Walt Disney

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

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Walt Disney—Cartoonist, ‘Fantasist’, Animator

December 5, 1901, Chicago, Illinois, 00:35 AM, CST. (Source: Sabian Symbols) Died, of circulatory failure following lung surgery, on December 15, 1956, Burbank, California.

(Ascendant, Virgo; Sun conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius; Moon in Libra; Mercury in Scorpio; Mars in Capricorn loosely conjunct Jupiter and Saturn {both conjunct} in Capricorn, with Venus also in Capricorn; Neptune in Cancer conjunct MC; Pluto in Gemini)

The name, Walt Disney, is immediately associated with fantasy (Neptune conjunct the MC) and animation—giving ‘life’ to imaginary characters. From a certain perspective, this is the magical process. That which cannot happen in “real life” can magically happen in the world of fantasy. For Disney, imagination becomes reality. Thus, the seventh ray (seventh ray Uranus conjunct the Sun, and four planets in seventh ray Capricorn) is pervasive in the creations of Walt Disney. His cartoons, animations and the ‘kingdoms of fantasy’ built by him or built in his name (Disneyland and Disneyworld) are tributes to the revival of magic in the 20th Century. As well the fourth ray of imagination and the second ray (“family entertainment” in which the “good” always wins) can readily be seen in his life and work.

Sagittarius contributes to the sense of adventure experienced on magical, “fantastic” journeys to far-away places where the laws of the material world no longer hold sway. Virgo (Ascendant) with the stellium of planets in Capricorn, reveal Disney as an astute businessman. Virgo also signals the meticulous labor and care required to create animations, and especially full-length animated films.


A man should never neglect his family for business.
(Neptune in Cancer in 10th house opposition Chiron in Cparicorn in 4th house.)

Adults are interested if you don't play down to the little 2 or 3 year olds or talk down. I don't believe in talking down to children. I don't believe in talking down to any certain segment. I like to kind of just talk in a general way to the audience. Children are always reaching.
(Venus in 5th house.)

All cartoon characters and fables must be exaggeration, caricatures. It is the very nature of fantasy and fable.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
(Neptune in 10th house.)

All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.
(Saturn in Capricorn conjunct Jupiter & Mars in 4th house.)

Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.
(Sun & Uranus in Sagittarius in 3rd house.)

Animation is different from other parts. Its language is the language of caricature. Our most difficult job was to develop the cartoon's unnatural but seemingly natural anatomy for humans and animals.

Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.

Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource - the minds of our children.

Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland...the blessing of size. There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.

I believe in being an innovator. (Sun conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius.)

I don't like formal gardens. I like wild nature. It's just the wilderness instinct in me, I guess.

I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known.

I'd say it's been my biggest problem all my life... it's money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true.

Laughter is America's most important export.

Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
(Sun in Sagittarius opposition Pluto in Gemini.)

do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.


Walt Disney
Born December 5, 1901
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died December 15, 1966
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Film producer
Spouse Lillian Disney

Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966), was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, and philanthropist. He was the son of parents Flora and Elias Disney, and had three brothers and one sister. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Walt became one of the most well-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately US $30 billion.

Walt Disney is particularly noted for being a successful storyteller, a hands-on film producer, and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. His brother Roy helped him tremendously with his work. He also had two daughters, Diane and Sharon. He and his staff created a number of the world's most popular animated properties, including the one many consider Disney's alter ego, Mickey Mouse. He is also well-known as the namesake of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States.

Walt Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of his Walt Disney World dream project in Orlando, Florida.

1906-1937: The beginnings
Walt Disney's ancestors emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny in Ireland. Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father Elias Disney had moved to the United States after his parents failed at farming in Canada. As a child Elias moved with his family all around the United States, as his father chased various business ventures. He also worked as a mailman in Kissimmee (Orlando), Florida, future home of Walt Disney World. Elias moved to Chicago in the late 1800's soon after his marriage to Flora Call.

In 1906 the family moved to a farm near Marceline, Missouri. Disney later said that these were the best years of his life. Since he and his younger sister, Ruth, were not of suitable age to help at the farm, they spent most of their days playing. They would swim in the pond, play with the farm animals, and lounge around under the trees.

