On this day in 1901, Walter Elias Disney, one of America’s greatest entrepeneurs and modern geniuses, was born.
On what would be his 120th birthday, we honor his creations, on which his vast empire has continued to grow many years after his passing.
He was born in Chicago, grew up in Missouri, and moved to California in the early 1920’s and founded the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. He also met his wife Lillian Bounds during this time (did you know the red with white dots and green trim costumes cast members at Disney’s Hollywood Studios wear are actually modeled after Lillian’s favorite dress?).
Walt was a pioneer in the field of animation, introducing synchronized sound, full-color three-strip Technicolor, feature-length cartoons, and technical developments in cameras. In fact, “Fantasia” was released with a new technology, called Fantasound, which precedes stereo and surround sound by 20 years.
In the 1950’s, he expanded into the amusement park industry, opening Disneyland in Anaheim on July 17, 1955, as well as creating television programs such as “The Mickey Mouse Club.”
In the 1960’s, President Lyndon Johnson presented Walt with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil honor, and Disney also designed four exhibits, including “it’s a small world” for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, and found and bought land in Orlando that would become Walt Disney World.
Unfortunately we lost Walt on December 15, 1966, but his drive, ambition, and creativity set in motion everything we have today that bears his name.
I don’t need to recite his entire, and impressive, list of accomplishments to acknowledge his name is synonymous with family friendly entertainment, and many of us have grown up with Disney in our lives.
So today, in honor of Walt Disney, I’d like you to tell me what first made you a Disney fan? Was it a movie or a TV show? A visit to one of the theme parks? Let me know in the comments.