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Biographies Unit Biographies

Walter Elias “Walt” Disney 1901–1966
Cartoon Animator and Founder of Disney Theme Parks

Walt Disney was born in Chicago and grew up on a farm in Missouri. He loved to draw. When he grew up, he tried drawing cartoons with animation (AN ih may shun). Animation is what makes cartoon characters move. Disney wanted to make his own cartoon movies.

In 1923, Walt Disney moved to Los Angeles. He started the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. Their first cartoons were silent, like all movies at that time. Later, they added sound to their films. Disney used sound that went with the on-screen action for the first time in 1928, in a cartoon called Steamboat Willie. The cartoon starred Disney's new character, Mickey Mouse, and it was a big success. In 1937, Disney released the first animated cartoon movie that had both sound and color, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Disney made more movies and television programs. Children loved the characters he created. In addition to Mickey Mouse, they included Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy. He built a theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, based on characters and places from his movies. The company he created still runs theme parks and makes cartoons, other movies, and television shows.

Comprehension Check

What new cartoon character appeared in Steamboat Willie?

Critical Thinking

What character traits would you use to describe Walt Disney? Explain your answer.