Walt Disney

Don Wyeth

Walt Disney

2 mins
December 14, 2021

Just so there is no mistake, yes, I was a Mouseketeer. Back in 1955, my sister and I watched Mickey Mouse Club faithfully. Full disclosure: I was madly in love with one of the Mouseketeers, Annette Funicello. This children’s show and so many other creations are Walt Disney’s legacy.

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois. As a child, Walt demonstrated a proclivity for drawing. I was one of America's most successful entrepreneurs. He was an animator, film producer, writer, and voice actor. Recognition of his abilities took the form of 22 Oscars, 2 Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards, and 1 Emmy.

At the age of 18 he got his first job as a commercial illustrator. By the early1920s Walt had settled in Southern California and, with his brother Roy, established Disney Brothers Studio, the springboard from which all his creations evolved. Around 1928, Disney formed a partnership with Ub Iwerks, an “… American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician..." The two products of this partnership were a couple well known and beloved characters: Oswald Rabbit and Mickey Mouse (in the cartoon Steamboat Willie) 1928.

Walt Disney

In the world of cartoons, Disney was a real pioneer, “…introducing synchronized sound, full-color three-strip Technicolor, feature-length cartoons and technical developments in cameras.” His real blockbusters were in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves; in 1940, Bambi; then Pinocchio, Fantasia, and then Dumbo in 1941. Disney and crew continued to grow and evolve with incredible results. Shortly, after World War II they presented Cinderella in 1950. Then in 1964 Mary Poppins was released. It was the first successful attempt at blending live action actors with cartoon characters and won Disney and his crew 5 Academy Awards.

Beside the Mickey Mouse Club, Disney Studios also produced an hour-long weekly production that has evolved into the present day, The Wonderful World of Disney. There's also the shows Zorro and Welcome to Pooh Corner, to name just a few. His studio also made its presence known in the organizing and planning the Moscow Fair of 1959, the Winter Olympics of 1960 and the 1964 New York World's Fair.

In tandem with these film productions, in 1950 Walt Disney expanded his dynasty by getting into the amusement park business. Disneyland was born in 1965. At the heart of this park was planned something called the EPCOT Center (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Unfortunately, Walt Disney died, being a heavy smoker, of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, not having seen the completion of either of these pioneering projects. I do not think there is anyone in the United States, or the world for that matter, that has not been touched by Walt Disney.

This article was orginally reported by
Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.