Walt Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901 although he spent most of his childhood in Marceline, Missouri with his parents, three brothers and a sister. He was always interested in art and at a very young age was able to sell his drawings to make extra money.
When he was rejected by the army because he was only sixteen, Walt joined the Red Cross and was sent to France to drive an ambulance. It is said that he covered his ambulance with his cartoons. After the war, he pursued a career in commercial art and moved to Hollywood, California where he worked for 43 years. When he was 24 years old, he married one of his employees, Lillian Bounds, and they had two daughters, Diane and Sharon. Their marriage lasted until Walt's death in 1966.
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His creation, Mickey Mouse, was seen for the first time in 1928 in the world's first synchronized sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. In 1932, his first color cartoon, called Flowers and Trees, won an Academy Award. Throughout his lifetime, he received a total of 48 Academy Awards and 7 Emmys. In 1937, Walt Disney released his first full-length animated musical film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which cost $1.5 million to produce. This was followed by Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi.
His studio in Burbank, California had a staff of more than 1,000 artists, animators, story tellers and technicians. He dreamed of building an amusement park which materialized in 1955 with the arrival of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Before he died in 1966, Walt Disney had directed the purchase of 43 square miles of land in central Florida which he envisioned as Walt Disney World. The plan included an amusement theme park, a motel-hotel resort vacation center, and his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). The Walt Disney World Resort, including the Magic Kingdom, opened in Orlando, Florida to the public in 1971. It wasn't until 1982 that EPCOT Center opened nearby.
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Disney Characters at Disney World
It is said that early on Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." His Laugh-O-Gram Studio, founded in 1922, went bankrupt in 1923. Prior to the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt was close to bankruptcy for a second time in his short career. The success of Snow White saved him from this second disaster. However, during the making of Disneyland, it is believed that Disney was very close to bankruptcy or possibly did go bankrupt through his new venture. The proposed park was initially rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff. Disney's downfalls were primarily brought on by the belief he had in himself and his ideas.
These facts serve to encourage those entrepreneurs who have belief in themselves but lack money, courage or emotional support from their friends. Walt Disney becomes a folk hero for those who believe in the American Dream.