Walt Disney

Walt Disney

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Walt Disney
TV: North side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Walt Disney
Film: North side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Director | Executive | Producer
Born Walter Elias Disney on Dec. 5, 1901 in Chicago, Ill.
Died Dec. 15, 1966 of acute circulatory collapse in Burbank, Calif.

Walt Disney was a one-time Missouri farm boy who for almost half a century created fantasies that made a troubled world laugh.

Over the course of his career, Disney created hundreds of characters out of ordinary barnyard animals, fashioned pure-hearted heroes and awesome villains that are instantly recognizable in the remotest corners of the world.

The creations of Disney and his artists, musicians and actors brought an unending stream of honors to the soft-spoken showman, who liked to be addressed simply as Walt. He won 31 Academy Awards and more than 900 other citations.

In the early 1920s Disney began experiments in filming animated cartoons. It was during these first experiments that he first met Mickey Mouse, recalling that he always liked mice and was amused by their antics in his workshop.

"The ultimate message of Walt's life is that he believed he could reinvent everything, on the screen, in amusement parks, in all aspects of his creative life," biographer Neal Gabler told The Times in 2006. "Everything he did was designed to perfect this new world. And the secret of his success is that his visions coincided with America's yearning for the same kind of escape and wish fulfillment."

Until he completed Disneyland in 1955, the mogul spent much of his career fighting off creditors and bankers. They told him that animated films were unprofitable. Later in his life, blessed with one triumph after another, Disney failed in his ultimate quest: He dreamed of building an idyllic, problem-free city, modeled after his films, to be filled with real people.

Disney was long-rumored to be anti-Semitic. Gabler concluded in his biography, "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination," that he was not, even though he associated with members of the Motion Picture Alliance, a group whose leaders were known anti-Semites.

"Had he so chosen, he could have distanced himself from them. He did not do so until the 1950s. It took him an awfully long time to see the light."

But Disney was guilty of Red baiting during the anti-communist hysteria of the 1940s and 1950s. The roots were understandable, because Disney had good reason to believe that communists, among others, were behind a crippling 1941 strike that shut down his studio. "I think he was right ... it was communist-inspired," Gabler said.

Toward the end of Disney's life, when America was wacked with tensions over the Vietnam War and civil rights, some critics attacked him for being out of touch. His feel-good movies, his homespun parks filled with yearnings for simpler times seemed jarringly inappropriate.

"All of this offended Walt," Gabler said. "He went to his grave thinking: 'I have done everything I could to build my own world, and I don't see why I must conform to your idea of what art should be.' " As for the attacks on Disneyland, "Walt thought they were absurd. Was he supposed to build parks where real people shoot each other in the streets? 'A theme park is not a real-life experience,' he'd say. 'It's supposed to be a fabulous experience.' "

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1931 Special Award Creation of Mickey Mouse Win
    1931 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Flowers and Trees Win
    1931 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Mickey's Orphans Nomination
    1932 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Building a Building Nomination
    1932 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Three Little Pigs Win
    1934 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Tortoise and the Hare Win
    1935 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Three Orphan Kittens Win
    1935 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Who Killed Cock Robin? Nomination
    1936 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Country Cousin Win
    1937 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Old Mill Win
    1938 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Brave Little Tailor Nomination
    1938 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Ferdinand the Bull Win
    1938 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Good Scouts Nomination
    1938 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Mother Goose Goes Hollywood Nomination
    1938 Special Award Win
    1939 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Ugly Duckling Win
    1939 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Pointer Nomination
    1941 Special Award Win*
    1941 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award Win
    1941 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Lend a Paw Win
    1941 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Truant Officer Donald Nomination
    1942 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Der Fuehrer's Face Win
    1942 Best Documentary The Grain That Built a Hemisphere Nomination
    1942 Best Documentary The New Spirit Nomination
    1943 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Reason and Emotion Nomination
    1943 Best Documentary - Short Subject Water: Friend or Enemy Nomination
    1944 Best Short Subject - Cartoon How to Play Football Nomination
    1945 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Donald's Crime Nomination
    1946 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Squatter's Rights Nomination
    1947 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Chip An' Dale Nomination
    1947 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Pluto's Blue Note Nomination
    1948 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Mickey and the Seal Nomination
    1948 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Seal Island Win
    1948 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Tea for Two Hundred Nomination
    1949 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Toy Tinkers Nomination
    1950 Best Short Subject - Two Reel In Beaver Valley Win
    1951 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Lambert, the Sheepish Lion Nomination
    1951 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Nature's Half Acre Win
    1952 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Water Birds Win
    1953 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Bear Country Win
    1953 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Ben and Me Nomination
    1953 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Rugged Bear Nomination
    1953 Best Documentary - Short Subject The Alaskan Eskimo Win
    1953 Best Documentary - Feature The Living Desert Win
    1953 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom Win
    1954 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Pigs Is Pigs Nomination
    1954 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Siam Nomination
    1954 Best Documentary - Feature The Vanishing Prairie Win
    1955 Best Documentary - Short Subject Men Against the Artic Win
    1955 Best Short Subject - Cartoon No Hunting Nomination
    1955 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Switzerland Nomination
    1956 Best Short Subject - Two Reel Samoa Nomination
    1957 Best Short Subject - Cartoon The Truth About Mother Goose Nomination
    1958 Best Short Film - Live Action Grand Canyon Win
    1958 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Paul Bunyan Nomination
    1959 Best Documentary - Short Subject Donald in Mathmagic Land Nomination
    1959 Best Short Film - Live Action Mysteries of the Deep Nomination
    1959 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Noah's Ark Nomination
    1960 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Goliath II Nomination
    1960 Best Short Film - Live Action Islands of the Sea Nomination
    1961 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Aquamania Nomination
    1962 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Symposium on Popular Songs Nomination
    1964 Best Picture Mary Poppins Nomination*
    1968 Best Short Subject - Cartoon Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day Win
    * A joint nomination shared with other people.

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