|"Those who believe when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true."|
|"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse."|
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American business magnate, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer. As a prominent figure within the American animation industry and throughout the world, he is regarded as a cultural icon, known for his influence and contributions to entertainment during the 20th century. As a Hollywood business mogul, he and his brother Roy O. Disney co-founded The Walt Disney Company.
Disney was born on December 5, 1901, at 2156 North Tripp Avenue in Chicago's Hermosa community area to Elias Disney, who was Irish-Canadian, and Flora Call Disney, who was of German and English descent. Disney married Lillian Bounds in 1925, they then had Diane Marie Disney, on December 18, 1933. Later, the Disneys adopted Sharon Mae Disney.
In 1926 producer Charles Mintz ordered a new, all-animated series to be put into production for distribution through Universal Pictures, and signed Disney's studio to produce it. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was an almost instant success, and was praised as "exceptionally clever" and showing "fine cartoon ingenuity". Disney found out that Mintz stole the rights to Oswald so, he felt the need to develop a new character to replace him, which was based on a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in his Laugh-O-Gram studio in Kansas City. Iwerks reworked the sketches made by Disney to make the character easier to animate, although Mickey's voice and personality were provided by Disney himself until 1947. In the words of one Disney employee, "Ub designed Mickey's physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul." Besides Oswald and Mickey, a similar mouse-character is seen in the Alice Comedies, which featured "Ike the Mouse". Moreover, the first Flip the Frog cartoon called Fiddlesticks showed a Mickey Mouse look-alike playing fiddle. The initial films were animated by Iwerks, with his name prominently featured on the title cards. Originally named "Mortimer", the mouse was later renamed "Mickey" by Lillian Disney, who thought that the name Mortimer did not sound appealing. Mortimer eventually became the name of Mickey's rival for Minnie—taller than his renowned adversary and speaking with a Brooklyn accent.
He died on December 15, 1966, from lung cancer in Burbank, California. He left behind a vast legacy, including numerous animated shorts and feature films produced during his lifetime; the company, parks, and animation studio that bear his name; and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).