Biography of Walt Disney | Film producer

His films marked several generations of children and made the cartoon around a genre film and artistic.
Despite efforts by his biographers, a Fund of legend is still planning on the figure of Walt Disney. A repeated rumor says that Disney was an emigrant European, probably Spanish, that he came to the United States and, later, for fear of suspicions, it browbeat its origin. The circumstances of his death have also been mitificadas: many believed Disney had been frozen with modern techniques of hibernation. Your body would still remain so with vital signs suspended, waiting for a future that could awaken and new surgical procedures repaired his health.

Walt Disney
But the prosaic reality is that Disney corpse was cremated by relatives desire. It is no wonder, however, all this mixture of reality and fantasy around who went to the history of Western culture as one of the most prolific, influential and contradictory growers of childhood imagination.
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Four of the five children had Elias and Flora Disney, his childhood was spent between economic hardship and the severity of his father, a Carpenter by profession, who tried his luck in all sorts of businesses without that I never got to improve its ailing economy. Eternally despised by his father, Walt grew very attached to his mother, a former teacher descended from Germans, and his brother Roy, eight years older than him.
In 1906, Elias Disney decided to start a new life on a farm near the small town of Marceline, MO., where Walt discovered nature and the animals. Also then was born his interest in drawing, shared with her younger sister, Ruth. Elias Disney was working so hard to their children in the maintenance of the farm, the two largest, Herbert and Raymond, decided to leave the home to settle on their own again in Chicago.

Difficult beginnings

The precarious situation in which was the family with the progress of the two young men got worse in the winter of 1909, when father contracted typhoid fever and disease forced him to sell the farm and move to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found a job as a newspaper deliveryman, task that Walt and Roy helped him. This meant a lower yield of the small Walt at the school, where he was never an outstanding student. After a couple of years, Walt, occasionally winning some money selling his cartoons, he enrolled in the Institute of art of Kansas City, where he learned the basics about drawing technique. In those years of his adolescence he discovered cinema, an invention that impassioned you from the first moment.

During the war he was conductor of ambulances
(drawing on canvas is the own Disney)
In 1917, five years after Roy Disney also left the parental home, Elias Disney was moved with his wife and two small children back to Chicago, where it proved luck riding a small jam factory. In the spring of 1918, Walt, only seventeen, falsified his birth certificate and enlisted as a soldier in the Red Cross to fight in the first world war. He came to Europe when there was peace, but it was designed in France and Germany until September 1919. Once graduated, he went to live with his brother Roy to Kansas City, where he searched for employment as a draftsman.
His dream was to become an artist of the Kansas City Star, the newspaper that had distributed in its infancy, but found work as an apprentice at an advertising agency, the Commercial Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio. With a salary of $50 a month, in that job he met Ubbe Iwerks, a young man of the same age and exceptionally gifted for drawing, with which engaged in friendship. When the two were left without work they set up his own company, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. The company lasted barely a month, since Walt chose to accept a safe job, but he convinced his new bosses to hire to Iwerks. In that work, both learned techniques, still very rudimentary, film animation.

Disney working on Laugh-O-Gram Films (1922)
Restless and innovative by nature, Disney asked a borrowed camera and mounted a modest Studio in the garage of his house, where with the help of Iwerks and working evenings, produced his first animated film. The film was accepted and got new commissions until Disney, who still had not complied with the twenty-one years of age, convinced Iwerks to return to try their luck as entrepreneurs with a company called Laugh-O-Gram Films. With a production based on traditional stories, things were well until the bankruptcy of its main customer dragged them to bankruptcy.

