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This Month in History


The Magical World of Walt Disney

The legacy of Walter Elias “Walt” Disney is known across the world. Just the name “Disney” conjures up images of magical animated films, grand theme parks, and massively diverse entertainment. What better time to salute this incredible cartoonist and storyteller than December — Disney’s birthday month? Disney’s first job in cartooning was an apprenticeship with Pesmen- Rubin Commercial Art Studio in Kansas City at the age of 18. There, he met fellow artist Ub Iwerks, and the two struck up a lifelong friendship. Together, they created a series of cartoons based on “Alice in Wonderland” and worked with film producer Charles Mintz to distribute the cartoons. You might be surprised to learn Disney’s first successful original creation wasn’t a certain mouse — it was a rabbit. The venturesome Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a great hit, but Mintz sold the intellectual property rights of Oswald to Universal Pictures. After a falling out, Disney swore he’d never let someone else own his work ever again. From this defeat, Disney and Iwerks created one of the world’s most enduring characters, Mickey Mouse. With this new character, Disney created the short “Steamboat Willie,” which debuted

in 1928 as the first cartoon to feature sound. Mickey Mouse and “Steamboat Willie” signaled the beginning of Disney pushing the envelope with animation. In 1934, he began to work on the world’s first feature-length animated movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” His experiment would become the biggest movie of 1938 and the highest grossing sound film at that time. In addition to many other groundbreaking animated movies, Disney also ventured into live- action films and TV shows, and he even fulfilled a lifelong dream:

opening his own theme park. Today, almost 150 million people visit Disney Parks all over the world every year. By the time he died in 1966, Disney had been involved in 81 feature films, won a record number of Academy Awards, and left the world with a legacy of magic and creativity that will never be forgotten.


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