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Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of
cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration that is typically drawn, sometimes animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to either: an image or series of images ...

cartoon
s. As a film producer, he holds the record for most
Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i.e., ...

Academy Awards
earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two
Golden Globe The Golden Globe Awards are accolades bestowed by the 87 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non ...

Golden Globe
Special Achievement Awards and an
Emmy Award The Emmy Awards, or Emmys, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the television industry. It is considered one of the four major entertainment awards in the United States, the others being the Grammy The Grammy Award (stylized ...

Emmy Award
, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
by the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
. Born in Chicago in 1901, Disney developed an early interest in drawing. He took art classes as a boy and got a job as a commercial illustrator at the age of 18. He moved to California in the early 1920s and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. With
Ub Iwerks Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwwerks (; March 24, 1901 – July 7, 1971) was an American animator An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. ...
, he developed the character
Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse is a cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration that is typically drawn, sometimes animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to ei ...
in 1928, his first highly popular success; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. As the studio grew, he became more adventurous, introducing synchronized sound, full-color three-strip
Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, after Britain's Kinemacolor Kinemacolor was the firs ...

Technicolor
,
feature-lengthIn Internet marketing, online marketing, a landing page, sometimes known as a "lead capture page","single property page", "static page", "squeeze page" or a "destination page", is a single web page that appears in response to clicking on a search eng ...
cartoons and technical developments in cameras. The results, seen in features such as ''
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs "Snow White" is a 19th-century German fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of a folklore genre that takes the form of a short story A short story is a piece of prose fictio ...
'' (1937), ''
Pinocchio Pinocchio (, ) is an Italian fictional character and the protagonist of the children's novel ''The Adventures of Pinocchio'' (1883) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence, Tuscany. Pinocchio was carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a Tus ...
'', '' Fantasia'' (both 1940), ''
Dumbo ''Dumbo'' is a 1941 American animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photog ...

Dumbo
'' (1941), and ''
Bambi ''Bambi'' is a 1942 American animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photog ...

Bambi
'' (1942), furthered the development of animated film. New animated and
live-action Live action (or live-action) is a form of cinematography Cinematography (from ancient Greek κίνημα, ''kìnema'' "movement" and γράφειν, ''gràphein'' "to write") is the art of Film, motion picture (and more recently, electronic ...
films followed after World War II, including the critically successful ''
Cinderella "Cinderella", or "The Little Glass Slipper", is a folk tale with thousands of variants throughout the world.Dundes, Alan. Cinderella, a Casebook. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. The protagonist is a young woman living in forsa ...
'' (1950) and ''
Mary Poppins ''Mary Poppins'' is a fantasy media franchise created by P. L. Travers, originating with the ''Mary Poppins (book series), Mary Poppins'' series of children's books. Books * ''Mary Poppins'' (1934) * ''Mary Poppins Comes Back'' (1935) * ''Mary Po ...
'' (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In the 1950s, Disney expanded into the
amusement park Wonder Mountain at Canada's Wonderland An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme park is a type of amusement park that bases its struc ...
industry, and in July 1955 he opened
Disneyland The Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks Wonder Mountain at Canada's Wonderland An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for e ...

Disneyland
in
Anaheim, California Anaheim () is a city in Orange County, California, Orange County, California, part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 336,265, making it the most populous city in Orange County ...
. To fund the project he diversified into television programs, such as '' Walt Disney's Disneyland'' and ''
The Mickey Mouse Club ''The Mickey Mouse Club'' is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996 and returned to social media Social media are interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing/exchange of information, id ...
''. He was also involved in planning the 1959 Moscow Fair, the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the
1964 New York World's Fair The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was a world's fair that held over 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, for 80 nations (hosted by 37), 24 US states, and over 45 corporations to build exhibits or attractions at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Quee ...
. In 1965, he began development of another theme park,
Disney World The Walt Disney World Resort, also called Walt Disney World and Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida Florida (, ) is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southea ...
, the heart of which was to be a new type of city, the " Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT). Disney was a heavy smoker throughout his life and died of lung cancer in December 1966 before either the park or the EPCOT project were completed. Disney was a shy, self-deprecating and insecure man in private but adopted a warm and outgoing public persona. He had high standards and high expectations of those with whom he worked. Although there have been accusations that he was
racist Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority Superior may refer to: *Superior (hierarchy), something which is higher in a hi ...
or
anti-Semitic Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and ...
, they have been contradicted by many who knew him. His reputation changed in the years after his death, from a purveyor of homely patriotic values to a representative of
American imperialism American imperialism consists of policies aimed at extending the political, economic and cultural influence of the United States over areas beyond its boundaries. Depending on the commentator, it may include military conquest, gunboat diplomacy ...
. He nevertheless remains an important figure in the history of animation and in the cultural history of the United States, where he is considered a national
cultural icon A cultural icon is a person or an that is identified by members of a culture as representative of that culture. The process of identification is subjective, and "icons" are judged by the extent to which they can be seen as an authentic symbol o ...
. His film work continues to be shown and adapted; his namesake studio and company maintain high standards in their production of popular entertainment, and the Disney theme parks have grown in size and number to attract visitors in several countries.


