right-of-way papers giving the railroad a permanent, legal easement through the garden areas, which his wife dutifully signed; However, there is no evidence of the documents ever recorded as a restriction on the property's title.

Expanding into new areas

As Walt Disney Productions began work on Disneyland, it also began expanding its other entertainment operations. In 1950, Treasure Island became the studio's first all-live-action feature, and was soon followed by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (in CinemaScope, 1954), Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), Pollyanna (1960), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), and The Parent Trap (1961). The Walt Disney Studio produced its first TV special, One Hour in Wonderland, in 1950. Disney began hosting a weekly anthology series on ABC named Disneyland after the park, where he showed clips of past Disney productions, gave tours of his studio, and familiarized the public with Disneyland as it was being constructed in Anaheim, California. The show also featured a Davy Crockett miniseries, which started a craze among the American youth known as the Davy Crockett craze, in which millions of coonskin caps and other Crockett memorabilia were sold across the country.[78] In 1955, the studio's first daily television show, Mickey Mouse Club debuted, which would continue in many various incarnations into the 1990s.

As the studio expanded and diversified into other media, Disney devoted less of his attention to the animation department, entrusting most of its operations to his key animators, whom he dubbed the Nine Old Men. During Disney's lifetime, the animation department created the successful Lady and the Tramp (in CinemaScope, 1955), Sleeping Beauty (in Super Technirama 70mm, 1959), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and The Sword in the Stone (1963).

Production on the short cartoons had kept pace until 1956, when Disney shut down the shorts division. Special shorts projects would continue to be made for the rest of the studio's duration on an irregular basis. These productions were all distributed by Disney's new subsidiary, Buena Vista Distribution, which had assumed all distribution duties for Disney films from RKO by 1955. Disneyland, one of the world's first theme parks, finally opened on July 17, 1955, and was immediately successful. Visitors from around the world came to visit Disneyland, which contained attractions based upon a number of successful Disney properties and films.

After 1955, the show, Disneyland came to be known as Walt Disney Presents. The show transformed from black-and-white to color in 1961 and changed its name to Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, moving from ABC to NBC,[79] and eventually evolving into its current form as The Wonderful World of Disney. It continued to air on NBC until 1981, when CBS picked it up.[80] Since then, it has aired on ABC, NBC, Hallmark Channel and Cartoon Network via separate broadcast rights deals. During its run, the Disney series offered some recurring characters, such as Roger Mobley appearing as the newspaper reporter and sleuth "Gallegher", based on the writing of Richard Harding Davis.

Disney had already formed his own music publishing division back in 1949. In 1956, partly inspired by the huge success of the television theme song The Ballad of Davy Crockett, he created a company-owned record production and distribution entity called Disneyland Records.

Early 1960s successes

(Left to right) Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and Walt Disney sing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (1964)

By the early 1960s, the Disney empire was a major success, and Walt Disney Productions had established itself as the world's leading producer of family entertainment. Walt Disney was the Head of Pageantry for the 1960 Winter Olympics.

After decades of pursuing, Disney finally procured the rights to P.L. Travers' books about a magical nanny. Mary Poppins, released in 1964, was the most successful Disney film of the 1960s and featured a memorable song score written by Disney favorites, the Sherman Brothers. The same year, Disney debuted a number of exhibits at the 1964 New York World's Fair, including Audio-Animatronic figures, all of which were later integrated into attractions at Disneyland and a new theme park project which was to be established on the East Coast.

Though the studio probably would've made great competition with Hanna-Barbera, Disney had decided not to enter the race for producing Saturday morning cartoon series on television (which Hanna-Barbera had done at the time), because with the expansion of Disney's empire and constant production of feature films, there would be too much for the budget to handle. Thus, the studio had not produced any Saturday morning cartoons until 1985, when Michael Eisner was the president of the corporation.[citation needed]

Plans for Disney World and EPCOT

Disney World was to include a larger, more elaborate version of Disneyland which was to be called the Magic Kingdom. It would also feature a number of golf courses and resort hotels. The heart of Disney World, however, was to be the Experimental Prototype City (or Community) of Tomorrow, or EPCOT for short.

Mineral King Ski Resort

Walt Disney had plans for a ski resort in Mineral King for a while, called Walt Disney Ski Resort. During the early to mid 1960s, Disney brought in experts like the renowned Olympic ski coach and ski-area designer Willy Schaeffler, who helped plan a visitor village, ski runs and ski lifts among the several bowls surrounding the valley. Plans finally moved into action in the mid 1960s, but Walt died before the actual work had started. Disney's death and the actions from preservationists made sure the resort was never built.

