On this day 115 years ago, Animation and Themed Entertainment and the World were changed forever.
On December 5th 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, a forth son was welcomed by Flora and Elias Disney, that son was Walter Elias Disney.
In 1906, The Disney Family would make their move to Marceline, Missouri. It was here that young Walt would be influenced and inspired by for the rest of his life. He would begin drawing around this time, while also becoming obsessed with the railway that would travel through the town.
The family would make further moves, first to Kansas City, before returning to Chicago in 1917. Not long after this move Walt would enroll in the Red Cross, after originally forging his date of birth and trying to join the Armed Forces. He would arrive in France after the war had finished and spent some of his time decorating the ambulances and also had cartoons published in the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes.
Walt would return to Chicago in 1919 where he would become great friends with someone who would help Walt forge forward.
Walt, on his return, had become an apprentice at an Art Studio in Chicago, but due to declining revenue, Walt, alongside his friend Ub Iwerks, were released from their apprenticeship, and they started their own art company.
Again, low revenue, caused Walt to move to an ad company to make some extra money, where he was eventually joined by Iwerks.
Here the company would use the cut out animation technique, but Walt had discovered the cel animation technique. Unable to use this at the ad company, Walt and a fellow ad company employee, Fred Harman, started there own studio and in 1921 that studio would become The Laugh-O-Grams Studios. They were quickly joined by Iwerks.
The Studio struggled, and sadly, quickly went bust, despite Walt’s efforts to produce an Alice in Wonderland animation to save the studio.
In 1923 Walt would make the famous trip to Hollywood,due in part to the fact his older brother, Roy, was recovering from tuberculosis there, and also partly to try to sell the Alice reel. After trying for awhile, the Alice comedies were eventually sold to Margaret J Winkler and in turn her husband, Charles Mintz.
During this time, Walt would go on to meet, date and marry Lillian Bounds.As well as this life changing moment, Walt would set up The Disney Brothers Studio, with his now recovered brother Roy, to continue producing The Alice shows.
It is here that Walt’s true story begins, after Walt tired of producing these shows, Mintz came to him to create more content for Universal Pictures. Here is when Disney and Iwerks would create Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
In 1928, sadly things came crashing down around Oswald, Mintz decided to reduce the fee being paid to The Disney Brothers Studio, but due to the original contract Walt didn’t own the rights to Oswald and would lose the contract.
After this it was decided that Walt would create a character in house, a character rumoured to be based on a pet mouse he had at The Laugh-O-Gram Studios. This mouse was know as Mortimer, a name Lillian Disney disliked, suggesting Mickey.
And the story continues as we know!!!
So to Walt, Happy Birthday, thank you for everything you gave the world, and what wondrous things they were and continue to be.