Biography


Early life: 1901–1920

Disney was born on December 5, 1901, at 1249 Tripp Avenue, in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. He was the fourth son of Elias Disneyborn in the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) (french: link=no, Province du Canada) was a British North America, British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations mad ...
, to Irish parentsand Flora ( Call), an American of German and English descent. Aside from Walt, Elias and Flora's sons were Herbert, Raymond and Roy; and the couple had a fifth child, Ruth, in December 1903. In 1906, when Disney was four, the family moved to a farm in
Marceline, Missouri Marceline is a city in Chariton and Linn County, Missouri, Linn counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. The population was 2,221 at the United States Census, 2010, 2010 census. History Marceline was laid out in 1887, and named after the wife of a ...
, where his uncle Robert had just purchased land. In Marceline, Disney developed his interest in drawing when he was paid to draw the horse of a retired neighborhood doctor. Elias was a subscriber to the '' Appeal to Reason'' newspaper, and Disney practiced drawing by copying the front-page cartoons of Ryan Walker. He also began to develop an ability to work with watercolors and crayons. He lived near the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway , often referred to as the Santa Fe or AT&SF, was one of the larger railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles runni ...
line and became enamored with trains. He and his younger sister Ruth started school at the same time at the Park School in Marceline in late 1909. In 1911, the Disneys moved to
Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Stat ...
. There, Disney attended the Benton Grammar School, where he met fellow-student Walter Pfeiffer, who came from a family of theatre fans and introduced him to the world of
vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, mixed with songs or b ...
and motion pictures. Before long, Disney was spending more time at the Pfeiffers' house than at home. Elias had purchased a newspaper delivery route for ''
The Kansas City Star ''The Kansas City Star'' is a newspaper based in Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri by population and area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city had an estimated population o ...
'' and ''
Kansas City Times ''The Kansas City Times'' was a morning newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri, published from 1867 to 1990. The morning ''Kansas City Times'', under ownership of the afternoon ''Kansas City Star ''The Kansas City Star'' is a newspaper based in ...
''. Disney and his brother Roy woke up at 4:30 every morning to deliver the ''Times'' before school and repeated the round for the evening ''Star'' after school. The schedule was exhausting, and Disney often received poor grades after falling asleep in class, but he continued his paper route for more than six years. He attended Saturday courses at the
Kansas City Art Institute The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is a private, independent, four-year college of fine arts and design founded in 1885 in Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City (abbreviated KC or KCMO) is the largest city in Missouri by population and area. ...
and also took a
correspondence course Correspondence may refer to: *In general usage, non-concurrent, remote communication between people, including letter (message), letters, email, newsgroups, Internet forums, blogs. Science *Correspondence theory of truth (philosophy), a theory in ...
in cartooning. In 1917, Elias bought stock in a Chicago jelly producer, the O-Zell Company, and moved back to the city with his family. Disney enrolled at McKinley High School and became the cartoonist of the school newspaper, drawing patriotic pictures about World War I; he also took night courses at the
Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subd ...
. In mid-1918, he attempted to join the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
to , but he was rejected as too young. After forging the date of birth on his birth certificate, he joined the
Red Cross The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread specie ...

Red Cross
in September 1918 as an ambulance driver. He was shipped to France but arrived in November, after the armistice. He drew cartoons on the side of his ambulance for decoration and had some of his work published in the army newspaper '' Stars and Stripes''. He returned to Kansas City in October 1919, where he worked as an apprentice artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he drew commercial illustrations for advertising, theater programs and catalogs, and befriended fellow artist
Ub Iwerks Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwwerks (; March 24, 1901 – July 7, 1971) was an American animator An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. ...
.


Early career: 1920–1928

In January 1920, as Pesmen-Rubin's revenue declined after Christmas, Disney, aged 18, and Iwerks were laid off. They started their own business, the short-lived Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. Failing to attract many customers, Disney and Iwerks agreed that Disney should leave temporarily to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, run by A. V. Cauger; the following month Iwerks, who was not able to run their business alone, also joined. The company produced commercials using the
cutout animation Cutout animation is a form of using flat characters, s and backgrounds cut from materials such as , card, stiff or s. The props would be cut out and used as puppets for stop motion. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutou ...
technique. Disney became interested in animation, although he preferred drawn cartoons such as ''
Mutt and Jeff ''Mutt and Jeff'' is a long-running and widely popular America, American newspaper comic strip created by cartoonist Bud Fisher in 1907 about "two mismatched tinhorns". It is commonly regarded as the first daily comic strip. The concept of a n ...
'' and ''
Koko the Clown Koko the Clown is an animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photographed and e ...
''. With the assistance of a borrowed book on animation and a camera, he began experimenting at home. He came to the conclusion that
cel animation Traditional animation (or classical animation, animation, hand-drawn animation, 2D animation or just 2D) is an technique in which each frame is by hand. The technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of . Proce ...
was more promising than the cutout method. Unable to persuade Cauger to try
cel A cel, short for celluloid Celluloids are a class of materials produced by mixing nitrocellulose and camphor, often with added dyes and other agents. Once much more common for its use as photographic film before the advent of safer methods, cell ...

cel
animation at the company, Disney opened a new business with a co-worker from the Film Ad Co,
Fred Harman Fred Harman (February 9, 1902 - January 2, 1982) was an American cartoonist, best known for his popular ''Red Ryder'' comic strip, which he drew for 25 years, reaching 40 million readers through 750 newspapers. Harman sometimes used the pseudonym Te ...
. Their main client was the local Newman Theater, and the short cartoons they produced were sold as "Newman's Laugh-O-Grams". Disney studied Paul Terry's ''
Aesop's Fables Aesop's Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fable Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse (poetry), verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature tha ...
'' as a model, and the first six "Laugh-O-Grams" were modernized fairy tales. In May 1921, the success of the "Laugh-O-Grams" led to the establishment of
Laugh-O-Gram Studio File:Jack the Giant Killer (1922).webm, thumbtime=2, ''Jack the Giant Killer'' Laugh-O-Gram Studio was a short-lived film studio that ran from June 1921 to 1923, located on the second floor of the McConahay Building at 1127 East 31st in Kansas ...
, for which he hired more animators, including Fred Harman's brother Hugh,
Rudolf Ising Rudolf Carl Ising (August 7, 1903 – July 18, 1992) was an American animator who created the Warner Bros. Cartoons and MGM Cartoons and his collaboration with Hugh Harman during the golden age of American animation. In 1940, Ising produced Wi ...
and Iwerks. The Laugh-O-Grams cartoons did not provide enough income to keep the company solvent, so Disney started production of ''
Alice's Wonderland ''Alice's Wonderland'' is a 1923 Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor, and film producer. A pioneer of the Modern animation in the United States, A ...

Alice's Wonderland
''based on ''
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (commonly shortened to ''Alice in Wonderland'') is an 1865 English novel, novel by English author Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym of Charles Dodgson). It tells of a young girl named Alice (Alice's Adventures i ...
''which combined live action with animation; he cast
Virginia Davis Virginia Davis (December 31, 1918 – August 15, 2009) was an American child actress in films. She is best known for working with Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator ...

