Profile Of A Notable Entrepreneur – Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Walter Elias Disney also known as “Walt” was born on the fifth day of December in 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He is credited as the father of cartoon films and creator of Disneyland. He co-founded Walt Disney Production with his brother Roy. The company would rise to be the best known across the globe for motion-picture production. He fostered the creation of Mickey Mouse. Walt founded the Walt Disney World. Walt was one of the five children to Mr. Elias Disney and Flora Disney. He had three brothers and one sister. Walt married Lilian Bounds in 1925. Lilian was one of her first employees and they married Lewiston, Idaho. They were blessed with two daughters, Diane and Sharon (Burnes et al, 2002).

Walt’s interest in drawing started when he was seven years old when he sold his first sketches to his neighbors. Walt joined McKinley High School where he was actively involved in both photography and drawing which both had their place in the school paper. His interest in this form of art was further exhibited by his attendance of Academy of Fine Arts at night (Ahsley, 2015).

Walt tried being enlisted in the military service in 1918 with no success with his age being the barrier. His quest to join the military was after he had dropped out of school. He then opted to work with the Red Cross while he was 16 years old (Ashley, 2015). He was posted abroad and other than being tasked with ambulance duties, he chauffeured Red Cross officials. The exciting thing about his one-year career as an ambulance driver was that the motor vehicle he used was covered with cartoons and drawings.  He enhanced his earnings while in France driving the ambulance by drawing cartoons to the people he served with and also handing the same to a number of newspapers though in most occasions the newspapers turned him down.

Walt returned to the United States and kicked off his career as an advertising cartoonist. He secured a job at Pesmen-Rubin Art studio courtesy of his brother. However, he was fired after just one month of the apprenticeship.  He met Ubbe Eert Iwwerks who was a cartoonist. Walt hired his first employee, Fred Harman with whom together they struck a deal with Kansas City theatre screen of their cartoons. Laugh- O- Grams cartoons became popular and soon Walt and Harman did set up their own studio and hired employees. The beautiful beginning did not however last as the studio was declared bankrupt in 1923 due to the inability to sort out its debts (Paul, 2006).

Walt was described by his relatives as someone who would not be comfortable being at one state for quite a long time as he always wanted to progress from one position to another. Walt left Kansas City in 1923 upon the bankruptcy of his studio and resorted to join Hollywood. He was in the company of his brother Roy who had already relocated to California and Harman. They established the Disney Brothers Studio and landed the first deal to Margaret Winkler to distribute their Alice cartoons. His motive to again establish a studio was basically because none of the existing studios he admired was willing to hire him as a producer (Ashley, 2015).

Winkler and her husband stole the rights for Oswald and it was up to Walt and his loyal associates to move fast to ensure their studio would not go into further crisis. Walt created Mickey Mouse which would then future in three films. The creation of Mickey Mouse in 1928marked the onset of carton films. The character was initially introduced in the silent film titled Plane Crazy. Mickey also featured in another silent cartoon film. The first two films in which it featured failed to strongly bit the market as they did not have sound features. The airing of Steamboat Willie saw the debut of Mickey Mouse on motion films that had a fully synchronized sound. This cartoon filmed that had Walt’s voice and was characterized by musical backgrounds instantly hit the market. The success of Mickey Mouse in the industry prompted him to venture more into animation films and innovatively come up with mechanisms of improving the previous successful films (Paul, 2006). He started working on Snow White and Disney Folly which would entail full length animation features. This move was opposed by his colleagues including his wife and brother. They were of the thought that the move would damage what the company had already achieved. The production of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs began in 1938 and the company went out of resources but they were able to obtain a loan that enabled its completion. On its release in 1938, the animation film became the most successful of the year earning a whopping $8 million which at the current estimation would be $134,033,100. The filmed won various honors including and Oscar award and provided enough funds for Walt to establish a new studio in California (Eliza, 2015).

Walt exhibited values and beliefs worth borrowing and emulating. His rise to the top was not smooth as he himself reckons. He cherished his failures as a youth such as the declaration of his first studio Laugh- O -Grams being declared bankrupt. Though he was a school dropout himself, Walt appreciated the value of education and advised that people should always be open to ideas and always seek to invite the contribution of specialists when they face obstacles they cannot solve with their own expertise. Walt believed in diligent working even if the pay did not reflect the effort directed towards the course. He did not regret the moments he spent working as a carpenter where his remuneration was a dollar a day. Walt is an inspiration to all who come from humble backgrounds but with great dreams. He suggested that knowing ones dreams and setting big goals in the early stages is key to achieving them(Barrett et al, 2001).

Walt’s patriotism was also expressed through what he knew best. During World War II, Disney employees were tasked with the creation of cartoon films that were aimed at educating the citizens on the importance of paying taxes to finance the troops. The New Spirit was one of the films that was aimed at enlightening the taxpayers. The studio further made films that were used in training the soldiers and these were made free of charge. Walt had initially wanted to distance himself from the politics and war but the patriotism which saw him want to join the army while still a minor played a significant role in ensuring he took the risky move to have his studio be associated with the politics of the United States (Eliza, 2015).

Walt’s life story is a page to read from. Upon his career coming to an end, he had already created a legacy. He had emerged as a visionary artist far from the struggling one when he started. Walt designed his products in line with what the public wished to have thus serving the interest of the many individuals. His actions celebrated the American way of life. Walt chose to follow his passion and interest for entrepreneur purposes through innovation and addressing the demands of the available market. He remains a legend in the film industry and created the basis for current and future cartoon films.


Ashley, MacQuarrie. Overcoming Obstacles: Hard Work and Persistence Paid Off for Walt Disney. Learninglitoff, 2015.

Eliza Nix. Seven Things You May Not Know About Walt Disney.History Stories, 2015.

Paul, Harris. The Cruel Reality of Disney’s World. The Guardian, 2006.

Burnes, Brian, Dan Viets, and Robert W. Butler. Walt Disney’s Missouri: The roots of a creative genius. Kansas City Star Books, 2002.

Barrett, Katherine, and Richard Greene. Inside the dream: The personal story of Walt Disney. Disney Editions, 2001.

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