What He Started: The model for the modern mixed-media mogul was a masterful animator, the first to use stereo, live action and cartoon characters in the same frame and the creator of the xerographic line-inking process that allowed studios to crank out complex films in half the time. He was a visionary amusement-park builder, a bold technological innovator and a zealous, often ruthless, go-getter.
His Legacy: Uncle Walt molded myths and spun fantasies in which innocence always reigned–and billions responded out of some deeply atavistic well of recognition. The man who built a better mouse was pleased when Disneyland was dubbed Disney’s Golden Cornfield. “I was a corny kind of guy,” he said, “so I went in for corn.”
Some 33 years after his death, Disney’s meticulously cultivated public image remains what one critic likened to a magician hired to entertain at kids’ birthday parties–a milk-and-cookies mandrake complete with slick hair and the cigarette-slim mustache of an Argentine pimp.
The Last Word: “I’d rather entertain and hope that people learn than teach and hope that people are entertained.” –Walt Disney