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Walt Disney

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Essay title: Walt Disney

Disney, Walt (1901-1966), was one of the most famous motion-picture producers in history. Disney first became known in the 1920's and 1930's for creating such cartoon film characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. He later produced feature-length cartoon films, movies about wild animals in their natural surroundings, and films starring human actors. Disney won 32 Academy Awards for his movies and for scientific and technical contributions to filmmaking. He also gained fame for his development of theme parks.

Early life. Walter Elias Disney was born on Dec. 5, 1901, in Chicago. His family moved to Missouri, and he spent much of his boyhood on a farm near Marceline. At 16, Disney studied art in Chicago. In 1920, he joined the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he helped make cartoon advertisements to be shown in movie theaters.

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The first Disney cartoons. In 1923, Disney moved to Los Angeles to become a film producer or director. When he failed to find a job, he returned to producing cartoons. He set up his first studio in the back half of a real estate office. For several years, Disney struggled to pay his expenses. He gained success in 1928, when he released the first short cartoons that featured Mickey Mouse. Earlier filmmakers had found that animals were easier to animate than people. Mickey Mouse, drawn with a series of circles, proved ideal for animation.

In 1927, sound had been added to motion pictures, and a process for making movies in color was developed a few years later. Disney and his staff made imaginative use of sound and color. Disney himself provided Mickey Mouse's voice. His cartoon Flowers and Trees (1932) was the first cartoon in full Technicolor.

From 1929 to 1939, Disney produced a cartoon series called Silly Symphonies, which played in theaters along with other animated films featuring Mickey Mouse and such characters as Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. After 1924, Disney actually did none of the drawing necessary for his animated films. His genius lay in creating, organizing, and directing the films.

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Full-length movies. In 1937, Disney issued the first full-length animated film to be produced by a studio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It became one of the most popular movies in history. Disney's later full-length animated films included Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959), 101 Dalmatians (1961), and The Jungle Book (released in 1967, after his death). In 1950, Disney released Treasure Island, his first full-length movie to use only human actors. Other "live action" Disney movies include Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), The Absent Minded Professor (1961),

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