Can you imagine a world without Disney these days? The company stands as one of the world’s most innovative entertainment powers and continues to inspire new creators in film, television, storytelling, and more. The iconic brand is known as a juggernaut today, but it was once little more than a dream for one man from the Chicago suburbs. In 1901, the world changed when Walter Elias Disney was born, and we recognize him today on what would have been his 115th birthday.
Born in December 1901, Disney was born in Chicago to parents Elias and Flora. The boy quickly developed an interest in drawing from a young age as he often practice cartooning he saw in local newspapers. His interest in art only grew as his family moved around the country until he graduated high school. After school and a brief stint with the Red Cross, Disney began working at an art studio in Kansas City and eventually began working as a freelance cartoonist.
In July 1923, Disney moved to Hollywood to help his brother recover from a bout of tuberculosis. At that time, he also began pitching sales for a story of his known as Alice’s Wonderland. After securing a contract for the story, Disney and his brother Roy founded the Disney Brothers Studios which would later become The Walt Disney Company.
After the creation of the Disney Brothers Studios, the cartoonists reputation began to gradually rise in Hollywood. By May 1928, Disney had created the now-famous character of Mickey Mouse and unknowingly started a chain of events that would lead into the Golden Age of Animation.
In 1934, Disney and his creators grew bored with routine animated series and craved more unique storytelling opportunities. They tried to do so with film and began working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Many felt the film would be Disney’s ruin, but the animator proved them wrong. The movie premiered in 1937 to rave reviews and allowed them to pursue future films like Pinnochio, Dumbo, Bambi, and more.
After World War II ended, Disney then branched out his entertainment prowess to theme parks and beyond. The animator dreamt up attractions that fans know today as Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The cartoonist also worked on films like Marry Poppins and The Jungle Book during this time, but his career came to a slow in the late-1960s.
Sadly, the artist died on December 15, 1966 from lung cancer. His death rattled Hollywood, and the industry mourned the loss of Disney. Still, the cartoonist’s legacy and keen eye of creativity continues to live on in the industry. Today, The Walt Disney Company is a bonafide pop culture behemoth, and Disney has become a cultural icon to boot. The gentle, soft-worded creator has become a legend to children and adults alike, and we give thanks for all Disney gave to us.
Rest in peace, Walt Disney.