WALT DISNEY Essay, Research Paper


Walt Disney was one of the famous motion-picture producers in history. He first

became known in the 1920’s and 1930’s for creating such cartoon film characters as

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. He later produced feature length cartoon films, movies

about wild animals in their natural surroundings, and films starring human actors. Disney

won 32 Academy Awards for his movies and for scientific and technical contributions to

filmmaking. He also gained fame for his development of theme parks.

Walter Elias Disney was born on Dec. 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois. His family

moved to Missouri, and he spent much of his boyhood on a farm near Marceline. At the

age of 16, Disney studied art in Chicago. In 1920, he joined the Kansas City Film Ad

Company, where he helped make cartoon advertisements to be shown in movie theaters.

In 1923, Disney moved to Los Angeles to become a film producer or director.

When he failed to find a job, he returned to producing cartoons. He set up his first studio

in the back half of a real estate office. For several years, Disney stuggled to pay his

expenses. He gained success in 1928, when he released the first short cartoons that

featured Mickey Mouse. Earlier filmmakers had found that animals were easier to animate

than people. Mickey Mouse, drawn with a series of circles, proved ideal for animation.

In 1927, sound that had been added to motion pictures, and a process for making

movies in color was developed a few years later. Disney and his staff made imaginative

use of sound and color. Disney himself provided Mickey Mouse’s voice for Steamboat

Willie (1928), the first cartoon to use synchronized sound. His cartoon Flowers and Trees

(1932) was the first cartoon in full Technicolor.

From 1929 to 1939, Disney produced a cartoon series called Silly Symphonies,

which played in theaters along with other animated films featuring Mickey Mouse and

other characters, like Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. After 1924, Disney actually did

more of the drawing necessary for his animated films. His genius lay in creating,

organizing, and directing the films.

In 1937, Disney issued the first full-length animated feature film to be produced by

a studio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It became one of the most popular movies

in history. Disney’s later full-length animated films included Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia

(1940), Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951),

Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959), 101 Dalmations

(1961), and the Jungle Book (released in 1967, after his death). In 1950, Disney released

Treasure Island, his first full-length movie to use only human actors. Mary Poppins

(1964), which combines human actors with animation, is the most successful of Disney’s

later films.

During World War II (1939 to 1945), Disney’s studio made educational films for

the U.S. government as well as cartoon comedies. After the war, Disney created fewer

animated movies. He concentrated on making films that starred real animals or human

actors. In 1948, Disney released Seal Island. This short movie was the first in a series of

”True-Life Adventures” that showed how animals lived in nature. In 1953, Disney

released his first full-length nature film, The Living Desert. All of his nature movies

included scenes of animal life rarely seen by human beings.

After television became popular about 1950, many filmmakers either ignored T.V.

or fought it as a threat to the movie industry. But Disney adjusted easily to the new form

of entertaiment. He hosted a weekly show that presented Disney films made especially for

television, featuring such characters as Davy Crockett, and Ludwing Von Drake.

Disney achieved one of his greatest successes in 1955, when he opened

Disneyland, a spectacular theme park in Ahaheim, California. Many of the attractions at

the park are based on the Disney films.

During his last years, Disney developed plans for building a huge entertainment

and educational complex in Florida. This project, known as Walt Disney World, was

completed after Disney’s death. Disney died on Dec. 15, 1966, in Los Angeles. The Walt

Disney Company carried on Disney’s work after his death.

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