To Hollywood

In 1923, after attempting to unnecessarily go blip, Disney moved to Hollywood. The flourishing film industry had converted to Hollywood in a land of promise. Disney believed that with his experience as a camera it would get director's work, but no Studio wanted to have their services, so it decided to mount his own company with his brother Roy as a partner. On October 16, 1923, the Disney Brothers Studio signed its first contract important, but still insufficient to deal with its financial difficulties. Even then, Walt made it clear what would then be a constant in your company: being able to use any ploy to take the business forward. In 1924, Ubbe Iwerks joined them and Walt could stop working as animator to devote himself to the area for which always was more capable: the creation of characters and arguments and address.
On July 13, 1925, three months after his brother Roy married, Disney married Lillian Bounds, a young employee of his Studio, with whom he had two daughters: Diane Marie, born on December 18, 1933, when the marriage already ruling out that they could have offspring, and Sharon Mae, which adopted in 1936. In the spring of 1926, and after having to change premises because the company grew, the two brothers changed the name of his company, which was renamed Walt Disney Studio. But the study suffered a major setback when its main customer was left with the rights of the rabbit Oswald, a character created by Disney that had starred in several short films.

The triumph of Mickey Mouse

Resolutely eliminate intermediaries in the future, Disney conceived during a trip by train from Hollywood to New York to Mortimer, a rat then renamed with the name of Mickey at the suggestion of his wife, and to which Iwerks gave way. Thus Disney, counted it but, in reality, the paternity of Mickey Mouse has always been source of controversy, and currently tends to be the own Iwerks. In October 1928, when Disney was looking for distributor for the two films he had produced with Mickey Mouse as the protagonist, there was the first film of the talkies. Ahead of other producers believed passed that innovation, Walt was quick to incorporate sound into a third film of Mickey, in Steamboat Willie (1928). Good imitator of voices and accents, Disney made the mouse, and his girlfriend, Minnie, to speak with his own voice for lower costs. The film, released on November 18, 1928 in a theater of New York, obtained a great success of public and critics.

Frame in Steamboat Willie (1928)
In 1929, with his exceptional sixth sense for business, authorized several companies to reproduce in its products the image of Mickey Mouse, which incorporated gloves and white shoes to avoid that hands and feet disappear on dark backgrounds. On January 13, 1930 began publishing a cartoon of the popular character (with Disney as a scriptwriter and Iwerks drawing) in several newspapers in the United States, and that same year was published a book of drawings of Mickey that was reprinted on numerous occasions.
Workaholic, which stole many hours of sleep, Disney had a serious health crisis that forced him, at the end of 1931 and when Mickey Mouse club already had a million members, to take a long vacation with his wife. Back in Hollywood, he pointed to a sports club where he practiced boxing, calisthenics, wrestling and golf. Shortly afterwards he discovered riding and, finally, the pole, which was a fan for the rest of his life. A hobby that cultivated with as much passion as his fascination for trains and miniatures.
With Mickey Mouse as flagship of a company on the rise, Disney believed that not should rest on the laurels or get bored doing only films of the famous mouse, which earned him the first of the Oscars that would receive during his career in 1932. Backed by a team of excellent cartoonists and illustrators, it deployed all his creative spirit in the first series of his silly symphonies (1932). Made in technicolor, different short films that made up this production meant in his time an experiment on the expressive use of color. In November of that same year, the Disney Studio became the first that had its own school of cartoonists and animators.
A year later, on May 27, 1933, premiered the silly Symphony which made number thirty-six and that he would have an unexpected success: the three little pigs. Unwittingly, his famous song who's afraid of the big bad wolf? became a song of hope for millions of Americans trying to not be eaten in real life by the great depression. In 1934, when his studio was 187 people, was born Donald Duck, a character's perverse, irascible character that came to join Pluto and Goofy dogs.

Feature films

When had already made a name in the Hollywood industry, Walt Disney undertook a risky and unprecedented initiative: producing the first feature cartoon in the history of cinema. Snow white and the seven dwarfs (1937) showed not only that Disney and his team were a few Virtuosi of the animation, but that the cartoons could be all a cinematographic genre. The film grossed four million dollars, a record for the time, but left in debt to Disney until 1961 because of amortization of loans which had to ask, since the initial budget of $500,000 for the film had finished tripling.