Virginia Davis
in the title role. The result, a 12-and-a-half-minute, one-reel film, was completed too late to save Laugh-O-Gram Studio, which went into bankruptcy in 1923. Disney moved to Hollywood in July 1923 at 21 years old. Although New York was the center of the cartoon industry, he was attracted to Los Angeles because his brother Roy was convalescing from
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
there, and he hoped to become a live-action film director. Disney's efforts to sell ''Alice's Wonderland'' were in vain until he heard from New York film distributor Margaret J. Winkler. She was losing the rights to both the ''
Out of the Inkwell upright=1.2, Still from an ''Inkwell Imps'' cartoon featuring Koko the Clown and Fitz the Dog. ''Out of the Inkwell'' was an American major animated series of the silent era produced by Max Fleischer from 1918 to 1929. History The series was ...
'' and ''
Felix the Cat Felix the Cat is a children's comedy cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration that is typically drawn, sometimes animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usua ...

Felix the Cat
'' cartoons, and needed a new series. In October, they signed a contract for six ''Alice'' comedies, with an option for two further series of six episodes each. Disney and his brother Roy formed the Disney Brothers Studiowhich later became
The Walt Disney Company The Walt Disney Company, commonly just Disney (), is an American multinational entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, ...
to produce the films; they persuaded Davis and her family to relocate to
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
to continue production, with Davis on contract at $100 a month. In July 1924, Disney also hired Iwerks, persuading him to relocate to Hollywood from Kansas City. Early in 1925, Disney hired an ink artist,
Lillian Bounds Lillian Marie Disney (née Bounds; February 15, 1899December 16, 1997) was an American ink artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyd ...
. They married in July of that year, at her brother's house in her hometown of
Lewiston, Idaho Lewiston is a city and the county seat of Nez Perce County, Idaho, Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States, in the state's North Central Idaho, north central region. It is the second-largest city in the Idaho Panhandle, northern Idaho region, behind ...
. The marriage was generally happy, according to Lillian, although according to Disney's biographer
Neal Gabler Neal Gabler (born 1950) is an American journalist, writer and film critic. Gabler graduated from Lane Tech High School In road transport, a lane is part of a carriageway that is designated to be used by a single line of vehicles to control and ...

Neal Gabler
she did not "accept Walt's decisions meekly or his status unquestionably, and she admitted that he was always telling people 'how henpecked he is'." Lillian had little interest in films or the Hollywood social scene and she was, in the words of the historian Steven Watts, "content with household management and providing support for her husband". Their marriage produced two daughters, Diane (born December 1933) and Sharon (adopted in December 1936, born six weeks previously). Within the family, neither Disney nor his wife hid the fact Sharon had been adopted, although they became annoyed if people outside the family raised the point. The Disneys were careful to keep their daughters out of the public eye as much as possible, particularly in the light of the
Lindbergh kidnapping On March 1, 1932, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., 20-month-old son of aviators Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was abducted from the crib in the upper floor of the Lindberghs' home, Highfields (Amwell and Hopewell, New Jersey), Highf ...
; Disney took steps to ensure his daughters were not photographed by the press. By 1926, Winkler's role in the distribution of the ''Alice'' series had been handed over to her husband, the film producer
Charles Mintz Charles Bear Mintz (November 5, 1889 – December 30, 1939)''Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014''. Social Security Administration The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government ...
, although the relationship between him and Disney was sometimes strained. The series ran until July 1927, by which time Disney had begun to tire of it and wanted to move away from the mixed format to all animation. After Mintz requested new material to distribute through
Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an int ...
, Disney and Iwerks created
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (also known as Oswald the Rabbit or Oswald Rabbit) is a cartoon character created in 1927 by Walt Disney for Universal Pictures. He starred in several animated short films released to theaters from 1927 to 1938. Twenty-seve ...
, a character Disney wanted to be "peppy, alert, saucy and venturesome, keeping him also neat and trim". In February 1928, Disney hoped to negotiate a larger fee for producing the ''Oswald'' series, but found Mintz wanting to reduce the payments. Mintz had also persuaded many of the artists involved to work directly for him, including Harman, Ising,
Carman Maxwell Carman Griffin Maxwell (December 27, 1902 – September 22, 1987) was an American animator An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequen ...
and
Friz Freleng Isadore "Friz" Freleng (August 21, 1905May 26, 1995), credited as I. Freleng early in his career, was an American animator, cartoonist, Film director, director, Film producer, producer, and composer known for his work at Warner Bros. Cartoons on ...
. Disney also found out that Universal owned the
intellectual property rights Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of ...
to Oswald. Mintz threatened to start his own studio and produce the series himself if Disney refused to accept the reductions. Disney declined Mintz's ultimatum and lost most of his animation staff, except Iwerks, who chose to remain with him.


Creation of Mickey Mouse to the first Academy Awards: 1928–1933

To replace Oswald, Disney and Iwerks developed
Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse is a cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration that is typically drawn, sometimes animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to ei ...
, possibly inspired by a pet mouse that Disney had adopted while working in his Laugh-O-Gram studio, although the origins of the character are unclear. Disney's original choice of name was Mortimer Mouse, but Lillian thought it too pompous, and suggested Mickey instead. Iwerks revised Disney's provisional sketches to make the character easier to animate. Disney, who had begun to distance himself from the animation process, provided Mickey's voice until 1947. In the words of one Disney employee, "Ub designed Mickey's physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul." Mickey Mouse first appeared in May 1928 as a single test screening of the short ''
Plane Crazy ''Plane Crazy'' is a 1928 American animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be ph ...
'', but it, and the second feature, ''
The Gallopin' Gaucho ''The Gallopin' Gaucho'' is the second short film A short film is any motion picture that is short enough in running time not to be considered a feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original ...
'', failed to find a distributor. Following the 1927 sensation ''
The Jazz Singer ''The Jazz Singer'' is a 1927 American musical drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of th ...

