If you had to compile a list of the most influential men of the twentieth century: it really should include Walt Disney. Consider how Walt has influenced your childhood with the characters he created, the movies he made, and the iconic resorts that developed out of his imaginative world.
What people do not realize is that Walt Disney had a hard upbringing. At the age of ten, he was working selling snacks and newspapers along the railroad during his school vacations and weekends. Before school, he would get up at 4:40 with his brother Roy and go out to do a paper-round. Then immediately after school they would go and do another paper-round.
At school Walt was not the best of students, he would often be found making little drawings instead of concentrating on his studies. He would also tell fantastic stories to other students whilst drawing pictures on the chalkboard.
As Walt got a little older he attended McKinley High School in Chicago where he built a reputation drawing patriotic illustrations (it was during Wold-War 1). During the evenings he developed his talents by attending part-time classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
While only 16 Walt left school and tried to enroll in the army to go off to war against Germany. He was rejected as being under-aged, but this small detail was not going to stop Walt, so he obtained a fake birth certificate and joined the Red Cross which led to. Walt spending his war years driving an ambulance.
At the age of 18, Walt returned to the USA and settled in Kansas where he found work in his chosen field as a newspaper artist. After a year, however, they fired Walt because of his “lack of imagination”. In reality, it was part of a cost-cutting exercise but it must have been devastating for the young artist. Rather than find an easier path and settle for some other kind of work, Walt opened his first business “Iwerks – Disney Commercial Artists”, with his friend Ub Iwerks. This unfortunately failed because of a lack of business.
“All of my obstacles have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you” – Walt Disney
This led to Walt Disney’s first involvement in the world of film. He found a job at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. The job was to make short animated adverts using a camera and cut out characters. This might have been enough for some people but Walt spent his own time in the evenings researching and learning a new animation technique. He tried to convince the studio to adopt it but they refused.
In yet another example of Walt Disney’s spirit, he turned this rejection into a positive and launched his second business – Laugh-O-Grams, which were short remakes of fairy-tale, which were shown at local cinemas. Created by Walt Disney and a group of fellow animators. The company never made a huge impact and like so many other media companies it folded. When the company closed, Walt was making a live-action film where a real young girl explores an animated background – The film was based on Alice in Wonderland.
After the closure, Walt was left penniless and with a big decision to make. He was 22 and had already had two business fails, and lesser men would have given up, but Walt did the opposite and pushed on with his dream. He packed his suitcase and headed to Hollywood. Once in Holywood, Walt and his brother, who had just recovered from tuberculosis, set up shop in their uncle’s garage, starting again.
Day after day, Waltwalked the streets of Hollywood pitching his work to the big (and small) studios. He had progressed with the Alice animation which was now called “Alice in Cartoonland”. Rejection after rejection tested Walt’s ambition, but eventually, he pitched the idea to Margaret J Winkler, who was looking for something new.
Walt and his brother Roy moved into a small office at the back of a property company and proudly displayed a sign on the door “Disney Bros. Studio. Walt did the animation and Roy did the filming. Alice in Cartoonland was a moderate success and the pair were able to employ more animators, which included Ub-Iwerk, and a young lady to do the inking (who Walt was eventually to marry). The studio went on the develop new concepts, including a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The studio was going well and just when Walt thought ec=veryting was god, he discovered that Winkler had been hiring all og Walts best animators, and stolen the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Rather than accept the situation Walt and Ub left the studio.
Walt Disney was now 27 and after two business failures, his third business had been stolen from him. This is where many men would have eventually been beaten. But of course, Walt Disney was not that kind of man and he developed a new character “Mortimer the Mouse”. Walts wife later christened him Mickey.
Of course, we all know Mickey Mouse and all the wonderful characters that Walt went on to develop. A global business that Walt had developed by never giving up, and sticking to his dream. A dream that eventually went on to incorporate theme parks, hotels, and many other businesses that were built around his characters.
Walt Disney was not alone in turning failure into success. There are many well-known individuals who have failed many times before they eventually succeeded. These include
Steven Spielberg – The hugely successful filmmaker was rejected two times by the Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
Thomas Edison – Who went on the invent many of the technology items that we take for granted today. He was described as “Too stupid to learn anything”.
Abraham Lincoln – he went to war as a captain and returned a private. He then went on to open numerous businesses, all of which failed, He took several attempts at getting elected before becoming President and taking his place in history.
“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is life trying to move us in another direction”. – Oprah Winfrey