While in Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing. One of their neighbors, a retired doctor named "Doc" Sherwood, paid him to draw pictures of Sherwood's horse, Rupert. He also developed his love for trains in Marceline. He would put his ear to the tracks in anticipation of the coming train. He would also look for his uncle, engineer Michael Martin, running the train.

Kansas City
In 1909, Elias Disney suddenly came down with typhoid fever and was unable to work the farm, even with his older sons helping him. He sold the farm and lived in a rented house until 1910, when they moved to Kansas City.

When the family arrived in Kansas City, Elias Disney purchased a newspaper route for the Kansas City Star. Since Walt's older brothers Herbert and Raymond had left home, he had Walt and Roy help with the route. Working on the paper route required waking up at 3:00 in the morning every day. Disney later recalled that they would deliver the paper in the heat of summer and during the dead of winter.

According to the Kansas City Public School District records, Disney began attending the Benton Grammar School in 1910, and graduated on June 8, 1911, being held back a year so that Ruth could go with him. In 1915 Disney enrolled in weekend classes at the Kansas City Art Institute. Because of his early-morning paper runs, he had trouble concentrating and fell asleep in class often. He was also prone to daydreaming and doodling during class.

Disney as an ambulance driver during the war.In 1917 Disney began his freshman year at McKinley High School in Chicago, Illinois and began taking night courses at the Chicago Art Institute. Disney was the cartoonist for the school newspaper. His cartoons were very patriotic and political, focusing on World War I. Disney dropped out of high school at 16 so he could join the Army. But the army didn't take him because he was too young to enlist.

Instead, Walt and one of his friends decided to join the Red Cross. They were supposed to be 17, but Walt was only 16 at the time. Against his father's will, his mother forged his birth certificate so it said Walt was born in 1900 instead of 1901. The Red Cross sent him to France for a year. During that year, he drove an ambulance covered from top to bottom with his imaginitive Disney Characters.

Kansas City
When Disney returned to America, he told his father he wanted to be an artist. When his father refused to support him, he went out on his own.

He moved into Kansas City to begin his artistic career. His brother Roy worked at a bank in the area and got a job for him through a friend at the Pesemen-Rubin Art Studio. At Pesmen-Rubin, Disney made ads for newspapers, magazines, and movie theatres. It was also there that he met a shy cartoonist named Ubbe Iwwerks. The two respected each other's work so much, they became fast friends and decided to start their own art business.

Disney and Iwwerks (who now shortened his name to Ub Iwerks) formed a company called "Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists" in January 1920 (it was originally called Disney-Iwerks, but the two thought they would be confused with a shop that made eyeglasses). Unfortunately, few clients were willing to hire the inexperienced duo. Iwerks left temporarily to earn money at Kansas City Film Ad. Disney followed suit after the business venture went nowhere and collapsed.

Kansas City Film Ad
At Kansas City Film Ad, Disney and Iwerks worked on primitive animated advertisements for local movie houses. Disney was fascinated by the possibilities inherent in animation. He spent many days at the Kansas City Public Library reading over books on anatomy and mechanics. He also read a book by Edweard Muybridge about animation. He used his time at Film Ad wisely, experimenting with animation and film techniques. He even borrowed one of the film cameras and experimented at home.

After two years' experience at Film Ad, Disney felt he had enough experience to start another business venture.

In 1922, he started a small company called Laugh-O-Grams which began by selling short animated films to local companies in Kansas City. By the time Walt had started to create The Alice Comedies, the company went bankrupt. Even though the company ended, Walt did not give up, he packed up what he had of his Alice Comedies and decided to move to Hollywood to try and start a new business.

When Disney arrived in Los Angeles, he had $40 in his pocket and an unfinished cartoon in his suitcase. Interestingly, he first wanted to break away from animation, thinking he could not compete with the studios in New York City. Disney said that his first ambition was to be a film director. He went to every studio in town looking for directing work; they all promptly turned him down.

Because of the lack of success in live-action film, Disney turned back to animation. His first Hollywood cartoon studio was a garage in his uncle Robert's house. Disney sent an unfinished print to New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She wanted a distribution deal with Disney for more live-action/animated shorts based upon Alice's Wonderland.

