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Sunday, 30 November 2008 12:21

Walter Elias Disney

Born: December 5, 1901, Chicago, Illinois

Died: December 15, 1966, Burbank, California

Age: 65

Cause of death: Lung cancer.

Notable because: Was dyslexic. A chain smoker who smoked himself to death. Testified in congress in the 'House of Un-American activities committee' implicating many in the movie business.


He was a chain smoker. He avoided smoking when he was in public view, especially where he might be seen by children. His smokers' cough often heralded his arrival in a particular wing of the studio, allowing off-task employees time to get on task.

In his autobiography, one-time Disney storyboard artist Bill Peet essentially described Walt Disney as a chain-smoking "work-a-holic" who was prone to strong mood swings.

He often called composer Robert B. Sherman into his office to play the piano for him. His favorite song was "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins (1964).

Supported Ronald Reagan's run for Governor of California in 1966.

Personal Quotes

I don't make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures.

I'd rather entertain and hope that people learn, than teach and hope that people are entertained.

I'm not interested in pleasing the critics. I'll take my chances pleasing the audiences.

I hope we'll never lose sight of one thing--that it was all started by a mouse.

I happen to be an inquisitive guy and when I see things I don't like, I start thinking why do they have to be like this and how can I improve them.

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

[quoted in the book "The Humour of Sex" by Robert Hale] I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known.

[on the Order of DeMolay, a Masonic youth organization] I feel a great sense of obligation and gratitude toward the Order of DeMolay for the important part it played in my life. Its precepts have been invaluable in making decisions, facing dilemmas and crises. DeMolay stands for all that is good for the family and for our country. I feel privileged to have enjoyed membership in DeMolay.

People like to think their world is somehow more grown up than Papa's was.

I sell corn, and I love corn.

You know, every once in a while I just fire everybody, then I hire them back in a couple of weeks. That way they don't get too complacent. It keeps them on their toes.

[to director Richard Fleischer, who made 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) for Disney, on how to be successful] Well, then, why don't you do as I do? Let somebody else do all the work and you take all the credit.

Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

The proper comedy for the screen is visual. Films try to get too many laughs out of the dialogue. We use pantomime not wisecracks. Portrayal of human sensations by inanimate objects such as steam shovels and rocking-chairs never fail to provoke laughter. Human distress exemplified by animals is sure-fire. A bird that jumps after swallowing a grasshopper is a natural. Surprise is always provocative.

Every time they make a pornographic film, I make money.


Walt Disney was a multiple Academy Award-winning American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Disney is famous for his influence in the field of entertainment during the twentieth century. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Disney became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately U.S. $35 billion.

Disney is particularly noted for being a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created a number of the world's most famous fictional characters, including the one many consider Disney's alter ego, Mickey Mouse. He received fifty-nine Academy Award nominations and won twenty-six Oscars, including a record four in one year, and thus holds the record for the individual with the most awards and the most nominations. He also won seven Emmy Awards. He is the namesake for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States, Japan, France, and China.

Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of his Walt Disney World Resort dream project in Florida.

Walt Disney was born to Elias Disney an Irish-Canadian, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, who was of German-American descent. Walt Disney's ancestors had emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny in Ireland. Arundel Elias Disney, great-grandfather of Walt Disney was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1801 and was a descendant of Hughes and his son Robert d'Isigny (France) who settled in England with William the Conquereor in 1066.. The d'Isigny family settled in the village now known as Norton Disney, south of the city of Lincoln, in the county of Lincolnshire.

His father Elias Disney moved from Huron County, Ontario to the United States in 1878, seeking first for gold in California but finally farming with his parents near Ellis, Kansas until 1884. He worked for Union Pacific Railroad and married Flora Call on January 1, 1888 in Acron, Florida. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1890, where his brother Robert lived. For most of his early life, Robert helped Elias financially. In 1906, when Walt was four, Elias and his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri, where his brother Roy had recently purchased farmland. While in Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing. One of their neighbours, a retired doctor named "Doc" Sherwood, paid him to draw pictures of Sherwood's horse, Rupert. He also developed his love for trains in Marceline, which owed its existence to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through town. Walt would put his ear to the tracks in anticipation of the coming train. Then he would look for his uncle, engineer Michael Martin, running the train.

The Disneys remained in Marceline for four years, before moving to Kansas City in 1911. There, Walt and his sister Ruth attended the Benton Grammar School where he met Walter Pfeiffer. The Pfeiffers were theatre aficionados, and introduced Walt to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. Soon, Walt was spending more time at the Pfeiffers' than at home



Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:19

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