THE WONDROUS MAGIC OF WALT DISNEY STILL SHINES 50 YEARS LATER
On December 15th, 1966 an exceptional man of wondrous vision died; fast forward 50 years later and his talents, contributions, and inspiring life still continue to have profound effects in the world of entertainment. His name was Walt Disney and now five decades after his passing it’s clear that his magic has never been stronger. The visionary world he created has continuously proven itself to be a source of immense creativity, joy, and art. And so while much has changed since 1966, the gift that was Walt Disney’s life remains a timeless example of the good one man can bring to the world. The name Disney is so well known, yet while the company’s power has been unmatched for years, its namesake’s life has been surrounded by much mythology and even ignorance to whom he was especially since his death. We all know Disney, but do we know Walt Disney? There are a number of great and informative biographies on the man (including An American Original by Bob Thomas – Purchase the book using this link to support the site and get a great read!) and so biographical details will not be found here; instead I wish to discuss what Walt Disney represented and how he was able to craft a legacy unlike any other.
To say that Walt Disney was a visionary cannot even begin to bring justice to his ever fertile mind. It wasn’t just that he pioneered the animated art form and established it as a legitimate product, but it was his ceaseless intuition into the possibility of tomorrow that never withered. Once one idea had come to life, he didn’t dwell on its success he moved on to the next project. Establish a new film studio? Check, what’s next? Make an animated short with sound (Steamboat Willie)? Check, what’s next? A feature-length animated film (Snow White)? Check, what’s next? A theme park designed for the fun of all (Disneyland)? Check, what’s next? He won 22 Academy Awards and a slew of other prizes; the list of Disney’s achievements and visions are spectacular, especially considering his relatively short life span of 65 years.
While it would seem that he accomplished all this with ease and went straight to work on the next project, it was, in fact, the great challenges that he faced that made his successes even more prominent. His belief in his products (whether it was the films, the park, or the family entertainment medium) never wavered and while it may be called stubbornness, it was also exceptional ingenuity. Furthermore, it was his ability to spread his inventiveness to others that allowed for the best quality material to come out of the studio. He managed to get the best possible work out of his employees; he pushed them because he knew they could deliver and the next best thing was always around the corner.
And so Walt Disney wasn’t just a man with nonstop ideas, he was a firm believer in the art of the possible. That spirit has continued ever since his passing 50 years ago to all those who represent the Disney Company and to those who aspire to bring some goodness through art to the world.
On his death, US President Lyndon Johnson wrote to Walt’s widow “Millions of us lived a brighter and happier life because of your husband’s talents. I pray that you will find some comfort in the knowledge that beauty, joy, and truth are immortal. The magic of Walt Disney was larger than life, and the treasures he left will endure to entertain and enlighten worlds to come.”
Indeed those treasures are more polished than ever and continuously bringing smiles to our faces; there is a little bit of Walt Disney in all of us. The sense of wonder, ambition, and perseverance lives on in the work of all creative people and all who wish to make our lives a little sweeter. It’s true there can never be another Walt Disney, but his legacy of creativity and love has never stopped shaping us. Now 50 years later we see that that pixie dust still has that sparkle. And it will always have that sparkle, for as long as we strive to pursue the next endeavor and bring some joy to the world the spirit of Walt Disney will be smiling.