Disney looked up his brother Roy, who was recovering from tuberculosis in a Los Angeles veteran's hospital. Disney pleaded with his brother to help him with his fledgling studio, saying that he could not keep his finances straight without him. Roy agreed and left the hospital with his brother. He never went back and never had a recurrence of tuberculosis. Virginia Davis (the live-action star of Alice’s Wonderland) and her family were relocated at Disney's request from Kansas City to Hollywood, as were Iwerks and his family. This was the beginning of the Disney Brothers' Studio.

In 1925, Disney hired a young woman named Lillian Bounds to ink and paint celluloid. He was immediately taken with her. She began to pull double duty as secretary a few months later. Disney then began to take her out on dates, their first being the Broadway show, No, No, Nanette. He would also take her out on drives in the hills of Los Angeles. On one drive, he asked her if he should buy a new car or a ring for her finger. They were married on July 15, 1925. She later jokingly commented that he was disappointed that she did not tell him to buy the car. They honeymooned at Mount Rainier.

Alice Comedies
The new series, "Alice Comedies," was reasonably successful, and featured both Dawn O'Day and Margie Gay as Alice after Virginia Davis’ parents pulled her out of the series because of a pay cut. Lois Hardwick also briefly assumed the role. By the time the series ended in 1927, the focus was more on the animated characters, in particular a cat named Julius who recalled Felix the Cat, rather than the live-action Alice.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
By 1927, Charles B. Mintz had married Margaret Winkler and assumed control of her business, and ordered a new all-animated series to be put into production for distribution through Universal Pictures. The new series, "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit", was an almost instant success, and the Oswald character, first drawn and created by Iwerks, became a popular property. The Disney studio expanded, and Walt hired back Harman, Ising, Maxwell, and Freleng from Kansas City.

In February of 1928, Disney went to New York to negotiate a higher fee per short from Mintz. Disney was shocked when Mintz announced that not only did he want to reduce the fee he paid Disney per short, but that he had most of his main animators, including Harman, Ising, Maxwell, and Freleng (notably excepting Iwerks) under contract and would start his own studio if Disney did not accept the reduced production budgets. Universal, not Disney, owned the Oswald trademark, and could make the films without Disney.

Disney declined Mintz's offer and lost most of his animation staff. The defectors became the nucleus of the Winkler Studio, run by Mintz and his brother-in-law George Winkler. When that studio went under after Universal assigned production of the Oswald shorts to an in-house division run by Walter Lantz, Mintz focused his attentions on the studio making the "Krazy Kat" shorts, which later became Screen Gems, and Harman, Ising, Maxwell, and Freleng marketed an Oswald-like character named Bosko to Leon Schlesinger and Warner Bros., and began work on the first entries in the Looney Tunes series.

It took Disney's company 78 years to get back the rights to the Oswald character. In a move that sent sports broadcaster Al Michaels to NBC Sports for their Sunday night NFL coverage, the Walt Disney Company reacquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from NBC Universal in 2006.

Mickey Mouse
The title card of Steamboat Willie credits both Walt Disney and Ub IwerksAfter having lost the rights to Oswald, Disney had to develop a new "star". Most Disney biographies state that Disney came up with a mouse character on his trip back from New York. It is debated whether it was he, or Iwerks who actually designed the mouse (which basically looked like Oswald, but with round instead of long ears). The first films were animated by Iwerks, his name was prominently featured on the title cards. The mouse was originally named "Mortimer", but later christened "Mickey Mouse" by Lillian Disney.

Mickey's first animated short produced was Plane Crazy, which was, like all of Disney's previous works, a silent film. After failing to find distributor interest in Plane Crazy or its follow-up, The Gallopin' Gaucho, Disney created a Mickey cartoon with sound called Steamboat Willie. A businessman named Pat Powers provided Disney with both distribution and Cinephone, a sound-synchronization process. Steamboat Willie became a success, and Plane Crazy, The Galloping Gaucho, and all future Mickey cartoons were released with soundtracks. Disney himself provided the vocal effects for the earliest cartoons and performed as the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1937. Disney believed Mickey would make it far into television.

Silly Symphonies
Joining the Mickey Mouse series in 1929 were a series of musical shorts called Silly Symphonies. The first of these was entitled The Skeleton Dance and was entirely drawn and animated by Iwerks, who was also responsible for drawing the majority of cartoons released by Disney in 1928 and 1929. Although both series were successful, the Disney studio was not seeing its rightful share of profits from Pat Powers, and in 1930 Disney signed a new distribution deal with Columbia Pictures.