Snow white and the seven dwarfs (1937)
Snow white and the seven dwarfs was used for the first time the multiplane camera able to suggest depth of field thanks to an ingenious system of superimposition of five films filmed in the same plane to simulate distance, and a new system of technicolor. The film was the first example that the school Disney animated film had a solid narrative procedure, in which the human characters were described from the humanized animals or fantastic beings «look». Also was shown in the film the taste of Disney gloomy and style suggest rather than to openly show the terror.
In the forties was a period of great activity in the Disney, characterized both by the contradiction that Walt felt between his artistic tendency to innovation and risk and the need to cater to a market nothing given to innovations and experiments and started with snow white and the seven dwarfs -style consolidation. Reflection of this was the lukewarm response from the public following exits of its «factory» of dreams films. Pinocchio (1940), regarded as one of the masterpieces of the cinema of animation by critics and in which it invested $2,600,000, it was a commercial disaster.
The same thing happened with Fantasia (1940), which cost $2,300,000. Cartoonists and animators combined the evolutions of the cartoon characters with the music of Stravinsky, Dukas, Beethoven, Ravel, Bach and Chaikowski. Considered a masterpiece by some and an insulting caricature of classical music by others, fantasy was not the "total work" that Walt Disney had imagined and desired. These commercial failures opened an important economic gap in enterprise, alleviated shortly after by the consecutive successes of Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942).

Fantasy (1940)
After the sketch about the dance of the hours, Ponchielli, which he co-directed with Norman Ferguson in fancy using the pseudonym of T. Hee, Walt Disney abandoned the field of the preparation to devote himself almost in exclusivity to the task of leading the fledgling film Empire that the company that had so modestly started fifty years earlier had become. On May 6, 1940 ended the construction of its new studios in Burbank, which earned you the nickname of «Wizard of Burbank».
Designed by himself in order to facilitate the work of its employees, those studies had twenty large buildings, separated by streets that got them the names of his characters. The staff of the company was about 2,000 employees, whom Disney required a high level of creativity and production for very low wages, although he never repaired in expenses when making their movies and always personally led a private life without luxury or ostentation.

Furious anti-Communist

On November 10, 1940 began to cooperate with the FBI, after that the then-director of the federal agency of investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, had tried repeatedly to recruit to the film as agent producer so it would be available to him any information or details about the presence of subversive elements (Communists, trade unionists and anarchists) in Hollywood. However, the first political ravings of Disney had a more progressive look and dated back to 1938, when he joined the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers, Association of producers and independent filmmakers opposed to the stranglehold of the major Hollywood studios. From that group, which included figures such as Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin, Disney was drifting towards an ideology close to the American nazi party and a feeling strongly anti-Marxist.
In 1941, a Union of illustrators recently created in his company threatened the "Wizard of Burbank" go on strike in demand for better wages. Disney sought to avoid conflict personally addressing a speech to employees, but these, to his amazement, since he conceived the company as one big family, not let you move from the first sentences. On 29 May of that year, the Disney studios were almost paralyzed by a strike which involved the majority of the workers and that lasted a whole year. The conflict ended when the company accepted that workers could freely choose their Union, including the left-wing Screen Cartoonists Guild.

Walt Disney in 1941
The agreements that led to the end of the strike were signed by Roy Disney, since Walt was traveling in various countries of South America. That long trip took several films aimed basically at the Latin American public. Among them, Saludos amigos (1943) and the three caballeros (1945), in which combined cartoon and flesh and blood actors. In 1943, much of its best artists left you to found the UPA (United Productions of America), where he would be born, among others, the nearsighted Mister Magoo character.
After the second world war, in which Disney had agreed to film for US Government propaganda films, he left the Presidency of the company, giving the post to his brother Roy, but only a few months maintained that decision and at the end of 1945 returned to occupy the presidential chair. Upon return, fired more than 400 employees, ensuring that the company was going through a crisis and had to comply with the agreement concluded with the Screen Cartoonists Guild of giving artists the wage increase of 25%.
Reaffirmed in his anti-Marxism and contributor to the FBI until his death, Disney promised to abort any elements that would infringe upon the North American nation at the meeting held on 24 and 25 November 1947 at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel, culminating in the so-called Waldorf statement, which many film producers pledged to cooperate with the House UN-American activities Committee in the "witch hunt".
In August 1948 he took a trip with her daughter Sharon to shoot images in Alaska, and with the material made the series of shorts titled the adventures of real-life. His brother Roy was opposed to the project (by then were already so estranged that they were only after appointment to their respective secretariats) and predicted an uncertain destination to this type of documentaries. It was wrong, since the first one, entitled the seal Island (1948), was not only profitable, but he was awarded an Oscar in the category of short films.
Practically complete in the forties, Disney received an interesting proposal of Howard Hughes: a credit without interests of one million dollars in Exchange for his help on land (the film industry) that the Texas billionaire did not know and where I wanted to invest. With that money, Disney launched 18 new projects, among them Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953). After a costly foray into futuristic cinema with 20,000 Leagues under the sea (1954), he returned to cheaper projects and that tune with the pride of being American. By then, his company was no longer the Queen of cartoons. Warner Brothers began to make a serious competition with his Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny series Star. That rabbit was the counterpoint to the candid, apolitical and sexless Mickey Mouse, who lived his lowest popularity moments, although it remained the favorite Disney character and emblem of his empire at the beginning of the 1950s.


