VOA Special English TV: Disney Family Museum Honors Mickey’s Father

For most people, the name Walt Disney is linked to images of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and theme parks. Last year, the Walt Disney Family Museum opened in California. Richard Benefield is head of the museum.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: Well, this Museum is really about the man, Walt Disney. Walt Disney, during his lifetime, received 932 awards for his public service to mankind as well as for his professional achievements. And in this lobby area, we have 248.

Disney received 32 awards from Americas motion picture industry. Benefield says they include a special award for the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The pictures and videos in the museum show the private side of Walt Disney.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: This entire wall has drawings that were done by Walt while he was in high school.

Disney was born in 1901 in Chicago. At the age of 20, he went to Hollywood.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: This wall here, he had just started to do a prototype of something called The Alice Comedies.

The Alice Comedies used images of a live-action girl and an animated cat. Disneys big success came after he finished an animated story about a mouse. He and his wife Lilly decided on a name for the mouse while going to Hollywood.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: And on that fateful trip from New York to Hollywood, Walt came up with the idea of using a mouse for his next cartoon character. And he said to Lilly, What about Mickey Mouse? And, she said, Thats good. I think that will do just fine. And thats how Mickey Mouse was born in 1928 on a train ride from New York to Hollywood.

This is the earliest known picture of Mickey Mouse. Steamboat Willie was Disneys first film to combine voice, music and animated images. He used beats from a bouncing ball so that the sound would agree with the images.

Yet Disneys life was not always happy.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: In 1940, Walt lost both of his parents, and not shortly after that his company experienced a very divisive strike. It was the early days of the labor movement in the United States. He was very hurt by the strike, which shut down operations for quite a period of time.

But Disney recovered, and his company went on to produce films like Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians. He also had the idea for theme parks that celebrated the stars of his movies.

RICHARD BENEFIELD: This walk down the ramp in general celebrates Walts love of trains, and how that led him to really found Disneyland which, of course, one of the first rides at Disneyland was a train that ran all around the park.

Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966. He was 65 years old.

TV ANNOUNCER: “Walt Disney, the master of an entertainment empire, the most complete and influential showman of this generation, died.

Many people around the world mourned the man whose creations brought happiness to their lives. Im Jim Tedder.