The story of Walt Disney

Despite the efforts of his biographers, a fund legend is still planning on the figure of Walt Disney. A repeated rumor says that Disney was probably Spanish European immigrant who came to the United States and, later, for fear of suspicion, misrepresented its origin. They have also been mythologized the circumstances of his death, many believed that Disney had been frozen with modern techniques of hibernation. His body still remain so with suspended pending a future that could wake up and new surgical procedures chipping your health vital signs.

But the prosaic reality is that Disney's body was cremated by his family desire. It not surprising, however, all this mixture of reality and fantasy about who made history of Western culture as one of the most prolific and influential growers contradictory childhood imagination.

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Fourth of five children born to Elias and Flora Disney, his childhood was spent between economic hardship and under the severity of his father, a carpenter by profession, who tried his luck in all kinds of businesses without ever got to improve its battered economy. Eternally belittled by his father, Walt grew very close to his mother, a former teacher of German descent, and his brother Roy, eight years older than him.

In 1906, Elias Disney decided to start a new life on a farm near the small town of Marceline, Missouri, Walt discovered where nature and animals. Then also was born his interest in drawing, she shared with her younger sister, Ruth. Elias Disney had to work so hard to their children in the maintenance of the farm that the two largest, Herbert and Raymond decided to leave home to settle on their own again in Chicago.

The difficult beginnings

The precarious situation was the family with the departure of the two young worsened in the winter of 1909, when the father contracted typhoid fever and the illness forced him to sell the farm and move to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found a job as paperboy, a task in which Roy and Walt helped him. This was a lower yield of Walt small school, where he was never a pupil. After a couple of years, Walt, who occasionally earned some money by selling his cartoons, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Kansas City, where he learned the rudiments of drawing technique. In those years of his adolescence he discovered cinema, an invention that impassioned him from the start.

During the war he was an ambulance driver
(Drawing on canvas is the Disney itself)

In 1917, five years after Roy Disney also leave the parental home, Elias Disney moved with his wife and two young children back to Chicago, where he tried his luck riding a small jam factory. In the spring of 1918, Walt, with only seventeen, falsified his birth certificate and enlisted as a soldier in the Red Cross to fight in World War II. He arrived in Europe when it was peace, but he was stationed in France and Germany until September 1919. Once he graduated, he went to live with his brother Roy to Kansas City, where he sought employment as a draftsman.

His dream was to become an artist Kansas City Star, the newspaper that was distributed in its infancy, but found work as an apprentice at an advertising agency, the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio. With a salary of $ 50 a month in that job he met Ubbe Iwerks, a young man of his age and exceptionally gifted for drawing, with whom he befriended. When the two were without work they set up their own company, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. The company lasted barely a month as Walt chose to accept a secure job, though he convinced his new bosses to who hired Iwerks. In that work both learned the techniques, still very rudimentary, of film animation.

Disney working on Laugh-O-Gram Films (1922)

Restless and innovative by nature, Disney asked a borrowed camera and mounted a modest studio in the garage of his home, where with the help of Iwerks and working nights, produced his first animated film. The film was accepted and got new orders until Disney, who was not yet twenty years old, Iwerks convinced them to return to try his luck as entrepreneurs with a company they called Laugh-O-Gram Films. With a production based on traditional stories, things went well until the bankruptcy of its main client also dragged the bankruptcy.

A Hollywood

In 1923, after vainly trying to trace the slump, Disney emigrated to Hollywood. The flourishing film industry in Hollywood had made a land of promise. Disney believed that his experience as a cameraman get work as director, but no studio wanted to have their services, so he decided to start his own company with his brother Roy as a partner. On October 16, 1923, the Disney Brothers Studio signed its first major contract, but still insufficient to cope with its financial difficulties. Since then, Walt revealed what would become a constant in his company: he was able to use any ploy to take the business forward. In 1924, Ubbe Iwerks joined them and Walt could stop working as an animator to engage in the area for which he was always more capable: the creation of characters and plots and management.

On July 13, 1925, three months after his brother Roy married, Disney married Lillian Bounds, a young employee of his study, with whom he had two daughters: Diane Marie, born on December 18, 1933 when marriage and ruled they may have offspring and Sharon Mae, which was adopted in 1936. in the spring of 1926, and after having had to change local because the company grew, the brothers changed the name of your company, which was renamed Walt Disney Studio. But the study suffered a major setback when its main customer was left with rights Oswald Rabbit, a character created by Disney that had starred in several short films.

The triumph of Mickey Mouse

Determined to eliminate intermediaries hereinafter, Disney conceived during a train journey from Hollywood to New York Mortimer, a little mouse then renamed Mickey suggestion of his wife and that Iwerks gave way. Disney told so, but in reality, fatherhood Mickey Mouse has always been a source of controversy, and now tends to attribute the Iwerks own. In October 1928, when Disney sought distributor for the two films he had produced with Mickey Mouse as the protagonist, the first film was screened talkies. Anticipating passing other producers who believed that innovation, Walt quickly incorporate sound into a third film Mickey, Willie on the steamboat (1928). Good imitator of voices and accents, Disney made the little mouse and his girlfriend, Minnie, speak with your own voice to cut costs. The film, released on November 18, 1928 at a theater in New York, won a resounding success with audiences and critics.