The Jazz Singer
'', Disney used synchronized sound on the third short, ''
Steamboat Willie ''Steamboat Willie'' is a 1928 American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. It was produced in black and white by Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios and was released by Celebrity Productions. The cartoon ...
'', to create the first post-produced sound cartoon. After the animation was complete, Disney signed a contract with the former executive of Universal Pictures, Pat Powers, to use the "Powers Cinephone" recording system; Cinephone became the new distributor for Disney's early sound cartoons, which soon became popular. To improve the quality of the music, Disney hired the professional composer and arranger
Carl Stalling Carl W. Stalling (November 10, 1891 – November 29, 1972) was an American composer and arranger for music in animated films. He is most closely associated with the ''Looney Tunes ''Looney Tunes'' is an American Animated cartoon, animated comedy ...
, on whose suggestion the ''
Silly Symphony ''Silly Symphony'' is a series of 75 animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be ph ...
'' series was developed, providing stories through the use of music; the first in the series, ''
The Skeleton Dance ''The Skeleton Dance'' is a 1929 ''Silly Symphony'' animated short subject produced and directed by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks. In the film, four human skeletons dance and make music around a spooky graveyard—a modern film example of ...
'' (1929), was drawn and animated entirely by Iwerks. Also hired at this time were several local artists, some of whom stayed with the company as core animators; the group later became known as the Disney's Nine Old Men, Nine Old Men. Both the Mickey Mouse and ''Silly Symphonies'' series were successful, but Disney and his brother felt they were not receiving their rightful share of profits from Powers. In 1930, Disney tried to trim costs from the process by urging Iwerks to abandon the practice of animating every separate cel in favor of the more efficient technique of drawing key poses and letting lower-paid assistants Inbetweening, sketch the poses. Disney asked Powers for an increase in payments for the cartoons. Powers refused and signed Iwerks to work for him; Stalling resigned shortly afterwards, thinking that without Iwerks, the Disney Studio would close. Disney had a nervous breakdown in October 1931which he blamed on the machinations of Powers and his own overworkso he and Lillian took an extended holiday to Cuba and a cruise to Panama to recover. With the loss of Powers as distributor, Disney studios signed a contract with Columbia Pictures to distribute the Mickey Mouse cartoons, which became increasingly popular, including internationally. Disney, always keen to embrace new technology, filmed ''Flowers and Trees'' (1932) in full-color three-strip
Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, after Britain's Kinemacolor Kinemacolor was the firs ...

Technicolor
; he was also able to negotiate a deal giving him the sole right to use the three-strip process until August 31, 1935. All subsequent ''Silly Symphony'' cartoons were in color. ''Flowers and Trees'' was popular with audiences and won the inaugural Academy Award for best Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, Short Subject (Cartoon) at the 5th Academy Awards, 1932 ceremony. Disney had been nominated for another film in that category, ''Mickey's Orphans'', and received an Academy Honorary Award, Honorary Award "for the creation of Mickey Mouse". In 1933, Disney produced ''The Three Little Pigs (film), The Three Little Pigs'', a film described by the media historian Adrian Danks as "the most successful short animation of all time". The film won Disney another Academy Award in the Short Subject (Cartoon) category. The film's success led to a further increase in the studio's staff, which numbered nearly 200 by the end of the year. Disney realized the importance of telling emotionally gripping stories that would interest the audience, and he invested in a "story department" separate from the animators, with storyboard artists who would detail the plots of Disney's films.


Golden age of animation: 1934–1941

By 1934, Disney had become dissatisfied with producing formulaic cartoon shorts, and believed a feature-length cartoon would be more profitable. The studio began the four-year production of ''
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs "Snow White" is a 19th-century German fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of a folklore genre that takes the form of a short story A short story is a piece of prose fictio ...
'', based on Snow White, the fairy tale. When news leaked out about the project, many in the film industry predicted it would bankrupt the company; industry insiders nicknamed it "Disney's Folly". The film, which was the first animated feature made in full color and sound, cost $1.5 million to producethree times over budget. To ensure the animation was as realistic as possible, Disney sent his animators on courses at the Chouinard Art Institute; he brought animals into the studio and hired actors so that the animators could study realistic movement. To portray the changing perspective of the background as a camera moved through a scene, Disney's animators developed a multiplane camera which allowed drawings on pieces of glass to be set at various distances from the camera, creating an illusion of depth. The glass could be moved to create the impression of a camera passing through the scene. The first work created on the cameraa ''Silly Symphony'' called ''The Old Mill'' (1937)won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film because of its impressive visual power. Although ''Snow White'' had been largely finished by the time the multiplane camera had been completed, Disney ordered some scenes be re-drawn to use the new effects. ''Snow White'' premiered in December 1937 to high praise from critics and audiences. The film became the most successful motion picture of 1938 and by May 1939 its total gross of $6.5 million made it the most successful sound film made to that date. Disney won another Honorary Academy Award, which consisted of one full-sized and seven miniature Oscar statuettes. The success of ''Snow White'' heralded one of the most productive eras for the studio; the Walt Disney Family Museum calls the following years "the 'Golden Age of Animation'". With work on ''Snow White'' finished, the studio began producing ''
Pinocchio Pinocchio (, ) is an Italian fictional character and the protagonist of the children's novel ''The Adventures of Pinocchio'' (1883) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence, Tuscany. Pinocchio was carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a Tus ...
'' in early 1938 and '' Fantasia'' in November of the same year. Both films were released in 1940, and neither performed well at the box officepartly because revenues from Europe had dropped following the start of World War II in 1939. The studio made a loss on both pictures and was deeply in debt by the end of February 1941. In response to the financial crisis, Disney and his brother Roy started the company's Initial public offering, first public stock offering in 1940, and implemented heavy salary cuts. The latter measure, and Disney's sometimes high-handed and insensitive manner of dealing with staff, led to Disney animators' strike, a 1941 animators' strike which lasted five weeks. While a federal mediator from the National Labor Relations Board negotiated with the two sides, Disney accepted an offer from the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs to make a goodwill trip to South America, ensuring he was absent during a resolution he knew would be unfavorable to the studio. As a result of the strikeand the financial state of the companyseveral animators left the studio, and Disney's relationship with other members of staff was permanently strained as a result. The strike temporarily interrupted the studio's next production, ''
Dumbo ''Dumbo'' is a 1941 American animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photog ...

