Walter Elias 'Walt' Disney was born on December 5 way back in 1901, making today his 115th birth anniversary. A pioneer of the animation industry, he holds the record for most Academy Awards won by an individual – 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. Many of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. An entire legacy began when he started developing his cartoonist skills as a young kid, drawing pictures of his neighbor's horses. Today, on his anniversary, let's have a look at Disney's real-life adventure.
We all know the most popular character in animation, let alone Disney. But did you know that Mickey Mouse wasn't Disney's first iconic character? Mickey's predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was created while Disney was under contract with Universal Pictures. When he left Universal, Disney gave birth to the mouse in 1928. That sounded weird. Mickey was originally named Mortimer, but Disney's wife thought the name "sounded too pompous" convincing him to change it to Mickey. Ever since Mickey's birth until 1947, Disney himself did the voice of the mouse.
If you've noticed, many Disney films are known for absent parents, particularly mothers. You might have noticed this in Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, Tarzan, etc. Many believe this trend was the result of Disney's guilt over his own mother's death. When Disney bought a new house for his parents, a broken heating system resulted in his mother's death from carbon monoxide poisoning. Truly heartbreaking.
Being a pioneer in animation, he obviously paid attention to detail, often in strange ways – he measured distance in hot dogs. Even trash cans at Disney World were placed 25 steps away from hot dog stands, since that was how long it took him to eat a hot dog. The first ever words to be spoken by an animated character were by Mickey Mouse in 1929. The words were: "Hot dog!"
Out of this World
A minor planet is named after Disney. Discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina in 1980, the planet is called 4017 Disneya. Come to think of it, Pluto got his planet way before Disney did. Speaking of stars, Disney has a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Mickey Mouse, who was the first animated character to receive one.
Death of a Legend
The last film Disney personally oversaw was The Jungle Book, before his death from lung cancer in 1966. Despite persistent rumors, Disney was not cryogenically frozen but was cremated instead; his ashes were buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Disney's final words remain a mystery. On his deathbed, he wrote the name "Kurt Russell" on a piece of paper. Even Kurt Russell himself has no idea why, since he was only a child actor at the time, having just recently signed on with Disney Studios.