Walt Disney

Disney Productions is one of the leading entertainment
businesses, bringing tremendous profits not to mention the
joy it brings many people. It has not always been this easy
for Disney however. It took the mind of one man to bring it
to what it is today, and that’s mans name is Walt Disney.
Walt Disney’s life was devoted to the arts and
entertainment almost from birth. However, Walt’s fortunes
and fame didn’t take form until his creation of Mickey
Mouse.

Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901 and was the
fourth child of Elias and Flora Disney. He was an extremely
talented child, exhibiting tremendous creativity at such a
young age. Walt began drawing pictures in the 1st grade
and continued until the day he died. Another of his
exceptional talents was acting. Walt relished each
opportunity to perform on stage or in class. While in
elementary school "on Lincoln’s Birthday every year until
he graduated, Walt was hauled from class to class by the
principal to give the Gettysburg Address." (Fisher, 18)
Walt got bored with school however and dropped out at
the age of 16. He immediately got a job as a waiter on a
train line and kept this job until the U.S. entered the war.

Walt had a great desire to join the army, but was rejected
because he was to young. Since he still desired to have
some role in the war he became a volunteer with the Red
Cross. Within a week he was sent to the front and didn’t
return for one to two years. When Walt returned from he
war he told his father that he wanted to become an
animator, but his father did not approve. Walt ignored his
father’s advice and enrolled in art school.

Walt attended art school for several months in both
Missouri and Kansas City and then later found a job at an
advertising firm in Kansas. There he met a talented artist
named Ubbe Iwerks. Ubbe was a great animator and he
and Walt became good friends. Walt and Ubbe worked all
day for the advertising company, but at night they studied
the art of animation and experimented with ways to make
animation smoother by using light and a camera. Walt soon
quit his job at the advertising firm because he was not
satisfied with the work he was doing. He found a job in
Kansas City at a Film Ad Company. Walt was quickly
fired from this job and having nowhere else to go, he
returned home.

Walt and his brother Roy decided to form their own
business available jobs didn’t allow them the creative
freedom they deserved. They found a little place to set up
their own studio on Hyperion Ave. in Hollywood. If their
business were successful, it would be the first studio in the
city strictly for producing animation. Walt and Roy got their
studio up and moving within a few weeks and hired several
animators. They first produced a mini-series called Alice
that played in the previews of movie theatres, but they
knew it wouldn’t compare to Felix the Cat. Walt felt
something was missing at their studio and realized a need
for a master animator. Walt quickly called upon his old
friend, Ubbe Iwerks. Ubbe was convinced and headed
straight to Hollywood. With Walt creating stories, Ubbe
producing spectacular animation and Roy taking care of
finances they had a perfect formula.

Walt often worked late at night. "Mice gathered in my
wastebasket when I worked late at night. I lifted them out
and kept them in little cages on my desk. One of them was
my particular friend." (Disney qtd. in Fanning, 53) Walt first
drew the mouse up late at night and named it "Mortimer,"
but Roy was not fond of this name. However Walt was too
stubborn to change it. Roy talked to Walt’s wife, Lillian,
and she eventually got him to change it after days of
pleading. In fact, it was Lillian who ultimately named the
mouse "Mickey."

They first put Mickey in the short animation called, Plane
Crazy, named after Lindbergh’s flight across the world.
Immediately after that short feature Walt got the idea to
combine sound with the animation. This was extremely
difficult to do and it took Walt several attempts to find the
perfect composer. Since they were extremely low on
money Roy told Walt to forget sound for awhile and try
later, but Walt sound now. Steamboat Willie was their first
success and with sound on its side the film attracted many
audiences and Disney Productions had caught its first
break.

In 1932 Walt thought the addition of sound was great, but
with color it would be even better.