I can’t help to wonder what Walt would have done if he were still alive. His life was always very inspiring to me. However, I personally love the early years of his life-the journey that started from the beginning of his passion in animation. So in honor of his birthday, let’s take a stroll through the early years, my favorite part of his life.
Walt took his first step by starting a small company called Laugh-O-Grams in 1921. The Laugh-O-Gram Studio was a film studio located on the second floor of the McConahay Building at 1127 East 31st in Kansas City, Missouri.
Below are the photos from the past and present.
The outside of the building was restored in 2009 by a non-profit group called “Thank You Walt Disney.” They are currently working to raise money to put a museum inside. To see their vision for the museum, click HERE.
He began producing short animated films for local businesses. By the time Walt had started to create The Alice Comedies, which was about a real girl and her adventures in an animated world, Walt ran out of money and sadly Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupt in 1923. Instead of giving up, Walt packed his suitcase and with his unfinished print of The Alice Comedies in hand, and headed for Hollywood to start a new business.
Walt arrived in California to meet with his brother Roy who was already living there. Roy gave Walt a lot of support and encouragement from the beginning. With combined efforts of money, they set up shop in their Uncle’s garage.
Below: The garage, originally owned by Robert Disney (uncle of Roy and Walt Disney) in North Hollywood, was used by Walt as a studio when he came to California in 1923. It was saved from demolition in 1984 by The Friends of Walt Disney, who housed, insured, and generously donated the historical building to the Stanley Ranch Museum
Soon, they received an order from New York for the first Alice in Cartoonland(The Alice Comedies) featurette, and the brothers expanded their production operation to the rear of a Hollywood real estate office. Eventually, Walt and Roy Disney establish the Disney Brothers Studios at an office on Kingswell Avenue in Los Angeles, with Ub Iwerks later joining the staff as an animator. Walt’s role was more creative while Roy handles the business side.
Here is an Alice Comedies show
The Disney Brothers studio before and after
However, to accommodate a growing staff, Disney Brothers Studios moves to new, larger quarters on Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. Walt informs Roy that the company will be renamed to “Walt Disney Studios.”
Before and after of Walt Disney Studios, 2719 Hyperion Ave (where the film Snow White and the Seven Dwafs was created)
A few years later, Disney discovered that the distributors of his animations had stolen the rights to Oswald, along with all of Disney’s animators, except for Iwerks.
Walt along with his few loyal artists, would finish their contract with Mintz and complete the last of the Oswald cartoons while secretly working on a new character. After dozens of brainstorming sessions, they come up with a new character: a mouse named Mortimer. Eventually, they change the name to Mickey. And you know what happened next.. Mickey became a sensation!
I love glancing through old photos of this time period. Just a few more of my favorites.
Happy Birthday Walt!