Willie frame on the steamboat (1928)

In 1929, with its exceptional sixth sense for business, several companies authorized to reproduce in their products the image of Mickey Mouse, which incorporated gloves and white shoes to keep hands and feet disappear on dark backgrounds. On 13 January 1930 he began publishing a cartoon of the popular character (with Disney as a writer and Iwerks as a draftsman) in several US newspapers, and that same year a book of drawings of Mickey that was republished on numerous occasions, was released.

Workaholic, for stealing many hours of sleep, Disney had a serious health crisis that forced him, in late 1931 as the Mickey Mouse Club already had a million members, to take a long vacation with his wife . Back in Hollywood, he pointed to a sports club where he practiced boxing, calisthenics, wrestling and golf. Shortly after he discovered the horse racing and finally the pole, which was a fanatic for the rest of his life. A hobby that grew with as much passion as his fascination with trains and miniatures.

With Mickey Mouse as the flagship of a company on the rise, Disney believed it should not rest on their laurels and getting bored doing only movies of the famous little mouse, which in 1932 earned him the first Oscar would receive during his career. Backed by a team of excellent cartoonists and illustrators, he displayed his creative spirit in the first series of his Silly Symphonies (1932). Made in Technicolor, the various short films that made this production meant at the time an experiment on the expressive use of color. In November of that same year, the Disney studio became the first to have its own school of cartoonists and animators.

A year later, on May 27, 1933, he released the silly symphony that was number thirty-six and that would have an unexpected success: The Three Little Pigs. Unintentionally, his famous song Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? He became a song of hope for millions of Americans trying not to be devoured in real life by the Great Depression. In 1934, when his study had 187 people, he was born Donald Duck, a character irascible and evil character, who came to join the dogs Pluto and Goofy.

feature films

When he had already made a name in the industry of Hollywood, Walt Disney undertook a bold and unprecedented initiative: producing the first feature animated film history. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) demonstrated not only that Disney and his team were virtuosos of animation, but that cartoons could be an entire film genre. The film earned four million dollars, a record for the time, but left indebted to Disney until 1961 because of the amortization of the credits had to ask, since the initial budget of $ 500,000 from the film had finished tripling.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was used for the first time the multiplane camera, able to suggest depth of field thanks to an ingenious system of overlapping five films shot in the same plane to simulate distance, and a new system of technicolor. The film was the first example of the animated film Disney school had a strong narrative procedure, in which the human characters were described from the "gaze" of humanized animals or fantastic creatures. It also became clear in the Disney film taste so dark and way of suggesting rather than openly show terror.

The Forties was a period of great activity in the Disney, characterized by the consolidation of style started with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the contradiction that Walt felt between his artistic tendency to innovation and risk of both and the need for attend a given nothing developments and market experiments. Reflecting this was the lukewarm public response to the following films released his "factory" of dreams. Pinocchio (1940), considered one of the masterpieces of animated film by critics and in which invested $ 2,600,000, was a commercial disaster.

The same happened with Fantasia (1940), which cost $ 2,300,000. It cartoonists and animators combined evolutions of cartoon characters with music by Stravinsky, Dukas, Beethoven, Ravel, Bach or Chaikowski. Considered a masterpiece by some and an insulting caricature of classical music by others, Fantasy was not the desired "total work" that Walt Disney had imagined and. These business failures opened a major economic breakthrough in the enterprise, remedied shortly after consecutive hits by Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942).

Fantasy (1940)

After the skit on The Dance of the Hours, Ponchielli, who co-directed with Norman Ferguson in Fancy using the pseudonym T. Hee, Walt Disney left the field of performing to devote himself almost exclusively to the task of leading the fledgling film empire in which the company had become so modestly that had begun fifteen years ago. On May 6, 1940 completed the construction of its new studios in Burbank, which earned him the nickname "Wizard of Burbank."

Designed by himself with the aim of facilitating the work of their employees, those studies had twenty large buildings separated by streets that they put the name of his characters. The staff of the company was around 2,000 employees, Disney demanded a high level of creativity and production in exchange for very low wages, but never noticed expenses when making his films and always personally led a private life without luxuries or ostentation.

furious anticommunist

On 10 November 1940 he began collaborating with the FBI, after the then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, he had repeatedly tried to recruit the film producer as an agent to provide it with any information or detail the presence of subversives (communists, trade unionists or anarchists) in Hollywood. However, the first political ravings of Disney had a more progressive outlook and dated back to 1938, when he joined the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers, an association of producers and opposed to the stranglehold of the big studios of Hollywood independent filmmakers. From that group, which had figures like Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin, Disney was veering towards the near ideario the American Nazi party and a strongly anti-Marxist sentiment.

