Walt Disney holds the record for the most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He created some of your favourite movies such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964).
Born on the 5th of December, 1901, in Hermosa, Illinois to a poor family, Walt Disney had to deliver 1300 newspapers a day after which his father would take away all the money. A condition so tough it led to his brothers running away from home.
At a very young age, he started to draw, paint, and sell pictures to relatives and neighbours. Then he attended drawing and photography classes in McKinley School, Chicago, and got a job as a commercial illustrator at the age of 18. He also served as Red Cross volunteer in World War I.
At age of 19, in Kansas City, Walt started his lifelong dream, his own animation company in 1920. He had to live with friends because he had little money. But he failed to sell a single cartoon and his company went bankrupt.
Things got worse, he worked as cartoonist in a newspaper and the newspaper editor fired him claiming he was a lazy person without any creativity and imagination.
To pursue his childhood dream, he left Kansas City to Hollywood where he launched an animation studio in an old garage. He worked for the next 5 years without any income. Mr. Walt finally had a taste of success with his short film “Alice in Cartooonland” and “Oswald the Rabbit” in 1928. But he forfeited the copyright to his own characters in 1928.
Walt’s life was miserable. He was still struggling with homelessness and barely had enough to eat but still he persisted.
He tried with a new character but once again the audience was not impressed with his film. Still he made a second film but had difficulties finding a distributor.
Finally, in his third attempt, he attained resounding success. His character Mickey Mouse became a hit and brought great fame to him. Disney proceeded to make a feature length animated film in 1934. He was discouraged because of how extensive the movie production process was. The movie took him three years and cost equivalent to $25 million today. The movie making process made Walt run out of money and he had to mortgage his house.
The final result, movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” was considered a masterpiece. It made $134 million of today’s currency estimates. The movie was the most successful film in 1937.
Following the success, he started working on different characters of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Pluto Cartoon Series.
He opened Walt Disney Studios in Burbank in 1939. In 1955, he opened the world-famous Disneyland Theme Park.
Asides his 22 Academy awards, he received seven Emmy Awards for his great work. The credit for the Golden Age of Animation goes to his hard work and creativity.
In 1966, he died due to lung cancer but he gave the gift of entertainment to children and adults all over the world.
Walt Disney’s success is a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and persistence. In his words, all our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
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