Many know the man, Walter Elias Disney, as the epitome of the American Dream and the man behind one of the world’s most beloved theme parks and entertainment empires. There is no denying Mr. Disney’s influence on the world through his creativity and business drive. The Walt Disney Company is the one of the top largest media giant in the world with assets including movies, television studios, music and radio shows and resorts. Disney’s theme parks in the United States, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing continue to be popular destinations for memorable family vacations.
6 Surprising Facts About the Man Behind Disney
The world of Walt Disney is filled with magic and mystery — and for a good reason. The man himself was an enigma to many, and his life’s work was filled with wonders and curiosities. Like many extremely creative individuals, he was both accomplished and eccentric, often in compelling ways. Here are six surprising facts that highlight the man behind the magic of Disney.
1. The Media Mogul Never Graduated
From high school, that is, Walter Disney stands as an example of outrageous success despite not having received a high school diploma. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and pursued his creative endeavours wholeheartedly. His work paid off in the form of his future media empire, and his achievements garnered him honorary degrees from Ivy League universities.
2. What’s in a Name?
Walt Disney’s name was not originally Disney at all. The family’s original French-heritage name was “d’Isigny.” The name came from a small village in France and was pronounced “Deez-nay.” The name evolved over time, and it’s probably a good thing it did — for business purposes — since “Disney” is much easier to spell and pronounce. Interestingly, Walt Disney occasionally used alias names including “Retlaw Yesnid,” his full name spelled backwards, or “Yen Sid,” the letters of “Disney” in reverse.
3. You’ll Recognize His Voice
Yes, Walter Disney himself was the original voice of Disney’s most famous character, Mickey Mouse. For 20 years, Disney was the exclusive voice of Mickey in all of the animated movies featuring the beloved cartoon rodent.
4. He Had an Odd First Job
In France at the age of 16, Walt Disney had a rather unusual first occupation. Having dropped out of school, he became an ambulance driver after being turned down by the military. He covered his ambulance in cartoon drawings — foreshadowing his future as a pioneer in the world of animation. His career followed an interesting trajectory, complete with dabbling in several vocations. Once, in his early twenties, Walt Disney was fired from a clerical office job due to “lack of creativity.” He certainly proved that former employer wrong as he pursued his deep passion and talent for creating legendary characters.
5. Contrary to Popular Belief. . .
Disney’s body was not cryogenically frozen in a mysterious laboratory. When he passed away, an urban legend quickly surfaced that he had chosen this unusual option. In fact, he is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Such bizarre urban legends might have their roots in the fact that Walt Disney was a most unusual character himself — but this particular myth has been perpetuated even in the face of proof to its contrary.
6. He Broke Records
Walt Disney went down in history for winning more Oscars than anyone else, ever. Over his 43-year career, Disney won 32 Oscars. He was nominated 64 times for the prestigious awards. In addition, he won seven Emmy Awards and several honorary awards for his creative work in film and television. Disney won his very first Academy Award in 1932 for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
After creating Mickey Mouse, Disney would go on to create the repertoire of beloved characters now known as Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto — and of course, Mickey Mouse’s adored companion, Minnie Mouse.