Death

In late 1966 Disney was scheduled to undergo neck surgery for an old polo injury;[81] he had played frequently at the Riveria Club in Hollywood for many years.[82] On November 2, 1966, during pre-surgery X-rays, doctors at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center across the street from the Disney Studio discovered that Disney had an enormous tumor on his left lung.[83] Five days later, Disney went back to the hospital for surgery, but the tumor had spread to such great extent that doctors had to remove his entire left lung.[83] The doctors then told Disney that he only had six months to a year to live.[83] After several chemotherapy sessions, Disney and his wife spent a short amount of time in Palm Springs, California before returning home.[81] On November 30, 1966, Disney collapsed in his home, but was revived by paramedics, and was taken back to the hospital, where he died[81] on December 15, 1966 at 9:30 a.m., ten days after his 65th birthday. He was cremated on December 17, 1966 and his ashes reside at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Roy O. Disney continued to carry out the Florida project, insisting that the name be changed to Walt Disney World in honor of his brother.

The final productions in which Disney had an active role were the animated feature The Jungle Book and the live-action musical comedy The Happiest Millionaire, both released in 1967. Songwriter Robert B. Sherman said about the last time he saw Disney:

He was up in the third floor of the animation building after a run-through of The Happiest Millionaire. He usually held court in the hallway afterward for the people involved with the picture. And he started talking to them, telling them what he liked and what they should change, and then, when they were through, he turned to us and with a big smile, he said, 'Keep up the good work, boys.' And he walked to his office. It was the last we ever saw of him.[84]

A long-standing urban legend maintains that Disney was cryogenically frozen, and his frozen corpse was stored underneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.[85] The first known instance of cryogenic freezing of a corpse occurred a month later, in January 1967.[85]

1967–present: legacy

Continuing the vision

Plaque at the entrance that embodies the intended spirit of Disneyland by Walt Disney: to leave reality and enter fantasy

After Walt Disney's death, Roy Disney returned from retirement to take full control of Walt Disney Productions and WED Enterprises. In October that year, the families of Walt and Roy met in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom to officially open the Walt Disney World Resort.

After giving his dedication for Walt Disney World, Roy asked Lillian Disney to join him. As the orchestra played "When You Wish Upon a Star", she stepped up to the podium accompanied by Mickey Mouse. He then said, "Lilly, you knew all of Walt's ideas and hopes as well as anybody; what would Walt think of it [Walt Disney World]?". "I think Walt would have approved," she replied.[86] Roy died from a cerebral hemorrhage on December 20, 1971, the day he was due to open the Disneyland Christmas parade.

1968 US postage stamp

During the second phase of the "Walt Disney World" theme park, EPCOT was translated by Disney's successors into EPCOT Center, which opened in 1982. As it currently exists, EPCOT is essentially a living world's fair, different from the actual functional city that Disney had envisioned. In 1992, Walt Disney Imagineering took the step closer to Walt's vision and dedicated Celebration, Florida, a town built by the Walt Disney Company adjacent to Walt Disney World, that hearkens back to the spirit of EPCOT. EPCOT was also originally intended to be devoid of Disney characters which initially limited the appeal of the park to young children but the company later changed this policy.

The Disney entertainment empire

Today, Walt Disney's animation/motion picture studios and theme parks have developed into a multi-billion dollar television, motion picture, vacation destination and media corporation that carry his name. The Walt Disney Company today owns, among other assets, five vacation resorts, eleven theme parks, two water parks, thirty-nine hotels, eight motion picture studios, six record labels, eleven cable television networks, and one terrestrial television network. As of 2007, the company has an annual revenue of over U.S. $35 billion.[87]

Disney Animation today

Traditional hand-drawn animation, with which Walt Disney started his company, was, for a time, no longer produced at the Walt Disney Animation Studios. After a stream of financially unsuccessful traditionally-animated features in the early 2000s, the two satellite studios in Paris and Orlando were closed, and the main studio in Burbank was converted to a computer animation production facility. In 2004, Disney released what was announced as their final "traditionally animated" feature film, Home on the Range. However, since the 2006 acquisition of Pixar, and the resulting rise of John Lasseter to Chief Creative Officer, that position has changed, and the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog has marked Disney's return to traditional hand-drawn animation.

CalArts

The statue "Partners" located on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Florida.

