There is no doubt that Walt Disney is one of the most influential animators and storytellers of the 20th century.
Walter Elias Disney has been a household name for decades, and for a good reason. Touted as one of the most influential and iconic animators and storytellers of the 20th century, Walt helped pave the way of animation into mainstream entertainment.
Walt was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, and spent his childhood in Marceline, Missouri. At an early age, he already held a great interest in the arts, often making extra money through selling his drawings to his neighbors.
The Disney family then moved to Kansas, where Walt and his younger (and only) sister Ruth attended school. There he met Walter Pfeiffer, who introduced Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. To further promote his love for the arts, he took Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute.
By 1917, the Disney family moved again – this time in the city of Chicago. Apart from attending McKinley High School, Walt took night courses in the Chicago Art Institute. After serving a year in France for the Red Cross, he came back to Kansas and started a career as a newspaper artist, having been a cartoonist for his previous school’s newspaper.
Disney moved to Hollywood, California after his animation company Laugh-O-Gram fell bankrupt. Together with his brother Roy, they set up a cartoon studio and found a start distributing Alice Comedies, live-action / animated shorts based on Alice’s Wonderland.
In 1932, Walt and his studio made history with the production of the Silly Symphonies cartoon, Flowers and Trees. It was the first commercially released animated film produced in full-color three-strip Technicolor, and garnered the first Academy Award for Animated Short Subjects.
Five years later after this feat, the Disney Brothers’ Studio met another milestone in the form of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the first full-length animated musical feature. It was such a huge success that from them on, Disney continued to push the boundaries in storytelling and animation which eventually lead to childhood classics such as Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and so much more.
As of today, Disney’s legacy is still going strong through the eponymous Walt Disney Company — most notably through Walt Disney Studios, and the series of Disneyland themeparks around the globe – and we can bet that it will continue to do so for the generations to come.
So, let’s toast to Walt Disney, and celebrate his life (and his birthday which is, coincidentally, today) by watching the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie. Cheers!
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