Walt Disney (1901 - 1966)
The United States provided aid to the Allied Powers but remained neutral until Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The United States then declared war on Japan and, in turn, Germany declared war on the United States. The United States joined the Allied Powers and launched an enormous war effort at home and abroad. On the home front, civilians made important contributions by helping to produce military equipment, supplies, and food in record amounts. American military forces fought in Europe, North Africa, and throughout the Pacific against the Axis Powers. By the end of the war, over twelve million Americans had served in the armed forces.
On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered, bringing an end to the war in Europe. The war in the Pacific continued until the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in early August 1945. The Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945. By the end of the war, over 418,500 American servicemen were killed, and worldwide an estimated thirty-eight million people lost their lives during the war.
Early Years and Education
Walter Elias Disney was born December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, to Elias and Flora Disney. His siblings were Herbert, Ray, Roy, and Ruth. Roy later helped his brother make the Disney Company a success. Walt’s parents grew tired of life in Chicago and decided to move closer to family on a farm outside of Marceline, Missouri, in 1906. Walt attended Park Elementary School. The small-town life of Marceline had a huge impact on Walt. It was here that he began to draw animals and indulge his imagination. Walt’s exposure to rural life influenced him throughout his career.
After four years, the farm was not profitable, and Walt’s father became ill. In 1911 the family moved to Kansas City where Roy and Walt helped their father deliver newspapers. Walt was only nine years old when he had to get up at 3:30 a.m., seven days a week, to fold and deliver papers for two hours before attending the Benton Grammar School. Walt’s work responsibilities did not keep him from drawing and having fun. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute on Saturday mornings, and performed skits and vaudeville routines with friends at local theaters. Walt graduated from the Benton School, and soon the family moved back to Chicago.