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WALTER ELIAS DISNEY – PART 2
CARTOONS, DREAMS AND MICKEY MOUSE
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. ”
Walt Disney arrived in Hollywood at the age of 22. He had a vision and a dream and he was determined to pursue them. With an injection of money from his brother, Roy O. Disney, and a loan of $500, he set up shop in his uncle’s garage, and was soon able to expand the business. He married one of his employees, Lillian Bounds in 1925, and had two daughters, Diane and Sharon.
Three years after they married he created the little animal which was to be his symbol and his lasting memory – Mickey Mouse. His birth could not have been more fortuitous, as the brothers were in financial difficulty, and he provided then with the means to expand and extend cartoon animation.
' He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner. '
This iconic character made his debut in the film, ‘Steamboat Willie, ’ the world’s first synchronised sound cartoon, which premiered at the Colony Theatre in New York, on November 18th, 1928. People loved him from the start, and he continues to be one of the most iconic cartoon characters ever.
“When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it' s because he' s so human, and that is the secret of his popularity. '
But his imagination and vision did not stop there.
' I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination. ”
Walt was a perfectionist, and he held the patent for Technicolor for two years, during which time he made the only colour cartoons. He won an Academy Award in 1932 for his film ‘Flowers and Trees. ’ However, it was not until 1937 that he released his first full length animated musical colour cartoon at the Cathay Theater in Los Angeles.
The film was, of course, the magical and still popular ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, ’ which took seven years, and a breathtaking $1, 499. 000 to produce. It was known mockingly in the film industry as ‘Disney’s Folly, ’ but he was to have the last laugh as it made more money than any other film in 1938. Even his wife, Lilian, had her doubts and said, ‘No one’s ever gonna pay a dime to see a dwarf picture. ’ He had to mortgage his house to pay for the production of the film, but when it premiered it was given a standing ovation. Amazingly it is still one of the top money-making American films of all time.
Snow White was followed, in the next five years, by Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia and the world’s favourite, Bambi. His delight at the success of his cartoons was somewhat marred by the tragic death of his mother in 1938. One of the first things he had bought was a home for his parents, Elias and Flora Disney. Sadly, within a year Flora died in a tragic accident, when a faulty furnace resulted in her asphyxiation. Walt was to be haunted by the terrible guilt of this accident for the rest of his life.
By 1940, Disney was employing over 1, 000 artists, technicians, story men and animators. But Walt did not only concentrate on making cartoons, as his love of nature and wildlife, and his desire to educate through entertainment, led to his award winning True-Life Adventure’ series, such as ‘The Living Desert, ’ ‘The African Lion’ and the ‘Vanishing Prairie. ’ These films provided fascinating insights into the life of animals, and through them he was able to highlight the importance of conserving nature.
However, Walt Disney had another dream – that of a clean and organised amusement park, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California finally opened in 1955.
“Give the public everything you can give them, keep the place as clean as you can keep it, keep it friendly. ”
He certainly achieved THAT dream!
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