Walter Elias “Walt” Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon and philanthropist. Disney is famous for his influence in the field of entertainment during the twentieth century. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Disney became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately U.S. $35 billion.
Disney is particularly noted for being a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created a number of the world’s most famous fictional characters including Mickey Mouse. He received fifty-nine Academy Award nominations and won twenty-six Oscars, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual. He also won seven Emmy Awards. He is the namesake for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States, Japan, France, and China.
Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of his Walt Disney World Resort dream project in Florida.
Wife Lillian Disney passed away. [16 December 1997]
Death caused by circulatory failure due to complications from lung cancer
Disney’s death spawned two rumors that became urban legends. The first is that he had his body cryogenically frozen. The second held that he was buried somewhere on the grounds of Disneyland. Both rumors are completely untrue. Disney was cremated and his ashes interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
As a teenager, Walt Disney was a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization affiliated with Free Masons.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA. Facing the Freedom Mausoleum, to your left hand side are two small private gardens. His is the one farthest back. Plaque is on the wall behind the trees (to your left standing at the gate).
Holds the record of winning the most Academy Awards with 22 wins in competitive categories. Additionally, he won three honorary Oscars and an Irving Thalberg Memorial Award.
Identified as the founder of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in film clips shown in the queue area of Rocket Rods (formerly, the CircleVision 360 Theater) at Disneyland
Became interested in personalizing animals’ characters after carelessly killing a small owl as a young boy. He felt deeply remorseful and guilty and vowed never again to kill a living creature.
Father of Diane Disney (born December 18, 1933).
Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000 for the multiplane camera.
Worked as a paperboy as a youth.
Briefly worked for Walter Lantz as an animator.
In the animated short Mickey’s Rival (1936), a character named Mortimer Mouse was modeled after him.
Chose Anaheim, California for the location of Disneyland after demographics experts convinced him it would become a major population center within 10 years. They were right.
His death was not publicly announced until after his funeral, which was attended only by close family members.
Reportedly, his famous trademark signature was designed for him by one of his animators.
Was a frequent target of satire by animator Jay Ward.
Reports surfaced that shortly after his death, Disney Company executive board members were shown a short film that Disney had made before his death, where he addressed the board members by name, telling each of them what was expected of them. The film ended with Disney saying, “I’ll be seeing you.”
Mickey Mouse’s birthday is November 18, 1928, the date when Steamboat Willie (1928) was released.
Donald Duck’s birthday is June 9, 1934, the date when The Wise Little Hen (1934) was released.
The name Donald Duck is frequently written in on voting ballots in Scandanavian countries as a protest vote.
Inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 1993.
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, an Army draft notice, addressed to Mr. Donald Duck, was delivered to the Disney studios.
Tribute in the Memory of Film section at the Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium. 
The Disney family came from Kilkenny, Ireland. The D’Isney family settled in County Kilkenny to escape religious persecution and later traveled to America.
Daughter Sharon Disney was adopted.
Grandfather of Christopher Disney Miller, Joanna Miller, Tamara Scheer, Jennifer Miller-Goff, Walter Elias Disney Miller, Ronald Miller, Victoria Brown.
Brother of Herbert Disney, Raymond Disney, Roy O. Disney and Ruth Disney.
Son of Elias Disney and Flora Disney.
After adapting Ludwig van Beethoven’s 6th Symphony for the soundtrack of Fantasia (1940), he exclaimed, “My God, this Beethoven will go a long way!”
Pictured on a 6¢ US commemorative postage stamp issued in his honor, 11 September 1968.
In 1981, Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) purchased the rights to the Disney name from Retlaw Enterprises, the Disney family’s company. Retlaw is Walter spelled backwards.
His grandfather lived in Ontario, Canada. From there he moved to the United States.
Was a major contributor to the success of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, primarily via his creative use of audio-animatronics (lifelike, internally animated figures). Among other things, he designed the Carousel of Progress for the General Electric exhibit, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for the State of Illinois exhibit, and, most enduringly, It’s a Small World for Pepsi Cola. One of the most popular attractions at the Fair, featuring animated figures of children from all over the world, the latter has since successfully established itself as a perennial crowd-pleaser at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. All three exhibits were transformed into attractions at Disneyland. Only the Carousel of Progress is not still open. It was closed to be turned into America Sings in Tomorrowland.
It is Hollywood legend that, lying on his deathbed at St. Jospeh’s Hospital in Burbank (across the street from the Disney Studios) his last words were about how shabby the studio’s water tower looked. Visible from a nearby freeway, towering above the backlot, it is adorned with the image of his most beloved creation, Mickey Mouse. In adherance with what they believed were their founder’s last wishes, studio executives have made sure the water tower was regularly repainted since he died in 1966.
He was a chain smoker. He avoided smoking when he was in public view, especially where he might be seen by children. His smokers’ cough often heralded his arrival in a particular wing of the studio, allowing off-task employees time to get on task.
In his autobiography, one-time Disney storyboard artist Bill Peet essentially described Walt Disney as a chain-smoking “work-a-holic” who was prone to strong mood swings.
He often called composer Robert B. Sherman into his office to play the piano for him. His favorite song was Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins (1964).
He got his idea and inspiration for Disneyland, when he visited the “Tivoli”-park in Denmark.
Was initiated into DeMolay at the Mother Chapter in Kansas City Missouri, in 1920.
Received the DeMolay Legion of Honor in 1931.
On November 13, 1986, he was a member of the first group to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame.
