Tombstone Tuesday – December 15, 1966 – Walt Elias Disney

Walt Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Elias and Flora (Call) Disney. Elias Charles and Flora Disney had five children; Herbert Arthur (1888), Raymond Arnold (1890), Roy Oliver (1893), Walter Elias (1901), Ruth Flora (1903). Walt Disney taught himself to draw at a young age. In the 1910 Federal Census, Elias and Flora Disney and their children are found in Marceline, Missouri. They have three children living with them ; Roy, Walter and Ruth. Walter is eight years old in 1910. When he was sixteen years old in 1917, Walt lied about his age and joined the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps and served in WW1. When he was mustered out at the end of World War I, he set up shop as a commercial artist in Kansas City, Missouri. There he was introduced to the profession of animation, which he found he excelled at.

In the 1920 Federal Census, Walter is living with his brothers, Herbert and Roy and Herbert’s family in Kansas City, Missouri. Walter lists his occupation as a commercial Artist/Cartoonist. In 1923, Walt moved to Los Angeles to live near his successful brother, Roy Disney. On July 13, 1925, Walter married Lillian Marie Bounds in Nez Perce, Idaho. Walt and Lillian had two daughters; Diane Marie (1933) and Sharon Mae (1936).

In the 1930 Federal Census, Walter and Lillian Disney are living in Los Angeles. Walter is a Producer in the Motion Picture Industry.

In the 1940 Federal Census, Walt and Lillian are listed in Los Angeles. They have two daughters; Diane and Sharon. They also have several employees listed in the census; Olive A Smith who is a nurse, Almyr B. Buddhie who is a butler and Verda Buddhie who is a cook. Walter’s occupation is listed as Motion Picture Producer.

Walt’s Bio from Findagrave:

Walt Disney began drawing commercially, making a modest living by drawing for the “Alice” series of cartoons, about a live action girl who travels to the world of animated cartoon animals. In 1927, his first really successful commercial cartoon, featuring ‘Oswald the Rabbit’, became a success, but he lost the rights to the character when sued by his distributor. From then on, he insisted on owning the distribution rights to his creations. In 1928, Walt Disney created ‘Mickey Mouse’. His third ‘Mickey Mouse’ film, “Steamboat Willie,” was the first animated cartoon motion picture to use synchronized sound and became an overnight success. He was the voice of the character for the first ten years of the cartoon. In 1934, Disney pioneered the first full length cartoon movie, “Snow White”, and again, critics were overcome by the sheer popular response of the public to the movie. In 1950, he produced his first live-action film, “Treasure Island,” and in 1955, he opened his first theme park, “Disneyland”. Prior to his death in 1966 in Los Angeles, California, of lung cancer, he began work on his latest theme park in Orlando, Florida: “Walt Disney’s World”. His brother, Roy, the business genius behind the scenes, continued to run the company, and decades after Walt Disney’s death. Shortly after his death, the Disney Company executive board was shown a short film that Disney made just before his death, where he addressed each board member by name, telling him what he expected of him, and ending the film by saying “I’ll be seeing you.” Walt Disney was one of the few Americans to be honored with a United States postage stamp issued less than two years after his death (the United States Postal Service prefers to issue stamps at least ten years after a person has died; an exception is made for United States presidents), when a 6 cent stamp was issued in September 1968 in his honor.

Fifty-Four years ago today, Walter Elias Disney died on December 15, 1966 in Burbank, California. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Rest in peace, Walter. You live on everyday making children and adults happy when they visit your theme parks around the world.

Love, Jan

Walt E. Disney is a ninth cousin once removed. I would not normally use a cousin who is so distantly related but since it was Walt…. I decided he should be honored here too!

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