While Walt Disney made his way to New York City, his backer, Charlie Mintz, was going behind his back. Mintz saw little value in the Disney Brothers because Walt could hardly draw. Mintz set out to create his own studio, convincing the entire Disney crew of animators to join him. Stunned by the betrayal of Mintz and his employees, Walt vowed never again to work for anyone but himself in August 1927. This was a defining moment not only in the history of Walt Disney Studios, but in the history of American entertainment.
Riding back to California, Walt sketched almost every type of character that was already used by other cartoon makers. His mind alternated between his friend backstabbing him, terrified by the need to start all over, and drawing an entirely new character. Inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic, Walt drew a story about a mouse that builds a plane to gain the attention of a girl. His name was to become Mickey Mouse.
Some would say that Mickey Mouse was much like Walt himself – he often failed, but always bounced back. When faced with a setback, he would get up, dust himself off, and start all over again. Turning Mickey Mouse into a success was to become a test of perseverance and faith. Trusting in his own creative judgment, Walt had his team work on a third Mickey Mouse cartoon called “Steamboat Willie,” which was influenced by Charlie Chaplin. He needed a way for his cartoons to stand out among all other cartoons. Walt wanted more than just sound and music to the cartoon. He insisted on music match-up. His creation made history.
I grew up around everything Disney. Walt Disney may not have been able to draw much, but he is an “artist” to me. His ideas and sketches are what brought Disney characters to life. Walt Disney created much of the early animation himself and realized he needed Ub Iwerk to help him clean up his final designs. In the end, Walt Disney was able to make Mickey Mouse entertaining as well as educational.
Walt Disney’s entire industry all started with a dream to carry the wonder of childhood to people of all ages. Walt’s dream fueled a great comeback:
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that is was all started by a mouse.”
Barrier, Michael. The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. University of California Press, Ltd.,
Landry, Robert J., et al. A Mickey Mouse. Edited by Garry Apgar, University Press of Mississippi,
Susanin, Timothy S. Walt before Mickey: Disney’s early years, 1919-1928. University Press of
“That It Was All Started By a Mouse.” Youtube. Uploaded by, Julianna Bove, February 22, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBNXOvTJmwA.