by Francesca Musca
Ardsley Middle School
In Hermosa, Illinois on December 5th, 1901 a baby boy was born. The baby’s name was Walter Elias Disney, his nickname was Walt. He was born into a very big family. Out of four kids, Disney was the youngest until his little sister came along. Roy Disney was the oldest in the family and was always by his brother's side. When Disney was young he would draw on the side of the family barn, but his dad would always holler at him. Disney’s obsession with art was never understood by his father.
Very EN-GROSSED [having all one's attention or interest absorbed by someone or something.] in art at an early age, Disney found himself able to sell his sketches at the age of 7! Disney wanted to learn more about art, so he went to high school in Chicago where there were drawing and PHO-TOG-RA-PHY [ noun: the art or practice of taking and processing photographs.] classes. He learned a lot of new techniques, but he was also interested in the military.
“Should I join the MIL-I-TARY [noun: the armed forces of a country.]? It could be a good experience, couldn't it?” he thought. So he tried to join. However, it didn’t work out because he was not 18 he was only 16. Wanting to help others he continued looking for another organization. Eventually, Disney found the American Red Cross. By changing the 16 to an 18 on his application, Disney was able to be accepted. Once he was given his assignment, they shipped him off to France.
During this time he was an AM-BU-LANCE [noun: a vehicle specially equipped for taking sick or injured people to and from the hospital, especially in emergencies.] driver. When Disney was given his ambulance he drew CAR-TOONS [ noun: a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine.] all over it. Disney covered the ambulance with his ideas because he was still dreaming of being a cartoonist.
After spending two years in France, he returned to the United States and relocated his home to Kansas City, Missouri. When he was settled in he started a cartoon company called Laugh-O-Gram. Laugh-O-Gram was a studio that made cartoons ethier about problems in everyday life, for example, potholes or they were used for advertising. Whatever type of cartoon they made it was always full of humor. Laugh-O-Gram wasn't a big studio it only had about 6 employees and they were all his friends!
While Disney was in his studio he was looking through the mail, he saw a letter from a film distributor that was interested in his Alice cartoons. The letter was from Margaret Winkler. She said she would distribute the cartoons, and give Disney $750 each time she sold the cartoon. Even though Disney was being paid by Ms. Winkler, it wasn't enough to pay his employees and the rent. He was BANK-RUPT [adjective: declared in law unable to pay outstanding debts.]. Unfortunately, because of this Laugh-O-Gram was forced to close.
Disney wanted to PUR-SUE [verb: follow (someone or something) in order to catch or attack them.] another dream of his. It was to become a director for motion pictures. So Disney traveled on his way to Hollywood, hoping and praying to find his dream job. Sadly, he didn't find the job that he was AN-TIC-I-PATING [verb: regard as probable; expect or predict.], but he had tried his hardest.
Disappointed that he didn't get the job, Disney called his brother Roy and told him what was going on. Roy told him to give the cartoon business another try. After the conversation with his brother, Disney questioned himself “Should I try making cartoons again I have to earn money some way?”. Disney unpacked his E-QUIP-MENT [ noun: the necessary items for a particular purpose.] and started sketching. He couldn't come up with any creative ideas but that didn't mean he was going to give up.
Disney didn’t want to abandon AN-I-MA-TION [the technique of photographing successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when the movie is shown as a sequence.] and creating cartoons because it was his dream. Disney had a second conversation with Roy. This time Roy suggested that they would start a business together, they would call it the Disney Brothers Studio. Nevertheless, Disney didn't like it because he wanted people to know that it was based on his imaginative ideas. Roy was very flexible and said that it was okay if they named it Walt Disney’s Studio. And so they opened their studio.
When Disney was hiring ink and paint artists he had many people apply. There was one woman who caught his eye, and he knew automatically he had to marry the artist he saw standing in front of him. Beautiful and smart, Lillian Bounds captured Disney’s heart. After a year of working with her, he proposed. Disney and Lillian went back to her hometown Lewiston, Idaho and got married. Unfortunately, Disney's parents couldn´t attend. This was because Disney’s dad was very sick.
Disney’s studio was making many cartoons, but there was one customer that would buy the cartoon and put a COP-Y-RIGHT [ the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.] law on it. This meant Disney's studio did not get any credit for the ideas and no money either.
This upset everyone at the studio. Disney was afraid that he wasn’t going to be able to come up with any more ideas if people kept taking them. It also made Disney fearful that another business of his would have to close. This didn’t stop him, he kept the business going and they kept on making new cartoons.
Disney believed “ All your dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” He knew that he was going to be able to do this with his new cartoon.
One day on a train ride from Manhattan back to Hollywood, Disney was thinking “How can I save my studio?”, “What type of cartoon should I make?”. At that moment, an idea was born, a little round eared mouse. Funny, full of mischief and cheerful, Disney knew these had to be the traits of the mouse. With much excitement, Disney started to sketch. It was a perfect idea. This Mouse would help the studio get back on track.
Disney’s plan to making this mouse come to life was a secret. He only trusted three EM-PLOY-EES [noun: a person employed for wages or salary, especially at an executive level.] to work on it. The three employees were Roy, Lillian, and Ub. Oswald the bunny was a cartoon that Ub and Disney already created, they believed they could make some changes and have it look like a mouse. Disney got to work and made the bunny fatter by adding padding to the middle area. Additionally, he made the bunny ears smaller and rounder. After some work, Disney’s idea had come to life. Now that they had the mouse-drawn and painted all that was left was to animate. The whole plan had to stay sacred. When not working on this project they kept the drawing locked up. Locking up the drawing made sure that no one would see it if they entered.