Dumbo
'' (1941), which Disney produced in a simple and inexpensive manner; the film received a positive reaction from audiences and critics alike.


World War II and beyond: 1941–1950

Shortly after the release of ''Dumbo'' in October 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. Disney formed the Walt Disney Training Films Unit within the company to produce instruction films for the military such as ''Four Methods of Flush Riveting'' and ''Aircraft Production Methods''. Disney also met with Henry Morgenthau Jr., the United States Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of the Treasury, and agreed to produce short Donald Duck cartoons to promote Series E bond, war bonds. Disney also produced several Walt Disney's World War II propaganda production, propaganda productions, including shorts such as ''Der Fuehrer's Face''which won an Academy Awardand the 1943 feature film ''Victory Through Air Power (film), Victory Through Air Power''. The military films generated only enough revenue to cover costs, and the feature film ''
Bambi ''Bambi'' is a 1942 American animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photog ...

Bambi
''which had been in production since 1937underperformed on its release in April 1942, and lost $200,000 at the box office. On top of the low earnings from ''Pinocchio'' and ''Fantasia'', the company had debts of $4 million with the Bank of America in 1944. At a meeting with Bank of America executives to discuss the future of the company, the bank's chairman and founder, Amadeo Giannini, told his executives, "I've been watching the Disneys' pictures quite closely because I knew we were lending them money far above the financial risk. ... They're good this year, they're good next year, and they're good the year after. ... You have to relax and give them time to market their product." Disney's production of short films decreased in the late 1940s, coinciding with increasing competition in the animation market from Warner Bros. Cartoons, Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Roy Disney, for financial reasons, suggested more combined animation and live-action productions. In 1948, Disney initiated a series of popular live-action nature films, titled ''True-Life Adventures'', with ''Seal Island (film), Seal Island'' the first; the film won the Academy Award in the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, Best Short Subject (Two-Reel) category. Disney grew more politically conservative as he got older. A Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party supporter until the 1940 United States presidential election, 1940 presidential election, when he switched allegiance to the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he became a generous donor to Thomas E. Dewey's 1944 United States presidential election, 1944 bid for the presidency. In 1946, he was a founding member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, an organization who stated they "believ[ed] in, and like, the American Way of Life ... we find ourselves in sharp revolt against a rising tide of Communism, Fascism and kindred beliefs, that seek by subversive means to undermine and change this way of life". In 1947, during the Second Red Scare, Disney testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), where he branded Herbert Sorrell, David Hilberman and William Pomerance, former animators and trade union, labor union organizers, as communist agitators; Disney stated that the 1941 strike led by them was part of an organized communist effort to gain influence in Hollywood. It was alleged by ''The New York Times'' in 1993 that Disney had been passing secret information to the FBI from 1940 until his death in 1966. In return for this information, J. Edgar Hoover allowed Disney to film in FBI headquarters in Washington. Disney was made a "full Special Agent in Charge Contact" in 1954. In 1949, Disney and his family moved to a new home in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. With the help of his friends Ward Kimball, Ward and Betty Kimball, who already had their own Grizzly Flats Railroad, backyard railroad, Disney developed blueprints and immediately set to work on creating a miniature live steam railroad for his backyard. The name of the railroad, Carolwood Pacific Railroad, came from his home's location on Carolwood Drive. The miniature working steam locomotive was built by Disney Studios engineer Roger E. Broggie, and Disney named it ''Lilly Belle'' after his wife; after three years Disney ordered it into storage due to a series of accidents involving his guests.


Theme parks, television and other interests: 1950–1966

In early 1950, Disney produced ''
Cinderella "Cinderella", or "The Little Glass Slipper", is a folk tale with thousands of variants throughout the world.Dundes, Alan. Cinderella, a Casebook. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. The protagonist is a young woman living in forsa ...
'', his studio's first animated feature in eight years. It was popular with critics and theater audiences. Costing $2.2 million to produce, it earned nearly $8 million in its first year. Disney was less involved than he had been with previous pictures because of his involvement in his first entirely live-action feature, ''Treasure Island (1950 film), Treasure Island'' (1950), which was shot in Britain, as was ''The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men'' (1952). Other all-live-action features followed, many of which had patriotic themes. He continued to produce full-length animated features too, including ''Alice in Wonderland (1951 film), Alice in Wonderland'' (1951) and ''Peter Pan (1953 film), Peter Pan'' (1953). From the early to mid-1950s, Disney began to devote less attention to the animation department, entrusting most of its operations to his key animators, the Nine Old Men, although he was always present at story meetings. Instead, he started concentrating on other ventures. For several years Disney had been considering building a theme park. When he visited Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters, he wanted to be in a clean, unspoiled park, where both children and their parents could have fun. He visited the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was heavily influenced by the cleanliness and layout of the park. In March 1952 he received zoning permission to build a theme park in Burbank, near the Disney studios. This site proved too small, and a larger plot in Anaheim, California, Anaheim, south of the studio, was purchased. To distance the project from the studiowhich might attract the criticism of shareholdersDisney formed WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) and used his own money to fund a group of designers and animators to work on the plans; those involved became known as "Imagineers". After obtaining bank funding he invited other stockholders, American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatrespart of American Broadcasting Company (ABC)and Western Publishing, Western Printing and Lithographing Company. In mid-1954, Disney sent his Imagineers to every amusement park in the U.S. to analyze what worked and what pitfalls or problems there were in the various locations and incorporated their findings into his design. Construction work started in July 1954, and
Disneyland The Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks Wonder Mountain at Canada's Wonderland An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for e ...

