Beginning of the Mickey Mouse era
After the loss of Oswald, Disney had no choice but to come up with a new star for his cartoons. So the famous mouse Mickey Mouse was born (“Mortimer Mouse called him first, but my wife Lillian didn’t like this name, and she offered to name him Mickey. I couldn’t refuse her such a trifle – that’s how Mickey Mouse came into being, which brought worldwide fame to my company, ”Disney recalled.), suspiciously looking like his eldest brother rabbit. Disney himself and the main artist of his studio, Ab Iverks, took part in its creation.
However, the studio could not sell the first two cartoons with the participation of Mickey Mouse: they were dumb, and sound already came to the cinema. Cartoons were created quite quickly for the studios of that time, in addition, we must not forget that the Disney studio was partly artisanal. As soon as sound cinema appeared in 1927, Walt immediately adopted the experience of his fellow cinematographers and began voicing cartoons. The third film of the series (already with sound) was released on November 18, 1928, and this day marked the beginning of the Mickey Mouse era.
In parallel, Walt Disney launched a new series – Silly Symphonies. It was built on other principles: new characters appeared in each film, which was supposed to stimulate the creative thinking of the studio’s cartoon artists. This series has become for Disney artists a bit of a training ground where they worked out new animation techniques before using them in larger projects. Nevertheless, it was the cartoon from this series that won in 1932 for the studio the first Oscar as the best hand-drawn film. From this moment until the end of the pre-war decade, Disney cartoons received Oscars every year. For his work, he received 29 such awards.
The theme of all Disney works is the fight against evil. Disney loved the happy endings and settled all his characters in the space of his own chaste worldview. So he “earned” himself the image of a morally pure person. But he was a malicious smoker and almost an alcoholic. Everyone about his romance with actress Dolores del Rio was known in Hollywood. However, not a single reporter dared to spoil his reputation. Why? Disney created for us a world of happiness, a refuge from the ills of reality, and it would be ungrateful to hurt him. “Motherhood, Apple Pie, and Disney” is the holy American “trinity.” Shrines cannot be desecrated.
In 1933, the daughter of Walt and Lillian, Diana, was born. And in the same 1933 Disney released his first color animated film “Three Little Pigs.” The song “We Are Not Afraid of the Gray Wolf” that sounded there became a national hit.
Meanwhile, the studio is growing. Several more cartoons are being shot. Mickey Mouse is winning the hearts of millions – not only Americans, but also Europeans. Filming “Funny tunes”, on the screens appear quacking Donald Duck, howling dog Pluto and stupid Goofy, trying to scoop up water from the pond into a colander. Disney concludes an agreement with Columbia Pictures, then with United Artists.
In 1934, Walt Disney announced to his employees that he intends to shoot a full-length animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. At first, many were skeptical at first: few believed that a picture in which there would be no live actors would be able to interest the audience as much as a big movie. However, gradually, Disney’s plan ceased to seem fantastic, and the work began to boil.
Filming lasted three years and cost a crazy amount at that time – $ 1,499 million. Only Bank of America loan, whose head – Amadeo Giannini – loved Mickey Mouse, really saved Disney from bankruptcy. But the result was worth the money, because Snow White has long been the highest grossing film of all time (only Gone With the Wind broke her record). And in 1939, Walt Disney was awarded the ninth Academy Award for this full-length cartoon. It is worth noting that during the award ceremony, Disney, in addition to one full-fledged statuette, received symbolically seven small Oscars – according to the number of dwarves. Since then, Disney studio began to consider full-length cartoons as the main and potentially most profitable products.
Together with the studio, the Disney family is growing. In 1937, Walt and Lillian (after unsuccessful attempts to have a second child) adopt a baby called Sharon May Disney.
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Walt with his daughters
Filmed during the Second World War, Pinocchio, Fantasy, Dambo and Bambi, who had every chance of repeating the success of Snow White, did not bring Disney the expected profits. During the war, the studio had to concentrate mainly on shooting propaganda and educational films for the military commissioned by the US Department of State. But all bad things come to an end. By the beginning of the 50s, the Disney Company was able to return the foreign markets taken away from it by the war, and again began to shoot full-length films, including with the participation of live actors.