Iwerks was growing tired of the temperamental Disney, especially as he was doing the majority of the work, and so was lured by Powers into opening his own studio with an exclusive contract. Disney desperately searched for someone who could replace Iwerks, as he was not able to draw as well or as quickly; Iwerks was reported to have drawn up to 700 drawings a day for the first Mickey shorts.

Meanwhile, Iwerks launched his successful Flip the Frog series with the first sound cartoon in color, "Fiddlesticks," filmed in two-strip Technicolor. Iwerks also created two other series of cartoons, the Willie Whopper and the Comicolor cartoon series. Iwerks closed his studio in 1936 to work on various projects dealing with animation technology. Iwerks would return to Disney in 1940 and, in the studio's research and development department, would go on to pioneer a number of film processes and specialized animation technologies.

Eventually, Disney was able to find a number of people to replace Iwerks. By 1932, Mickey Mouse had become quite a popular cartoon character. The Van Beuren cartoon studio attempted to cash in on this success by creating a specific process, making these the first commercial films presented in this new process. The first color Symphony was Flowers and Trees, which won the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons in 1932.

First Academy Award
In 1932, Disney received a special Academy Award for the creation of Mickey Mouse, whose series was moved into color in 1935 and soon launched spinoff series for supporting characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.

The family grows
As Mickey's co-creator and producer, Disney was almost as famous as his mouse cartoon character, but remained a largely private individual. His greatest hope was to be a father to many children. However, the Disneys' first attempts at pregnancy ended in miscarriage. This, coupled with pressures at the studio, led to Disney having "a hell of a breakdown", as he called it. His doctors said that he had to get away for a while, so he and his wife went on a Caribbean cruise and then traveled to Washington, D.C.

When Lilly Disney became pregnant again, Disney told his sister in a letter that he did not care what gender the child was, just as long as they were not disappointed again. Lilly finally gave birth to a daughter, Diane Marie Disney, on December 18, 1933. Disney was excited to finally have a child. A few years later the Disneys adopted a second daughter, Sharon Mae Disney, born on December 21, 1936.

1937-1941: The Golden Age of Animation
"Disney's Folly": Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Disney introduces his popular creations: Mickey, Minnie Mouse and Pluto to Hansel and Gretel (Dorothy Rodin and Virginia Murray).Although his studio produced the two most successful cartoon series in the industry, the returns were still dissatisfying to Disney, and he began plans for a full-length feature in 1934. When the rest of the film industry learned of Disney's plans to produce an animated feature-length version of Snow White, they dubbed the project "Disney's Folly" and were certain that the project would destroy the Disney studio. Both Lillian and Roy tried to talk Disney out of the project, but he continued plans for the feature. He employed Chouinard Art Institute professor Don Graham to start a training operation for the studio staff, and used the Silly Symphonies as a platform for experiments in realistic human animation, distinctive character animation, special effects, and the use of specialized processes and apparatus such as the multiplane camera.

All of this development and training was used to elevate the quality of the studio so that it would be able to give the feature the quality Disney desired. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as the feature was named, was in full production from 1935 until mid-1937, when the studio ran out of money. To acquire the funding to complete Snow White, Disney had to show a rough cut of the motion picture to loan officers at the Bank of America, who gave the studio the money to finish the picture. The finished film premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater on December 21, 1937; at the conclusion of the film the audience gave Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a standing ovation. Snow White, the first animated feature in English and Technicolor, was released in February 1938 under a new distribution deal with RKO Radio Pictures. The film became the most successful motion picture of 1938 and earned over $8 million (today $98 million) in its original theatrical release, all the more amazing because children were only charged a dime to see it. The success of Snow White allowed Disney to build a new campus for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which opened for business on December 24, 1939. The feature animation staff, having just completed Pinocchio, continued work on Fantasia and Bambi, while the shorts staff continued work on the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto cartoon series, ending the Silly Symphonies at this time.

Wartime Woes
Pinocchio and Fantasia followed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into movie theatres in 1940, but both were financial disappointments. The inexpensive Dumbo was planned as an income generator, but during production of the new film, most of the animation staff went on strike, permanently straining the relationship between Disney and his artists.