In 1953, after winning a new Oscar for best documentary with the living desert, began discussions with the television network ABC for ceding the issuance of its films to the new invention. Unlike other Hollywood producers, which considered it a threat, Disney believed that television was an excellent means of disseminating its products. A year later started the realization of films specifically for television, the part of his artistic production more reviled by critics. Criticisms that also boys you years later with Mary Poppins (1964), his first feature film with real actors only. But Disney not imported him, because those movies gave him the money he needed to realize a project that cherished long: build a huge theme park based on his characters.

Disney and Von Braun (1954)
Addicted to work and perfectionist, the film producer designed down to the last detail of Disneyland, which opened its doors on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California. This Park, with an area of 120 hectares, cost 17 million dollars, and Main Street USA, its main street where hundreds of actors dressed as characters were, perfectly recreated main street in Marceline, the village where was grandfather of the first of the ten grandchildren had already lived his childhood Disney, that summer of 1955.
Billionaire awarded twenty-nine Oscars, in the Decade of the sixties had established itself as one of the most known and loved around the world, but his health was faltering, and throughout his empire entered into a struggle for succession. Smoker inveterate and fond of alcohol, died on December 15, 1966 in Los Angeles, California, of a lung cancer victim, after to have supervised the sketches of Disney World, Park Disneyland-style theme but more focused towards adults, which opened its doors in 1971 in Orlando, Florida (in 1983, the company opened Tokyo Disneyland in Japan and in 1992 opened its doors the Euro Disney in Paris).
The «wizard of Burbank» had died without getting to see completed the Jungle Book (1967), the second most commercial film of Disney since the days of snow white and directed Wolfgang Reitherman, who took over the production of the animation disneyanos long until 1981. After years of high production and few notable successes, the Disney Studios returned to be the Kings of the genre of cartoons with beauty and the beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). With the death of Disney, entered the legend one of the key names of the popular culture of the 20th century. With varied fortune, they would seek to replace him with figures as diverse as his brother Roy O. Disney, his nephew Roy E. Disney and his son-in-law Ron Miller. But only the Executive producer Michael Eisner proved to be his worthy successor.

