by Devin Malone
Walt Disney is a name that is familiar amongst households across the globe, because of the massive contributions he made to the early years of the animation industry starting in the 1920’s and lasting until today. His legacy currently continues on to this very day with the massive entertainment conglomerate, the Walt Disney. As of September 2016, the Motley Fool estimates Disney’s net worth at over 156 billion dollars. While Disney may be loved by children and adults alike, there are many things people are unsure about regarding the enigmatic figure. While his life is still shrouded in mystery, there have been details that have come to life in recent years that give us a better picture to whom Disney really was, including his time as an ambulance driver.
When Disney was did not take part in the animation industry, he tried to serve his country in any way he could when World War I broke out. According to WaltDisney.org, in 1918, after failing to sign up for the US Navy and Canadian Armed Forces, Disney faked his birthdate and father’s signature in order to join the Red Cross Ambulance Corps.
It is also interesting to note that Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, was one of Disney’s ambulance partners. However, the strangeness does not end there, especially when you learn that Mickey Mouse was not always going to be the mascot of the Disney corporation; in fact, that place nearly belonged to the happy-go-lucky “Oswald the Rabbit.”
Oswald was the brain-child of Disney and his oddly named animation partner Ub Iwerks, both of which become close friends when working on the “Alice Comedies.” However, Disney got bored of working with the limiting Alice Comedies, and decided to venture out on an animated character he had penned. The result was Oswald, which after a few shorts became Disney’s and Iwerk’s golden achievement..
Yet, the success was short lived as Disney’s character was sold off to Universal Studios where it remained for over 80 years.
After many failed attempts at trying to buy back his character, Disney spent a lot of his free time coming up with ideas for new characters similar to Oswald. After drawing many rough drafts and sketches, Walt Disney came up with “Mortimer Mouse,” whose odd name would be later changed to Mickey Mouse.
Although Mickey Mouse may not have been Disney’s first choice in mascot, he was still extremely protective of it– even going so far as to firing people who so much as made jokes about it.
The Hugo award-winning book author and television writer Harlan Ellison wrote in his essay, “The Three Most Important Things in Life,” about his job at the Disney Corporation back in the mid-1960’s that he had for a single day. This is due to the fact that he made a crude joke about Mickey and the gang making a more “adult” film.
Whether or not you are a huge fan of Walt Disney, or someone who outright hates him, one has to admit that there are some strange things that surround him and his company.