I'll start by saying .. I love this man!! There are certain things you really dig as a kid, then when your a bit older and then when real world sets in - & you find you don't dig it as much. Walt is a man I think each kid digs for a lifetime. He inspired and taught kids to never grow up within their hearts and challenged adults to find the kid within. I can't tell you how many times I did a report on Walt in school. Too many times to count. He made ideas, (some that people thought were crazy) come to life. I remember walking through the halls of my school one day with my hand on top of a rail. I imagined the rail coming to life, growing legs, eyes, nose, and a mouth and start talking to me. Another time, I imagined a tree in our school recess area coming to life and putting it's arm..(or branch) around me and talking to me. I could go on and on about my weird imaginations that I have to this day. Apparently they weren't to far a stretch of the imagination because at one point or another.. I have seen them all come to life in Disney films!! I LOVED and ADMIRED Walt as a kid for bringing to life his imaginations for the world. As an adult I STILL love him for that very reason. No imagination was too big or too small. I also love him as an adult because now I realize that through all the greedy corporate bullshit in this world..money didn't mean shit to him. Money was nice, and he had alot of it - but money wasn't life. Family, friends, imagination, and dreams were what life was about. I remember in every book report I used to do on him....in almost EVERY single interview he would mention the money aspect of it. I didn't understand that then, now I do. He stated..."I started imagining these charactors as a kid and money was never his focus...his focus was bringing the charactors out of his head and into real life." and continued .."somewhere along the way, my charactors started making me money." Out of every Hollywood founding father .. he is probably the most famous. He made carefully sure that his charactors were precisely just the way he envisioned them in his head, before they had his name stamped on them. Oh...btw...remember an actor by the name of Eddie Bracken?? This guy used to remind me SO much of Walt. Nowhere have I found confirmation the two were related.. but I am convinced they were somehow. No matter what anyone says. The resemblence is eerie. Can anyone confirm this?? GREAT actor too!! Annnyway .. back to Uncle Walt!! Noone in history has fathered as many cartoons as Walt ... His story begins in The Windy City ....
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in this house, in Chicago, Illinois. It need not be said, he had a wild imagination as a child and would often tell stories to entertain his family. Like many Hollywood founding fathers .. his family, (but not he), imigrated here and the original family last name was d'Isigny. As was custom in those days, Walt's great-grandfather, upon immigrating, adopted the more American (and easier to say) name Disney...wala..and poof....done deal!! The family lived in this house in Chicago. Wanna see the bedroom mayyybe where Walt was born?? How 'bout the bathroom?? Living Room? KITCHEN?? Isn't it lovely when homes go up on the market? You get all the nice insider shots!! I was shocked it took so long to sell! Same with the Warner childhood home in Ohio. These people haven't a clue who owned the house previously sometimes! It gets to me, Annyway..
In 1906, when Walt was four, Walt's dad moved the family to a farm in Marceline, Missouri. According to some, Walt was born in Marceline. Just ask aaaanyone there, they'll tell ya!! If you ever do visit there..those really are fighting words!! In any case...when Walt was 4, the family moved to a farm Roy had bought..(you know what I mean!) It was here, in Marceline, Walt developed his love for drawing. After the art bug got him, Walt constantly drew...literally on anything he could find. His drawings were exceptional and caught the eye of a neighbor who paid him to draw renditions of said neighbors horse. It turned out to be his first payment for his artwork.
At age 9, Walt's dad moved the family to Kansas City, Missouri. Here, he attended Benton Grammar School where he met a friend named Walter Pfeiffer. The Pfeiffer family (say that 5 times fast), had a love for theater, and introduced young Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Walt was instantly FASCINATED with motion pictures and began spending more time at the Pfeiffers' than at home. During this time he attended Saturday courses as a child at the Kansas City Art Institute. While there, Walt first developed a plan and a dream to make a living selling his art. His teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute was said to have liked Walt's art so much, she kept each peice of art Walt did. (Can you imagine the worth if she kept them all along? Art by Walt pre-Mickey??!! Whoooosh! Ka-ching!!) Walt excelled there, but once again, the father Disney moved the clan back to Chicago.
Walt returned to Chicago with the family and began his freshman year at McKinley High School. Evenings were spent by Walt taking courses at the Chicago Art Institute. At his high school, he became the cartoonist for the newspaper. Walt lived by a barbershop and would go there once a week to draw “caricatures of all the critters that hung out there”. The barber took notice in young Walt's art and offered him a free hair cut every week in exchange for a
cartoon. Walt desperatly wanted to sell his art for a living..but nobody (newspapers, cafes, OR streetens...an art store in Chicago at the time..since been razed), was hiring. Walt's brother Roy, however, who worked at a bank in the area, got a temporary job for him at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio through a bank colleague. At Pesmen-Rubin, Walt created ads for newspapers, magazines, and movie theaters.