In his later years, Disney devoted substantial time towards funding The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). It was formed in 1961 through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute, which had helped in the training of the animation staff during the 1930s. When Disney died, one-fourth of his estate went towards CalArts, which helped in building its campus. In his will, Disney paved the way for creation of several charitable trusts which included one for the California Institute of the Arts and other for the Disney Foundation.[88] He also donated 38 acres (0.154 km2) of the Golden Oaks ranch in Valencia for the school to be built on. CalArts moved onto the Valencia campus in 1972.

In an early admissions bulletin, Disney explained:

A hundred years ago, Wagner conceived of a perfect and all-embracing art, combining music, drama, painting, and the dance, but in his wildest imagination he had no hint what infinite possibilities were to become commonplace through the invention of recording, radio, cinema and television. There already have been geniuses combining the arts in the mass-communications media, and they have already given us powerful new art forms. The future holds bright promise for those who imaginations are trained to play on the vast orchestra of the art-in-combination. Such supermen will appear most certainly in those environments which provide contact with all the arts, but even those who devote themselves to a single phase of art will benefit from broadened horizons.[89]

Academy Awards

Walt Disney holds the records for number of Academy Award nominations (with fifty-nine) and number of awarded Oscars (twenty-six, below). Four of his Oscars were special awards, and one, his last, was granted posthumously.

  • 1932: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Flowers and Trees (1932)
  • 1932: Honorary Award for: creation of Mickey Mouse.
  • 1934: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Three Little Pigs (1933)
  • 1935: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: The Tortoise and the Hare (1934)
  • 1936: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Three Orphan Kittens (1935)
  • 1937: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: The Country Cousin (1936)
  • 1938: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: The Old Mill (1937)
  • 1939: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Ferdinand the Bull (1938)
  • 1939: Honorary Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) The citation read: "For Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field" (the award was one statuette and seven miniature statuettes)[2]
  • 1940: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Ugly Duckling (1939)
  • 1941: Honorary Award for: Fantasia (1940), shared with: William E. Garity and J.N.A. Hawkins. The citation for the certificate of merit read: "For their outstanding contribution to the advancement of the use of sound in motion pictures through the production of Fantasia"[2]
  • 1942: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Lend a Paw (1941)
  • 1943: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Der Fuehrer's Face (1942)
  • 1949: Best Short Subject, Two-reel for: Seal Island (1948)
  • 1949: Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
  • 1951: Best Short Subject, Two-reel for: Beaver Valley (1950)
  • 1952: Best Short Subject, Two-reel for: Nature's Half Acre (1951)
  • 1953: Best Short Subject, Two-reel for: Water Birds (1952)
  • 1954: Best Documentary, Features for: The Living Desert (1953)
  • 1954: Best Documentary, Short Subjects for: The Alaskan Eskimo (1953)
  • 1954: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (1953)
  • 1954: Best Short Subject, Two-reel for: Bear Country (1953)
  • 1955: Best Documentary, Features for: The Vanishing Prairie (1954)
  • 1956: Best Documentary, Short Subjects for: Men Against the Arctic
  • 1959: Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects for: Grand Canyon
  • 1969: Best Short Subject, Cartoons for: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

Other honors

Walt Disney was the inaugural recipient of a star on the Anaheim walk of stars. The star was awarded in honor of Disney's significant contributions to the city of Anaheim, California, specifically, Disneyland, which is now the Disneyland Resort. The star is located at the pedestrian entrance to the Disneyland Resort on Harbor Boulevard. Disney has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and the other for television.

Walt Disney received the Congressional Gold Medal on May 24, 1968 (P.L. 90-316, 82 Stat. 130–131) and the Légion d'Honneur in France in 1935.[90] In 1935, Walt received a special medal from the League of Nations for creation of Mickey Mouse, held to be Mickey Mouse award.[91] He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964.[92] On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Walt Disney into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.

A minor planet, 4017 Disneya, discovered in 1980 by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Georgievna Karachkina, is named after him.[93]

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, opened in 2003, was named in his honor.

Beginning in 1993, HBO began to develop a Walt Disney biopic under the direction of Frank Pierson with Lawrence Turman. The project never materialized and was soon abandoned.[94]

In the alternate history novels of L. Neil Smith focusing on the Republic of Texas, Walt Disney is President of the California Alliance, also a sovereign nation alongside Texas and the Confederacy.

