Steamboat Music, Silly Symphonies, and Fantasias of Sound
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” -Walt Disney
With one man and a mouse, the history of the film, animation, and soundtrack world was changed forever. Co-founder of Walt Disney Productions, now known as The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney changed the game of the movie industry with his animated films, ushering in a new era of feature animations. Not only were his animations original, but they were innovative. Disney constantly pushed himself to find new ways to advance the medium through which he transmitted his ideas. ...view middle of the document...
Walt dropped out of high school to enlist in the army during World War I, but was rejected for being underage. After being rejected, Walt and a friend of his decided to join the Red Cross and spent the next year in France driving ambulances.
In 1919, Walt moved back to Kansas City to try to find work as an actor or a newspaper artist. His brother, Roy, found him a job at Pesmen-Rubin Art Studios, where Walt met Ubbe Iwerks. The two of them would create advertisements for movie theaters, magazines, and newspapers. When the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studios expired, Disney and Iwerks formed their own company, and were introduced to cut out animation by a colleague, Fred Harman. When Disney soon learned about cel animation and saw how much more promising it would be than cut out animation, the three men created what they called “Laugh-O-Grams,” and screen Disney's cartoons at the most popular “showman's” movie theater in Kansas City. Ending up bankrupt, Walt and his brother, Roy, decided to move to the industry's capital city, Hollywood, California, in order to set up their own movie studio on Hyperion Avenue, as Disney Brothers' Studio. Here they produced their Alice Comedies series, based off of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and had them distributed by Margaret Winkler. In 1925, Disney hired a new ink and paint artist, a young woman named Lillian Bounds, whom Walt would soon marry.
By 1927, the successful series focused more on the animated characters than on the live-action Alice herself, and Charles Mintz, Winkler's husband, was now the distributor. Mintz ordered the Disney brothers to produce a new series for Universal Pictures, who had found success with Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, and the men came up with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. After these Oswald cartoons proved to be successful, Mintz became unsuccessful in trying to lower Walt Disney's fee for producing the shorts, leading to Disney and Iwerks leaving the company. While Mintz produced the Oswald shorts with a new animation staff, as it was Universal that owned the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, not Disney, Disney and Iwerks went to work to create a character to replace their lost property. Inspired by his pet from working on the Laugh-O-Grams in Kansas City, the two began sketching out their mouse. According to Disney animator, Charles Solomon in The Golden Age of Mickey Mouse, “Ub designed Mickey's physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul.” This was due to the fact that Iwerks took the pair's sketches and designed the mouse to be easier to animate, and that Disney created the voice and personality. Lillian Disney thought the name “Mickey” sounded more appealing than the original name, “Mortimer.” The first two animations, Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Gaucho, were silent films starring Mickey Mouse.
Walt was inspired to make his future cartoons even more successful after watching 1927's The Jazz Singer, the first feature film to have...