Today is the birthday of Walt Disney, who was born in Chicago in 1901. In 1928 he introduced the world to Mickey Mouse in the animated feature Steamboat Willie. Disney revolutionized animation, mixing sound and color to produce full-length feature films based on classic children’s stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For Disney, fantasy on the big screen was not enough. He also pioneered the fantasy-themed family vacation when he opened Disneyland in California in 1955 (1).
Disney was a man who paid attention to details, and he knew that the appearance of his characters as well as their names mattered. In the 1930s, for example, when Disney was adapting the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White, he made a list of 47 potential names for the dwarfs, which included Awful, Baldy, Dirty, and Hoppy (2). In case you can’t remember the names that made the final cut, they are Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Doc.
As a film producer, Disney won 22 Academy Awards, far more than anyone else. Disney died in 1966, but his name lives on. The Walt Disney Company, the small animation company he founded on October 16, 1923, has grown into the world’s second largest media conglomerate.
Today’s Challenge Escape to Cartoon Mountain
Who would you argue should be on the Mount Rushmore of Cartoon Characters? Brainstorm a list of cartoon characters. Don’t limit yourself to just Disney characters. Select your final four, the four that that you think are the most influential, most important, or just most entertaining. List the names of each character along with a rationale for each character’s selection. (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)
1-Gottlieb, Agnes Hooper, Henry Gottlieb, Barbara Bowers, and Brent Bowers. 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium. New York: Kodansha International, 1998.
2-The 47 Dwarfs. Lists of Note 23 March 2012. http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/03/47-dwarfs.html.