Preceded by
None
Voice of Mickey Mouse
1928–1947
Succeeded by
Jimmy MacDonald

See also

Notes

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  3. ^ http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1789742,CST-NWS-disney25.article
  4. ^ a b "Walt Disney biography". Just Disney. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20080605151444/http://www.justdisney.com/WaltDisney100/biography01.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
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  11. ^ Thomas 1994, pp. 33–41
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  13. ^ Neal Gabler, "Walt Disney:The Triumph of the American Imagination" (2006), p. 30.
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References

Further reading

  • Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516729-5.
  • Broggie, Michael (1997, 1998, 2005). Walt Disney's Railroad Story. Virginia Beach, Virginia. Donning Publishers. ISBN 1-56342-009-0
  • Eliot, Marc (1993). Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince. Carol. ISBN 1-55972-174-X
  • Mosley, Leonard. Disney's World: A Biography (1985, 2002). Chelsea, MI: Scarborough House. ISBN 0-8128-8514-7.
  • Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination (2006). New York, NY. Random House. ISBN 0-679-43822-X
  • Schickel, Richard, and Dee, Ivan R. (1967, 1985, 1997). The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher. ISBN 1-56663-158-0.
  • Sherman, Robert B. and Sherman, Richard M. (1998) "Walt's Time: From Before to Beyond" ISBN 0-9646059-3-7.
  • Thomas, Bob (1991). Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1-56282-899-1
  • Watts, Steven, The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life, University of Missouri Press, 2001, ISBN 0826213790

External links



Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse.
All we ever intended for him or expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him...

Walter Elias Disney (5 December 190115 December 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, and animator. One of the most well-known motion picture producers in the world, Disney was also the cartoon artist of comic books and newspaper comic strips, the creator of an American-based theme park called Disneyland, and is the co-founder with his brother Roy O. Disney of Walt Disney Productions, the corporation now known as The Walt Disney Company.

