Walt Disney – A Creative Genius
Every childhood is associated with fairy tales and stories. Some that we read in books, while some that we heard from our grandparents. But can you imagine a childhood without them? How colorless and dull our lives would have been if we had not been able to dream and fantasize about beautiful princesses, handsome and brave princes, dragons, witches, fairies, pixies and what not. We have Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm to thank you for that. But the man who brought these stories to life was Walt Disney. He transformed picture book characters to animated characters that walked, talked, laughed, cried and in short possessed all human characteristics. He was also the pioneer of full-length animated feature films.
Walt Disney: His Early Years
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, to Elias and Flora Call Disney. He had three brothers and a sister.
At a very early age Walt Disney started showing an interest in drawing and art. When he was seven years old he sold small sketches to his neighbors. Later on he attended McKinley High School. There, he divided his time between drawing and photography, and also contributed to the school paper. At night he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, to improve upon his drawing abilities.
Walt Disney continued to develop his artistic talent. But besides this he had an aptitude for acting. At school he began to entertain his friends by imitating his silent screen idol, Charlie Chaplin. At his teachers’ encouragement, he would tell his classmates stories, while demonstrating on the chalkboard. He would also sneak out of the house at night to perform comical skits at local theaters.
This led him to pursue a career in commercial art, which soon became the reason of his experiments in animation. He began producing short animated films for local businesses. One of them was the Alice Comedies, which was about a real girl and her adventures in an animated world, but when Walt Disney ran out of money, and his company Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupt, he just packed up and headed for Hollywood to start a new business. He was only twenty-one years of age.
The failure of Alice comedies did not dampen his enthusiasm and zest for animated production (as he went bankrupt seven times before building Disneyland) rather nothing seemed impossible to him as he was a man who turned dreams to reality. And it was due to his constant endeavors that he enabled him to reach to the top of Hollywood.
Walt Disney: Finally on the Road of Success
On July 13, 1925, he married one of his first employees, Lillian Bounds. He was blessed with two daughters, Diane and Sharon.
Then in 1928 his greatest animated character came to life; ‘Mickey Mouse’ the mouse the whole world fell in love with. On Mickey Mouse he said “He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad during 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.”
Mickey Mouse made his first appearance on screen in Steamboat Willie, the world’s first coordinated sound cartoon. Technicolor was introduced to animation during the production of his Silly Symphonies Cartoon Features. Walt Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, allowing him only, to make colored cartoons. In 1932, his production ‘Flowers and Trees’ won him the first of his studio’s Academy Awards.
On December 21, 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first ever full-length animated musical feature, premiered at the Carthay Theater in Los Angeles. The film, which cost a staggering $1,499,000, is still considered one of the great accomplishments of the motion picture industry. During the next five years, Walt Disney Studios completed other such animated classics like Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi.
Disney began television production in 1954, and was among the first to present full-color programs with his Wonderful World of Color in 1961. The Mickey Mouse Club was a popular favorite in the 1950s.
Walt Disney Creates the Magic of Disney Theme Parks
But this was not enough; Walt Disney wanted to give the world more so in 1955 Disneyland Park made its opening. It is a magical place that has entertained more than 200 million people of all ages, including presidents, celebrities and royalty from all over the world. Walt said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in Disneyland. I want to feel they’re in another world.”
But this legacy did not end here as Disney purchased 43 square miles of land in the center of the state of Florida. This was the site of “Disney World”, which was to include a new amusement theme park, a hotel resort and his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCT), an attempt by Walt to tackle the problems of city life in America. After more than seven years of planning and preparation, including 52 months of actual construction, the Walt Disney World Resort opened to the public on October 1, 1971.
He also supported the establishment of California Institute of the Arts, a college-level professional school of all creative and performing arts. CalArts, Walt once said, ” This is the thing I’m going to be remembered for.”
Walt Disney was nothing short of a marvel, what he accomplished touched the hearts of millions of people, bringing them everlasting laughter and joy!