In January 1920, Walt and Ubbe formed a short-lived company called, "Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists". However, following a rough start, Walt left temporarily to earn money at Kansas City Film Ad Company, and was soon joined by Ubbe who was not able to run the business alone. While working at the film ad company, the owner let Walt take a camera home to learn the works of it. Walt quickly learned the ins and outs of creating 'cell animation,' through a recent book he had aquired and practising with the borrowed camera. This led to Walt getting a loan and opening his own animation business in which he called, "Laugh O Grams Studio (another legendary building down..assholes!)" Through a deal with local theater owner and showman Frank L. Newman..his theater would air Walt's cartoons — which he simply called "Laugh-O-Grams." Walt's new company was a hit with locals of Kansas City!! With demand for more material, meant more workers. Although Walt was a genius creative mind...math crunching was another story. I could not afford to pay the employees he hired, and "Laugh O Grams went bankrupt. For his next venture, Walt told his brother Roy, it was all or nothing. With their sights set on Hollywood they began to take stock of what money they had... it just happened to be enough to establish a small cartoon studio in the heart of Hollywood, California.
Upon leaving Kansas City, and in the hope of getting a distributor, Walt sent sent an unfinished print of a project he'd been working on in Kansas City to well-known New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She was excited on a distribution deal with Disney for more live-action/animated shorts based on the print she got. It just happened the print was the soon-to-be named, Alice Adventures. Also in the works was a new pilot for a character called, 'Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.' He now needed a celluloid painter..he 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. Walt's dreams were fastly becoming reality!!
By 1927, an ass-kisser, money seeker by the name of Charles B. Mintz (who obviously had $ signs on his forehead) had married Margaret Winkler and assumed control of her business. Walt had went to New York to request more funding and got more than he bargained for. Mintz had hired Walt's whole staff, except for good man Ubbe Iwerks who refused to leave Walt. With Minz taking Walt's staff and idea, Walt was left to find a charactor to replace his 'Alice' and 'Oswald' charactors.
On the train back from New York to California, Walt began to think of a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in a Kansas City studio. Walt penned a sketch of the charactor, and named it '"Mortimer", upon consulting his wife on his newly discovered charactor, she convinced Walt to change the name of the mouse from "Mortimer", to "Mickey." A star was born!! Upon his return to California, Walt and Ubbe got to work on the new charactor. Sketched in detail by Ubbe, but supervised to perfection by Walt himself. They created their first animation of Mickey..a silent animation, simply called 'Plane Crazy." By the time they found a distributor, another better prepared, better sketch was in the works for the mouse..this one called "Steamboat Willie." The newfound distributor, Pat Powers, loved it and provided Walt and Ubbe with both distribution and a device that would allow the mouse to be heard called, Cinephone. Steamboat Willie skyrocketed to success, and a string of new Mickey cartoons were followed complete 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 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. Mickey surpassed Felix the Cat as the world's most popular cartoon character. Mickey's popularity would soar to new heights in the 30's and beyond.
Upon his over-the-top success, Walt and Lillian purchased this home in Holmby Hills. They moved from this house.
Walt's staff grew to include more than 1,000 artists, animators, story men and technicians. With popularity continuing to soar, and Walt making additions to his studio...the Disney name had now garnered the distinguished 'top' studio list in Hollywood. Walt's 1945 feature, "The Three Caballeros," combined live action with the cartoon medium (a combo unheard of but time honored favorite of Walt, he became the master and father of live animation.) In all, 81 features were released by the studio during his lifetime.
His theme park, Disneyland, launched in 1955 as a $17 million Magic Kingdom, soon increased its investment tenfold. By its third decade, more than 250 million children and adults alike were entertained around the globe. In 1959, Walt directed the purchase of 43 square miles of land in Orlando, Florida - choosing Orlando due to it's freeway basis. This would be his last project...
On November 2, 1966 he was in the hospital undergoing preps for a surgery for an old Polo injury. During the preps, it was discovered he had several tumors on his lungs. They wanted to do surgery immediatly, however Walt, checked out to finish some studio business and re-entered the hospital on November 6. Surgery was performed the next day and his left lung was found to be cancerous and was removed. Upon the advice of his doctors to not travel too far, Walt and Lillian took a vacation to Palm Springs, California...then home where Walt stayed until November 30th. Walt collapsed in his home, paramedics were called, he was revived, and was taken back to the hospital. There he would stay for 15 days, the night of December 14th, 1966 - the Disney family was summoned. As they gathered around Walt and said their goodbyes, Walt asked a special favor of Roy. Noone ever knew what the request was but that night..all the lights at Disneyland (across the street from the hospital), were ordered to stay on by Roy. Before saying goodbye to Walt, he propped him up in the bed. As Roy left he turned to see Walt...propped up, looking out the window at his studio. Walt fell into a coma that night and died the next morning at 9:30am. He never awoke from the coma and Roy said he wanted to quote, "fade off while looking at his lifes dreams." The great animator was 65 years old. RIP Walt! You can leave your virtual flowers and visit his grave here.
My buddy Scott at findadeath.com writes...
The cause of Disney’s death was announced as acute circulatory collapse and was listed as cardiac arrest on his death certificate. The cancer in his lungs was probably considered to be of secondary importance.
Disney’s funeral was held at the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, CA at 5:00 PM on December 16. No announcements of his funeral were made after it had taken place and only close relatives were in attendance. Walt didn’t like funerals and rarely attended one. During his life, he made it clear that he wished not to have a funeral. His daughter Diane once quoted her father as saying:
"When I’m dead I don’t want a funeral. I want people to remember me alive."
I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known.