Contents

Sourced

To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.
Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.
A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there.
It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
We're not trying to entertain the critics ... I'll take my chances with the public.
  • Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life. All men will want to be free and share our way of life. There must be so much that I should have said, but haven't. What I will say now is just what most of us are probably thinking every day. I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy and freedom.
    • Radio address "Our American Culture" broadcast during an intermission of the Metropolitan Opera. (1 March 1941)
  • I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.
    • What Is Disneyland television program (27 October 1954)
    • Variants:
    • If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse.
      • As quoted in Leading People : The 8 Proven Principles for Success in Business (1996) by Robert H. Rosen and Paul B. Brown, p. 255
    • I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.
      • As quoted in The Story of Disney (2004) by Adele D. Richardson, p. 41
    • If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.
  • To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America; with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
    • Speech on the opening day of Disneyland (17 July 1955)
  • I suppose my formula might be: dream, diversify and never miss an angle.
    • "Walt's Profit Formula: Dream, Diversity, and Never Miss an Angle" in Wall Street Journal (4 February 1958)
  • We are not influenced by the techniques or fashions of any other company.
    • Interview with David Griffiths (1959); as quoted in Walt Disney : Conversations (2006) edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson
    • Paraphrased variant: I am not influenced by the techniques or fashions of any other motion picture company.
  • Well, my greatest reward, I think, is that I've been able to build this wonderful organization. I've been able to enjoy good health, and the way I feel today, I feel like I can still go on being part of this thing after forty some odd years of business, and also, to have the public appreciate and accept what I've done all these years. That, that is a great reward. ... Well of course, happiness is a state of mind. You can be happy or you can be unhappy. It's just according to the way you look at things. You know. So I think happiness is contentment but it doesn't mean you have to have wealth. But all individuals are different. Some of us just wouldn't be satisfied with just carrying out a routine job and being happy. Yet I envied those people. I had a brother who I really envied because he was a mailman. But he's the one that had all the fun. He had himself a trailer, and he used to go out and go fishing, and he didn't worry about payrolls and stories and picture grosses or anything. And he was the happy one. I always said, "He's the smart Disney."
    • Interview with Fletcher Markle (25 September 1963) in Walt Disney: Conversations (2006) edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson The Walt Disney Story (1973)
  • A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.
    • As quoted in Walt Disney, Magician of the Movies (1966) by Bob Thomas p. 116
  • As the original Mary Poppins budget of five million dollars continued to grow, I never saw a sad face around the entire Studio. And this made me nervous. I knew the picture would have to gross 10 million dollars for us to break even. But still there was no negative head-shaking. No prophets of doom. Even Roy was happy. He didn't even ask me to show the unfinished picture to a banker. The horrible thought struck me — suppose the staff had finally conceded that I knew what I was doing.
  • Girls bored me — they still do. I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known.
    • As quoted in You Must Remember This (1975) by Walter Wagner
  • There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main... and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter
  • We allow no geniuses around our Studio.
    • As quoted in Animated Architecture (1982) by Derek Walker, p. 10
  • It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
    • As quoted in Animated Architecture (1982) by Derek Walker, p. 10
  • Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
    • As quoted in the ending credits of the movie Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • We're not trying to entertain the critics ... I'll take my chances with the public.
    • As quoted in "Disneyland, 1955: Just Take the Santa Ana Freeway to the American Dream" by Karal Ann Marling, in American Art (Winter-Spring 1991)
    • Variant: We are not trying to entertain the critics. I'll take my chances with the public.
  • I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral.
    • As quoted in The Stuff Americans Are Made Of : The Seven Cultural Forces that Define Americans — A New Framework for Quality, Productivity, and Profitability (1996) by Joshua Hammond and James Morrison
Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. Usually it implies some risk — especially in new undertakings.
  • Until a character becomes a personality it cannot be believed. Without personality, the character may do funny or interesting things, but unless people are able to identify themselves with the character, its actions will seem unreal. And without personality, a story cannot ring true to the audience.
    • As quoted in Seven Minutes : The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon (1998) by Norman M. Klein. p. 48
When we do fantasy, we must not lose sight of reality.
All right. I'm corny. But I think there's just about a-hundred-and-forty-million people in this country that are just as corny as I am.
  • Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. Usually it implies some risk — especially in new undertakings. Courage to initiate something and to keep it going, pioneering and adventurous spirit to blaze new ways, often, in our land of opportunity.
    • As quoted in The Disney Way Fieldbook (2000) by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson, Act III : Dare, p. 147
  • What are you doing with a car here in 1860?
    • To a company publicist at Frontierland in Disneyland, As quoted in Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (Disney Editions, 2001) p.62
  • When we do fantasy, we must not lose sight of reality.
    • As quoted in Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (Disney Editions, 2001) p.102
  • I don't believe there's a challenge anywhere in the world that's more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin — how do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we're convinced we must start answering the public need. And the need is not just for curing the old ills of old cities. We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a special kind of new community that will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can't find anywhere else in the world.
    • On EPCOT, quoted in Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando (2001) by Richard E. Foglesong, p. 67, and The Animated Man : A Life of Walt Disney (2007) by Michael Barrier
  • For every laugh, there should be a tear.
    • As quoted in The New York Times (2 November 2001); also in The Victory Letters : Inspiration for the Human Race (2003) by Cheri Ruskus, p. 79
  • All right. I'm corny. But I think there's just about a-hundred-and-forty-million people in this country that are just as corny as I am.
    • As quoted in The Magic Kingdom : Walt Disney and the American Way of Life (2001) by Steven Watts, p. 401
  • I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.
    • As quoted in Success (2003) by Ariel Books
  • Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end. He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner. Born of necessity, the little fellow literally freed us of immediate worry. He provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium of cartoon animation toward new entertainment levels. He spelled production liberation for us.
    • Quoted in A Walt Disney World Resort Outing : The Only Vacation Planning Guide Exclusively for Gay and Lesbian Travelers (2002) by Dann Hazel and Josh Fippen, p. 211, and Organisation And Complexity : Using Complexity Science to Theorise Organisational Aliveness (2004) by Jacco van Uden, p. 43
  • All we ever intended for him or expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him. We didn't burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouthpiece for frustrations or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter.
    • As quoted in A Walt Disney World Resort Outing : The Only Vacation Planning Guide Exclusively for Gay and Lesbian Travelers (2002) by Dann Hazel and Josh Fippen, p. 211
The human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars.
  • I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or sixty. Call the child "innocence". The worst of us is not without innocence, although buried deeply it might be. In my work I try to reach and speak to that innocence, showing it the fun and joy of living; showing it that laughter is healthy; showing it that the human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars.
    • As quoted in A Walt Disney World Resort Outing : The Only Vacation Planning Guide Exclusively for Gay and Lesbian Travelers (2002) by Dann Hazel and Josh Fippen, p. 211
  • I believe in being an innovator.
    • As quoted in Cult of the Mouse : Can We Stop Corporate Greed From Killing Innovation in America? (2004) by Henry M. Caroselli, p. 94
Somehow, I can't believe that there are any heights to be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true.
  • Somehow, I can't believe that there are any heights to be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. The special secret it seems to me is summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Courage, Confidence and Constancy. And the greatest of all is Confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.
    • As quoted in Perceive This! : How to Get Everything You Want Out of Life by Changing Your Perceptions (2004) by Kevin A. Martin, Ch. 9, No Bar Too High!, p. 64
  • All you've got to do is own up to your ignorance honestly, and you'll find people who are eager to fill your head with information.
    • As quoted by Mike Strickland, Director of Photographers at Walt Disney, Co. in Power Marketing for Wedding and Portrait Photographers (2004) by Mitche Graf, p. 19
Faith I have, in myself, in humanity, in the worthwhileness of the pursuits in entertainment for the masses. But wide awake, not blind faith, moves me.
  • We like to have a point of view in our stories, not an obvious moral, but a worthwhile theme. ... All we are trying to do is give the public good entertainment. That is all they want.
    • As quoted in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004) by Mark I. Pinsky, p. 2
  • Faith I have, in myself, in humanity, in the worthwhileness of the pursuits in entertainment for the masses. But wide awake, not blind faith, moves me. My operations are based on experience, thoughtful observation and warm fellowship with my neighbors at home and around the world.
    • As quoted in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004) by Mark I. Pinsky, p. 20
  • All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.
    • As quoted in Pearls : Philosophies for Living a Robust and Fulfilling Life (2004) by Greg Tanghe, p. 54
Fantasy, if it's really convincing, can't become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time.
  • Disneyland is something that will never be finished. It's something that I can keep developing. It will be a live, breathing thing that will need change. A picture is a thing, once you wrap it up and turn it over to Technicolor, you're through. Snow White is a dead issue with me. But I can change the park, because it's alive.
    • As quoted in "The Rides of Passage" in Via magazine (July 2005)
  • Fantasy, if it's really convincing, can't become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time. In this new dimension, whatever it is, nothing corrodes or gets run down at the heel or gets to look ridiculous like, say, the celluloid collar or the bustle.
    • As quoted in "The Rides of Passage" in Via magazine (July 2005)
  • Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.
    • As quoted in OpenGL Shading Language (2006) by Randi J. Rost, p. 411
  • Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths - as featured in the film Meet the Robinsons.

