This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham
Walt Disney first developed a love of drawing at a young age. He had a neighbor named “Doc” Sherwood who paid the young Disney to draw pictures of a horse Sherwood owned. He quickly moved on to copying newspaper comics and drawing landscapes inspired by scenes from his youth.
Disney attended high school in Chicago before he was shipped off to World War I to drive an ambulance. He had previously attempted to sign up with the army, but was rejected for his age. He joined the Red Cross instead and found himself serving in France after the signing of the armistice.
Upon return, Walt found temporary work creating visual advertisements for the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio, but he soon struck out on his own with his friend and fellow cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks. The two had a short lived venture, but Disney didn’t stay for long. He found himself at A.V. Cauger’s Ad Company, where his boss graciously gave him a camera he could use to make his own animations.
Disney took up cell animation and began producing cartoons under the name “Newman Laugh-O-Grams,” which quickly became popular in the Kansas City area. His first cartoons were based of Aesop’s Fables, but the company did a poor job of managing its own finances and shut its doors almost as quickly as it started.
So Disney, saddled with loads of debt, took his brother Roy with him to California where the two pooled their money and created a small film studio in Hollywood. He managed to convince the family of young voice actor Virginia Davis to relocate from Kansas City with him, and together they created Alice’s Wonderland. Thus began one of the largest companies in America.
About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Facebook page.