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The Man of Animation

Julia Webster, Co-Editor

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With the passing of Walt Disney’s 115th birthday, it seems right to honor this revolutionary man. Walt Disney is probably best known for the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney World, and almost every animated movie you loved as a child. However, very little is known about this larger-than-life character.

Few people know, for example, that Walt Disney dropped out of high school to join the army. He was refused for being underage, but somehow managed to land a job at the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. He was sent to France for a year, but, by the time he arrived, the armistice agreement had been signed and with it the end of World War I.

Mickey Mouse, the name inextricably bound to Walt Disney, wasn’t always known as Mickey. Mickey Mouse, originally, went by the name of “Mortimer”, but Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian, convinced him that Mickey would be more marketable, according to Time magazine. And so, Mortimer became Mickey’s rival vying for Minnie’s heart. Walt Disney was also the original first voice of Mickey Mouse in the animated short, Steamboat Willie, according to Biography.com.

Disney’s dreams and visions were mocked from the beginning. When he aspired to make a full-length feature film, completely with animation, people called him crazy. But, there is a fine line between crazy and genius. Snow White was a huge success, raking in $8 million in its first release. Walt Disney earned a specialty Academy Award for the film, with the standard figurine, and seven smaller ones trailing behind it.

On the same note, Walt Disney has earned more Academy Awards than anyone in history. He won 22 Academy Awards, and was nominated 59 times. Three special awards were created specifically for him. One was the award for Snow White, one for creating Mickey Mouse, and another for his contribution of music in the field of animation, according to Time Magazine.

Contrary to popular belief, Disney was not frozen. Everyone thinks they know that after his death on December 15th, 1966, Disney’s body was cryogenically preserved, in the hope that he would someday be brought back to life, according to History.com. But, that is simply a rumor. Disney was cremated, and his ashes are in a mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. The first person to be cryogenically frozen was an American university professor in 1967.

Walt Disney’s last words remain unexplainable. He mysteriously wrote “Kurt Russell” on a piece of paper, shortly before his death. No one knows what exactly Walt Disney wanted with Kurt Russell, and according to the man himself, he has no clue either. The child actor, at the time, hadn’t yet starred in his famous roles in The Thing, and Escape from New York.

These facts are little known, and are mostly overshadowed by Walt Disney’s animated characters and his amusement park. He was a man with dreams and ambitions, and he achieved greatness during his lifetime.

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The Man of Animation