Today marks the 110th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth. Disney started with little more than talent and ambition and built one of the most powerful entertainment empires known to man. Many people think of him as simply the man who created Mickey Mouse, or as a television host or studio head, but Disney played a vital, hands-on role in his company’s success.
Disney won 22 Academy Awards, an Emmy, and countless other honors for his work. He was also a visionary like few others in history, and he belongs on the list of true American innovators along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs.
In honor of Disney’s birthday, here is a list of five of his greatest innovations. Some of them are obvious, while others aren’t as well known. But all changed the way we view entertainment and art.
(Author’s note: I relied on two books about Walt Disney for this column. Bob Thomas’ Walt Disney: An American Original is more or less his “official” biography, while Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph Of The American Imagination is a recently published account. Both books are comprehensive and well-written, and I highly recommend them.)