Try to imagine a world without Walt Disney. A world without his magic, whimsy, and optimism. Walt Disney transformed the entertainment industry into what we know today. He pioneered the fields of animation and found new ways to teach and educate. He was a creator; an imaginative, and aesthetic person. Even 45 years after his death, we still continue to grasp his ideas, and his creations, remembering him for everything he's done for us.
Walter Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago Illinois. He was raised on a farm in Marceline, Missouri and lived for most of his childhood here. He had a very early interest in drawing and art, and when he was seven years old he sold small sketches and drawings to nearby neighbors. His knack1) for creating enduring art forms took shape when he convinced his sister, Ruth, into helping him paint the side of the family's house with tar.
Close to the Disney family farm, there were Santa Fe Railroad tracks that crossed the countryside. Often Walt would put his ear against the tracks, to listen for approaching trains. Walt later worked a summer job with the railroad, selling newspapers, popcorn, and sodas to travelers. During his life Walt would often try to recapture the freedom he felt when aboard those trains by building his own miniature train sets.
During these “carefree years” of country living young Walt began to love and appreciate nature and wildlife; family and community, which were a large part of agrarian2) living. Though his father could be quite stern, and often there was little money, Walt was encouraged by his mother and older brother, Roy.
Walt attended McKinley High School in Chicago where he divided his attention between drawing and photography, and contributing to the school paper. At night he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, to better his drawing abilities.
Even after the Disney family moved to Kansas City, Walt continued to develop and flourish in his talent for artistic drawing. Besides drawing, Walt had picked up a knack for acting and performing. At school, he began to entertain his friends by imitating his silent screen hero, Charlie Chaplin. At his teacher's invitation, Walt would tell his classmates stories while illustrating on the chalk board.
Walt dropped out of high school at 17 to serve in World War I. Rejected because he was under age, Walt joined the Red Cross and was sent overseas to France, where he spent a year driving an ambulance and chauffeuring3) Red Cross officials. His ambulance was covered from stem to stern4), not with stock camouflage5) , but with Disney cartoons.
Experiments in Animation
Once Walt returned from France, he wanted to pursue a career in commercial art, which soon lead to his experiments in animation. By 1922, he had set up his own shop in association with Ub Iwerks, whose drawing ability and technical inventiveness were prime factors in Disney's eventual success. He began producing short animated films for local businesses, in Kansas City. By the time Walt had started to create The Alice Comedies, which was about a real girl and her adventures in an animated world, Walt ran out of money and his company, Laugh-O-Grams, went bankrupt. Instead of giving up, in August of 1923 Walt left Kansas City for Hollywood with nothing but a few drawing materials, $40 in his pocket and a completed animated and live-action film. He was not yet twenty-two. Walt's brother, Roy, who was already in California, provided support and $250. Pooling their resources, they borrowed an additional $500 and constructed a camera stand6) in their uncle's garage. Soon, they received an order from New York for the first Alice in Cartoonland (The Alice Comedies) featurette7) , and the brothers began their production operation in the rear of a Hollywood real estate office two blocks away.
The Golden Age of Disney Cartoons
On July 3, 1925, Walt married one of his first employees, Lillian Bounds, in Lewiston, Idaho. Later on they would be blessed with two daughters, Diane and Sharon. Three years after Walt and Lilly wed, Walt created a new animated character, Mickey Mouse. His talents were first used in a silent cartoon entitled Plane Crazy. However, before the cartoon could be released, sound was introduced upon the motion picture industry. Thus, Mickey Mouse made his screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the world's first synchronized sound cartoon featuring Disney as the voice of the Mouse. Living frugally, Walt reinvested profits to make better pictures. His insistence on technical perfection and his unsurpassed gifts as story editor quickly pushed his firm ahead. Technicolor8)was introduced to animation during the production of his Silly Symphonies cartoon features. Walt Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, allowing him to make the only color cartoons. In 1932, the production entitled Flowers and Trees won Walt the first of his studio's Academy Awards. In 1937, he released The Old Mill, the first short subject to utilize the multi-plane camera technique.