Disneyland
opened in July 1955; the opening ceremony was broadcast on ABC, which reached 70 million viewers. The park was designed as a series of themed lands, linked by the central Main Street, U.S.A.a replica of the main street in his hometown of Marceline. The connected themed areas were Adventureland (Disney), Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The park also contained the Narrow-gauge railway, narrow gauge Disneyland Railroad that linked the lands; around the outside of the park was a high berm to separate the park from the outside world. An editorial in ''The New York Times'' considered that Disney had "tastefully combined some of the pleasant things of yesterday with fantasy and dreams of tomorrow". Although there were early minor problems with the park, it was a success, and after a month's operation, Disneyland was receiving over 20,000 visitors a day; by the end of its first year, it attracted 3.6 million guests. The money from ABC was contingent on Disney television programs. The studio had been involved in a successful television special on Christmas Day 1950 about the making of ''Alice in Wonderland''. Roy believed the program added millions to the box office takings. In a March 1951 letter to shareholders, he wrote that "television can be a most powerful selling aid for us, as well as a source of revenue. It will probably be on this premise that we enter television when we do". In 1954, after the Disneyland funding had been agreed, ABC broadcast '' Walt Disney's Disneyland'', an anthology consisting of animated cartoons, live-action features and other material from the studio's library. The show was successful in terms of ratings and profits, earning an audience share of over 50%. In April 1955, ''Newsweek'' called the series an "American institution". ABC was pleased with the ratings, leading to Disney's first daily television program, ''
The Mickey Mouse Club ''The Mickey Mouse Club'' is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996 and returned to social media Social media are interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing/exchange of information, id ...
'', a variety show catering specifically to children. The program was accompanied by merchandising through various companies (Western Printing, for example, had been producing coloring books and comics for over 20 years, and produced several items connected to the show). One of the segments of ''Disneyland'' consisted of the five-part miniseries ''Davy Crockett (miniseries), Davy Crockett'' which, according to Gabler, "became an overnight sensation". The show's theme song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", became internationally popular, and ten million records were sold. As a result, Disney formed his own record production and distribution entity, Walt Disney Records, Disneyland Records. As well as the construction of Disneyland, Disney worked on other projects away from the studio. He was consultant to the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow; Disney Studios' contribution was ''America the Beautiful (Disney), America the Beautiful'', a 19-minute film in the 360-degree Circle-Vision 360°, Circarama theater that was one of the most popular attractions. The following year he acted as the chairman of the Pageantry Committee for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Placer County, California, Squaw Valley, California, where he designed the Olympic Games ceremony, opening, closing and medal ceremonies. Despite the demands wrought by non-studio projects, Disney continued to work on film and television projects. In 1955, he was involved in "Man in Space", an episode of the ''Disneyland'' series, which was made in collaboration with NASA rocket designer Wernher von Braun. Disney also oversaw aspects of the full-length features ''Lady and the Tramp'' (the first animated film in CinemaScope) in 1955, ''Sleeping Beauty (1959 film), Sleeping Beauty'' (the first animated film in Technirama 70 mm film) in 1959, ''One Hundred and One Dalmatians'' (the first animated feature film to use Traditional animation#Xerography, Xerox cels) in 1961, and ''The Sword in the Stone (1963 film), The Sword in the Stone'' in 1963. In 1964, Disney produced ''
Mary Poppins ''Mary Poppins'' is a fantasy media franchise created by P. L. Travers, originating with the ''Mary Poppins (book series), Mary Poppins'' series of children's books. Books * ''Mary Poppins'' (1934) * ''Mary Poppins Comes Back'' (1935) * ''Mary Po ...
'', based on Mary Poppins (book series), the book series by P. L. Travers; he had been trying to acquire the rights to the story since the 1940s. It became the most successful Disney film of the 1960s, although Travers disliked the film intensely and regretted having sold the rights. The same year he also became involved in plans to expand the California Institute of the Arts (colloquially called CalArts), and had an architect draw up blueprints for a new building. Disney provided four exhibits for the
1964 New York World's Fair The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was a world's fair that held over 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, for 80 nations (hosted by 37), 24 US states, and over 45 corporations to build exhibits or attractions at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Quee ...
, for which he obtained funding from selected corporate sponsors. For PepsiCo, who planned a tribute to UNICEF, Disney developed It's a Small World, a boat ride with audio-animatronic dolls depicting children of the world; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln contained an animatronic Abraham Lincoln giving excerpts from his speeches; Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, Carousel of Progress promoted the importance of electricity; and Ford's Magic Skyway portrayed the progress of mankind. Elements of all four exhibitsprincipally concepts and technologywere re-installed in Disneyland, although It's a Small World is the ride that most closely resembles the original. During the early to mid-1960s, Disney developed plans for a ski resort in Mineral King, a glacial valley in California's Sierra Nevada. He hired experts such as the renowned Olympic ski coach and ski-area designer Willy Schaeffler. With income from Disneyland accounting for an increasing proportion of the studio's income, Disney continued to look for venues for other attractions. In late 1965, he announced plans to develop another theme park to be called "Disney World" (now Walt Disney World), a few miles southwest of Orlando, Florida. Disney World was to include the "Magic Kingdom"a larger and more elaborate version of Disneylandplus golf courses and resort hotels. The heart of Disney World was to be the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT (concept), EPCOT), which he described as:
an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.
During 1966, Disney cultivated businesses willing to sponsor EPCOT. He received a story credit in the 1966 film ''Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.'' as Retlaw Yensid, his name spelt backwards. He increased his involvement in the studio's films, and was heavily involved in the story development of ''The Jungle Book (1967 film), The Jungle Book'', the live-action musical feature ''The Happiest Millionaire'' (both 1967) and the animated short ''Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day'' (1968).