Disney had to create an animation STU-DI-O [noun: a room where an artist, photographer, sculptor, etc., works.] in his garage. He used the actual studio once and only once. Using the camera allowed him to add movement. After using the camera they were sure to delete all of the footage, so no one would ever see this secret mouse. Disney had everything done except one thing- the name! Name suggestions for the mouse were open to anyone that worked on it. Narrowing it down, he chose Mortimer Mouse. Lillian did not like this name. She suggested Mickey Mouse.
Now that everything was done he had to figure out how to get it into the theater. He decided to sneak into the theater and give it to the OR-GAN-IST [noun: a person who plays the organ]. Disney gave him money to put Mickey Mouse in some clips. After the first Mickey Mouse clip previewed, people liked it. Disney went back to the studio filled with joy. He started to create a second mouse film. There was one big problem, Disney had no FILM DISTRIBUTOR. “Why don't people want to invest in Mickey Mouse?” Disney questioned himself. He wanted a major studio like MGM to invest. Disney kept on trying to get the distributors, but they kept on turning him down because they never heard of this Mickey Mouse!
On a night in July, Disney gathered his employees and their wives. Disney played his completed animations for them. While Roy worked the camera, Jhonny Cannon Disney’s friend & Ub Iwerks made the sound effects, and Disney himself did the voice of Mickey Mouse. It was a cartoon with live voices and it was a success, however, they needed to find a way to get the sound recorded to the film. Disney traveled to New York hoping to find a way to add sound and voice to these 3 films.
Walt Disney Studios
After a long and hard week of searching, and not finding a place to record audio Disney ran into Pat Powers. Pat Powers owned a movie sound system place and offered a deal to Disney. Disney signed with Powers. The first time they tried to add sound it was a CA-TAS-TRO-PHE [noun: an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.]. But they didn't give up. They tried again and it all went smoothly.
When they were done adding sound, Powers arranged Disney to show his film to more distributors. Again distributors loved it but didn't invest. Disney met another person, Harry Reichenbach. He told Disney he would give him $1,000 to show the clips in his theater for 2 weeks! With great hope, Disney gave Reichenbach the first cartoon with a recorded voice. Reichenbach played it in theaters. When people saw the cartoon in the theater they fell in love with Mickey. Disney created many more cartoons after the first three.
Disney’s personal life, on the other hand, was causing him to be DE-PRESSED [adjective. (of a person) in a state of general unhappiness or despondency.] the reason for this was because he didn't have any kids. Luckily in 1933, Lillian gave birth to Diane Disney. Four years later they had another daughter, Sharon Disney! Disney's wish had come true after all, and he loved his children with all his heart.
The day of the Pearl Harbor bombing Disney got a call. The person on the other end was the studio manager. During the conversation, the manager told him that he was going to have soldiers live in his studio because it was enormous. He didn’t really have a choice, so immediately the soldiers moved into the studio. Disney was happy to help because he really admired the military. It wasn’t a very long stay but he enjoyed it.
Before World War II began Disney was thinking about building a small A-MUSE-MENT PARK [noun: a large outdoor area with fairground rides, shows, refreshments, games of chance or skill, and other entertainments.]across the street from the studio. Once again money was a problem -- he didn't have enough of it to start the project. When he finally saved enough money, he began building an amusement park.
Dreaming about the park was easier than building it. They ran into many problems plus they had tons of rainfall. Finally, on July 17th, 1955 Disneyland opened. Excited crowds rushed in and couldn’t wait to see Disney's ideas. Due to so many visitors, the parks had many unexpected problems. Quickly Disney and his team found ways to fix this situation.
While Disney was keeping up with his busy schedule he managed to talk to the AR-CHI-TECT [ noun a person who designs buildings and in many cases also supervises their construction.] who made Disneyland. He wanted to know if they would be able to build another amusement park in Orlando, Florida. Disney wanted to do this because so many people loved the small park. He believed it would be good to have a larger one for a bigger crowd. He chose Orlando because there was a lot of land that was not developed. Another reason Orlando was ideal was that the land was inexpensive
During the time Disney was animating and creating The Jungle Book, his health worsened. Disney went to the doctor and was told he had lung cancer. The doctors said the cancer was caused by smoking for 40 years! Disney had surgery and had his left lung removed. While he was recovering, the doctor predicted he had between 6 months and 2 years to live! This news was devastating to everyone who loved Disney.
At midnight on December 15, 1966, Disney called in his employees. He requested to have his headboard EL-E-VAT-ED,[adjective: situated or placed higher than the surrounding area] so he could look at his studio from his bedroom window. Disney instinct told him he didn't have much time left to live. That same day Disney died. Everyone was crushed. All of Disney's employees knew that it was his wish to keep the business going. The staff did just that and continued making cartoons and building Disney World.
After Disney’s death, they continued to build in Florida. The first section of Disney World opened October of 1971. Everyone loved it. When the park was completed it was a big hit. 47 years later both Disney Films and Disney Parks are deeply loved and enjoyed by many people.
Evolution of Mickey Mouse
Around The World