Disney Productions is one of the leading entertainment businesses, bringing tremendous profits not to mention the joy it brings many people. It has not always been this easy for Disney however. It took the mind of one man to bring it to what it is today, and thats mans name is Walt Disney. Walt Disneys life was devoted to the arts and entertainment almost from birth. However, Walts fortunes and fame didnt take form until his creation of Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901 and was the fourth child of Elias and Flora Disney.
He was an extremely talented child, exhibiting tremendous creativity at such a oung age. Walt began drawing pictures in the 1st grade and continued until the day he died. Another of his exceptional talents was acting. Walt relished each opportunity to perform on stage or in class. While in elementary school “on Lincolns Birthday every year until he graduated, Walt was hauled from class to class by the principal to give the Gettysburg Address. ” (Fisher, 18) Walt got bored with school however and dropped out at the age of 16. He immediately got a job as a waiter on a train line and kept this job until the U.
S. entered the war. Walt had a great desire to join the army, but was rejected ecause he was to young. Since he still desired to have some role in the war he became a volunteer with the Red Cross. Within a week he was sent to the front and didnt return for one to two years. When Walt returned from he war he told his father that he wanted to become an animator, but his father did not approve. Walt ignored his fathers advice and enrolled in art school. Walt attended art school for several months in both Missouri and Kansas City and then later found a job at an advertising firm in Kansas.
There he met a talented artist named Ubbe Iwerks. Ubbe was a great animator and he nd Walt became good friends. Walt and Ubbe worked all day for the advertising company, but at night they studied the art of animation and experimented with ways to make animation smoother by using light and a camera. Walt soon quit his job at the advertising firm because he was not satisfied with the work he was doing. He found a job in Kansas City at a Film Ad Company. Walt was quickly fired from this job and having nowhere else to go, he returned home.
Walt and his brother Roy decided to form their own business available jobs didnt allow them the creative freedom they deserved. They found a little place to set up their own studio on Hyperion Ave. in Hollywood. If their business were successful, it would be the first studio in the city strictly for producing animation. Walt and Roy got their studio up and moving within a few weeks and hired several animators. They first produced a mini-series called Alice that played in the previews of movie theatres, but they knew it wouldnt compare to Felix the Cat.
Walt felt something was missing at their studio and realized a need for a master animator. Walt quickly called upon his old friend, Ubbe Iwerks. Ubbe was convinced and headed traight to Hollywood. With Walt creating stories, Ubbe producing spectacular animation and Roy taking care of finances they had a perfect formula. Walt often worked late at night. “Mice gathered in my wastebasket when I worked late at night. I lifted them out and kept them in little cages on my desk. One of them was my particular friend. ” (Disney qtd. n Fanning, 53) Walt first drew the mouse up late at night and named it “Mortimer,” but Roy was not fond of this name.
However Walt was too stubborn to change it. Roy talked to Walts wife, Lillian, and she eventually got him to change it after days of leading. In fact, it was Lillian who ultimately named the mouse “Mickey. ” They first put Mickey in the short animation called, Plane Crazy, named after Lindberghs flight across the world. Immediately after that short feature Walt got the idea to combine sound with the animation. This was extremely difficult to do and it took Walt several attempts to find the perfect composer.
Since they were extremely low on money Roy told Walt to forget sound for awhile and try later, but Walt sound now. Steamboat Willie was their first success and with sound on its side the film attracted many udiences and Disney Productions had caught its first break. In 1932 Walt thought the addition of sound was great, but with color it would be even better. Walt called Technicolor and asked to acquire the exclusive rights to put the Technicolor process into all of his films. Surprisingly Technicolor accepted, but wanted a large fee for exclusive rights.
Walt explained the opportunity to Roy in the following way. “Why should we let a few dollars jeopardize our chances? I think this is Old Man Opportunity wrapping at our door. Lets dont let the jingle of a few pennies drown out his knock. ” (Disney qtd. n Fanning, 57) Walt and Roy decided to pay the fee then began producing Mickey Mouse films in color. Disney Productions was the only animation business to produce color films for two years and during that time earned huge profits. From the profits of the new colorful Mickey Mouse, Disney Productions built a new studio designed by Walt. It was an animators dream.
