6 February 2013
Walt Disney’s success was due to his strong work ethic, genius imagination, and keen business sense. When people think of animated cartoons, they often think of Walt Disney (Forbes). As one of the most popular animators in the world, Walt Disney was not successful at the beginning of his career, but was very task-oriented and a true entrepreneur (Darity 1).
Walter Elias Disney was born into a modest family on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois (Finch 17). Shortly after his birth, his father moved the family to Missouri, where he lived most of his childhood life (Anderson 1). Walt had a huge interest in drawing and art at a very young age and even began selling his sketches to the community at the age of seven. Most of his ideas came when he listened and watched the railroad which was located close to his family farm. While attending high-school and the Academy of Fine Arts at night, he also worked alongside his father and brother, Roy, delivering newspapers and selling candy for his father’s newspaper route (Simon 13). This time was rough for Walt Disney, and “he talked of how the route and its demands – the unyielding routine, the snow, the fatigue, the lost papers – traumatized and haunted him” (Lane 3).
In 1918, Walt wanted to join the Military but because he was only 16, he could not. He decided to join the Red Cross and was sent to France. In France, he drove an ambulance and chauffeured around Red Cross officials. He did not rally like this and returned home to pursue a career in commercial art. This is what led him to play around with animation (Anderson 2). Animation is what truly made him happy. Walt was once quoted in a magazine article as saying, “I don’t have depressed moods. I’m happy – just very, very happy when drawing” (Schickel 1).
After returning from France, Walt Disney joined the Kansas City Film Advertising Company and began producing animation films for local businesses in Kansas City. He and a colleague learned enough about animation and wanted to try it on their own, so they formed a company called Laugh-O-Gram Films. This company made fun of local problems and scandals in cartoon form. The two men created short film advertisements and a handful of fairy tales that were shown in local theaters (Simon 17). Disney was ambitious and immediately started work on a series of fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots. During this time, Disney began to build up a large staff which included well-known animators such as Iwerks, Rudolf Ising, and Walker Harman. Unfortunately, the company was not making much money, so they turned to trying to make a run at it through television (Finch 49). Disney began television production in 1954, and was among the first to present full-color programming with his Wonderful World of Color in 1961 (Anderson 4). His studio then decided to make new full-length animated movies. These were Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. Until the early 80's, the studio had never produced its own original animated shows in-house, because Walt Disney felt it was economically impossible (Simon 29). Throughout this time, Disney never lost hope. He said, “I guess I’m an optimist. I’m not in business to make unhappy places. I love comedy too much. I’ve always loved comedy. Another thing, maybe it’s because I can still be amazed at the wonders of the world” (Watts 1).
Walt Disney’s successes didn’t come at a cheap price. He also encountered many struggles and hardships throughout his career. Before he could finish his fairy tales, the Laugh-O-Gram Company went bankrupt and out of business. Walt was not discouraged by his failure and was quoted saying, “I failed, but I learned a lot out of that. I think it’s important to have good, hard failure when you’re young” (Simon 18). As hard as he worked, he couldn’t make enough money to support himself. While living with his older…