Shortly after Dumbo was released in October 1941 and became a successful moneymaker, the United States entered World War II. The U.S. Army contracted for most of the Disney studio's facilities and had the staff create training and instructional films for the military, as well as home-front morale-boosting shorts such as Der Fuehrer's Face and the feature film Victory Through Air Power in 1943. The military films did not generate income, however, and the feature film Bambi underperformed when it was released in April 1942. Disney successfully re-issued Snow White in 1944, establishing a 7-year re-release tradition for Disney features. (The pattern was not always strictly followed - Disney's version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was first re-released in 1963, nine years after its first run in movie theatres, and Disney's financially disappointing and critically drubbed version of Babes in Toyland, went straight to television after its theatrical run, and never re-appeared in movie theatres.)

The Disney studios also created inexpensive package films, containing collections of cartoon shorts, and issued them to theaters during this period. The most notable and successful of these were Saludos Amigos (1942), its sequel The Three Caballeros (1945), Song of the South (the first Disney film to feature dramatic actors) (1946), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). The latter had only two sections: the first based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, and the second based on The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

By the late 1940s, the studio had recovered enough to continue production on the full-length features Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, which had been shelved during the war years, and began work on Cinderella. The studio also began a series of live-action nature films, entitled True-Life Adventures, in 1948 with On Seal Island.

Testimony before Congress
After the 1941 strike of Disney Studio employees, Walt Disney deeply distrusted organized labor. In 1947, during the early years of the Cold War,[1] he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he branded Herbert Sorrell, David Hilberman and William Pomerance, former animators and labor union organizers, as Communist agitators. (All three men denied the allegations.) Disney implicated the Screen Actors Guild as a Communist front, and charged that the 1941 strike was part of an organized Communist effort to gain influence in Hollywood. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that from 1941 until his death, he spied for the FBI on union activity in Hollywood, and illegally intimidated union activists.[1] Since Jews were prominent in the labor movement, some employees felt that Disney's actions were motivated by anti-semitism.[2][3]

1955-1966: Theme Parks and beyond
During 1949, Disney and his family moved to a new home on a large piece of property in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles, California. With the help of his friends Ward and Betty Kimball, owners of their own backyard railroad, Disney developed the blueprints and immediately set to work creating a miniature live steam railroad for his backyard. The name of the railroad, Carolwood Pacific Railroad, originated from the address of his home that was located on Carolwood Drive. The railroad's half-mile long layout included a 46-foot-long trestle, loops, overpasses, gradients, an elevated dirt berm, and a 90-foot tunnel underneath Mrs. Disney's flowerbed. He named the miniature working steam locomotive built by Roger E. Broggie of the Disney Studios Lilly Belle in his wife's honor. He had his attorney draw up right-of-way papers giving the railroad a permanent, legal easement through the garden areas, which his wife dutifully signed; however, there is no evidence the documents were ever recorded as a restriction on the property's title.

Planning Disneyland
The "Partners" statue at Disneyland in Anaheim, featuring Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.On a business trip to Chicago in the late-1940s, Disney drew sketches of his ideas for an amusement park where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. He got his idea for a children's theme park after visiting Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California. This plan was originally for a lot south of the Studio, just across the street. However, the city of Burbank declined building permission. The original ideas developed into a concept for a larger enterprise that was to become Disneyland. Disney spent five years of his life developing Disneyland and created a new subsidiary of his company, called WED Enterprises, to carry out the planning and production of the park. A small group of Disney studio employees joined the Disneyland development project as engineers and planners, and were dubbed Imagineers.

When describing one of his earliest plans to Herb Ryman (who created the first aerial drawing of Disneyland to present to the Bank of America for funds), Disney said, "Herbie, I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." Entertaining his daughters and their friends in his backyard and taking them for rides on his Carolwood Pacific Railroad had inspired Disney to include a railroad in the plans for Disneyland.

