Walt Disney: A life in photos

Dec. 06, 2011 | 10:26 a.m.
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Walt Disney, 1901-1966: A gallery of photos from D23 and the Walt Disney Archive

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Walt Disney during production of "Bambi." (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney poses in front of a Red Cross ambulance that he decorated during World War I. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Weeks before his death in 1966, Walt Disney shows his concept for EPCOT in Florida. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney in a promotional photo. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Circa 1920, Walt Disney works at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney in a promotional photo. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney shows off an intricately detailed, pre-opening aerial map of Disneyland. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney behind the camera in Hollywood in 1923. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse's shadow in Hollywood. (D23: The Official Disney Fan Club)

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Walt Disney, right, whose studio was taken over by the Army, collects metal deer lawn ornaments for military scrap in his volunteer job with the war salvage chief, Joseph F. MacCaughtry, on April 14, 1942. ("High Exposure: Hollywood Lives- Found Photos from the Archives of the Los Angeles Times")

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Walt Disney explains how cartoons are made in "Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio." (Disney Enterprises)

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A behind the scenes glimpse of Walt Disney from the DVD "Walt Disney Treasures - Tomorrow Land: Disney in Space and Beyond." (Disney)

It was 110 years ago this week that Walter Elias Disney was born on the west side of Chicago. He would go on to become a titan in American popular culture, a man whose name became a global brand name of highest order. There have been many, many things written about Disney through the decades: about his heritage and life trajectory; his collaborations both famous and unexpected; his business acumen; his politics and prejudices; and, most often, his legacy and proper place in history. Sometimes, though, we connect best with history by studying the lines of its face and trying to peer into the eyes of the past. With that in mind, we bring the above photo gallery, which shows snapshots of a life marked by big gambles and truly rare vision. Be sure to click the “CAPTIONS ON”option to see the photos, which are also courtesy of D23.

— Geoff Boucher


10 Responses to Walt Disney: A life in photos

  1. EdSJ says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for remembering him!

  2. Jesse says:

    It is not well documented that Walt Disney hated Jews because he didn't. If you did proper research you'd see that Walt hired Jews, befriended Jews, and in 1955 was named man of the year by the B'nai B'rith chapter in Beverly Hills. A co-worker named Ben Sharpsteen worked for Walt at the Disney studio and it's documented that he was not to keen on Jewish people. Walt hated communists. And for good reason if you know his history. You can't create one of the world's biggest Hollywood studios and become as successful as Walt did if you hate Jews in this town. It's impossible. Look how Mel Gibson has been practically shunned from the industry for some of his comments. Walt didn't care about your religion. And while it's possible he may not have been a supporter of homosexuals, he was also born in 1901. He lived in an era when most white people hated black people. People were more discriminative back then because nearly everybody was. Had Walt grew up in today's times I highly doubt he'd have an issue.
    Walt even pushed for James Baskett to win an Academy Award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus in Song of the South. He was the first African American to win an Oscar and Walt is partially to thank for that.

    So maybe do your research before you start slamming a man who's only major flaw in my opinion was his addiction to smoking.

    • Kate says:

      An excellent reply, but it should be noted that Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to win an Academy Award (Mammy in GONE WITH THE WIND), and Mr. Baskett was voted a "special" Award, not a Best Performance one.
      Disney's hatred of communism arose from his hatred of unions, especially those involved in the animators' strike of the early 1940s, an animus stoked by governmental pressure on all the studios, through HUAC and Cold War hysteria.

  3. Kate says:

    Disney did not hate Jews–he certainly carried the prejudices of growing up in Missouri in the early twentieth century, but it did not keep him from employing and befriending Jews throughout his adult years. And, I suspect, Disney had his share of HOMOSEXUALS (don't be afraid to use the word!) creatively contributing to his output, but keeping their own counsel through those benighted times.
    What in your life has made you so hateful? I feel sorry for you…

  4. Petey says:

    Walt had Asians (like Tyrus Wong), African-Americans (like Floyd Norman), women (like Ruthie Thompson) and far too many gays on his staff in key roles. He knew talent. Years ago, I read a story whose source I can't remember anymore, but basically one of Walt's gay animators was being harassed and Walt made sure the bad behavior stopped but quick. He may not have been an avid supporter of what was then considered a "deviant lifestyle," but he knew that people of ALL sorts should be respected … and you see that in every film he made. It's a shame that we are so scared of offending anyone that "Song of the South" still won't be released. It is no worse than "Gone With the Wind" and has the added benefit of a heartfelt, upbeat message that says life is good, even when it's difficult. Was it a wrong-headed view of slavery? Yes, but it was the PREVAILING view at the time, and is a brilliant, beautiful, affecting and memorable film. And Walt Disney was an incredible man.

  5. Marc says:

    I love this slideshow! :) Every time I see a picture of Walt(or Papa Walt as I call him), I tear up thinking about the wonderful man who truly changed the world in so many ways. I'm glad to live in a world he was part of because of how magical he made it.

  6. Feliciano says:

    @Petey What a great response, you've sum my whole mind up . Thanks for saving me some time :)

  7. miney says:

    did not know how walt disney looked i thought he was older than he looked

  8. chris says:

    I have been looking all over to buy the photo of Walt in front of the Disneyland (photo #8 above), but can't find it anywhere – any suggestions?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who took these photos?/Who is the author of the photos?

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