Walt before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928

Walt before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928

4.3 3
by Timothy S. Susanin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

For ten years before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney struggled with, failed at, and eventually mastered the art and business of animation. Most biographies of his career begin in 1928, when Steamboat Willie was released. That first Disney Studio cartoon with synchronized sound made its main character--Mickey Mouse-an icon for generations.

But

…  See more details below

Overview

For ten years before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney struggled with, failed at, and eventually mastered the art and business of animation. Most biographies of his career begin in 1928, when Steamboat Willie was released. That first Disney Studio cartoon with synchronized sound made its main character--Mickey Mouse-an icon for generations.

But Steamboat Willie was neither Disney's first cartoon nor Mickey Mouse's first appearance. Prior to this groundbreaking achievement, Walt Disney worked in a variety of venues and studios, refining what would become known as the Disney style. In Walt Before Mickey, 1919-1928, Timothy Susanin creates a portrait of the artist from age seventeen to the cusp of his international renown.

After serving in the Red Cross in France after World War I, Walt Disney worked for advertising and commercial art in Kansas City. Walt used these experiences to create four studios-Kaycee Studios, Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney Brothers Studio, and Walt Disney Studio. Using company documents, private correspondence between Walt and his brother Roy, contemporary newspaper accounts, and new interviews with Disney's associates, Susanin traces Disney's path. The author shows Disney to be a complicated, resourceful man, especially during his early career. Walt Before Mickey, a critical biography of a man at a crucial juncture, provides the "missing decade" that started Walt Disney's career and gave him the skills to become a name known worldwide.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Real film-history research is hard and tedious work; it often involves endless hours of digging through old journals and documents, searching for some elusive detail. My hat is off to Tim Susanin for his painstaking labors to illuminate the obscure corners of Walt Disney’s early career. Thanks to his efforts, dates, names, and other previously unknown details of Walt’s early years have been brought into the open.”

—J. B. Kaufman, author of South of the Border with Mickey: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program, 1941-1948 and (with Russell Merritt) Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney

“Tim Susanin has unearthed a goldmine of information that enables us to focus on Walt Disney’s early career as we’ve never been able to before. He has dug deep and come up with details and colorful material that deepen our understanding of the man. Bravo!”

—Leonard Maltin, author of The Disney Films and Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons

From the foreword by Diane Disney Miller:

“I have always loved to hear my dad talk about his life, especially the early part . . . his childhood, family, the Kansas City days, and especially how he met and courted my mother. Tim [Susanin] has done an amazing job of chronicling the lives of the people in that period who affected Dad’s life. His research brought out the fact that some of Dad’s early benefactors were his neighbors on Bellefontaine, people who had seen him grow up and were aware of his industrious nature. Dad, it appears, was never shy about asking for a loan. But he was diligent about repaying it . . .

“Tim continues on for several more years, all exciting for the brothers and their wives, though not without periods of anxiety. He ends with the loss of Oswald the Rabbit and the creation of Mickey Mouse. Dad’s telegram to Roy as he, with my mother, was about to depart New York for home was ‘Leaving tonight stopping over KC arrive home Sunday morning seven thirty don’t worry everything OK will give details when arrive—Walt.’ He didn’t mention the fact that they had lost Oswald. They would need a new plan, a new character. Roy, who had been caring for my parents’ chow dog Sunnee, recalls that nothing was said until Roy inquired, ‘Tell me about it, kid . . . What kind of deal did you make?’ ‘We haven’t got a deal,’ Dad cheerfully replied. ‘We’re going to start a new series.’”

“What a monumental work, and a very accurate one. No one has ever gone into as much detail on Walt’s early life. This will be a joy to researchers for years to come.”

—Dave Smith, Archivist Emeritus, The Walt Disney Company

More Praise for the Book:

“Walt Disney was a man in movement, someone whose exceptional energy and curiosity permitted him to create great animated features and the extraordinary Disneyland park. Tim Susanin gives us our closest look yet at Walt when he was just starting to become that great visionary of the middle of the twentieth century. His book is a chronicle of Walt Disney in the 1920s, when he was just starting up Hollywood’s ladder—whose lowest rungs happened to be in Kansas City. We meet many of Walt’s friends and colleagues, too, people who have been little more than names in earlier biographies and studio histories but whose stories are told here in unprecedented detail. This book does a superb job of tracking the restless young Walt Disney through the decade of triumphs and trials that preceded the great turning point in his life: the creation of Mickey Mouse.”

—Michael Barrier, author of The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney and Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age

“The men and women who surrounded Walt in the 1920s come to life as never before thanks to Tim Susanin. Meticulously researched and easy to read, Walt before Mickey is bound to shape the history of Walt’s early days for years to come.”

—Didier Ghez, editor of the series Walt’s People: Talking Disney with the Artists Who Knew Him

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781604739619
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
06/30/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
318,424
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Timothy S. Susanin is the general counsel of a Fortune 500 company. He is a former federal prosecutor, Navy JAG, and television legal commentator. He lives in Villanova, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their three children.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Walt before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
Good for Disney historians. This review is of a complimentary copy provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. “Walt Before Mickey” by Timothy S. Susanin is one of the, if not the, most exhaustive accounts of Disney’s early years that can be found.  The research is thorough, and it shows. I have mixed feeling on “Walt Before Mickey”.  As a historian, and a huge Disney nerd, the facts presented are a treasure trove.  Almost all of the information is rare, the sources are solid and well-documented, and it brings a feeling of closeness to Disney himself. On the other hand, there is almost too much information.  Every single person he met has a painstaking account of their looks and history.  Not that those things are not important, but it slows it down and takes away from what is important.  More than once I found my mind wandering during these descriptions, and it really is a shame that it mars what is otherwise an exceptional account of a great man. I can highly recommend “Walt Before Mickey” to historians or those with an intense interest in Disney himself, but would recommend those with a casual interest to give this one a pass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should i buy it for a project?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tgis book was amazing i got a A on my project