Expanding into new areas
As Walt Disney Productions began work on Disneyland, it also began expanding its other entertainment operations. Treasure Island (1950) became the studio's first all-live-action feature, and was soon followed by such successes as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (in CinemaScope, 1954), The Shaggy Dog (1959), and The Parent Trap (1961). The Walt Disney Studio was one of the first to take full advantage of the then-new medium of television, producing its first TV special, One Hour in Wonderland, in 1950. Disney began hosting a weekly anthology series on ABC named Disneyland after the park, where he showed clips of past Disney productions, gave tours of his studio, and familiarized the public with Disneyland as it was being constructed in Anaheim, California. In 1955, he debuted the studio's first daily television show, the popular Mickey Mouse Club, which would continue in many various incarnations into the 1990s.

Walt Disney meets with Wernher von Braun.As the studio expanded and diversified into other media, Disney devoted less of his attention to the animation department, entrusting most of its operations to his key animators, whom he dubbed the Nine Old Men. During Disney's lifetime, the animation department created the successful Lady and the Tramp (in CinemaScope, 1955), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), the financially disappointing Sleeping Beauty (in Super Technirama 70mm, 1959) and The Sword in the Stone (1963).

Production on the short cartoons had kept pace until 1956, when Disney shut down the shorts division. Special shorts projects would continue to be made for the rest of the studio's duration on an irregular basis. Disney's mind was set toward expansion, and he wanted to make longer films.

These productions were all distributed by Disney's new subsidiary, Buena Vista Distribution, which had assumed all distribution duties for Disney films from RKO by 1955. Disneyland, one of the world's first theme parks, finally opened on July 17, 1955, and was immediately successful. Visitors from around the world came to visit Disneyland, which contained attractions based upon a number of successful Disney properties and films. After 1955, the Disneyland TV show became known as Walt Disney Presents. The show went from black-and-white to color in 1961 — changing its name to Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color — and eventually evolved into what is today known as The Wonderful World of Disney, which continued to air on ABC until 2005, when it ceased as a regular series, due in part to premium pay-cable rights currently held by the Starz! movie network. Since 2005, Disney features have been split between ABC, the Hallmark Channel, and Cartoon Network via separate broadcast rights deals. It currently airs periodically, with features such as the December 2005 revivial of Once Upon a Mattress.

During the mid-1950s, Disney produced a number of educational films on the space program in collaboration with NASA rocket designer Wernher von Braun: Man in Space and Man and the Moon in 1955, and Mars and Beyond in 1957. The films attracted the attention of not only the general public, but also the Soviet space program.

The TV series and book Our Friend the Atom (1956, together with Heinz Haber) were produced as part of an effort by the Eisenhower administration to enhance the image of nuclear energy.

Early 1960s successes

(Left to right) Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and Walt Disney sing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (1964)By the early 1960s, the Disney empire was a major success, and Walt Disney Productions had established itself as the world's leading producer of family entertainment. After decades of trying, Disney finally procured the rights to P.L. Travers' books about a magical nanny. Mary Poppins, released in 1964, was the most successful Disney film of the 1960s and featured a memorable song score written by Disney favorites the Sherman Brothers. Many hailed the live-action/animation combination feature as Disney's greatest achievement. The same year, Disney debuted a number of exhibits at the 1964 New York World's Fair, including Audio-Animatronic figures, all of which were later integrated into attractions at Disneyland and a new theme park project to be established on the east coast, which Disney had been planning ever since Disneyland opened.

Ski resorts
Walt Disney first showed interest in ski resorts with his investment in Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in the 1930s. However, his interest was brought to a new level in the 1960s when he commissioned plans for Disney's Mineral King Ski Resort. Official plans for the resort were announced just months before his death. The project was eventually canceled due to heavy protest from many environmental organizations, most notably the Sierra Club. The 1970s saw yet another set of Disney plans for a ski resort, in Independence Lake near San Francisco. Like the Mineral King plans, the Independence Lake project was scrapped for many of the same reasons. There are plans for two more new ski resorts to open in 2008.

"Florida Project"
In 1964, Walt Disney Productions began quietly purchasing land in central Florida west of Orlando in a largely rural area of marginal orange groves for Disney's "Florida Project." Disney did so under the mask of many fake companies, in order to keep the price of land as low as he could. As soon as the word got out that Disney was purchasing the land, however, the prices immediately rose. The company acquired over 27,000 acres (109 km²) of land, and arranged favorable state legislation which would provide unprecedented quasi-governmental control over the area to be developed in 1966, founding the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney and his brother Roy then announced plans for what they called "Disney World."

