December 15, 1966 Walt Disney died at the age of 65 of lung cancer. Walt Disney is best known for his amazing imagination which he used to develop cartoon characters and the opening of the futuristic theme park in his name, Disneyland. He brought fun and optimism into people’s lives with now classic characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.
Walt was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois and was one of five children. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Missouri, and at an early age showed a talent for art. He sold drawings to his neighbors to earn extra money and by high school he pursued his interest in art by taking classes in art and photography.
When he was 16 he tried to enlist in the military but was rejected because of his age. He then joined the Red Cross and was sent to France to drive an ambulance. His ambulance was not the typical Red Cross ambulance covered in camouflage: he painted Disney characters all over the vehicle.
After France, Disney returned home to start a business but he went bankrupt. Without a great deal of money, Walt packed a suitcase and headed for Hollywood.
On July 13, 1925 Walt married Lillian Bounds, one of his first employees. Together they had to daughters, Diane and Sharon.
Soon Walt and his cartoons gained recognition. His 1932 production of "Flowers and Trees" was the first color cartoon and won his studio’s first Academy Award. In 1937 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was released as the first full length animated musical feature. During the next five years Walt Disney Studios produced "Pinocchio", "Fantasia", "Dumbo", and "Bambi". Each of these full length classics have maintained their popularity and stood the test of time.
Over the years, Disney won seven Emmy Awards, four honorary Academy Awards, and has won twenty two Academy Awards out of fifty nine nominations.
Disney went into television production in 1954. In 1961 his company was one of the first companies to present full color programming with the show "Wonderful World of Color".
In 1955 Disney’s dream to open an amusement park became a reality. His vision of a family oriented theme park didn’t seem realistic to others but proved to be a great success. He insisted that the park be immaculate and safe so that families would be comfortable there. The park was called Disneyland and became known as the most magical place in the world.
Under the supervision of Walt’s brother Roy, the theme parks continued to grow. The Walt Disney World Resort opened in Florida, and as of today Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyland Hong Kong also exist.
Thanks to Disney’s dream there are now several “most magical places in the world”.