Top 10 Fun Facts about Walt Disney
At the mention of the name Walt Disney, what springs to mind are popular cartoon characters. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Elsa, Donald Duck and so many other we grew up watching.
It may surprise many that Walt Disney is an actual name for a real person, the founder of the Walt Disney Empire. Mr Disney started small with one character that became popular, making him an entertainment legend.
He was an artist, producer, animator, writer, voice actor, and entrepreneur who was born in 1905 in Chicago.
Growing up, Walt Disney developed a great interest in drawing and took up illustration classes. When he turned 18, he got his first job as an illustrator.
Disney later moved to California in the 1920s and together with his brother Roy, they set up the Disney Brothers Studio. In 1928, he created his first famous character, Mickey Mouse.
In honour of the creator of Mickey, Frozen and snow-white, here are some interesting facts about Walt Disney:
1. Walt Disney did not grow up rich
Mr Disney came from humble beginnings. He was born in Chicago but grew up on a farm near Marceline, Missouri. Disney had four siblings and they helped their father around the farm.
He described life at the farm as being idyllic, a small-town community and it was where he discovered a love for fine arts. His uncle and aunt encouraged him to keep drawing
His father sold the farm in 1910 after it became apparent they could not afford to run it. They moved to Kansas City where his father bought a purchased newspaper route, Walt helped him with the deliveries for six years.
2. He dropped out of school to join the fight in World War I
Walt Disney’s father was Irish while his mother was of German and English descent. At 16, he left school and joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. He wanted to fulfil his duties by fighting in World War I.
Unfortunately, the minimum age requirement then was 17 years. Desperate to join the forces, he altered the age on his birth certificate and was accepted.
Much to his disappointment, there was not much action on the battlefield. He was sent to France in 1918 when a truce was called and the fight ended.
His duties were to drive Red Cross officials and performing other tasks. He was discharged in 1919.
3. Walt Disney had a pet mouse
This is an interesting fun fact about Walt Disney. His greatest creation, Mickey mouse was inspired by his pet mouse. He adopted the mouse when while working at the Laugh O-Gram Studios.
Initially, he had intended to name the character mouse Mortimer, but his wife suggested Mickey. They revised the sketches to make them easier to animate.
He left the animation process to his friend Ub Iwerks and did the voiceovers for Mickey until 1974.
4. He copied cartoons in newspapers as a child
His father, Elias Disney, was a passionate reader of the Appeal to Reason newspaper. Disney was not so much interested in the political editorials but loved perusing the front-page cartoons.
Growing up on a farm in Missouri, Disney was not able to access comic books, the cartoons in the newspaper were as close he could get to them. He also drew cartoons of his neighbour’s horses.
5. Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse
In case you are curious as to who voiced the famous high-pitched squeaky tone of Mickey mouse, it was Walt Disney himself.
Although the voice was changed periodically, Mr Disney decided not to change the original voice. His debut was in the short film Steamboat Willie. The new voice artist after Disney was Jimmy MacDonald in 1947.
This mouse character meant a lot to Walt Disney, he voiced it from 1928 to 1947.
6. Mickey Mouse was not Disney’s greatest creation
Before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney created Oswald the lucky rabbit. He created this character while working on a contract with Universal Pictures.
After his contract ended, he could not own the rights to the character. He, therefore, had to create a new character, and Mickey Mouse was born.
Disney not only lost his rights to Oswald the lucky rabbit but had most of his employees poached after a corporate dispute.
It was a difficult time for Walt Disney because at one point he filed for bankruptcy. However, he did not despair and kept pursuing his goals. Eventually, he created the Walt Disney Company.
7. Mickey Mouse had a different name at first
Mickey Mouse was initially known as Mortimer. This was Walt Disney’s idea. His wife Lilian had a different idea for a name, she convinced him to change the character’s name to Mickey. To her, Mortimer was not going to give the character the attention it needed.
Walt Disney agreed that the name Mickey was quirkier and that it would attract the attention of children more. Therefore, Mickey was more befitting.
The name Mortimer was not entirely done away with; it was given to Mickey’s rival mouse in later episodes of the series.
8. Walt Disney loved trains
Mr Disney was a train fanatic such that he assembled his own miniature steam engine that operated in his backyard. He named the train Lilly Belle, after his beloved wife.
You will notice his love for trains when visiting the theme parks, the trains are the main focus. Disney spent several months carefully building a car that would fit a railroad.
His original hand-made train that ran in his backyard was placed in a museum.
9. Walt Disney documented World War II in his film
During World War II, Walt Disney had his employees create educational films for various federal agencies. One such film included 1942 animated short, The New Spirit.
This film was commissioned by the Treasury Department to inspire people to pay their income taxes, this way they supported the war effort.
Donald Duck was the star of the film and it was shown in several movie theatres. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.
Moreover, the Disney studio made training films for the American military, as well as create free-of-charge insignia for military units.
10. He has French blood
His family originated from Normandy, a small seaside town known as Isigny-Sur-Mer. After the English Restoration, his family moved to Ireland.
The family name was D’Isigny which they later changed to Disney.