People all over the world have heard about Walt Disney, the first thing that comes to mind is cartoon, but it’s actually the name of a person, a world without his magic, whimsy, and optimism. Walt Disney transformed the entertainment industry, into what we know today. He pioneered the fields of animation, and found new ways to teach, and educate.
He was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois, to his father, Elias Disney, an Irish-Canadian, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, who was of German-American descent. Walt was one of five children, four boys and a girl.
Walt attended McKinley High School in Chicago. There, Disney divided his attention between drawing and photography, and contributing to the school paper. At night he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, to better his drawing abilities.
During the fall of 1918, Disney attempted to enlist for military service, rejected because he was under age, only sixteen years old at the time. Instead, Walt joined the Red Cross and was sent overseas to France, where he spent a year driving an ambulance and chauffeuring Red Cross officials.
His ambulance was covered from stem to stern, not with stock camouflage, but with Disney cartoons.
On December 21, 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated musical feature, premiered at the Carthay Theatre in Los Angeles. The film produced at the unheard cost of $1,499,000 during the depths of the Depression, the film is still considered one of the great feats and imperishable monuments of the motion picture industry.
During the next five years, Walt Disney Studios completed other full-length animated classics such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. Walt Disney’s dream of a clean, and organized amusement park, came true, as Disneyland Park opened in 1955.
Walt also became a television pioneer, Disney began television production in 1954, and was among the first to present full-colour programming with his Wonderful World of Colour in 1961.
Walt Disney received the Congressional Gold Medal on May 24, 1968 (P.L. 90-316, 82 Stat. 130–131) and the Légion d’Honneur awarded by France in 1935.
In 1935, Walt received a special medal from the League of Nations for creation of Mickey Mouse, held to be Mickey Mouse award. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964.
The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) and Zorro (1957) to top it all off, Walt came out with the lavish musical fantasy Mary Poppins (1964), which mixed live-action with animation.
It is considered by many to be his magnum opus. Even after that, Walt continued to forge onward, with plans to build a new theme park and an experimental prototype city in Florida.
He never did finish those plans, however; in 1966, he contracted lung cancer. He died in December at age 65. He was a chain smoker. He avoided smoking when he was in public view, especially where he might be seen by children.
But not even his death, it seemed, could stop him. Roy carried on plans to build the Florida theme park, and it premiered in 1971 under the name Walt Disney World.