While Walt Disney himself is no longer with us, he has left behind an incredible and lasting memory. There are many cartoons and amusement parks that wouldn’t be what they are today if it wasn’t for him and his mind, his pure imagination. However there are a few lingering secrets out there about the man behind the Mouse, just take a look at these secrets and you’ll see what we mean.
That’s Quite the Hot Dog
Disney really loved hot dogs, in fact he really loved them that he even mirrored that love in the character of Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s first words in the film Karnival Kid in 1929 were “Hot dog!”. Which are the very first words to have ever be spoken by an animated character.
Disney Did The UnDoable
Back then, Disney held an exclusive contract with technicolor, and he was the only one that was allowed to make animated films in color for the first couple of years during the 1930s. This gave him a major advantage over his competitors. Nothing anyone would have to worry about in today’s century.
Disney Got Political
Back in the 1940’s, Disney went ahead and helped keep communists out of Hollywood during the Red Scare when he became a founding member of the “Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of Americans Ideals”.
Disney’s Role In The War Efforts
In order for Disney to show his patriotism and support of the war at the time, he came up with some custom cartoon insignia’s for the U.S. troops. These were then used to boost soldiers morale, and I think they probably worked? No?
Shh, Disney’s Secret Apartment
Walt actually kept a secret apartment on Disneyland’s Main Street above the firehouse. He went ahead and chose this specific location because it was perfect for people watching, something he really loved to do. The apartment still stands completely intact to this day, complete with papers that he left behind on his desk.
His Last Words are Quite Mysterious
Actually, no one really understands what his last words quite mean. Before Walt died of lung cancer, he quickly scribbled down the words “Kurt Russell” on a piece of paper. At the time, Russell was best known for his performance in The Thing and Escape from New York, but even he didn’t understand Walt’s last, bizarre words. the reasons are mystery to him as well. I mean, at the time of Walt’s death, Russell was just a child actor who worked for the studio and hadn’t yet achieved any widespread fame.
After his death, he was NOT cryogenically frozen
Just about everyone believes that Walt Disney had his body preserved through cryogenics, this however, is totally false. It is nothing but a rumor, an urban legend. All available documentation clearly state that Disney was cremated after his death , plus the first-ever cryogenic freezings took place a whole month after Disney had passed away.
Disneyland Was Built From Walt’s Boredom
Now this is just downright laughable. One day, Walt was sitting on a park bench in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, watching his children ride a merry-go-round, and he wished to himself that there was a place, one playce, where children and adults could equally enjoy themselves together. That same bench is now on display in the Opera House at Disneyland.
Some 79 years after Walt Disney was forced to surrender Oswald to Universal, NBC which was owned by Universal, wanted to bring the famous sportscaster Al Michaels over to their new show Sunday Night Football. Michaels, however, was already working for ESPN, which is actually owned by Disney. In the end, both parties got what they wanted as Al Michaels was given to Universal and Disney got Oswald back.
A French Family
Disney actually came from a Parisian background. In fact, his original family name was D’Isigny before it was Anglicized and changed to Disney. Makes sense.
Funny First Studio
The first animation studio that Walt Disney created was Laugh-O-Gram. These are funny modernized fairy tales based on Aesop’s Fables. However, not long after the studio was up and running, it went bankrupt.
High School Drop Out
When he was just 16, Disney decided to quit high school so that he could join the Army. Although Walt was rejected for being way too young, he was able to get a job with the Red Cross driving an ambulance in France.
How Mickey Got His Name
This is a good story. Walt originally came up with the character name of Mortimer Mouse, but his wife Lily was the one who thought that the name sounded too pompous instead she srecommended a cuter alternative, “Mickey. Walt changed the name and Moritor Mouse became a rival of Mickey in later cartoons.
Man Is In The Forest
The employees of Disney came up with a code name for him that they would shout out whenever when he would walk into the office, this served as a warning for the employees to return to work. The code name was “man is in the forest.” You think he caught on after the first few shout outs?
Mini Oscars For Snow White
In 1938, Disney was awarded a real life Academy Award, along with seven miniature award statues that represented Snow White and her seven dwarfs. That’s pretty awesome! Far better then chocolate gift baskets although that does sound pretty good right now.
No Sir, No Facial Hair Here
When it came to the employees of Disney Land, Walt was extremely strict about enforcing a no facial hair policy. Up until 1970, this rule even applied to the guests. If a male guest had a beard, mustache or long hair they would actually be kicked out. The only exception was that of Walt’s own wonderful mustache.
The Oscar King
Disney would go on to win more Oscars and Academy Award nominations than anyone else out there. Between the years of 1932 and 1969, Disney won 22 Academy Awards and received 59 nominations. Not too shabby, eh?
Pioneering The Kids Clubs
Entertainment for kids on the television is pretty common these days, in fact, its the norm really. But it was actually Disney who was the first to create entertainment on television for children. He went on to create programs such as Davy Crockett, Zorro, and The Mickey Mouse Club.
Snow White, The Money Maker
Many people actually doubted Disney’s idea to create the full-length Snow White movie, (ridiculous) some even called it “Disney’s folly”, but those people were proven wrong and how. Snow White brought in some serious cash, earning $8 million during its first release, which is the equivalent of $130 million today. Darn right.
The First Lucky Rabbit
Way before the iconic mouse that Disney created, there was actually another sensation called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He created Oswald when he was just working under Universal Pictures so when Walt quit, Oswald was subsequently left which then forced him to create another character – Mickey. I’d say that’s a pretty good twist of fate.
The Man Behind The Mouse
Disney actually did the voice of Mickey himself from the time that the mouse was created in 1928 up until his death in 1947. A jack of all trades really.
Uncle Sam Needs You!
