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15 Walt Disney facts we learned watching 'An American Experience'

When PBS aired An American Experience featuring Walt Disney, one might have expected the documentary to focus on the unmatched talent of the original imagineer. Between the history of Mickey Mouse, the abundance of revolutionary cartoons, and an entire theme park named after his family, Walt Disney appeared to be a joyful man with a golden touch.

We all know that what we see on the outside is not necessarily what is true on the inside. Like any normal human being, Walt dealt with his own personal insecurities. Ironically, these fears are often what propelled him into life-changing scenarios. Here are 15 interesting details of Walt Disney’s life that may paint a different picture of the man with endless dreams.

1. He was a bookworm.
Walt taught himself to draw from library books. The animation industry was young, and Walt got in on the ground floor. By the time he was 20 years old, he his first Laugh-O-gram debuted in Kansas City, Missouri. His father never thought it would amount to anything and begged his son to learn a “real” trade. Walt took that as a personal challenge and fought hard to prove his father wrong his entire career.

2. He trusted his brother more than anyone.
When distributors refused to pay for Walt’s animations, he traveled to Hollywood to join his brother Roy in the movie industry. Roy convinced Walt that he did have a future in animation, but he couldn’t draw to save his life. Once a seasoned artist was hired, the Disney brothers began making money.

3. It all began with a rabbit. Then a mouse.
Oswald the Rabbit was Walt’s first attempt to take aim at the ever-popular Felix the Cat. Through some legal discrepancies, Oswald was poached from the Disney brothers. They didn’t “own” the rabbit. Instead of quitting, Walt didn’t just retaliate with Mickey Mouse (his wife Lilian’s idea). He one-upped the studio that stole Oswald—he figured out a way to match sound to his animations. Mickey Mouse could talk!

4. Show me the money.
Mickey Mouse became an overnight success. And with a hot commodity like that, merchandising was a no-brainer. Mickey’s face was plastered on anything and everything. The Disney company owned all the licensing. Walt was not yet 30 years old.

5. Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
After several Mickey shorts and a slew of Silly Symphonies, Walt wanted to tackle something that had never been done before—full-length animation with sound. He chose Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the inaugural project and was completely involved in all facets. He fell in love with the creative process. He was proud of his Disney family and demanded a lot from his employees. The movie was long overdue and way over budget. He depended on Roy to take care of those details. This had to be PERFECT.

6. Make them laugh. Make them cry.
Walt was extremely nervous on the opening night of Snow White. He said that any normal cartoon could make a person laugh, but it takes a special one to make a person cry. If he heard the audience sniffing during the part when Snow White is presumed dead, he knew the film would be a personal triumph. The audience cried, of course, and Snow White went on to make $8 million in its first year.

7. Stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
Walt received an honorary Oscar for his work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is said that he was irritated that the film wasn’t considered for Best Picture.

8. Is it art if no one understands?
Pinocchio and Fantasia were not as successful as Snow White. Everyone blamed the war. Walt blamed himself. He never felt that any of the Disney animations could ever compare with Snow White.

When Walt fired one of his best and most seasoned animators for talking about unionizing, various other workers crossed the picket line. Half of the art department walked out of the Disney Studios, claiming that they were overworked and underpaid. Walt smelled a conspiracy and assumed his studio had been infiltrated by communists. Roy sent Walt away so Roy could handle the problem. When Walt returned, he was never as jovial as he was before “his family” struck against him.

10. Lights, camera, ACTION!
Walt became weary of the animation industry and decided to switch to live-action films and nature documentaries. While he spurred on Davy Crockett, Cinderella was making millions. Walt did not like the picture. He saw all the flaws and once again compared everyone’s hard work to the flawless Snow White.

11. Welcome to Disneyland.
Walt began liquidating assets for a new enterprise that he was tinkering with in the back of the studio lot. This idea became a full-blown theme park. Roy was not having it, but Walt convinced him that the next logical step in their careers would be to put actual people in the landscape of the cartoon. Walt agreed to host a television show (also called Disneyland) on third-place network ABC to supplement the cost of building Disneyland. The show debuted in December 1954 and was a smash hit, with 40 million viewers—more than 25 percent of the U.S. population.

12. Try not to pass out.
Opening day arrived, and traffic was backed up for miles. Paint was still drying, asphalt was still hardening, half of the rides didn’t even work, and it was unseasonably hot for Anaheim. Yet it was somehow a ridiculous success. Walt Disney had officially become a symbol of imagination and happiness.

13. Hello, gorgeous!
Walt finally won an Oscar for Best Picture—for Mary Poppins.

14. First comes land. Then comes THE WORLD.
In 1965, Walt and a few of his friends started purchasing small plots of land in the middle of Florida. By the time reporters realized that something big was going on, Walt had acquired 27,000 acres—which is the size of Manhattan.

15. December 15, 1966
While Walt was on his death bed, suffering from complications from lung cancer, he explained in great detail his ideas for Walt Disney World. His brother Roy made sure his vision became a reality. Very few can say they have been untouched by this man’s dreams.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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