We all know Walt Disney as the man who created Disney World and Disneyland, but I’ve always wondered what Walt Disney’s life was like before he was famous. Today I will be talking about Walt Disney’s childhood and his life before he was famous.
Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901. Walt’s full name was Walter Elias Disney. He was born in Chicago in a two-story cottage built by his father, Elias.Walt Disney was part of a family of 7. His parents were Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney. He had 3 brothers, Herbert Arthur Disney,Raymond Arnold Disney and Roy O. Disney and 1 sister, Ruth Flora Disney. He had the perfect family that was loving,caring,kind and fun.
Walt’s family was too busy working on the farm to take Walt to school. Walt didn’t start until he was almost 7 years old. When Walt started school,he began with his sister Ruth. Walt said that starting school with his younger sister “ was the most embarrassing thing that could happen to a fellow” ( Who Was Walt Disney, Whitney Stewart). On Sundays,Walt and his family visited neighbors and his dad played his fiddle.“That was one of the few times Walt saw his dad having fun”( Who Was Walt Disney, Whitney Stewart). Walt also loved to be the class clown. Walt spent hours and hours drawing. He told everyone that he was an artist. Walt even got in trouble with drawing at home. One time he discovered a barrel of black tar ,it was soft like paint. Walt and Ruth got big sticks, dumped them in the tar and drew pictures all over their white house. They got in so much trouble by their parents because the tar wouldn’t come off!
Walt’s life was going great but Elias’s was going very bad. He couldn’t grow crops and the family never had enough money. Worrying made Elias’s temper worse. Walt avoided him as much as possible. Walt was much closer to his mother. When Elias became sick with typhoid,Flora had to sell the farm. Walt was heartbroken when they had to leave Marceline. He cried when a farmer bought his young colt that he tamed with Roy. The Disneys’ moved to Kansas City. In Kansas, Elias ran a newspaper route for the Kansas City Times. Walt had to help too. He delivered the papers when he was only 9 years old. He had to wake up before sunrise every day to do his route.Sometimes he would be so tired that he curled up in a doorway and fell asleep. When he did his route, he would hurry to finish and get to school.
In school Walt had a hard time paying attention. “One teacher called him the “second dumbest” in her class”( Who Was Walt Disney, Whitney Stewart). He would daydream or think of ways to make his classmates laugh. He loved to draw funny characters on the blackboard and drew on the corners of his textbook pages. They were his first cartoons because when he would flip the pages, the characters would appear to move.
Walt liked Abraham Lincoln . In class he recited the Gettysburg Address to his teacher and classmates. The teacher loved it and asked him to perform it for her other classes. Walt did it because he liked to put on a show.
Walt’s best friend was also named Walt. He also loved to perform.One time the both of them dressed up like the film comedians Charlie Chaplin and the Count in a contest and won 25 cents each as a prize. As an artist,Walt’s talent even earned him free haircuts. People would go to the barber shop just to see his new artwork on the walls.
At the age of 15, Walt had a job selling newspapers, candy and soda to passengers on a train. He enjoyed talking with the people. When the engineer let Walt ride in the coal cart, it was heaven for him. Walt loved trains because he felt they brought you to new places and new adventures.
In 1917, the Disney’s moved back to Chicago because the newspaper route wasn’t bringing enough money for the family. In Chicago,Elias invested in a fruit juice and jelly company.
In Chicago, Walt attended McKinley High School again he was bored with his classes and only liked to draw for the school newspaper. After a year he dropped out of school and was not sure what he wanted to be but had faith in himself. He was sure that one day he would be famous and a big success maybe as newspaper cartoonist or maybe doing something in show business
At night Walt Disney took art classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and bought himself a movie camera that he and a new friend, Russell Mass, made short films together. One time they worked out a comedy act, which was pretty bad and the theater kicked them off the stage.
In order to support himself, Walt applied for a job at the post office but at first the boss said he was too young. So he changed his clothes and drew a mustache to look order and he got the job that time. While working at the post office, two of his brothers- Herbert and Roy- were serving in the Army during World War l. Walt wanted to be in the War but he was too young. Instead he finally got his mom to sign papers so he can drive an ambulance. He left for France in November of 1918. By the time he got to France, the fighting already ended. He spent most of his time driving officers around, running errands, and drawing He drew cartoons on the flaps of the ambulance.
Walt returned home a year later and by that time he was almost 18 looking older and like a man that his family hardly recognized. He even was a smoker and never quit the bad habit.
Walt’s dad wanted him to work in the jelly factory in Chicago but Walt wanted to be an artist. So he moved back to Kansas City alone where he met another artist, Ub Iwerks. The both of them started a new company but it closed down after only 1 month.
Soon after, Walt and Ub found another job at the Kansas City Slide Company. It turned out to be a lucky break for Walt where he learned all about animation.
Animation is a film of drawings that move such as cartoons. In 1920 cartoons were new to many people. People were amazed to watch drawings of funny people and animals actually moving on the screen in front of them .Artist, such as Walt competed with each other to invent new techniques for cartoons, Walt wanted to be a part of it all. So, Walt Disney made his own company called “ Walt Disney Studios”.
This was the start of Walt Disney World but Walt didn’t know it yet. It got Walt thinking all the time about animations and how to make them better. He didn’t know it yet, but the last business he would make would succeed and end up as “ Walt Disney Productions”or “ Walt Disney Studios”. His next adventure after being famous for his films and movies, would be his creating and opening two new amusement or entertainment parks . They would be called “ Walt Disney World” and “ Disneyland”.
- Miller, Disney. Walt Disney His Life In Pictures. Disney Press. 1996.
- Stewart, Whitney. Who Was Walt Disney. Penguin Group INC,375 Hudson Street,New York, New York 10014,USA. 2009.Print
- Thomas, Bob. Walt Disney : An American Original. Disney Editions. 1976,1994, The Walt Disney Company.