Deeds Rather Than Words (1963)

Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil, and that is what our pictures attempt to do.
Essay contributed to Faith Is a Star (1963) edited by Roland Gammon - Full text online
I have long felt that the way to keep children out of trouble is to keep them interested in things.
  • Every person has his own ideas of the act of praying for God's guidance, tolerance, and mercy to fulfill his duties and responsibilities. My own concept of prayer is not as a plea for special favors nor as a quick palliation for wrongs knowingly committed. A prayer, it seems to me, implies a promise as well as a request; at the highest level, prayer not only is a supplication for strength and guidance, but also becomes an affirmation of life and thus a reverent praise of God.
  • Deeds rather than words express my concept of the part religion should play in everyday life. I have watched constantly that in our movie work the highest moral and spiritual standards are upheld, whether it deals with fable or with stories of living action.
  • I don't believe in playing down to children, either in life or in motion pictures. I didn't treat my own youngsters like fragile flowers, and I think no parent should.
    Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil, and that is what our pictures attempt to do.
  • The American child is a highly intelligent human being — characteristically sensitive, humorous, open-minded, eager to learn, and has a strong sense of excitement, energy, and healthy curiosity about the world in which he lives. Lucky indeed is the grown-up who manages to carry these same characteristics into adult life. It usually makes for a happy and successful individual.
  • I have long felt that the way to keep children out of trouble is to keep them interested in things. Lecturing to children is no answer to delinquency. Preaching won't keep youngsters out of trouble, but keeping their minds occupied will.
  • To me, today, at age sixty-one, all prayer, by the humble or highly placed, has one thing in common: supplication for strength and inspiration to carry on the best human impulses which should bind us together for a better world. Without such inspiration, we would rapidly deteriorate and finally perish. But in our troubled time, the right of men to think and worship as their conscience dictates is being sorely pressed. We can retain these privileges only by being constantly on guard and fighting off any encroachment on these precepts. To retreat from any of the principles handed down by our forefathers, who shed their blood for the ideals we still embrace, would be a complete victory for those who would destroy liberty and justice for the individual.

