Walt Disney

Brenda Ayres

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Walt Disney

Show Summary Details


Walt Disney was born in Chicago on 5 December 1901, the youngest of four sons, with a sister to follow. In 1906 the family relocated to a forty-acre farm in Marceline, Missouri. Disney’s father, Elias, was a strict Congregationalist who neither drank nor smoked, and was a relentless disciplinarian to his children. After four years of proving unsuccessful as a farmer and then being stricken with typhoid, Elias had to auction the farm and eventually move the family to Kansas City, Missouri. Walt would always speak of life in Marceline with a great sense of nostalgia. To him the small town represented what was best about America. In Kansas City, Walt and his brother Roy helped their father deliver papers every morning and evening. A few years later they returned to Chicago, and while working several jobs, Walt took classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, the only art training that he would ever get. At the age of twenty-two he moved to Los Angeles, where his uncle Robert lived, and with his brother Roy as manager, he began creating cartoons with people in them, the first of many technological innovations that would make Walt a pioneer in the industry. In 1924 the brothers hired Lillian Bounds as a cel painter, and on 13July 1925 Walt married her. Disney’s first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy, previewed 15 May 1928. In November, Steamboat Willie premiered and was called by the New York Times the “first and only synchronized-sound animated cartoon comedy.” On 19 December 1933 Diane Marie Disney was born, and three years later the Disneys adopted six-week old Sharon Mae. The full-length animation film that would make Disney a household word was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which premiered on 21 December, 1937 and became the highest-grossing American film up to that date. It ran in forty-nine countries and spawned over 2,183 different products. Thus, the Disney empire—a global marketing of “American” ideology—was born. When Disney received the George Washington Award in 1963, former president Dwight D. Eisenhower praised him for “communicating the hope and aspirations of our free society to the far corners of the planet.” The following year, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Disney died of lung cancer on 14 December 1966. He was the recipient of fifty-nine Academy Award nominations and twenty-two Oscars, and he created a multibillion-dollar, multinational entertainment empire.

Article.  31287 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.