Walt Disney Net Worth: Walt Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist. He is best known for being the man behind Walt Disney Productions, one of the most famous motion picture producers in the world.
Walt Disney had a net worth equal to roughly $1 billion at the time of his death in 1966 (after adjusting for inflation).
At the time of his death, Disney’s various assets were worth $100 – $150 million in 1966 dollars, which is the same as $750 million – $1.1 billion today. His stake in the Disney production company alone was worth $600 million (after adjusting for inflation).
In addition, he held the largest personal ownership in Walt Disney Inc., the company formed in 1953 to manage Disney’s designs, patents, and other assets. His wife and kids got 45% of his inheritance in a family trust after he passed away, and his sister and her kids got 10%.
The remaining 45 percent established a charity. The majority of that charity’s funds were given to CalArts, a private art school.
Early Life and Early Career
Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago’s Hermosa neighbourhood on December 5, 1901, the fourth son of Elias and Flora Disney. He had four siblings, a brother Herbert, Raymond, and Roy, and a sister, Ruth.
The family moved to Marceline, Missouri when Disney was four years old, and it was there that he developed an interest in drawing. One of his earliest drawing projects was when he was paid to draw the horse of a retired neighbourhood doctor.
The Disneys moved in 1911 to Kansas City, Missouri. While attending the Benton Grammar School, Disney met fellow pupil Walter Pfeiffer, who introduced him to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. During this time, Disney also attended Saturday classes at the Kansas City Art Institute.
The Disney family moved yet again in 1917, this time back to Chicago. Disney attended McKinley High School where he landed the role of a cartoonist for the school newspaper and took night courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
During his early career, Disney and fellow artist and friend Ub Iwerks took jobs at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. It was there that Disney first became interested in animation.
Disney’s Animation Career
Disney moved to Hollywood in July 1923. His previous business venture, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, had gone bankrupt, but he had produced a short film combining live-action and animation based on the story “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
He was successfully able to sign a contract with New York film distributor Margaret J. Winkler in October 1923 for six “Alice” comedies. To produce the films, Disney formed the Disney Brothers Studio (later renamed The Walt Disney Company) to produce “Alice” films.
The iconic character Mickey Mouse was developed by Disney and first appeared in May 1928. Disney pioneered the method of creating post-produced sound cartoons, and signed a contract with Cinephone as the distributor of these popular sound cartoons, later signing a distribution contract with Columbia Pictures for the Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Disney, dissatisfied with the format of the short cartoons he was producing, began production on his studio’s first full-length feature animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The production of the film took four years, and cost $1.5 million to produce, but premiered in December 1937 to high praise from critics and audiences alike.
By May 1939, it had grossed $6.5 million. What followed is what is commonly referred to as “The Golden Age of Animation,” with the studio going on to release animated films like Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1943), Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940).
These films did not perform as well as expected, and by 1944 Disney’s company owed the Bank of America debts of $4 million. Disney returned to animated features with 1950’s Cinderella, which was a commercial and critical success, and other films like Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953).
From the mid-1950s onwards, Disney began focusing more of his time and efforts on other ventures outside of animation. Inspired by the layout of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, Disney began focusing on the development of a theme park in California.
He formed WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) and used his money to fund a team of engineers and animators to work on the plans for the park, set to be built on a plot of land in Anaheim, California, that had been purchased.
Disneyland was officially opened in July 1955 to great success. After only a month in operation, the park was receiving over 20,000 visitors a day and had welcomed 3.6 million guests by the end of its first year. He was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 1960 with two stars: one for his work on motion pictures, and the other for his television work.
He was also posthumously inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1986, and the California Hall of Fame in December 2006. Until his death, Disney continued to work on various animation, film, resort, and park projects. In total, he had been involved in 81 feature films.
Personal Life Of Walt Disney
Disney married ink artist Lillian Bound in July 1925, and they had two daughters. They were married until he died in 1966. Disney passed away on December 15, 1966, a mere ten days after his 65th birthday, from lung cancer.