EPCOT promotional film (1966)

The last film which Disney made; first publicly presented at a press conference in Winter Haven, Florida (2 February 1967); also quoted in Vinyl Leaves : Walt Disney World and America (1992) by Stephen M. Fjellman, p. 114
It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems...
  • Here in Florida ... we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland — the blessing of size. There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.
  • The most exciting and by far the most important part of our Florida Project — in fact, the heart of everything we'll be doing in Disney World — will be our Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! We call it EPCOT.
  • EPCOT will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.

The Quotable Walt Disney (2001)

"The Quotable Walt Disney" compiled by Dave Smith
Disneyland is a work of love...
It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.
To the youngsters of today, I say believe in the future, the world is getting better; there still is plenty of opportunity.
  • Actually, if you could see close in my eyes, the American flag is waving in both of them and up my spine is growing this red, white and blue stripe.
  • Childishness? I think it's the equivalent of never losing your sense of humor. I mean, there's a certain something that you retain. It's the equivalent of not getting so stuffy that you can't laugh at others.
  • I think what I want Disneyland to be most of all is a happy place — a place where adults and children can experience together some of the wonders of life, of adventure, and feel better because of it.
  • Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.
  • Disneyland is like a piece of clay: If there is something I don't like, I'm not stuck with it. I can reshape and revamp.
  • Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning, together with every variety of recreation and fun designed to appeal to everyone.
  • Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.
    • A similar quotes about EPCOT and other similar statements about Disneyland also exist.
  • Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as a muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it.
  • It's a mistake not to give people a chance to learn to depend on themselves while they are young.
  • Laughter is America's most important export.
  • In my view, wholesome pleasure, sport, and recreation are as vital to this nation as productive work and should have a large share in the national budget.
  • That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be twelve years old. They patronize; they treat children as inferiors. I won't do that. I'll temper a story, yes. But I won't play down, and I won't patronize.
    • Unsourced variant: Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well, I won't do that. I won't do that. I'll temper a story, yes. But I won't play down, and I won't patronize.
  • To the youngsters of today, I say believe in the future, the world is getting better; there still is plenty of opportunity. Why, would you believe it, when I was a kid I thought it was already too late for me to make good at anything.

How to Be Like Walt : Capturing the Magic Every Day of Your Life (2004)

How to Be Like Walt : Capturing the Magic Every Day of Your Life (2004) by Pat Williams
I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.
  • I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. With the laugh comes the tears and in developing motion pictures or television shows, you must combine all the facts of life — drama, pathos and humor.
    • Ch. 1 : It All Started with a Boy, p. 16
  • All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.
    • Ch. 3 : Imagination Unlimited, p. 63; Unsourced variant: All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.
  • Leadership means that a group, large or small, is willing to entrust authority to a person who has shown judgement, wisdom, personal appeal, and proven competence.
    • Ch. 4 : Animated Leadership, p. 102
    • Unsourced variant: Leadership implies a strong faith or belief in something. It may be a cause, an institution, a political or business operation in which a man takes active direction by virtue of his faith and self-assurance. And, of course, leadership means a group, large or small, which is willing to entrust such authority to a man — or a woman — in judgment, wisdom, personal appeal and proven competence.
  • Do a good job. You don't have to worry about the money; it will take care of itself. Just do your best work — then try to trump it.
    • Ch. 6 : Triumph to Tragedy
  • A man should never neglect his family for business.
    • Ch. 14 : The Real Walt Disney, p. 361
  • Art was always a means to an end with me. You get and idea, and you just can't wait. Once you've started, then you're in there with the punches flying. There's plenty of trouble, but you can handle it. You can't back out. It gets you down once in a while, but it's exciting. Our whole business is exciting.
    • Ch. 15 : Walt Lives!, p. 367
  • I believe firmly in the efficacy of religion, in its powerful influence on a person's whole life. It helps immeasurably to meet the storms and stress of life and keep you attuned to the Divine inspiration. Without inspiration, we would perish.
    • Ch. 15 : Walt Lives!, p. 379

Misattributed

  • You can't just let nature run wild.
    • Walter Joseph Hickel, on the killing of wolves, as quoted in Living With Wolves (2005) by James Dutcher. p. 8