Chronology of Walt Disney

1901Born in Chicago, Illinois.
1909He moved with his family to Kansas City.
1911He studied drawing at the Art Institute of Kansas City.
1918Part to Europe and participates in the first world war as a Red Cross ambulance driver.
1919Returns to Kansas City. She works at an advertising agency, which meets Ubbe Iwerks.
1921With Iwerks, produces its first cartoon films and founded the Laugh-O-Gram Films company.
1923After the failure of the company, he moved to Hollywood. Disney Brothers, which Ubbe Iwerks joined a year later creates the study with his brother Roy.
1925He married Lillian Bounds.
1926The study is called Walt Disney Studio.
1927Create the character Oswald, a sympathetic little rabbit that starred in a series of short films.
1928Mickey Mouse Gets a great success with the mouse character in the movie in the Steamboat Willie.
1929Start to derive benefits from the commercialization of products with the image of Mickey Mouse.
1930The first drawings of Mickey Mouse book has been published.
1932He starts the series silly symphonies, in technicolor.
1934He created the character of Donald Duck.
1937Produces the first feature cartoon in the history of film: snow white and the seven dwarfs.
1940It produces the innovative Fantasiaand Pinocchio . Finish the construction of its new studios in Burbank. He began collaborating with the FBI as an anti-Communist informer.
1941A strike caused by low wages paralyzes studies for a year.
1943Combines for the first time cartoon and real actors in Saludos amigos.
1947He collaborates openly in the "witch hunt" of the House UN-American activities Committee.
1948Started the production of documentaries with short adventures of real-life series.
1954It begins to produce cartoons for television.
1955He opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California amusement park.
1964It produces Mary Poppins, first feature film with real actors.
1966Died in Los Angeles, California.

Walt Disney movies

Walt Disney takes on merit a prominent place in the history of the cinema. The personality of this artist, director and American film producer was decisive for the cartoons make a film genre with its own entity and a mass phenomenon. Films such as snow white and the seven dwarfs (Snow White and the seven dwarfs, 1937), Dumbo (1941) and Cinderella (Cinderella, 1950) helped popularize the animated film among the general public. Endowed with a great capacity of work and an enterprising spirit, Disney realized that it was possible to make cartoons with industrial processes and large budgets.

Humanized animals

Cartoon cinema was born in France in the hands of Émile Cohl and reached its greatest development in the United States, where this same cartoonist made, in 1914, the first series in the world, with the mythical Snookum. Between 1920 and 1930, the Fleischer brothers made short starring the clown Koko, the seductive Betty Boop, or Popeye, a character originally created by Segar to announce the spinach of the Crystal City business. During these same years, Disney gave life to his most famous characters.

Walt Disney
Disney had interested at a young age for drawing; in 1919 he was gone to work in a small advertising Studio, where he made his first animated film for the advertisement for a brand of chocolates. Retrieved recognition prompted him to assemble his own film company and produced the first series: Alice Comedies (1924) and the Oswald the lucky rabbit (1927).
His style was acquiring personality and soon found its most genuine expression in the creation of all a scenic wildlife rounded Anatomy humanoid, which defined the psychology of humans under their animal traits. Many were American characters full of meaning ethical and moral, examples of modes and ideals of life. The optimistic Mickey Mouse (1928) represents the triumph of the weak; (1934) Donald Duck caricatured American medium, bold and enterprising, that can achieve success at any time. Each humanized animal embodies a certain psychological profile: naive Goofy dog, the little Minnie mouse or the tender Dumbo elephant. The worker pig of The three little pigs (1935), which lifts a House to defend itself from attacks by the big bad wolf and is not devoured, invites to build a new future, with optimism, transmitting the political slogans of the New Deal.

Poster for an episode of Alice Comedies (1924)
So Disney productions were fundamental to consolidate a typology of character which has been used recursively in animated films. However, his films were supported in a vision Manichaean and conservative of reality, not unrelated to the ideological conservatism of its creator. In this sense, characters such as Mickey and Goofy, pious and genderless, are the polar opposite of anarchic duck Lucas and the rogue Bugs Bunny, created by Warner Brothers, and let alone the protagonists of most recent cartoon, as the irreverent Bart Simpson series. However, Disney movies possessed an exceptional narrative solidity that became a model for subsequent films filmmakers.

Pioneering techniques

Although his fables lacked innovative messages, field technical Walt Disney was always in search of innovation. His most important contributions, indeed, must be in the field of animation technique. In their studies are reproduced with the greatest possible authenticity movements of each character, coming to the point that an artist could specialize in a movement in particular or on a character. This delicacy in the treatment of the cartoon has left step, in the current animation, to a more crowded production, making that the characters seem stereotyped and repetitive.

