A Creative Mind
Melanese N. Malcolm
February 26, 2007
A Creative Mind
The world of animation as we know it would not be the same if it were not for a young man with high hopes and a vivid imagination. Pioneer, innovator, dreamer. These are few of many adjectives that can be used to describe Walt Disney. Amazing does not even begin to depict what he has done. Acting may not have been his blessing but producing and directing served him well. Fortunately for the world, his legacy did not end with his death. Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois to Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney. Walt was one of five children and served to be the brightest. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Marceline, Missouri, and this was where he spent most of his childhood. Elias Disney found himself at dead end jobs often and moved his family from place to place in search of stable work. Walt spent most of his time in the Midwest, and most of his memories came from this period of his life (Croce, 1991). Many credit his stay near a railroad as the origin of his many ideas. Disney’s life was intriguing to say the least. At the age of seven, he sold small sketches and drawings to neighbors (www.justdisney.com, para. 5). It was apparent then that he had the ability to wow those around him but not only did he sell his artwork, he told vivid stories to go along with them. Disney attended McKinley High School in Chicago during the day, and at night, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts to better his drawing abilities. He showcased these talents by contributing to the school newspaper. With encouragement from teachers, Disney would tell his classmates stories while illustrating on the chalk board (www.justdisney.com, para. 11). This was not all he had a knack for. Walt took a strong liking to acting, and he began to entertain his friends by imitating Charlie Chaplin. He, without his father’s knowledge, would also sneak out at night to perform comical skits at local theaters. Walt held Chaplin in high regards. He was noted to have studied Charlie Chaplin movies for performing tips (www.disneydreamer.com, part 2). This would later prove to be a big inspiration for much of his work.
At the age of sixteen, Disney dropped out of school in hopes of joining the military but was rejected because of his age. Disappointed, he lied about his age to join the American Red Cross. He was sent to France for a year as an ambulance driver. Although away from his domain, his curiosity for animation continued. This was vibrantly made apparent by his unique ambulance. It was not covered with camouflage but “covered form top to bottom with his imaginative Disney characters” (www.wikipedia.org). This was the beginning of many of the household names that the world is now familiar with.
Disney returned home from France and began taking classes at the Kansas City Art Institute where he had won a scholarship (www.imdb.com). This too was another instance where he met success. He worked as an apprentice for two men by the names of Peskman and Rubin who were in charge of art for the Gray Advertising Company (Miller, 1956). This was another exceptional way for Walt to get his foot in the door. The apprenticeship later turned into fulltime employment but it did not last long. He was laid off during Christmas of 1919 but it did not stop him from doing what he loved most. Disney met a fellow animator by the name of Ub Iwerks who had also been laid off by the Gray Advertising Company. Iwerks and Disney formed a partnership, creating a commercial-art business called Disney-Iwerks. They created art work for several different companies. But this stint, too, went nowhere. Walt ventured off on his own, creating a company named Laugh-O-Grams and began to create short animated films that he sold to a companies in Kansas City. Laugh-O-Grams quickly went bankrupt. By the time of this hardship, Disney had...