The invention of cartoon characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie, and Goofy combined with the daring and innovative use of music, sound, and folk material made the Disney shorts of the 1930s a phenomenon of worldwide success. This success led to the establishment of immensely profitable, Disney-controlled sidelines9) in advertising, publishing, and franchised goods.
Disney rapidly expanded his studio facilities to include a training school where a whole new generation of animators developed and made possible the production of the first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
In 1940, construction was completed on the Burbank Studio, and Disney's staff swelled to more than 1,000 artists, animators, story men, and technicians. But because of World War II, 94 percent of the Disney facilities were engaged in special government work, including the production of training and propaganda films for the armed services.
Disney's 1945 feature, the musical The Three Caballeros, combined live action10)with the cartoon animation, a process he used successfully in such other features as Song of the South and the highly acclaimed Mary Poppins. Other costly animated features followed, including Pinocchio, Bambi, and the celebrated musical experiment Fantasia. With Seal Island (1948), wildlife films became an additional source of income, and in 1950 his use of blocked funds in England to make pictures like Treasure Island led to what became the studio's major product—live-action films. In 1954, Disney successfully invaded television.
Foundation of Disneyland, EPCOT and a University
The idea for the Disneyland Park came to Walt after he took his children to other amusement parks and watched them have fun on amusement rides. He decided to build a park where the entire family could have fun together. Disney and his brother Roy mortgaged11) everything they owned to raise $17 million to build Disneyland, but fell short of what they needed. ABC-TV stepped in, guaranteeing a $6 million loan in exchange for part ownership and Disney's commitment to produce a weekly television show for them.
Disney engaged12)Stanford Research Institute, who identified Anaheim as the center of Southern California's future growth. Disney bought 160 acres of Anaheim orange groves, and on May 1, 1954, construction began. Walt Disney's dream of a clean, and organized amusement parkcame true as Disneyland Park opened in 1955 in Anaheim, California. As a fabulous $17-million magic kingdom, it soon increased its investment tenfold, and by the beginning of its second quarter-century had entertained more than 200 million people, including presidents, kings and queens, and royalty from all over the globe. Since then, Disney theme parks have opened in Orlando, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris.
In 1965, Walt Disney turned his attention toward the problem of improving the quality of urban life in America. He personally directed the design of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). EPCOT, which cost an initial $900 million, was conceived of as a real-life community of the future with the very latest in high technology. The two principle areas of EPCOT are Future World and World Showcase, both of which were designed to appeal to adults rather than children.
In addition to his theme parks, Disney created and endowed a new university, the California Institute of the Arts, known as Cal Arts. He thought of this as the ultimate in education for the arts, where people in many different disciplines could work together, dream and develop, and create the mixture of arts needed for the future.
Happily married for 41 years, this moody, deliberately “ordinary” man was moving ahead with his plans for gigantic new outdoor recreational facilities when he died of circulatory problems on December 15, 1966, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, his enterprises had garnered13) him respect, admiration, and a business empire.
Walt Disney is a legend; a folk hero of the 20th century. His worldwide popularity was based upon the ideals which his name represents: imagination, optimism, creation, and self-made success in the American tradition. Through his work he brought joy, happiness, and a universal means of communication to the people of every nation. He brought us closer to the future, while telling us of the past. It is certainthat there will never be such a great man as Walt Disney.
1. knack [næk] n. 技能，本领
2. agrarian [əˈɡreəriən] adj. 土地的，耕地的
3. chauffeur [ʃəʊˈfɜː(r)] vt. 开车运送
4. from stem to stern：完全，从头到尾
5. camouflage [ˈkæməˌflɑːʒ] n. 伪装，保护色
6. camera stand：摄像机支架
7. featurette [ˈfiːtʃəret] n. 电影短片
8. technicolor [ˈteknɪˌkʌlə(r)] n. 彩色印片法
9. sideline [ˈsaɪdˌlaɪn] n. 副业
10. live action：真人(或实景)电影
11. mortgage [ˈmɔː(r)ɡɪdʒ] vt. 抵押
12. engage [ɪnˈɡeɪdʒ] vt. 雇佣
13. garner [ˈɡɑː(r)nə(r)] vt. 获得，得到