#OTD in 1901 Historic Missourian Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago. His family moved to Marceline, Missouri in 1906. The small-town life of Marceline had a huge impact on Walt. It was there that he began to draw animals and indulge in his imagination. His family continued moving west relocating to Kansas City in 1911. In KC, Walt would get up at 3:30 am seven days a week to help his father deliver newspapers. During the week that work was followed by a full day at Benton Grammar School. In his free time, he attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Disney did not achieve financial success in Kansas City, but he experimented with and learned animation, created his first animated series, and trained a number of young artists in this new field.
Disney tried numerous times to start his own company in Kansas City. He eventually went bankrupt which led to his move to Hollywood in 1923. With $500 borrowed from his uncle and help from his brother Roy, Disney started the Disney Brothers Studio. He acquired a New York distributor to release his Alice Comedies. After this experience, Disney was determined to be the sole owner of all of his cartoons. He needed a new idea, so Disney, Roy, and Ub Iwerks shaped the character that would become Mickey Mouse.
The building of Disneyland in 1955 was a dream come true for Disney. With financial backing from ABC, he was able to create a fantasy world for both adults and children. Disney had a profound sense of what the public wanted, and he capitalized upon the prevailing sentiments of the times, whether it was the poverty of the Great Depression, patriotism during the 1940s, or anti-communist feelings of the 1950s. Before he died on December 15, 1966, Disney visited Marceline several more times. On July 4, 1956, he and Roy attended the dedication of the Walt Disney Municipal Park and Pool. Then again in 1960, Disney returned for the Walt Disney Elementary School dedication. Learn more at http://historicmissourians.shsmo.org. [Courtesy Dan Viets, Baron Missakian Collection, University of Missouri-Kansas City]
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