Walter Elias Disney was born 5 December 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He was a film director, engineer, animator and entrepreneur. Walt Disney is famous for his many films, innovative theme parks, and the animated character Mickey Mouse.
As a child, Walt Disney lived with his parents, Elias and Flora Disney, in Chicago. When Walt was five years old, the family moved to Marceline, Missouri where they lived for four years. It was here that he grew to love drawing and trains. Disney's uncle, Michael Martin, was a train engineer in Marceline. The next stop for the Disney family was Kansas City, where Walt went to the Benton Grammar School along with his sister, Ruth. Disney's friend at Benton, Walter Pfeiffer, had a family that was involved in vaudeville and motion pictures and through them, Disney became very interested in films and theater.
The Disney family moved back to Chicago in 1917, as Elias had bought shares in a jelly factory there. There, Walt attended McKinley High School and also started night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. Disney's early working days included jobs designing art work for magazines, newspapers, and movie posters. He and a fellow artist, Ubbe Iwerks, eventually opened their own commercial art studio and later Walt's brother Roy helped him open a film studio in Hollywood, California.
The Disney brothers' studio, called Walt Disney Productions, was located on Hyperion Avenue in Hollywood. Today, the firm is known as the Walt Disney Company. Walt's wife, Lillian, was hired as a secretary at the studio before she and Walt married 15 July 1925. Walt and Lillian had two daughters: Diane Marie, born to the Disneys on 18 December 1933 and Sharon Mae, adopted by the Disneys and born on 21 December 1934.
Disney's most famous character, Mickey Mouse, actually started out with the name Mortimer, but Lillian thought Mickey was a better name. Walt Disney won a special Academy Award in 1932 for the creation of Mickey Mouse. Disney became quite famous after that. He holds the record for the most Oscar nominations as he was nominated for 59 of them, as well as seven Emmys.
In the late 1940s, Disney began sketching ideas for a Disney theme park. Disneyland was inspired by Disney's trip to Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California. While Disneyland was being constructed, Walt Disney Productions produced many successful films such as Treasure Island in 1950, The Shaggy Dog in 1959, The Parent Trap in 1961, and the mega-hit Mary Poppins in 1964. The Mickey Mouse Club television show began in 1955 and was a huge hit.
In 1964, Walt Disney was on a secret mission of buying land in Florida for his next dream of building a larger version of Disneyland that he wanted to call The Magic Kingdom. Roy Disney took over the project after Disney, a life-long cigarette smoker, died of lung cancer 15 December 1966. The Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, opened in 1971 and Roy Disney died three months later.