His father, Elias Disney, was a professional carpenter by trade who, among other things, worked on the construction of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the prototype for all World’s Fairs to follow. When Walt and his brother Roy O. Disney were boys, their father would tell them of the many wonders of the Fair, such as the first ferris wheel, thus inspiring the dreams that would make them both successful as adults.
Was awarded an honorary Oscar “For the creation of Mickey Mouse” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at the fifth Awards ceremony held on November 10, 1932, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. It was only the second honorary Oscar yet awarded by the Academy. The recipient of the first honorary Oscar, Charles Chaplin, was supposed to present the award to Disney, but he stayed home that night.
He also founded the motion picture distribution company Buena Vista Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of his empire. His empire now includes Hollywood Pictures Company and its specialty films unit; Caravan Pictures; Touchstone Pictures; Miramax Films Corporation and its specialty films unit, Dimension Films; American Broadcasting Company (ABC), ABC Family Channel, and ESPN.
According to former Disney animators, the whispered code that Walt Disney was nearby was “Man is in the forest,” a sly reference to the film Bambi (1942).
Profiled in in J.A. Aberdeen’s “Hollywood Renegades: The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.”.
Although he has been called politically conservative, actually voted mainly for Democrats until the 1940 presidential election. This was a main reason why he was asked by HUAC to testify, and was always particularly anti-communist, because his worst nightmare was being called one.
In 1964, Disney was one of several Americans chosen by President Lyndon Johnson to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The award ceremony was held at the White House on 14 September 1964. The urban myth that Disney wore a “Vote for Goldwater” button during the ceremony to endorse Johnson’s opponent in the upcoming election, Republican Barry Goldwater, is completely false and has been debunked many times.
He was one of the founding members of the right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in February 1944, along with Robert Taylor, Adolphe Menjou, Sam Wood, Norman Taurog, Gary Cooper, Clarence Brown and Clark Gable.
Wanted to name Mickey Mouse “Mortimer Mouse” when he drew him. He showed the picture to his wife and his wife did not like the idea and told him to name him “Mickey Mouse”. Some historians believe that Mickey’s name was inspired from a toy mouse by Performo Toy Company named “Micky” (spelled without an “e”), which was extremely popular and had already been selling at the time when Disney was developing his Mickey Mouse.
Was first nominated for an Oscar (as producer) in 1932, the year he also got the honorary award for creating Mickey Mouse. From that year until 1965 (the year before his death), Disney received one or more Academy Award nominations every year except 1933 and 1941.
Supported Ronald Reagan’s run for governor of California in 1966.
The last animated movie he ever put his personal touch on was The Jungle Book (1967).
Disney had been in bad health for a few months, before he finally entered St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, California, on 2 November 1966, complaining of pain in his neck and back. An X-ray revealed a tumor on his left lung and surgery was advised. Disney, however checked out to finish some studio business and re-entered the hospital on 6 November. Surgery was performed the next day and his left lung was found to be entirely cancerous and was removed.
He refused to allow Alfred Hitchcock to film at Disneyland in the early 1960s, because Hitchcock had made “that disgusting movie Psycho (1960).”.
Served in a Red Cross unit with Ray Kroc, future founder of the McDonald’s fast food chain.
Disney is credited as Retlaw Yensid for Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966)’s original story. The pseudonym is Walter Disney reversed. The Disney family’s company was named Retlaw Enterprises, Disney’s first full name reversed.
Theme parks Disneyland and Disneyworld are respectively located in Orange County (Anaheim, California) and Orange County (Orlando, Florida).
Disney’s record-breaking streaks of consecutive Oscar wins include: 1934-1940 (7) and 1951-1956 (6).
Has a record of 59 Oscar-nominations.
Walt’s ancestors were named d’Isigny, and came from Isigny-sur-Mer in Normandy, France. In 1066, two soldiers, Hughes d’Isigny and his son Robert, fought with William the Conqueror during the conquest of England. After the conquest, Hughes d’Isigny and his son decided to stay in England. Their name was, over the generations, transformed into “Disney”. In the XVII century, a branch of the Disney family emigrated to Ireland. In 1834, Arundel Elias Disney and his brother Robert emigrated from Kilkenny County, Ireland, to Northern America with their families. They left Liverpool and arrived to New York on October 3rd. Once in America, the two brothers parted. Robert established himself in a farm in the Midwest, whereas Arundel decided to reach Goderich Township, Ontario, a few steps from Canada.
Became friends with Charles Chaplin during their respective days at United Arists in the 1930s; Disney credited Chaplin for helping him correctly pace his feature films.
Personally disliked Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953) because of the lack of “heart” and “warmth” in their main characters. Was very sad about the unfavorable reception of Fantasia (1940) as he was proud of the film. Ironically, the first re-issue of Fantasia (1940) after his death was the first time it turned a profit.
Among his favorite desserts were lemon meringue pie and chocolate ice cream soda.
Survived the 1918 flu.
Although he wore a mustache all his life, he forbade his employees to wear them, not wanting to compromise on the “clean-cut image” that the Disney company had.
Before his 35th birthday, his brother Roy encouraged employees to throw the boss a surprise party. Two of the animators thought it would be hilarious to make a short movie of Mickey and Minnie Mouse “consummating their relationship.” When Disney saw the animation at the party, he feigned laughter and playfully asked who made the film. As soon as the two animators came forward, he fired them on the spot and left.
The day that he opened Disneyland in Anaheim, a plumber’s strike broke out and water pressure was restricted to avoid plumbing problems. Disney had to choose between either water fountains or toilets, there wasn’t enough water for both. He chose toilets, causing one reporter to half-jokingly quip, “Walt’s trying to force us to buy Coca-Cola.”.