(This is a piece I wrote for my son’s elocution class in the Sixth grade)
Let me tell you a true story which happened more than 70 years ago.
Once upon a time in America, a young cartoonist was walking back to his hotel room dejected and depressed. He had produced a series of cartoon films about a rabbit which was popular. He hoped to get more money from his distributor but to his shock and dismay he found that the distributor had cheated him of the rights to the cartoon films.
However, the cartoonist was made of sterner stuff. He set about creating another character. As he sketched on the drawing board, a friendly mouse whom he called Mortimer sat on his shoulder and watched him draw.
“That’s it! “, he exclaimed. “I’ll call my character Mortimer mouse!” he said. But his friend told him that the name Mortimer was too long and not catchy enough. So he named his character Mickey Mouse. And THAT’s how Mickey Mouse was born. The young cartoonist was none other than …………Walt Disney.
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5th, 1901 in a small farm in Kansas.
It was on the farm that Walt developed a love for animals and started drawing them. Years later when he produced his cartoon films, he recalled how each animal behaved in vivid detail, for example, the way a hunting dog sniffed around a tree, and he acted it out for his animators. Whenever the animators were in doubt they remembered how Walt acted out the animals’ actions and created their drawings accordingly.
When he was 16 years old, he became an ambulance driver in World War I and was stationed in France. He was assigned to a military canteen in Neufchateau, where he soon used his artistic skills, earning extra money by painting fake medals onto leather jackets and camouflaging German helmets so that they could be passed off as snipers’ helmets.
After the war ended, his father had a job waiting for him but Walt was determined to make a career in commercial art and moved to Kansas City. He entered the field of animated cartoons which was still in its infancy. At the age of 19 he became the chairman of his own company called the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation This company produced short 5 minute cartoons which were called Laugh-O-Grams.
He soon progressed to making modern versions of fairy tales which became very popular. He was also a genius at combining excellent music with cartoon action. The song “Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf ?” in the cartoon, “Three Little Pigs”, was a huge hit which swept the entire nation off its feet. In the years that followed, with each cartoon he made, he surpassed all his previous achievements.
This was known as the Golden Age of Animation which saw the first cartoon with sound, the first cartoon made in color and the first full length cartoon film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
(Steam Boat Willie – The First cartoon with Sound)
Snow White was an ambitious and daring project. Many critics said that this film would finish his career once and for all. Mid way through the making of “Snow White”, he ran out of money. His brother Roy Disney insisted that the parts of the film completed so far be shown to a team of bankers so that they could raise money to complete the film.
Walt was against showing the incomplete film to outsiders but he had no choice. Therefore, he arranged a screening of the film for the bankers. He became anxious when the bankers seemed bored by the film and did not respond to the beautiful Snow White and the comedy of the seven dwarfs. In fact one banker let out a big yawn. When Walt saw this his stomach turned to ice and he became more nervous.
After the screening, the banker who yawned didn’t show any reaction. He looked at Walt with a curious look and said “ You’ve got a great movie here, Walt. It’s going to be a Gold Mine.” When Disney heard this he was ecstatic. Sure enough, Snow White became a smash hit and has thrilled generations of movie goers.
Walt also had a long cherished dream of creating a theme park where adults would have as much fun as children. This dream took shape in the form of Disney Land, something which people had never experienced before such as a submarine ride and Cinderella’s castle. It was an architectural marvel far ahead of its time.
This was followed by Disneyworld and EPCOT center which is a futuristic city. It offers a glimpse into how people would live in the distant future.
Walt Disney died in the year 1966 but his dreams live on. He left behind a rich legacy of beloved cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pinochchio and evergreen films like Snow White and The Jungle Book. Walt Disney is still a source of inspiration for millions around the world.