Disney: 100 Years Of Magic And Anecdotes
Walt Disney is undoubtedly the most famous producer of animated cartoons in the world. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Disney Studios, we propose to retrace the major milestones in the life and career of the father of Mickey Mouse, who invented the talking cartoon, feature-length animations, and amusement parks.
A pioneer of entertainment.
Walter Elias Disney , known as Walt, was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago and died on December 15, 1966 in Los Angeles. He is the most famous producer of animated cartoons in the world for creating endearing characters that have accompanied entire generations, such as Mickey Mouse and the Disney princesses.
The founder of the Walt Disney Company is also the inventor of the first theme park.
The beginnings of Walt Disney in animation.
Walt Disney began his career as an advertising illustrator in Kansas City, where he met his future collaborator Ub Iwerks.
In the early 1920s, he started making his own films and founded his own company, Laugh-O-Grams, on May 23, 1922. This business, which produced animated short films, went bankrupt in July 1923.
He then decided to move to California where he launched a new animation company in collaboration with his brother: the Disney Brothers Studio, renamed Walt Disney Studio in 1926.
He then created a series called "The Alice Cartoons" and the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald paved the way for the success we know today. Since Walt Disney did not have the rights to use this long-eared character, he had to shorten the Lucky Rabbit's ears in a hurry, in just 3 days on a train: that's how Mickey was born!
The success of Mickey Mouse
Mickey, the character who would ensure Walt Disney's fame worldwide, was created in 1928.
Originally called Mortimer, this character later took the name Mickey Mouse, given by Lillian Disney, Walt's wife. If Mickey has only 4 fingers on his gloves, it is both for aesthetic reasons (it offers better readability for animation) and to save drawing time. The 4 fingers have now become a standard in animation and comics.
This character made his debut in a silent short film. But he is best known as the hero of the first synchronized sound cartoon: this film titled Steamboat Willie is the first sound cartoon in history!
Subsequently, all Mickey cartoons are accompanied by a soundtrack. Walt Disney himself provided the English voice for Mickey Mouse until 1947.
By 1930, Mickey had become an international star known as Topolino in Italy and Miki Kuchi in Japan. The first Mickey newspaper appeared in Italy in 1932. Mickey cartoons, including characters like Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie, or Pluto, transitioned to color in 1935.
Another anecdote tells that the first Mickey animator, Ub Iwerks, could produce 700 drawings per day. This is an absolute record, unmatched to this day. At this rate, it took only 2 to 3 weeks for a team of about fifteen artists to complete a cartoon.
Snow White, the first feature film.
The first feature film directed by Walt Disney is "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" released in 1937.
This idea was inspired by a silent film from 1919 and required 3 years of animation work, but the result received a standing ovation from the audience at its first screening at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood on December 21, 1937.
Snow White was the most profitable film of 1938 and grossed over eight million dollars at the time. It revolutionized the animation industry at a time when no one imagined that a cartoon could move and move people to tears.
After this immense success, Disney Studios continued to produce feature films with "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," and "Bambi," followed in 1951 by "Alice in Wonderland" and in 1953 by "Peter Pan."
The other facets of the Disney empire.
Walt Disney was also one of the first to recognize the potential of television and produced his first TV show for Christmas in 1950.
The famous Mickey Mouse Club was born in 1955 and continued until the 1990s.
1955 was also the year of the opening of Disneyland Park, with attractions adapted from the many successful Disney films.
Today, The Walt Disney Company is a multinational and multibillion-dollar company in television, film, Vacation Destinations, and other media.
In 100 years of existence, Disney studios have collaborated with prestigious artists from the world of music, from Edith Piaf to Elton John, Maurice Chevalier, Henri Salvador, Céline Dion, Christina Aguilera, Ariana DeBose, not to mention classical performers Yo Yo Ma, Lang Lang, and Barbara Hendricks... Céline Dion launched her American career by singing "Beauty and the Beast" in 1991, but she had to sing the lyrics phonetically because she did not yet speak English at the time.