71. Walt Disney: The Man Behind Mickey Mouse

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Walt Disney was an American entrepreneur, businessman, animator, producer, and entertainment magnate, who founded the first major theme park Disneyland in the history of the United States. Disney had a vision to build a theme park that would separate his visitors from the real world, and thrust them into a fantasy world. This idea eventually became Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles. Disney was an expert animator who created some of the most memorable characters in the history of animation.

Disney was born in Hermosa, Illinois on December 5, 1901. He had little formal education. While in high school, Disney showed a remarkable talent for drawing cartoon characters, but he did not do well in school, and dropped out at the age of 16. He tried joining the military during World War I, but was rejected because he was too young. When Disney was 19 years old, he and a friend founded an animation company called Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists, where he developed revolutionary new animation techniques. After a few failed attempts to create a profitable and famous character, Disney developed his pride and joy Mickey Mouse in 1947.

The mouse's first appearance was in an animated cartoon Steamboat Willie. Such was the beginnings of a career that is thriving to this day. Mickey Mouse is still the official symbol of the Disney Corporation. The corporation has branched out to film, television, and merchandise. Along with Disneyland, Disney's legacy includes 11 theme parks worldwide, five luxury resorts, hotels, television shows, music labels, and eight motion picture studios.

Disney also enjoyed great success in Hollywood. He has won 22 Academy Awards for several animated films he produced. He has been awarded four honorary Oscars, and won four Academy Awards in one year, which is the most of any corporation in the history of the Oscars.

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