Walter "Walt" Elias Disney
|Birth:||Dec. 5, 1901|
|Death:||Dec. 15, 1966|
Entertainment Magnate and Film Pioneer. Most remembered for creating Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a host of other cartoon characters. He has won 32 Oscars, more than any other person, for his extraordinary achievements in films.
Born Walter Elias Disney, the son of Elias and Flora Disney in Chicago, Illinois. His father's ancestors had come to America from Kilkenny, Ireland, seeking to escape from religious persecution. His father was always seeking success in many occupations but always finding failure, and the Disney family was always poor. Walt found that he could escape his father's harsh discipline by drawing, and in 1917, when he was 16 years old, he lied about his age to join the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps. When he was mustered out at the end of World War I, he set up shop as a commercial artist in Kansas City, Missouri. There he discovered the world of animation, and Walt took to it.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1923 to be with his more successful brother, Roy, Walt began drawing commercially, making a modest living by drawing for the Alice series of cartoons, about a live action girl who travels to the world of animated cartoon animals.
In 1927, his first really successful commercial cartoon, featuring Oswald the Rabbit, became a success, but Walt lost the rights to the character when sued by his distributor. From then on, Walt insisted on owning the distribution rights to his creations. In 1928, Walt created Mickey Mouse. His third Mickey Mouse film, "Steamboat Willie," was the first cartoon to use synchronized sound and became an overnight success. Walt was the voice of Mickey for the first ten years of the cartoon.
In 1934, Disney pioneered the first full length cartoon movie, "Snow White", and again, critics were overcome by the sheer popular response of the public to the movie.
In 1950, he produced his first live-action film, "Treasure Island," and in 1955, he opened his first theme park, Disneyland.
Prior to his death in 1966 in Los Angeles, California, of lung cancer, he began work on his latest theme park in Orlando, Florida: Walt Disney's World. His brother, Roy, the business genius behind the scenes, continued to run the company, and 40 years after Walt's death, the Disney empire is still financially strong and keeping to Walt's legacy.
Shortly after Walt's death, the Disney Company executive board was shown a short film that Walt made just before his death, where he addressed each board member by name, telling him what he expected of him, and ending the film by saying "I'll be seeing you."
Walt Disney was one of the few Americans to be honored with a US postage stamp issued less than two years after his death (the US Postal Service prefers to issue stamps at least ten years after a person has died; an exception is made for US presidents), when a 6 cent stamp was issued in September 1968 in his honor. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)
Walter Elias Disney
Location of Walt Disney Memorial
Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary
[one of two entrance signs]
Glendale, Los Angeles, California
Walter Elias Disney with his iconic Mickey Mouse
****The above information and photos comes to us from FindAGrave.