Walts new animated studio was the perfect setting to set his latest idea, Snow White. It was the first animated movie to actually be a feature presentation. One night Walt sat all his animators down at a table and told them the story of Snow White. His animators found the story fascinating, but wondered how they were going to make an actual feature length movie with cartoons. When Walt was about half way done with the movie he realized that he did not have a distributor to release his film. Walt hired a man by the name of Pat Powers; he was the best distributor they could afford at that time.
Snow White was finally released and the money was rolling in, but not all of it. Walt and Roy noticed royalty money was not being paid in accordance with their contract. They looked to Pat Powers for the answer. When Walt confronted Pat Powers bout the lower royalties, Powers just shrugged jokingly as if Walt didnt know how to run a business. He then asked Disney if he could buy out his company, but Walt was not about to give up his business. Powers then overwhelmed Walt with the news that he had offered Ubbe Iwerks his own animation business and Ubbe accepted.
Walt was furious and immediately purchased Ubbes part of the Disney Productions business in cash. Ubbe received 3,000 dollars at the time and today would be worth more than 500 million dollars. Walt eventually got his past dew royalty payments and his total earnings from Snow White were ver 8 million dollars. The film earned Walt Disney an academy award, the first animated feature to be honored in such a way. After Snow Whites lengthy, successful time in theatres WWII started and Disney Productions entered a difficult time. Walt had a 4. million-dollar debt in his hands and didnt know how to get rid of it.
To make things even worse, Pearl Harbor was bombed and Disneys studio was used as an anti-aircraft base. The anti-aircraft base was removed in a month nonetheless, but Disneys studio didnt stop in the war effort. Instead they were used to advertise war bonds and other governmental positions. This slowed Walts business drastically, but the government offered Walt an opportunity to travel to S. America as a diplomat and they would pay off all his debt. Walt accepted and enjoyed the experience.
There he found new ideas for future films. Walt returned home from S. America and trouble was brewing in his studio. When war had broken out, Disney Productions had stopped production on two films Bambi and Fantasia. These movies were then released near the end of the war, but they made no profit just more debt and Disney animators were not provided bonuses as they were promised. Walt was oblivious when he heard the news. He had thought his new studio would have solved all these problems, but unfortunately the animators didnt find it to be the paradise Walt did.
Not seeing bonuses in their paychecks, Disney animators went on strike. To solve this problem, Walt elected to sell stock in his company and it sold immediately. Walt was now out of debt, but he had a new idea, an expensive idea. Walt now had Disney Land on his mind and wouldnt stop thinking about it till it was created. ” Disney Land really began when my 2 daughters were very young. Saturday was always Daddys Day and I would take them to the erry-go-round and sit on the bench eating peanuts while they rode.
And sitting there, alone, I felt that there should be something built, some kind of family park where parents and children could have fun together. ” (Disney qtd. in Fanning, 98) Disney Production could not afford this idea though and Walt had determined that making another movie would not raise sufficient capital to finance the project. Walt decided to approach the networks to produce a weekly Disney show. The American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) jumped at the chance to have a Disney show on weekly and in turn ABC would und the construction of Disneyland in its entirety.
Roy was not thrilled with the idea of building a theme park, but loved the idea of a TV show. “It seemed to him (Roy) that every time the studio started to get a little bit ahead Walt found a way to get them back in red. ” (Fanning, 70) Now with ABCs money and Roys support Walt needed to find a place to build his park. He found 200-acre lot in Anaheim, California and purchased it immediately. Construction was completed and the park opened in 1955 and by that time Disney Productions was a financial success. People were so anxious to be the first ones in
Disneyland that when only 15,000 tickets were sold for opening day 33,000 people showed up, half of them had counterfeit tickets. Certainly, Walt Disney was a man of vision. A man who had the creativity to develop ideas and then have the patience and perseverance to carry them out. Walt Disney showed courage and the desire you need to build a successful life. Even when all odds were against him, he still was able to find a way to conquer his dreams. He taught us many things and I hope we remember this man not only for his cartoons, but also for his work ethics and the contributions he made to society.