Illness, death and aftermath

Disney had been a Chain smoking, heavy smoker since World War I. He did not use cigarettes with cigarette filter, filters and had smoked a pipe as a young man. In early November 1966, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was treated with cobalt therapy. On November 30, he felt unwell and was taken by ambulance from his home to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital where, on December 15, 1966, ten days after his 65th birthday, he died of circulatory collapse caused by the cancer. His remains were cremated two days later and his ashes interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The release of ''The Jungle Book'' and ''The Happiest Millionaire'' in 1967 raised the total number of feature films that Disney had been involved in to 81. When ''Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day'' was released in 1968, it earned Disney an Academy Award in the Short Subject (Cartoon) category, awarded posthumously. After Disney's death, his studios continued to produce live-action films prolifically but largely abandoned animation until the late 1980s, after which there was what ''The New York Times'' describes as the "Disney Renaissance" that began with ''The Little Mermaid (1989 film), The Little Mermaid'' (1989). Disney's companies continue to produce successful film, television and stage entertainment. Disney's plans for the futuristic city of EPCOT did not come to fruition. After Disney's death, his brother Roy deferred his retirement to take full control of the Disney companies. He changed the focus of the project from a town to an attraction. At the inauguration in 1971, Roy dedicated Walt Disney World to his brother. Walt Disney World expanded with the opening of Epcot Center in 1982; Walt Disney's vision of a functional city was replaced by a park more akin to a permanent world's fair. In 2009, the Walt Disney Family Museum, designed by Disney's daughter Diane and her son Walter E. D. Miller, opened in the Presidio of San Francisco. Thousands of artifacts from Disney's life and career are on display, including numerous awards that he received. In 2014, the Disney theme parks around the world hosted approximately 134 million visitors. Disney has been portrayed numerous times in fictional works. H. G. Wells references Disney in his 1938 novel ''The Holy Terror (Wells novel), The Holy Terror'', in which World Dictator Rud fears that Donald Duck is meant to lampoon the dictator. Disney was portrayed by Len Cariou in the 1995 made-for-TV film ''A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story'', and by Tom Hanks in the 2013 film ''Saving Mr. Banks''. In 2001, the German author Peter Stephan Jungk published (trans: ''The King of America''), a fictional work of Disney's later years that re-imagines him as a power-hungry racist. The composer Philip Glass later adapted the book into the opera ''The Perfect American'' (2013).


Awards and honors

Disney received 59 Academy Award nominations, including 22 awards: both totals are records. He was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, but did not win, but he was presented with two Special Achievement Awardsfor ''Bambi'' (1942) and ''The Living Desert'' (1953)and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, Cecil B. DeMille Award. He also received four
Emmy Award The Emmy Awards, or Emmys, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the television industry. It is considered one of the four major entertainment awards in the United States, the others being the Grammy The Grammy Award (stylized ...

Emmy Award
nominations, winning once, for Best Producer for the ''Disneyland'' television series. Several of his films are included in the United States
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
by the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant": ''Steamboat Willie'', ''The Three Little Pigs'', ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'', ''Fantasia'', ''Pinocchio'', ''Bambi'', ''Dumbo'' and ''Mary Poppins''. In 1998, the American Film Institute published a list of the 100 greatest American films, according to industry experts; the list included ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'' (at number 49), and ''Fantasia'' (at 58). In February 1960, Disney was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars, one for motion pictures and the other for his television work; Mickey Mouse was given his own star for motion pictures in 1978. Disney was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1986, the California Hall of Fame in December 2006, and was the inaugural recipient of a star on the Anaheim/Orange County Walk of Stars, Anaheim walk of stars in 2014. The Walt Disney Family Museum records that he "along with members of his staff, received more than 950 honors and citations from throughout the world". He was made a in the French in 1935, and in 1952 he was awarded the country's highest artistic decoration, the . Other national awards include Thailand's Order of the Crown of Thailand, Order of the Crown (1960); Germany's Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Order of Merit (1956), Brazil's Order of the Southern Cross (1941),Unirio
/ref> and Mexico's Order of the Aztec Eagle (1943). In the United States, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964, and on May 24, 1968, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He received the Showman of the World Award from the National Association of Theatre Owners, and in 1955, the National Audubon Society awarded Disney its highest honor, the Audubon Medal, for promoting the "appreciation and understanding of nature" through his ''True-Life Adventures'' nature films. A minor planet discovered in 1980 by astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina, was named 4017 Disneya, and he was also awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University, Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.


