What is Walt Disney's connection to Kansas City?

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Walt Disney
Walt Disney

Born in Chicago, Walt Disney and his family moved to Kansas City when he was nine years old. They lived at 3028 Bellefontaine.

While attending Benton Elementary School, Disney took Saturday drawing classes at the Kansas City Art Institute,. It’s been said that he got his start drawing animals from books checked out from the Kansas City Public Library. This certainly sounds plausible!

After World War I where he worked overseas for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, Disney returned to Kansas City and was hired as an artist at an advertising agency. In 1920 he began an animated film business with his old mentor, artist Ub Iwerks. The two produced animated cartoons called "Laugh-O-Grams" for local movie theaters in their studio at 1127 E. 31st Street.

A small mouse reputedly lived in one of Disney’s desk drawers at this studio and supposedly influenced the creation of what later became one of the most famous cartoon characters of all--Mickey Mouse.

Laugh-O-Gram Studios went bankrupt in 1923, and Disney left to work with his brother in Los Angeles. Iwerks and other artists joined him. Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck, was an old Kansas City friend who attended Mount Washington School.

Disney returned to Kansas City on at least one occasion. The South Central Business Association on February 13, 1942, presented him with a Honorary Membership in their organization.

For more information search the Local History Index.

Librarian Mary Beveridge
April 2006

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