Was the Man Really Behind the Magic?
"Try to imagine a world without Walt Disney. A world without his magic and whimsy" ("Walt" 1). With Walt's optimism and persistence, he was able to help animation become what it is today. He had the ability to "see the entire picture" while connecting the past to the future to make life more enjoyable ("Walt" 1 of 5). “‘You won't find anyone who can really explain the magic of Walt,’ said Disney artist Peter Ellenshaw. ‘People see him either in black or white, but he was an extraordinary mixture. He was a common man who was endowed with a touch of magic’ “(qtd. in Greene 6).
Disney once said his magic "was all started by a mouse" (qtd. in ...view middle of the document...
Marceline was "where the magic began" and "memories that stayed with him throughout his lifetime which left more of an impression than any other time in his life" (Thomas 26, 32). Walt’s first attempt at art was when he was left home alone with his sister Ruth, and they decided to use a barrel of tar to paint pictures on the side of their white farmhouse, which remained there until they moved to Kansas City two years later (Thomas 28). He carried his love for art to school at Benton Grammar School where his creativity was frowned upon because when he was asked to draw a picture of flowers, he drew faces and arms on them (Thomas 36). Walt was constantly criticized for not following directions and drawing things the way he saw them.
When Walt was eight, he was introduced to the Pfeiffer family. He was able to escape the strict structure that Elias had the Disney family under. The Pfeiffers supported Walt and introduced and encouraged him to pursue entertainment, which Elias did not understand his fascination with (Thomas 37). Walt was able to become a cartoonist for The Voice, the McKinley High School newspaper (Thomas 42, 43). He also started his first job working for Pesman-Rubin Commercial Art Studio where he met Ub Iwerks (Thomas 55). Ub and Walt decided to go into business together calling their studio Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists (Thomas 56). The studio failed along with Disney’s first studio called Laugh-O-Grams, but he moved to Hollywood in 1923 and opened up the Disney Brothers Company. Walt's start was slow until he made a contract with Charles Mintz, but unbeknownst to Walt, he (Mintz) was planning to force Walt to become his employee by hiring all but one of Walt's animators and taking his most famous cartoon, at the time, called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Greene 4).
This betrayal was a major set back in Walt's career, and he asked Roy, his older brother, to help take care of the financial side of the business because Walt felt he has "a natural gift for finance and negotiations (Greene 43). His career seemed to be getting back to normal, and he married one of his employees named Lillian Bounds on July 13, 1925. Soon after the famous Mickey Mouse was created. Walt was on his way back to Hollywood from New York after his last meeting with Mintz to finish the Oswald series when he started to draw circles forming a body, head, and ears making Mickey Mouse (Greene 5). Walt, Ub, and Roy did not want the animators that were leaving to work for Mintz to hear about Mickey, so he (Mickey Mouse) was made in secret. Before Walt could reap all of the success of Mickey, Pat Powers, his current distributor in 1931, pulled a "Mintz" on Walt again, and this time he took Ub with him. Powers wanted Mickey but Walt said no amount of money would persuade him (Greene 63). Walt considered 1931 the "worst [year] of his life", and he had, what he called a "nervous breakdown which passed as quickly as it came" (Greene 68).