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Walt Disney is the epitome of success through perseverance and hard work. The animator, filmmaker, and entrepreneur once said, "All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." Disney had dreams that many did not think was possible to come true, and yet he continually proved to the world that anything was possible. The world of magic that we know of today would not have existed without the dreams and accomplishments of Walt Disney, who built veritable empires out of his own imagination. It is impossible to picture children's entertainment or theme parks without invoking the contributions of Walt Disney. His innovation and personal sacrifices required to make those innovations tangible realities have given us a world of magic and a world with no limitations to our imaginations.
Many have known Walt Disney to be the man who built the theme parks, particularly Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but he was far more than that. Disney was an animator at heart, and started his career as an animation expert who inspired other artists to create generations of animated films that we see till today. When motion pictures took the world by storm, Disney found a way to transform his still drawings into films that changed the world. First and foremost an animation artist working in the medium of film, Disney later became a filmmaker and producer and therefore caught the world by surprise. He was an artist who understood that one must become a businessman in order to make our dreams come true. In this key regard, Disney differed from his counterparts who might have remained engaged in their craft of animation but without the business acumen that Walt Disney demonstrated. With the help of his brother, Roy, whom is also his business partner, Disney built an empire that still grows today. Disney's example therefore reveals the importance of family support in fulfilling personal dreams.
Walt Disney's childhood years gave him the freedom to explore his talents and perseverance to work hard. His childhood also shows how the support of family can be instrumental in determining one's outlook on life and future chances of success. Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the fourth of five children of his father, Elias Disney, and mother, Flora Call Disney. While Walter was still young, his father moved the family to a farm on Marceline, Missouri.
Disney's father was a very hard workingman who was strict on his children. Likely, his strict upbringing provided Walt with the discipline he would need in order to persevere in his business. Disney would help his father, Elias, run paper routes even through the cold nights of winter. When Walt was older, he probably drew on these early memories when facing the natural ups and downs of the filmmaking and business worlds.
Despite his father's strictness, his father had an appreciation for the arts and loved music. Elias passed on talent and appreciation for music to his son. Soon enough, it became one of Walt Disney's biggest influences later in his film career. Disney said, "Dad was always meeting up with strange characters to talk socialism. He'd bring them home! He'd bring home some of the weirdest characters. And anybody who could play an instrument. My dad loved music ... " Music became integral to Walt Disney animations, feature length films, and even in the theme parks Disney went on to create later. Given his mentioning the "socialist" tendencies of his father's "weird" friends, the elder Elias Disney was also a political man whose diverse views might have influenced those of his son.
Often times on the farm, Walter would draw and sketch. It soon became apparent that Disney was honing his skills and would become a master animator. He spent his early carefree years learning to love, enjoy wildlife and family. This was when Walter discovered his talent and love for drawing. In fact, Walt even learned the importance of transforming his art into business so that he could become a viable enterprise and not a "starving artist." He sold his first drawing to his neighbor, a retired doctor named "Doc" Sherwood. Since that moment, Walt Disney was a professional animator.
Walt spent his days working to make money for his family while still taking art classes because his mom
and brother, Roy, would encourage him to continue his passion for animation even if animation did not seem like a viable career path. While in school, young Walt would tell stories to his friends and imitate his silent screen hero, Charlie Chaplin, who later became one of his earliest inspirations for his career. Disney would even sneak out and perform comical acting rather against his father's will. As an artist, not sticking to drawing only made him explore his talents even further. He would wear his father's oversized pants and hat with mustache as he performed. His passion for comical theater acting made people believed he was just as good as Chaplin. Being influenced by Charlie Chaplin also helped Disney develop the type of humor that his animations became famous for later. Likewise, his appreciation for humor and for particular types of physical humor would add to how he used his childhood experiences to help him further through his career.
Disney's career first started with short cartoons. He started his first animation company, Laugh-O-Grams. He was able to bring on artists to test out new ways to make animated cartoons with stop motion cameras. Disney's artists did not want his team to sit around and drew pictures but he wanted them to spent late nights creating up stories with one another. One of Disney's Laugh-O-Grams animators, Rudy Ising, said, "We used to sit around and make up our own stores, so those modernized fairy tales were not much like the (originals) ... We didn't make storyboards at that time, we just went along." Soon after, Laugh-O- Gram went bankrupt due to a bad contract. Disney took the chance to build his first company but failed. It was only a minor setback that helped him move forward to moving to Hollywood with only forty dollars in his pocket. Understanding the importance of picking oneself up after falling, and turning failure into opportunity for future success is one of the main reasons why Disney became a world leader and a household name. His example set for others in the industry seems to be to never give up hope.
Disney's brother, Roy, was one of the biggest aspects of and influences in his life. While Disney was the creative partner for Walt Disney's Studios, Roy was his business partner who handled all the financial aspects of managing the studio. When Walt first moved to Hollywood, he was unsure of his talents and career path. He knew he wanted to be a director but he stuck to what he knew best, cartoons. Even in Walt's 20s, Roy still encouraged his brother to follow with what he loved. Roy's assistance with the business end of things meant that Walt's time was free to devote to animation and creative arts. During this critical time in his career, Walt started Disney Bros. Studios and asked Roy to be his business partner, hence putting the "Brothers" into "Disney Brothers." Their first few years as a team with Disney Brothers were successes. Walt would direct, draw and do all the creative work while Roy would manage the books.
Roy reminisced on their early confidence and success, "One evening when Walt and I were discussing our move, Walt said to me, 'Roy, when we move to Hyperion, I'm going to have a large sign erected, reading Walt Disney Studio.' He looked at me as if expecting an argument. I said, 'If that's the way you want it.' And that's the way it was. Walt was the creative member of the team. His name deserved to be on the pictures." The amicable relationship between the two brothers speaks volumes about the need for interdependence on the success of a business, but also shows that Disney had a strong ego. He needed to be in charge and envisioned himself as being the head of an empire.
We all know Disney did deserve the name. The following years, Walt pushed their company to grow while losing some of his cartoons in the process. After losing his Oswald animation, he was on a train ride home when created the cartoon, Mickey Mouse. It was his wife, Lily, that helped with the name but in fact Mickey's personality became a reflection of Walt himself. He came out with ideas for his short films using the technology they had. This was during the time when animated cartoons still had no sound. Walt needed to find a way to sell his cartoons and sound was the answer to his success. Everybody thought it was impossible to synchronize sound to cartoons but Walt proved them wrong. Walt produced his first short…
Sources Used in Documents:
Pat, Williams, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day.
2) Bob, Thomas, Walt Disney -- An American Original.
3) Bruce, Handy, December 3, 2006, Escape Artist, The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.
4) Walt Disney Museum -- San Francisco
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