Walt Disney: A Tale of Resilience

Walt Disney: A Tale of Resilience

Anna Wright, Writer

When one stumbles across the name “Walt Disney,” several things come to mind. Perhaps, they might recall the animated movies they watched as a child or the large theme park spanning 25,000 acres, yet the man behind it all, Walt Disney himself, is typically an afterthought. Though his story may lack the magic and playfulness of the tales told in his films, Disney’s journey to success is attributable to two notable characteristics: persistence and resilience.

Walt Disney began his career as a cartoonist in high school drawing characters for the school newspaper; however, his early artistic pursuits were interrupted when he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to fight in World War 1. Despite his rejection by the Army due to his age, Disney joined the Red Cross and was sent to France where he drove ambulances. Following the war, Walt Disney returned to the US in order to begin his arduous yet fruitful journey in the animation industry.

With the assistance of his brother, Roy, Disney was able to procure a job at the Pesmen-Rubin Art studio in Kansas City, working alongside cartoonist and future business partner, Ubbe Eert Iwwerks. Later, during his employment at an advertisement company, he began experimenting with hand drawn animation, inspiring him to establish his own animation business. Disney’s first company, Laugh-O-Gram, aired seven minute animated and live action shows titled Alice and Cartoonland at the Kansas City Theatre. During this time, Disney and Iwwerks created the beloved character, Mickey Mouse. However, despite this initial success, the company’s financial backer went broke which eventually resulted in the bankruptcy of Laugh-O-Gram. Undeterred, Walt Disney, Roy Disney, and Ubbe Iwwerks moved to Hollywood with a meager 40 dollars where they noticed a lack of animation studios. In 1923, the three established Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios later renamed Walt Disney Studios.