Became friends with Charles Chaplin during their respective days at United Arists in the 1930s; Disney credited Chaplin for helping him correctly pace his feature films.
His favorite films he produced were Bambi (1942) and Dumbo (1941). He also held Fantasia (1940) and Mary Poppins (1964) in very high regard.
Very opposed to Hollywood’s monopolistic film production market in the 1930s. He became one of the founding members of the Society for Independent Motion Picture Producers. (Indie Films)
Disney’s last words before dying of lung cancer were Kurt Russell written on a piece of paper.
According to former Disney animators, the whispered code that Walt Disney was nearby was “Man is in the forest,” a sly reference to the film Bambi (1942).
Became interested in personalizing animals’ characters after carelessly killing a small owl as a young boy. He felt deeply remorseful and guilty and vowed never again to kill a living creature.
He got his idea and inspiration for Disneyland, when he visited the “Tivoli”-park in Denmark.
It is Hollywood legend that, lying on his deathbed at St. Jospeh’s Hospital in Burbank (across the street from the Disney Studios) his last words were about how shabby the studio’s water tower looked. Visible from a nearby freeway, towering above the backlot, it is adorned with the image of his most beloved creation, Mickey Mouse. In adherance with what they believed were their founder’s last wishes, studio executives have made sure the water tower was regularly repainted since he died in 1966.
He was a chain smoker. He avoided smoking when he was in public view, especially where he might be seen by children. His smokers’ cough often heralded his arrival in a particular wing of the studio, allowing off-task employees time to get on task.
His father, Elias Disney, was a professional carpenter by trade who, among other things, worked on the construction of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the prototype for all World’s Fairs to follow. When Walt and his brother Roy O. Disney were boys, their father would tell them of the many wonders of the Fair, such as the first ferris wheel, thus inspiring the dreams that would make them both successful as adults.
Was awarded an honorary Oscar “For the creation of Mickey Mouse” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at the fifth Awards ceremony held on November 10, 1932, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. It was only the second honorary Oscar yet awarded by the Academy. The recipient of the first honorary Oscar, Charles Chaplin, was supposed to present the award to Disney, but he stayed home that night.
Tom Hanks is a distant relative of Walt Disney. Hanks portrayed Walt Disney in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks (2013).
Supported Ronald Reagan‘s run for governor of California in 1966.
Although he has been called politically conservative, actually voted mainly for Democrats until the 1940 presidential election.
His favorite song was “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins (1964). When he was depressed Walt would call Richard M. Sherman to his office and have him play the song. According to Sherman, the song held special meaning for Disney; he considered it to be a perfect summation of the spirit of his company, and why he created Walt Disney Pictures in the first place.
Has a record of 59 Oscar-nominations.
Even though Walt himself never knew it, Merlin in The Sword in the Stone (1963) was modeled after him. Story writer Bill Peet saw them both as ill-tempered, mischievous, and completely brilliant.
Died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center of circulatory collapse brought on by lung cancer. He was pronounced dead at 9:30 on the morning of December 15th, 1966, just ten days after his 65th birthday. Despite the urban legend that he was cryogenically frozen, Disney was in fact cremated on December 17th, 1966 and had his ashes were interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
Before his 35th birthday, his brother Roy encouraged employees to throw the boss a surprise party. Two of the animators thought it would be hilarious to make a short movie of Mickey and Minnie Mouse “consummating their relationship.” When Disney saw the animation at the party, he feigned laughter and playfully asked who made the film. As soon as the two animators came forward, he fired them on the spot and left.
“I don’t make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures.”
“I’d rather entertain and hope that people learn, than teach and hope that people are entertained.”
“I’m not interested in pleasing the critics. I’ll take my chances pleasing the audiences.”
“I hope we’ll never lose sight of one thing–that it was all started by a mouse.”
“I happen to be an inquisitive guy and when I see things I don’t like, I start thinking why do they have to be like this and how can I improve them.”
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”