At PublicPeople, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

Who is Walt Disney?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

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.

Walt Disney holds the record for most Oscar nominations.
Walt Disney holds the record for most Oscar nominations.

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.

Walt Disney Productions was originally located in Hollywood.
Walt Disney Productions was originally located in Hollywood.

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.

Discussion Comments


I love the Disney productions. They are entertaining to the world. Not only did Walt Disney give us a mouse, he gave us princesses and fairies. One of my favorite princesses is Princess Cinderella. In fact, I like all of them. They're unique in their own way, teaching children to be themselves.

I love Tinkerbell. Not only is she Peter Pan's friend, she is friends with almost everyone she meets. Walt Disney was a creative, fun guy. This tells you that a story has a happy ending... sometimes. But Cinderella and Tink's friends always seem to stick together, beginning and end, through start to finish.


Icecream17-I know that Walt Disney wanted to design Disney World for a while and people actually laughed at him and did not think it would be profitable.

Thank goodness that he did not listen because today it is among the most frequented tourist attractions in the world.

I think that sometimes that best ideas came about because people had the courage to seek their vision regardless of the naysayers. It takes a lot of confidence and conviction in order to see things through.


Subway11-I also loved, “Mary Poppins”. My children love the movie and the music is just so entertaining.

I even think that Julie Andrews won an Oscar for that movie. Sometimes watching Disney movies make it easy to talk to your kids about various moral situations that arise.

In the movie Mary Poppins, the children crave attention from their parents who are really too busy to care for them.

The nanny filled that void that the children felt and toward the end of the movie, the parents realize it and change.

There is really no substitute for parental love, but it shows that even if you are busy, you have to make time for your children.


Greenweaver-I love Toy Story 3 the best. It was an excellent movie. It is really hard to continually make great movies like this, but this one is excellent.

It is amazing how they use toys that we have all played with as a child and made them the main characters. It reminds me a little about the Velveteen Rabbit.


SauteePan- I love all of the Walt Disney movies. They all have a common thread. They really tug at your heartstrings and there is always a moral message that is really important.

Walt Disney pictures have come a long way from the early Walt Disney cartoons. Look at movies like “Toy Story” and the subsequent sequels.

These movies make the characters so lifelike. The three dimensional characters are enhanced with the 3D viewing. I wonder what Walt would say about the Pixar films. He would probably love it.


I have to say that I love Walt Disney animation. One of my favorite Walt Disney movies as a kid was Peter Pan. I also loved Cinderella.

I love the message of that movie and as a kid always felt happy that Cinderella found her prince. It really illustrates how envy manifests itself and how you can not hide who you are.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Walt Disney holds the record for most Oscar nominations.
      By: FrameAngel
      Walt Disney holds the record for most Oscar nominations.
    • Walt Disney Productions was originally located in Hollywood.
      By: Perseomedusa
      Walt Disney Productions was originally located in Hollywood.