Here are some things that you may or many not have known about Walter Elias Disney.
Walt was not a good academic student. His grades were poor and some people have speculated that he suffered from Dyslexia. They had no testing for it at the time, so it was never confirmed. Walt never graduated from high school as he dropped out at the age of 16. He did later receive honorary degrees from several universities including Yale, Harvard and UCLA.
The family name was actually d’Isigny. Walt’s great grandfahter Arundel Disney was a descendant of Robert d’Isigny, a French man who traveled with William the Conqueror in 1066.
While living in Kansas City Missouri, a 9 year old Walt would often take his sister Ruth to Electric Park on Saturdays, 15 blocks from their home. Electric Park would become the inspiration for Disneyland. Many of the attractions that were housed in Electric Park would have similar counterparts in Disneyland. Also, the park had a train that went around the parameter of the park and also had a daily fireworks show at closing time.
During World War II, when the allied forces invaded Normandy on D-Day in 1944, “Mickey Mouse” was a secret password used by intelligence officers.
Walt made his last Mickey Mouse short in 1953 and Mickey wouldn’t appear in another cartoon till the 1983 Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Oswald the Rabbit was Disney’s first character and star he created, but in 1928 Walt’s producer Charles Mintz wanted Walt to take a hefty pay cut. Walt ended up quitting his job and leaving Oswald to Mintz and his company. Oswald wouldn’t be the property of the Disney Corporation again until 2006 when President and CEO Bob Iger initiated a trade with NBC Universal that involved some minor assets and the rights to Oswald the Rabbit. The Disney Company for their part in the trade would give sports broadcaster Al Michaels to NBC to complete the deal.
Walt would rarely take the time to go out to lunch and would often have his lunch in his office. His meal of choice was chili with beans, tomato juice and crackers.
Walt Disney holds the record for both the most Academy Award nominations (59) and the number of Oscars awarded (22). He also earned four honorary Oscars. His last competitive Academy Award was posthumous.
From 1940 till his death in 1966, Walt served as a secret agent to the Los Angeles office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Walt was made a “full Special Agent in Charge of Contact” in 1954. An “S.A.C. Contact” was usually a trusted informer who could provide transportation and equipment as well as public relations services to the bureau.
When Walt wanted to make “Snow White and the Sever Dwarfs” he acted out the entire story for his staff before they started working. The performance was so good that many of the animators were brought to tears from the story and the inspiration they felt. Walt would often reenact scenes to keep the staff motivated.
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