Walt Disney began as a paperboy, then made himself into perhaps the best-known name in the animation and film industry.
Not bad work if you can get it.
Disney died in 1966 at the age of 65. At the time, it is estimated he was worth $150 million. But when adjusted for inflation, today that would be about $1.2 billion. And the empire he left behind is worth about a cool $130 billion.
All of it proves that Disney just goes to show that Disney was one of the greatest success stories in American history.
From Paper Boy to Disney Billionaire
Walt spent his early childhood as the son of a farmer and carpenter, but his dad eventually sold the farm and moved the family to Kansas City. There, Disney’s father purchased and paper route and put his sons, including Walt, to work.
When he wasn’t slinging papers, Walt spent his time watching cartoons, studying cartoons, and focusing on his art classes. At first, he started drawing cartoons for the school newspaper, thinking he would eventually become an editorial cartoonist.
After a few tries at finding a job, without any success, Disney and one of his buddies decided to form their own studio in 1922. Their first cartoons served as animated commercials at the local movie theaters.
But the studio bombed and Disney filed for bankruptcy in 1923.
Wald Disney Files For Banckruptcy
Did he give up, though? No. Instead, he bolted for California, where he and his brother gave the animation business another try.
Disney and his first partner from the first studio, Ub Iwerks, developed a new character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. And that rabbit turned out to be the lucky break that Disney needed.
Eventually, he came up with another character, named Mickey Mouse, who debuted in 1927. Another Disney cartoon, Steamboat Willie, became the first to utilize sound around that time.
Well Walt Disney was gaining a little traction with these characters, but he still wasn’t a star. He still didn’t have a lot of money. So when he sunk a bunch of it into an animated movie called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it was a fairly large gamble.
In fact, Disney put every last penny he had (and perhaps some borrowed) into making the film.
The rest, as they say, is history — as Snow White became a massive hit instantly, and despite being made 85 years ago, remains a favorite today.
Of course, that was just the start. Thanks to the success of his first animated feature, Disney was commissioned to do more. He delivered every time, from Sleeping Beauty to The Jungle Book to Cinderella to Pinocchio and beyond, Disney went from pauper to prince.
Or as the case may be, the king of animation.
Today, he left behind a behemoth of a company that churns out movies at warped speed, has a pair of theme parks and a streaming app that he most definitely never envisioned.
He died a very wealthy man, but it’s nothing compared to what his name alone generates now.