Walt Disney, Biography

During his 43-year Hollywood career, which spanned the development of the motion picture industry as a modern American art, Walter Elias Disney established himself and his innovations as a genuine part of Americana.

A pioneer and innovator, and the possessor of one of the most fertile and unique imaginations the world has ever known. Walt Disney could take the dreams of America, and make them come true. He was a creator, a imaginative, and aesthetic person. Even thirty years after his death, we still continue to grasp his ideas, and his creations, remembering him for everything he's done for us . . . . .

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illonios, 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.

Later, after Walt's birth, the Disney family moved to Marceline, Missouri. Walt lived out most of his childhood here. Walt had a very early interest in drawing, and art. When he was seven years old, he sold small sketches, and drawings to nearby neighbors. Instead of doing his school work Walt doodled pictures of animals, and nature. His knack for creating enduring art forms took shape when he talked his sister, Ruth, into helping him paint the side of the family's house with tar.

Close to the Disney family farm, there were Santa Fe Railroad tracks that crossed the countryside. Often Walt would put his ear against the tracks, to listen for approaching trains. Walt's uncle, Mike Martin, was a train engineer who worked the route between Fort Madison, Iowa, and Marceline. Walt later worked a summer job with the railroad, selling newspapers, popcorn, and sodas to travelers.

During his life Walt would often try to recapture the freedom he felt when aboard those trains, by building his own miniature train set. Then building a 1/8-scale backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific or Lilly Bell.

Besides his other interests, 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.

Walt discovered his first movie house on Marceline's Main Street. There he saw a dramatic black-and-white recreation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

During these "carefree years" of country living young Walt began to love, and appreciate nature and wildlife, and family and community, which were a large part of agrarian living. Though his father could be quite stern, and often there was little money, Walt was encouraged by his mother, and older brother, Roy.

Even after the Disney family moved to Kansas City, Walt continued to develop and flourish in his talent for artistic drawing. Besides drawing, Walt had picked up a knack for acting and performing. At school he began to entertain his friends by imitating his silent screen hero, Charlie Chaplin. At his teachers invitation, Walt would tell his classmates stories, while illustrating on the chalk board. Later on, against his fathers permission, Walt would sneak out of the house at night to perform comical skits at local theaters.

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.

Once he returned from France, he wanted to pursue a career in commercial art, which soon lead to his experiments in animation. He began producing short animated films for local businesses, in Kansas City. By the time Walt had started to create The Alice Comedies, which was about a real girl and her adventures in an animated world, Walt ran out of money, and his company Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupted. Instead of giving up, Walt packed his suitcase and with his unfinished print of The Alice Comedies in hand, headed for Hollywood to start a new business. He was not yet twenty-two.

The early flop of The Alice Comedies inoculated Walt against fear of failure; he had risked it all three or four times in his life. Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney, was already in California, with an immense amount of sympathy and encouragement, and $250. Pooling their resources, they borrowed an additional $500, and set up shop in their uncle's garage. Soon, they received an order from New York for the first Alice in Cartoonland(The Alice Comedies) featurette, and the brothers expanded their production operation to the rear of a Hollywood real estate office. It was Walt's enthusiasm and faith in himself, and others, that took him straight to the top of Hollywood society.

Although, Walt wasn't the typical Hollywood mogul. Instead of socializing with the "who's who" of the Hollywood entertainment industry, he would stay home and have dinner with his wife, Lillian, and his daughters, Diane and Sharon. In fact, socializing was a bit boring to Walt Disney. Usually he would dominate a conversation, and hold listeners spellbound as he described his latest dreams or ventures. The people that where close to Walt were those who lived with him, and his ideas, or both.

On July 13, 1925, Walt married one of his first employees, Lillian Bounds, in Lewiston, Idaho. Later on they would be blessed with two daughters, Diane and Sharon . Three years after Walt and Lilly wed, Walt created a new animated character, Mickey Mouse.

His talents were first used in a silent cartoon entitled Plane Crazy. However, before the cartoon could be released, sound was introduced upon the motion picture industry. Thus, Mickey Mouse made his screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the world's first synchronized sound cartoon, which premiered at the Colony Theater in New York on November 18, 1928.