Personality and reputation

Disney's public persona was very different from his actual personality. Playwright Robert E. Sherwood described him as "almost painfully shy ... diffident" and self-deprecating. According to his biographer Richard Schickel, Disney hid his shy and insecure personality behind his public identity. Kimball argues that Disney "played the role of a bashful tycoon who was embarrassed in public" and knew that he was doing so. Disney acknowledged the façade and told a friend that "I'm not Walt Disney. I do a lot of things Walt Disney would not do. Walt Disney does not smoke. I smoke. Walt Disney does not drink. I drink." Critic Otis Ferguson, in ''The New Republic'', called the private Disney: "common and everyday, not inaccessible, not in a foreign language, not suppressed or sponsored or anything. Just Disney." Many of those with whom Disney worked commented that he gave his staff little encouragement due to his exceptionally high expectations. Norman recalls that when Disney said "That'll work", it was an indication of high praise. Instead of direct approval, Disney gave high-performing staff financial bonuses, or recommended certain individuals to others, expecting that his praise would be passed on. Views of Disney and his work have changed over the decades, and there have been polarized opinions. Mark Langer, in the ''American Dictionary of National Biography'', writes that "Earlier evaluations of Disney hailed him as a patriot, folk artist, and popularizer of culture. More recently, Disney has been regarded as a paradigm of
American imperialism American imperialism consists of policies aimed at extending the political, economic and cultural influence of the United States over areas beyond its boundaries. Depending on the commentator, it may include military conquest, gunboat diplomacy ...
and intolerance, as well as a debaser of culture." Steven Watts wrote that some denounce Disney "as a cynical manipulator of cultural and commercial formulas", while PBS records that critics have censured his work because of its "smooth façade of sentimentality and stubborn optimism, its feel-good re-write of American history". Although Disney's films have been highly praised, very popular and commercially successful over time, there were criticisms by reviewers. C. A. Lejeune, Caroline Lejeune comments in ''The Observer'' that ''Snow White'' (1937) "has more faults than any earlier Disney cartoon. It is vulnerable again and again to the barbed criticisms of the experts. Sometimes it is, frankly, badly drawn." Robin Allen, writing for ''The Times'', notes that ''Fantasia'' (1940) was "condemned for its vulgarity and lurches into bathos", while Lejeune, reviewing ''Alice in Wonderland'' (1951), feels the film "may drive lovers of Lewis Carroll to frenzy". ''Peter Pan'' (1953) was criticized in ''The Times'' as "a children's classic vulgarized" with "Tinker Bell ... a Blond#Varieties, peroxided American cutie". The reviewer opined that Disney "has slaughtered good J. M. Barrie, Barrie and has only second-rate Disney to put in its place". Disney has been accused of antisemitism, anti-Semitism for having given Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl a tour of his studio a month after , although none of his employees—including the animator Art Babbitt, who disliked Disney intensely—ever accused him of making anti-Semitic slurs or taunts. The Walt Disney Family Museum acknowledges that ethnic stereotypes common to films of the 1930s were included in some early cartoons. Disney donated regularly to Jewish charities, he was named "1955 Man of the Year" by the B'nai B'rith chapter in Beverly Hills, and his studio employed a number of Jews, some of whom were in influential positions. Gabler, the first writer to gain unrestricted access to the Disney archives, concludes that the available evidence does not support accusations of anti-Semitism and that Disney was "not [anti-Semitic] in the conventional sense that we think of someone as being an anti-Semite". Gabler concludes that "though Walt himself, in my estimation, was not anti-Semitic, nevertheless, he willingly allied himself with people who were anti-Semitic [meaning some members of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, MPAPAI], and that reputation stuck. He was never really able to expunge it throughout his life". Disney distanced himself from the Motion Picture Alliance in the 1950s. Disney has also been accused of other forms of racism because some of his productions released between the 1930s and 1950s contain racially insensitive material. The feature film ''Song of the South'' was criticized by contemporary film critics, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and others for its perpetuation of Stereotypes of African Americans, black stereotypes, but Disney later campaigned successfully for an Honorary Academy Award for its star, James Baskett, the first black actor so honored. Gabler argues that "Walt Disney was no racist. He never, either publicly or privately, made disparaging remarks about blacks or asserted white superiority. Like most white Americans of his generation, however, he was racially insensitive." Floyd Norman, the studio's first black animator who worked closely with Disney during the 1950s and 1960s, said, "Not once did I observe a hint of the racist behavior Walt Disney was often accused of after his death. His treatment of peopleand by this I mean all peoplecan only be called exemplary." Watts argues that many of Disney's post-World War II films "legislated a kind of cultural Marshall Plan. They nourished a genial cultural imperialism that magically overran the rest of the globe with the values, expectations, and goods of a prosperous middle-class United States." Film historian Jay P. Telotte acknowledges that many see Disney's studio as an "agent of manipulation and repression", although he observes that it has "labored throughout its history to link its name with notions of fun, family, and fantasy". John Tomlinson, in his study ''Cultural Imperialism'', examines the work of Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, whose 1971 book (trans: ''How to Read Donald Duck'') identifies that there are "imperialist ... values 'concealed' behind the innocent, wholesome façade of the world of Walt Disney"; this, they argue, is a powerful tool as "it presents itself as harmless fun for consumption by children." Tomlinson views their argument as flawed, as "they simply ''assume'' that reading American comics, seeing adverts, watching pictures of the affluent ... ['Yankee'] lifestyle has a direct pedagogic effect". Several commentators have described Disney as a
cultural icon A cultural icon is a person or an that is identified by members of a culture as representative of that culture. The process of identification is subjective, and "icons" are judged by the extent to which they can be seen as an authentic symbol o ...
. On Disney's death, journalism professor Ralph S. Izard comments that the values in Disney's films are those "considered valuable in American Christian society", which include "individualism, decency, ... love for our fellow man, fair play and toleration". Disney's obituary in ''The Times'' calls the films "wholesome, warm-hearted and entertaining ... of incomparable artistry and of touching beauty". Journalist Bosley Crowther argues that Disney's "achievement as a creator of entertainment for an almost unlimited public and as a highly ingenious merchandiser of his wares can rightly be compared to the most successful industrialists in history." Correspondent Alistair Cooke calls Disney a "folk-hero ... the Pied Piper of Hollywood", while Gabler considers Disney "reshaped the culture and the American consciousness". In the ''American Dictionary of National Biography'', Langer writes:
Disney remains the central figure in the history of animation. Through technological innovations and alliances with governments and corporations, he transformed a minor studio in a marginal form of communication into a multinational leisure industry giant. Despite his critics, his vision of a modern, corporate utopia as an extension of traditional American values has possibly gained greater currency in the years after his death.


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

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External links

* * *
The Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Birthplace
*
FBI Records: The Vault – Walter Elias Disney
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation {{DEFAULTSORT:Disney, Walt Walt Disney, 1901 births 1966 deaths 20th-century American artists 20th-century American businesspeople 20th-century American male actors 20th-century American male writers 20th-century American screenwriters 20th-century American writers Academy Honorary Award recipients American animated film producers American anti-communists American anti-fascists American cartoonists American company founders American film studio executives American film production company founders American male screenwriters American male voice actors American mass media owners American people of Canadian descent American people of English descent American people of German descent American people of Irish descent American Red Cross personnel American television hosts Amusement park owners Animators from Illinois Animators from Missouri Articles containing video clips Artists from Chicago Burials at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale) Deaths from cancer in California Cecil B. DeMille Award Golden Globe winners César Honorary Award recipients Chairmen of Disney Chevaliers of the Légion d'honneur Congressional Gold Medal recipients Deaths from lung cancer Disney family, Walt Disney executives Film directors from Missouri Film producers from Missouri History of animation Kansas City Art Institute alumni Laugh-O-Gram Studio people Male actors from Missouri Officers Crosses of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany People from Holmby Hills, Los Angeles People from Marceline, Missouri Philanthropists from Illinois Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients Primetime Emmy Award winners Producers who won the Best Animated Short Academy Award Producers who won the Best Documentary Short Subject Academy Award Producers who won the Live Action Short Film Academy Award Recipients of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award School of the Art Institute of Chicago alumni Screenwriters from Illinois Writers from Chicago Writers from Missouri