In 1941, a newly created union of illustrators in his company threatened the "Wizard of Burbank" to go on strike to demand better wages. Disney tried to avoid conflict personally directing a speech to his employees, but these, to his amazement, as the company conceived as a large family, was not allowed to spend the first few sentences. On May 29 of that year, the Disney studios were almost paralyzed by a strike which was attended by most workers and lasted a whole year. The conflict ended when the company agreed that workers could freely choose their union, including the Screen Cartoonists Guild leftist.

Walt Disney in 1941

The agreements that led to the end of the strike were signed by Roy Disney, Walt as was traveling through various countries in South America. Of the long journey out several films, basically for the Latin American audience. Among them, Saludos Amigos (1943) and The Three Caballeros (1945), which combined animation and actors of flesh and blood. In 1943, much of his best cartoonists abandoned him to found the UPA (United Productions of America), where born, among others, the nearsighted Mister Magoo character.

After the Second World War, in which Disney had agreed to shoot for the US government propaganda films, left office of his company, ceding the position to his brother Roy, but only stayed a few months that decision and in late 1945 he returned to occupy the presidential chair. Nothing back, he fired more than 400 employees, ensuring that the company was going through a crisis and had to fulfill the agreement with the Screen Cartoonists Guild to grant the salary increase of 25% to cartoonists.

Reaffirmed his anti-Marxism and contributor to the FBI until his death, Disney promised to abort any element that would prejudice the American nation in its meeting on 24 and 25 November 1947 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, culminating in call Waldorf Declaration, in which many film producers agreed to cooperate with the Commission on Un-American Activities "witch hunt."

In August 1948 he made a trip with her daughter Sharon to shoot images in Alaska, and the material made short series titled Adventures of real life. His brother Roy opposed the project (by then they were already so far apart that only looked after an appointment to their respective offices) and predicted an uncertain fate this kind of documentaries. He was wrong, as the first one, entitled The Island of Seals (1948), not only was profitable, but was awarded an Oscar in the short film category.

Almost completed the Forties, Disney received an interesting proposal from Howard Hughes: interest-free credit of one million dollars in exchange for their help in an area (the film industry) that the Texas billionaire did not know and where you wanted to invest. With that money, Disney launched 18 new projects, including Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953). After a costly foray into the futuristic film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), he returned to cheaper projects and tuned in with the pride of being American. By then, his company was no longer the queen of cartoons. Warner Brothers began to give serious competition with the star of the series Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny. That rabbit was the counterpoint to the candid, apolitical and asexual Mickey Mouse, who in the early fifties lived his lowest moments popularity, but remained the favorite Disney character and emblem of his empire.


In 1953, after winning a new Oscar for best documentary with The Living Desert, she began talks with the ABC television network to cede the issue of his films to the new invention. Unlike other Hollywood producers, who considered it a threat, Disney believed that television was an excellent means of disseminating their products. A year later he began making films specifically for television, part of his artistic production more reviled by critics. Reviews will also rain down years later with Mary Poppins (1964), his first feature film with real actors only. But Disney did not matter to him, because those movies gave him the money he needed to realize a project stroked a long time: build a huge amusement park based on its characters.

Disney and von Braun (1954)

Workaholic and perfectionist, film producer designed to the last detail of Disneyland, which opened on July 17, 1955 in Anaheim, California. This park, with an area of ​​120 hectares, cost 17 million dollars, and Main Street USA, its main street where transited hundreds of costumed characters, recreated to perfection the main street of Marceline, the town where she spent her childhood Disney, that summer of 1955 was already grandfather of the first of ten grandchildren had.

Billionaire and twenty nine Oscars awarded in the sixties had become one of the best known and beloved characters around the world, but his health faltered, and his entire empire entered a struggle for succession. inveterate and fond of alcohol smoker, he died on December 15, 1966 in Los Angeles, California, a victim of lung cancer, after having overseen the outlines of Disney World, theme park style Disneyland but more focused towards adults, will open its doors in 1971 in Orlando, Florida (in 1983, the company opened Tokyo Disneyland in Japan and in 1992 opened the Euro Disney Paris).

The "Wizard of Burbank" had died without seeing finished The Jungle Book (1967), the second most commercial film of Disney since the days of Snow White who led Wolfgang Reitherman, who took over the production of the lengths of disneyanos animation until 1981. After years of great production and few notable successes, the Disney studios were again the kings of the genre with cartoon beauty and the beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and the Lion King (1994). With the demise of Disney, he entered the legend one of the key names in popular culture of the twentieth century. With varied fortune, they try to replace such disparate figures as his brother Roy O. Disney, nephew Roy E. Disney and his son Ron Miller. But only the executive producer Michael Eisner proved a worthy his successor.