Walt Disney was as American and proud as they get and he was a great pal to Uncle Sam. So during the war, Disney produced quite a few bits of animated propaganda films as well as training videos to help out the United States military. That’s commitment and loyalty in its truest form.
Unequal Opportunity Employer
Walt Disney productions refused to hire female animators. Take a look at the letter below where it was made clear that “women do not do creative work.” Something like that would not be accepted in today’s day and age.
Disney Was Detail Oriented
Disney was well known for his incredibly meticulous attention to detail. He even made sure to measure the distance in-between hot dog stands, placing trash bins 25 steps away from each stand, because that was just how many steps he took before he finished eating his hot dog.
As a young child, Disney was raised on a farm in Missouri, and this is where he began to develop his drawing skills by drawing cartoons on his neighbor’s horse sheds. Whatever works.
He almost built a major ski resort
After the opening of Disney Land in 1955, Walt really wanted to purchase a ski resort in Mineral King Valley, which was near to California’s Sequoia National Park. His grand plan was to build a vacation spot that featured six ski areas, all which were centered around a Swiss-style base village, with a daily capacity of 20,000 skiers. The project came quite close to development actually, Disney had the approval from the Forest Service and roads deal with the Governor of California was sealed. However, after the death of Disney in 1966, the company believed they could only handle one major project at a time. They instead chose to complete Disney World – a smart choice indeed.
Way back when Disney World first opened, general admission cost only $3.50! A steal, really. However today, that ticket is equivalent to $99.00, oh how times have changed.
The idea of Epcot was actually all Walt’s idea, go figure. He had this whole idea of creating a futuristic community, which explains the title, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Sadly, he passed away before he himself could make this a reality.
Walt Disney was actually the head of the pageantry for the 1960 Winter Olympics, which were held in Squaw Valley, California.
Walt Disney has his very own star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Mickey Mouse! Mickey was in fact, the first animated character to ever receive a star.
The future character of Wall-E was inspired by Walt, well his name anyway. The robot’s name was crafted in reference to Walter Elias Disney.
Walt’s signature was not his signature
The famous Walt Disney signature, as you can see below, was not created by him, nor does it bare any resemblance to his actual signed name.
Back in 1923, Walt along with his older brother Roy, were in L.A. pursuing a career in animation. Meanwhile, Roy was selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door just to make ends meet and he told Walt that he should do the same. Walt did think about it but at the last minute, he happened to receive a call from a company in New York that wanted him working for them. Lucky break!
At first, Walt did draw Mickey but it didn’t last all that long, because after 1928, he was not animating anymore instead he was more focused on story development and direction. It was Ub Iweks and other artists who crafted Mickey Mouse.
He drove his daughters to school every single day, it didn’t matter that he had drivers, a live-in housekeeper and other members in staff, he would do the driving himself. It provided him a great comfort dropping off his two beautiful daughters to school everyday, maybe it had something to do with this upbringing but we think it’s incredibly precious.
Walt Disney set out some highly unattainable goals for himself and for his company. He wanted to produce a new feature-length film ~every~ six months. Walt also wanted almost all of them from source material such as folk tales, fairy tales, and so on.
Golf Or Bowling?
Walt Disney gave up bowling polo at his doctor’s request and took up golf instead. He would get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get in nine holes before heading to work. However he found the game so incredibly frustrating that he quit, opting for the more chill game of lawn bowling. Interesting to say the least.
After Walt became quite successful, he bough this parents a lovely, grand new house. If his parents ever needed something fixed in the house, he would just send out his own repairman from the studio. So in 1938 when his parents had a problem with the furnace, he also sent his own repairman over, however, Walt’s team did not fix the issue properly and this lead to Flora Disney to pass away from carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 70. Disney’s father, Elias, fell incredibly ill from the gas leak, but survived. Walt’s daughter, Sharon, commented that even after many years, Walt could barely talk about the matter.
Peter Pan was more than just a hit movie for Walt, it also reminded him of his childhood. After he first saw ‘Peter Pan’ on stage, young Walt was offered the change to play the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in a school performance. He said his brother was the one who guided the rope that hoisted him over the stage so it looked like he was flying.
Thelma Howard was the family’s live-in housekeeper and also cook for almost three decades. She was hired back in 1951 and was instantly part of the family. As always, Howards’s annual Christmas gift was the Disneys giving her stock in the company. However, she never did anything with them so by the time she died in 1994, she was a multimillionaire. She left behind almost $4.5 million to go to poor and disabled children, and just about the same amount to her disabled son.
Walt really loved trains, he even built an elaborate model in his office, and he thoroughly enjoyed running them for his guests. In 1948, however, his hobby grew extensively higher as went ahead and constructed a 1/8 scale model in his backyard, including the track spanning half a mile. He called it the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which is in reference to his address, 355 N. Carolwood Drive
“Feed the Birds”
Walt’s personal favorite song was in fact a ballad, “Feed the Birds,” which is the song about the pigeon lady from Mary Poppins. According to the songwriter Richard Sherman, Walt would stop by the Sherman brothers’ office quite often on Friday afternoons. Requesting that he play a personal performance of “Feed the Birds.”
What’s The Big Idea?
If one of Walt’s employee came to him or to a meeting and said, “I have a great idea,” Walt would simply reply, “I’ll tell you if it’s great. Right now all you have is an idea.” Very good of him, no?
Father Son Duo
Walt and his father, Elias, had a bit of an odd relationship. You see, Elias had a lot of failed business ventures, so he took very little joy in his son’s grand success. He would often say to Walt that he shouldn’t expect the fame and success to last. Sad to say but papa was wrong. Very wrong.
Films like Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia were all in the works at around the same time, but it was the film Fantasia that captured Walt’s attention most. However when it came to Pinocchio, he thought a lot of how they could make the puppet more likable.