Walt Disney

Animator / Business Personality

Born: 5 December 1901
Died: 15 December 1966 (lung cancer)
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Best known as: The creator of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland

Walt Disney founded the animation and entertainment empire which still bears his name. He began as a cartoonist in Kansas City in the 1920s, with partner Ub Iwerks (1901-71). Walt, his brother Roy and Iwerks ended up in Hollywood in 1923, and made their fame on the strength of Mickey Mouse (1928) and Silly Symphonies (1929). Walt was the boss, and the studio moved from short films into much-acclaimed animated features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bambi (1942). Later, Walt Disney expanded into live-action features like Treasure Island (1951), Old Yeller (1957) and Mary Poppins (1964), and then into television -- the family-friendly variety program The Wonderful World of Disney was a prime-time staple from 1954-83. During Disney's life his studios won 48 Academy Awards. In 1955 Disney opened a theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California; it was an immediate hit and became the public flagship of the Disney empire. Other Disney theme parks have since opened in Florida, Tokyo, France and Hong Kong. The Disney empire also grew to include Disney Radio and TV's The Disney Channel, which launched the careers of teen stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

Extra credit:

Walt Disney's studio holds the record for career Academy Award nominations, with 64... Despite persistent public rumor, Disney was not cryogenically frozen or buried under Disneyland after his death; he was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California... Michael Eisner was hired in 1984 to run the Disney empire and is often credited with the company's resurgence; Eisner stepped down from the job in 2005... Other animated features include Winnie the Pooh, Ariel the mermaid, Pinocchio the wooden boy, and Princess Jasmine... Both Iwerks and Disney had a hand in creating Mickey Mouse. The story goes that Iwerks did all the animation of the first Mickey, with the character's personality created by Walt. Walt did the original voice. Which one actually drew the first Mickey (as we would recognize him) is unclear, so, naturally, some people think it was Disney and some people think it was Iwerks.

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