Home > Categories > Art and Entertainment > Artists > Walt Disney's Biography

Walt Disney's Biography

Browse biogs A-Z

Walt Disney was born Walter Elias Disney in Chicago in 1901, and died in 1966.

Walt Disney left home at 16 to join the Red Cross Ambulance Corps during World War I. After service, Disney set up as a commercial artist in Kansas City.

Walt Disney then established his own studio, producing animated cartoons. His most famous character was Mickey Mouse, who was first seen in Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willy (1928). Disney also provided the original voice for Mickey.

Walt Disney was an originator. He produced the first full-length animated movie, and invented the theme park.

Disney's earliest full length cartoon movies were Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Pinnochio, Dumbo and Fantasia.

Alfred Hitchcock once remarked:

"Disney has the best casting. If he doesn't like a character, he just tears him up."

In the 1950s onwards he produced heroic colour tales like Robin Hood and Treasure Island; and in 1964 Disney made Mary Poppins.

Disney opened the first theme park, Disneyland in California in 1955. There are now others in Florida, Tokyo and near Paris.

According to Time Magazine:

"Uncle Walt actually didn't have an avuncular bone in his body. Though he could manage a sort of gruff amiability with strangers, his was, in fact, a withdrawn, suspicious and, above all, controlling nature."

Asked late in life what he was proudest of, Disney said:

"The whole damn thing. The fact that I was able to build an organisation and hold it."

There has been much rumour surrounding Disney's death. Suggestions that he was frozen still abound. In "The Story of Walt Disney", his daughter, Diane Disney Miller and Pete Martin wrote:

"At such times he [Disney] says, "When I'm dead I don't want a funeral. I want people to remember me alive."

However, many of theories surrounding Disney's death seem to be wide of the mark. Anyone interested, should read 'Big Secrets' by William Poundstone which has an excellent chapter on Walt Disney's death and the search for Disney's grave.

Back to Top

Latest User CommentsAdd your comment
Add your comment
To ensure you are a real person and not a computer please enter the following characters shown below: