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Walt Disney

  b. 1901; d. 1966 | American filmmaker

At The Bottom

Bankrupt and heartbroken... he was surviving on a diet of cold, canned beans while showering once a week at a train station.

Walt Disney was not only bankrupt and heartbroken, but he was surviving on a diet of cold, canned beans while showering once a week at a train station. Friends were worried about his weight, wondering if the 22-year-old artist had tuberculosis.  He hadn’t expected things to go wrong so quickly.  While working as an advertising artist, Disney had begun producing short, animated pieces that he sold to a Kansas City theater owner beginning in 1921.  Known as “Laugh-o-Grams,” Disney’s cartoons proved popular and earned him recognition and minor celebrity status. Using nearly all of his modest savings and eventually quitting his day job as an advertising artist, Disney purchased a Universal camera for $300 and began hiring young animators for his new studio, which he imagined would produce longer animated films, including parodies of well-known fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood.”  Unfortunately, Disney overestimated the market for cartoons; theaters used them as add-ons to regular features, but no one was willing to pay much for them.  To compound the problem, no one — including Disney himself — really knew much about animation to begin with, and the Laugh-of-Gram company failed to turn anything close to a profit.  Before long, Disney could no longer afford to pay his artists, and in early 1923 he pulled the plug on his studio.

At The Top

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At The Top - Walt Disney at the height of success
The Comeback - Walt Disney fight back to the top

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