The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney, is an American diversified multinational mass media company. Disney was founded on October 16, 1923, by brothers Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney, as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.
In early 1923, Missouri, animator Walt Disney created a short film entitled Alice's Wonderland. After the bankruptcy in 1923 of his previous firm, Laugh-O-Gram Studios, Disney moved to Hollywood to join his brother, Roy O. Disney. Walt and Roy Disney formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio that same year. More animated films followed after Alice. In January 1926, with the completion of the Disney studio on Hyperion Street, the Disney Brothers Studio's name was changed to the Walt Disney Studio.
In photo: Walt Disney (Getty)
In 1928, to recover from the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney came up with the idea of a mouse character named Mortimer while on a train headed to California, drawing up a few simple drawings. The mouse was later renamed Mickey Mouse and starred in several Disney produced films. Disney's first sound film Steamboat Willie, a cartoon starring Mickey, was released on November 18, 1928.
In photo: Micky mouse and Minnie mouse (Getty)
Disney began production of his first feature-length animated film in 1934. Taking three years to complete, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in December 1937 and became the highest-grossing film of that time by 1939. Using the profits from Snow White, Disney financed the construction of a new 51-acre studio complex in Burbank, California.
In photo: Walt Disney (Getty)
The Walt Disney studio continued releasing animated shorts and features, such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. After World War II began, box-office profits declined. When the US entered the war, many of Disney's animators were drafted into the armed forces. The US and Canadian governments commissioned the studio to produce training and propaganda films. By 1942, 90% of its 550 employees were working on war-related films. Even the studio's characters joined the effort, as Donald Duck appeared in a number of comical propaganda shorts, including the Academy Award-winning Der Fuehrer's Face (1943).
In photo: Walt Disney's son with Disney characters (AFP)
With limited staff and little operating capital during and after the war, Disney's feature films during much of the 1940s were ' package films', or collections of shorts, such as The Three Caballeros and Melody Time, which performed poorly at the box-office. The release of Cinderella in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other releases of the period included Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, both in production before the war began, and Disney's first all-live-action feature, Treasure Island.
In photo: Celebration of 5th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company (AFP)
In 1954, Walt Disney used his Disneyland series to unveil what would become Disneyland, an idea conceived out of a desire for a place where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 18, 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the general public. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland was previewed with a live television broadcast.
In photo: Disneyland in Paris (AFP)
On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of complications relating to lung cancer, and Roy Disney took over as chairman, CEO, and president of the company. One of his first acts was to rename Disney World as "Walt Disney World" in honour of his brother and his vision. In 1967, the last two films Walt actively supervised were released, the animated feature The Jungle Book and the musical The Happiest Millionaire. On December 20, 1971, Roy Disney died of a stroke. He left the company under control of Donn Tatum, Card Walker, and Walt's son-in-law Ron Miller, each trained by Walt and Roy.
In photo: Walt Disney with his wife (R) and his two daughters (Getty)
While Walt Disney Productions continued releasing family-friendly films throughout the 1970s, such as Escape to Witch Mountain and Freaky Friday, the films did not fare as well at the box office as earlier material. However, the animation studio saw success with Robin Hood, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound.With The Wonderful World of Disney remaining a prime-time staple, Disney returned to television in the 1970s with The Mouse Factory and a brief revival of the Mickey Mouse Club. On April 18, 1983, The Disney Channel debuted as a subscription-level channel on cable systems nationwide.
In photo: Cinderella castle in the US (AFP)
Despite the success of the Disney Channel and its new theme park creations, Walt Disney Productions was financially vulnerable. Its film library was valuable but offered few current successes, and its leadership team was unable to keep up with other studios. By the early 1980s, the parks were generating 70% of Disney's income.
In photo: Micky mouse and Minnie mouse in Tokyo's Disneyland (AFP)
On July 25, 2005, Disney announced that it was closing DisneyToon Studios Australia in October 2006, after 17 years of existence. Then, in 2006, Disney acquired Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney’s pre-Mickey silent animation star. On December 31, 2009, Disney acquired full ownership of Marvel Entertainment. And, on November 17, 2016, Disney announced a deal with The Pokémon Company to move the Pokémon anime series to Disney XD from its longtime US TV home of Cartoon Network starting with Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon (Season 20).
In photo: Princes and princesses od Disney (Others)
The company's main entertainment holdings include Walt Disney Studios, Disney Music Group, Disney Theatrical Group, Disney-ABC Television Group, Radio Disney, ESPN Inc., Disney Interactive, Disney Consumer Products, Disney India Ltd., The Muppets Studio, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, UTV Software Communications, Lucasfilm, and Maker Studios.
In photo: Walt Disney shooting and recording in studio (Getty)
Some of Disney's animated family films have drawn fire for being accused of having sexual references hidden in them, like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Some religious welfare groups, such as the Catholic League, have opposed films including Priest and Dogma. Disney has also been criticised for its influence over children in that it endeavours to appeal to children at a young age and develop their views and interests according to Disney’s portrayal of major themes as well as prepare children to become early consumers of their brand.
In photo: Logo of The Walt Disney Company (Others)