Quotes about Disney or his work

Walt wanted to communicate with a global audience. ... He wanted to communicate with a multicultural audience. ~ John Culhane
He was a very religious man, but he didn't believe you had to go to church to be religious. ... He respected every religion. ~ Sharon Disney Lund
He probably did more to heal, or at least soothe troubled human spirits than all the psychiatrists in the world. ~ Eric Sevareid
  • Walt Disney had a saying that he doesn't make movies for children, but he makes movies for the child in all of us. As a film maker I guess that's all you can really do, is make a movie for your own sensibilities.
  • Walt wanted to communicate with a global audience. ... He wanted to communicate with a multicultural audiance.
    • John Culhane, as quoted in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004) by Mark I. Pinsky, p. 4
  • Disney, for all his pining for a perfect world (embodied in his depiction of a turn-of-the-century Main Street), did not entirely ignore the authentic. He did kill Bambi's mom, remember. He did permit, perhaps encourage, the occasional sense of danger.
  • Disney World has acquired by now something of the air of a national shrine. American parents who don't take their children there sense obscurely that they have failed in some fundamental way, like Muslims who never made it to Mecca.
  • There is a relationship between cartooning and people Miró and Picasso which may not be understood by the cartoonist, but it definitely is related even in the early Disney.
  • He was a very religious man, but he didn't believe you had to go to church to be religious. ... He respected every religion. There wasn't any that he ever criticized. He wouldn't even tell religious jokes.
    • Sharon Disney Lund, his adopted daughter, as quoted in How to Be Like Walt : Capturing the Magic Every Day of Your Life (2004) by Pat Williams, p. 381
  • He definitely believed in God — very definitely. But I think he'd had it [with organized religion] as a child. He never went to church.
    • Diane Disney Miller, his daughter, as quoted in How to Be Like Walt : Capturing the Magic Every Day of Your Life (2004) by Pat Williams, p. 380
  • Most family historians agree that Elias's authoritarian and sometimes cruel nature — and propensity for whipping and even beating his young sons — played a role in turning Walt and Roy against the church. The brothers' ambivalent relationship with organized religion is well documented, as is their strong, personal faith in God.
    • Mark I. Pinsky, in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004), p. 17
  • Despite the absence of a unifying "story" in Fantasia, there are along the way images and sequences with implications and messages — inspirational and disturbing, subtle and strong, scientific and pagan and Christian — all worth noting.
    • Mark I. Pinsky, in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004), Ch. 5, "Fantasia (1940): The Sorcerer's Mascot", p. 33
  • Take the serious side of Disney, the Confucian side of Disney. It's in having taken an ethos ... where you have the values of courage and tenderness asserted in a way that everybody can understand. You have got an absolute genius there. You have got a greater correlation of nature than you have had since the time of Alexander the Great.
  • Marx was fortunate to have been born eighty years before Walt Disney. Disney also promised a child's paradise and unlike Marx, delivered on his promise.
    • John Ralston Saul in Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (1992) Ch. 2
  • He probably did more to heal, or at least soothe troubled human spirits than all the psychiatrists in the world.
    • Eric Sevareid, on CBS Evening News, as quoted in The Gospel According to Disney : Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (2004) by Mark I. Pinsky, p. 21
  • Walt considered himself religious yet he never went to church. The heavy dose of religiosity in his childhood discouraged him; he especially disliked sanctimonious preachers. But he admired an respected every religion, and his belief in God never wavered.
    • Bob Thomas, in Walt Disney : An American Original (1976; 1994)

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Walt Disney

  1. Walter Elias Disney, a 20th Century motion picture producer who founded the company by the same name, well known as the creator and first voice of Mickey Mouse.
  2. The Walt Disney Company, an entertainment company founded by brothers Walt and Roy Disney, well known for producing animated films, performing stage musicals, and operating theme parks.
  3. Walt Disney Pictures or the former Walt Disney Productions; the Walt Disney film banner.

Synonyms


Simple English

File:Walt Disney
Walt Disney

Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 - December 15, 1966) was a famous American entertainer, inventor, cartoonist, and entrepreneur. Along with his brother Roy Disney, he was the founder of Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company).[1] He is known as the father of modern theme parks.

Disney's best-known creation is the cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Disney even provided the voice for Mickey Mouse for many years. Donald Duck is another famous creation. Minnie Mouse and Pluto are also his creations.

Walt Disney began as a cartoonist in the 1920's after serving in World War I. He created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit but lost ownership of the character due to a contract problem. He then created Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney started the Walt Disney Studios and created the first full length animated movie when he created Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The movie was a huge success. The money from the movie helped Disney create many more cartoons and movies. He earned 32 academy awards

In the 1950s Walt Disney created Disneyland in Anaheim California. Disneyland was the first modern theme park. Disney also bought the land for Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Disney did not see Walt Disney World finished though because he died before it opened. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World (and now other Disney theme parks) are famous for their design, level of detail, being very clean, and animatronics.

Disney died of lung cancer and was buried in 1966.

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