Walt's drive to perfect the art of animation was endless. 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 to make the only color cartoons. In 1932, the production entitled Flowers and Trees won Walt the first of his studio's Academy Awards. In 1937, he released The Old Mill, the first short subject to utilize the multi-plane camera technique.

On December 21, 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated musical feature, premiered at the Carthay Theater 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 rarely showed emotion, though he did have a temper that would blow over as it blew up. At home, he was affectionate and understanding. He gave love by being interested, involved, and always there for his family and friends. Walt's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, once said:

Daddy never missed a father's function no matter how I discounted it. I'd say,"Oh, Daddy, you don't need to come. It's just some stupid thing." But he'd always be there, on time.
Probably the most painful time of Walt's private life, was the accidental death of his mother in 1938. After the great success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt and Roy bought their parents, Elias and Flora Disney, a home close to the studios. Less than a month later Flora died of asphyxiation caused by a faulty furnace in the new home. The terrible guilt of this haunted Walt for the rest of his life.

In 1940, construction was completed on the Burbank Studio, and Disney's staff swelled to more than 1,000 artists, animators, story men, and technicians. Although, because of World War II 94 percent of the Disney facilities were engaged in special government work, including the production of training and propaganda films for the armed services, as well as health films which are still shown through-out the world by the U.S. State Department. The remainder of his efforts were devoted to the production of comedy short subjects, deemed highly essential to civilian and military morale.

Disney's 1945 feature, the musical The Three Caballeros, combined live action with the cartoon animation, a process he used successfully in such other features as Song of the South and the highly acclaimed Mary Poppins. In all, more than 100 features were produced by his studio.

Walt's inquisitive mind and keen sense for education through entertainment resulted in the award-winning True-Life Adventure series. Through such films as The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, The African Lion, and White Wilderness, Disney brought fascinating insights into the world of wild animals and taught the importance of conserving our nation's outdoor heritage.

Walt Disney's dream of a clean, and organized amusement park, came true, as Disneyland Park opened in 1955. As a fabulous $17-million magic kingdom, soon had increased its investment tenfold, and by the beginning of its second quarter-century, had entertained more than 200 million people, including presidents, kings and queens, and royalty from all over the globe.

A pioneer in the field of television programming, Disney began television production in 1954, and was among the first to present full-color programming with his Wonderful World of Color in 1961. The Mickey Mouse Club was a popular favorite in the 1950s.


But that was only the beginning. In 1965, Walt Disney turned his attention toward the problem of improving the quality of urban life in America. He personally directed the design of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). It was planned as a living showcase for the creativity of American industry. Disney said this about EPCOT:

I don't believe there is a challenge anywhere in the world that is more important to people everywhere than finding the solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin? Well, we're convinced we must start with the public need. And the need is not just for curing the old ills of old cities. We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a community that will become a prototype for the future.

Thus, Disney directed the purchase of 43 square miles of virgin land--twice the size of Manhattan Island--in the center of the state of Florida. Here, he master planned a whole new "Disney world" of entertainment to include a new amusement theme park, motel-hotel resort vacation center, and his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. After more than seven years of master planning and preparation, including 52 months of actual construction, the Walt Disney World Resort, including the Magic Kingdom Park, opened to the public as scheduled on October 1, 1971. EPCOT Center opened October 1, 1982, and on May 1, 1989, the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park opened.

A few years prior to his death on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney took a deep interest in the establishment of California Institute of the Arts, a college-level professional school of all the creative and performing arts. CalArts, Walt once said, "It's the principal thing I hope to leave when I move on to greener pastures. If I can help provide a place to develop the talent of the future, I think I will have accomplished something."

The California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1961 with the combination of two schools, the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. The campus is located in the city of Valencia, 32 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Walt Disney conceived the new school as a place where all the performing and creative arts would be taught under one roof in a "community of the arts" as a completely new approach to professional arts training.

Walt Disney is a legend; a folk hero of the 20th century. His worldwide popularity was based upon the ideals which his name represents: imagination, optimism, creation, and self-made success in the American tradition. Walt Disney did more to touch the hearts, minds, and emotions of millions of Americans than any other person in the past century. Through his work he brought joy, happiness, and a universal means of communication to the people of every nation. He brought us closer to the future, while telling us of the past, it is certain, that there will never be such as great a man, as Walt Disney.



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