Below are the 13 things that you probably did not know about Walt Disney, one of the most important figures in American animation industry:
- Born in Marceline, Missouri, at the age of four Walt Disney started taking deep interest in art and drawing. His first gig came when he was paid to draw a picture of a horse that belonged to a retired doctor in the neighborhood.
- Although he appeared very outgoing during social events, Walt Disney biographers have claimed that he was quite a shy person in private. According to his biographers, he took a great deal of inspiration from the drawings and cartoons of Ryan Walker (1870-1932), the Kentucky-born political activist and cartoonist.
- Because his childhood house was close to Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line, he came to have a deep liking for trains.
- In his teens, he and his brother Roy helped in delivering newspapers (the Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times) for his father’s newspaper delivery company. As a result of the workload, his grades in school suffered.
- In order to develop his talents in arts to the fullest, he attended night courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He also took Saturday courses at Kansas City Art Institute.
- He first met his life-long friend Ub Iwerks at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio.
- Walt Disney’s first business, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists, failed spectacularly, forcing him and Iwerks to work at the Kansas City Film ad Company.
- Disney is believed to have gone through immense stress after he parted company with cartoon distributor Pat Powers over payments issues. In the midst of those disagreements, Powers poached several staff from the Disney Studio, including Ub Iwerks. To overcome the nervous breakdown, Disney and his wife Lillian went on holidays in the Caribbean.
- Dwindling revenues (owing to WWII) and cost-cutting measures resulted in some staff layoffs at Disney Studio. The layoffs, as well as other issues, caused the 1941 Animators’ Strike.
- He was a member of the Democratic Party until 1940 when he moved to the Republicans. He even supported Republican governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey’s 1944 presidential campaign.
- Walt Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966. His family cremated him and interred his ashes at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
- In 1965, he announced his intention to construct another theme park known as Disney World (now Walt Disney World) in Orlando, Florida. Sadly, his life was cut short, leaving the responsibility of completion to his brother Roy. The park was completed in 1971.
- In creating Mickey Mouse, Disney was inspired by the pet mouse that he kept during his time at Laugh-O-Gram Studio. He had wanted to name it Mortimer Mouse; however, his wife Lillian did not like the name; she felt it sounded too pretentious. She is credited with coming out with the name “Mickey Mouse”.
Read More: 9 Major Accomplishments of Walt Disney
Walt Disney: Quick Facts
Born: Walter Elias Disney
Birth: December 5, 1901; Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Death: December 15, 1966; Burbank, California, U.S.
Parents: Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney
Siblings: 4 siblings – including Roy Oliver Disney (1893-1971) and Ruth (1903-1995)
Education: Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design; Chicago Art Institute; McKinley High School
Wife: Lillian Bounds (married in 1925)
Children: Diane; Lillian
Most known for: Co-founding the Walt Disney Company; Winning 26 Academy Awards