Snow white and the seven dwarfs (1937)
In this respect the production of snow whitewas a milestone. Walt Disney studies performed in 1937 snow white and the seven dwarfs, the first feature cartoon in the history of cinema, inspired by the famous fable of the Brothers Grimm. The shooting turned out to be very expensive: it was necessary to elaborate more than four hundred thousand drawings. Success, however, compensated for the effort and investment made, raising a total of $ 2 million.
With this first feature film, the use of the multiplane camera began to give positive results, of great formal performance. Thanks to this technical procedure, that moves from vertical to horizontal, and offering the possibility of making more agile movements during the shots, even for Cinemascope, is possible to create the illusion of relief of the architectural structures and variations in levels of natural landscapes, aided by the support of colourful shades. Optical effects that give sensation of three-dimensional relief are obtained as well.
Burbank studios were able to deal with these kinds of works, and continued producing them also after the death of its founder, in 1966. The following deliverables were Pinocchio (1940) and the sentimental creations Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942). But the most ambitious project done then was Fantasia (1940), in which it was intended to see, through the cartoon, the music of the great classical composers. It combined realistic images with cartoons and was ahead of its time to incorporate into the soundtrack multiple simultaneous reading tracks to create a stereo effect. With fantasy, however, Walt Disney earned the resentment of the defenders wishful thinking of the sacredness of the classical music, being subject to severe criticism. Anyway, the film allowed mark distances with other creators.

A business empire

The Walt Disney Empire was built mostly on the fame of feature films, which allowed him to exert an almost monopoly position in the sector. They were works aimed at children, of commercial success guaranteed and frequently awarded by the Academy of Hollywood. Recounting famous Fables and stories starring animals, study alternated with sporadic failures successes: Cinderella (1950), based on the work of Perrault; Alice in the Wonderland (1951), according to the novel by Lewis Carroll; Peter Pan (1953), James Barrie tale; Lady and the tramp (1955), first feature film drawn in Cinemascope; 101 Dalmatians (1961); The delightful Merlin (1963) and the Jungle Book (1967), which Disney could not see after. The AristoCats (1970) or the more recent Pocahontas and Hercules are major productions that do not but continue the way that Walt Disney started in 1937.

Dumbo (1940)
Disney also carried out experiments of mixture of real actors with drawings (the three caballeros, 1944), and was dedicated in addition to documentaries about nature. The first of these was a short film made in 1948 entitled the island of seals; He later produced feature films as white hell. His production company also filmed adventure films, such as 20,000 Leagues under the sea, the children of captain Grant and the unique of the South Seas, and penetrated into the television since its inception, producing specific series for that environment.
Imaginative entrepreneur, Disney helped to shape one of the most striking ideas in the second half of the 20th century: the theme park. The leisure complex Disneyland, opened in California in 1955, began the era of theme parks, to which people of all ages flock motivated by the possibility of plunging into a world of unreal and theatrics and explore a universe in which fictional characters finally come to life. The success of Disneyland inspired the opening of similar complexes, managed by the company Disney, in the United States, Japan and France: Disney World (Orlando, Florida, 1971), Disney World Tokyo (Japan, 1983) and Disneyland (Marne - la Vallée, France, 1992). This encouraged other companies to build a multitude of parks similar in other parts of the world.
After the death of Walt Disney in 1966, film and television production continued, although a progressive decline in the finances of the company forced a total renovation of the dome directive in 1984. With the management team that led to Michael D. Eisner, the accounting is filled and began an ambitious plan of expansion in all the businesses derived from leisure and entertainment. Subsidiaries producers Touchstone are consolidated and Hollywood Pictures, at the same time that Disney took control of the audiovisual company Capital Cities/ABC, which integrates eight television channels, 21 radio stations, seven newspapers and other mass media.
To this it should be added the cable TV Disney Channel, television producers Walt Disney Television and Touchstone Television, publishing houses Hyperion Books and Walt Disney Publishing, record firms Hollywood Records and Walt Disney Records, the video company Walt Disney Home Video, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Anaheim Angels basketball team hockey, team and the ice skating Palace Disney (Anaheim Ice California), origin of the company "Disney on Ice", whose skating shows travel all over the world.
Published for educational purposes
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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