To call Walt Disney an artist would be simplistic. To call him a genius would be an understatement. To call him a visionary would be just about right. Disney was always pushing for the next big idea, whether it was the world’s first full-length animated movie or an amusement park that would eventually cover around 500 acres of California real estate, both ventures that critics predicted would fail. However, Disney believed that “we keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” So to celebrate his birthday, here are a few bits of trivia about the man who kept moving forward:
- A Kansas City dentist wanting to promote oral hygiene sought the services of Laugh-O-Gram films, Disney’s first animated film company. However, Walt couldn’t keep the meeting because he didn’t have the money to reclaim his only pair of shoes from the cobbler. The dentist still gave him the job, and even got his shoes out of hock for him.
- Disney sold his beloved Moon Cabriolet roadster to finance the recording sessions with New York’s Broadway Strand Theater orchestra in order to bring the world “Steamboat Willie” and a mouse named Mickey.
- The first popular song that came out of the Disney studio was “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from Disney’s 36th Silly Symphony “The Three Little Pigs.” The triumphant pigs struck a nerve with Depression-era audiences, who took up the song like a mantra.
- During Disneyland’s construction, Walt lived in a small apartment on the top floor of the Main Street Fire Station so that he could inspect everything being done (sometimes he would be caught inspecting things in his bathrobe).
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was the first film ever to time a marketing campaign on the same day as the movie’s release.
- During production, critics dubbed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Disney’s Folly” and predicted the project would be the demise of the Disney studio.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) held the top-grossing film record until Gone With the Wind (1939).
Happy birth anniversary, Mr. Disney! Thank you for using your curiosity to keep moving forward and taking us all down new paths.
If you’re a Disney fan, like I am be sure to check out more Disney fun later this month when Kim celebrates the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
So do you have any Disney trivia stored up in your noggin? Let me know.