Segments in this Video

Walt Disney (03:22)


This opening segment orients viewers to the life of Walter Disney, a prominent figure in the American animation industry and a cultural icon.

Early Years (02:37)

After returning from WWI, Disney took a job at his father's jelly factory. Disney moves to Kansas City in 1919 to begin his artistic career.

Animation Industry (02:33)

Using a text on animation and film making, Disney learns how to create the illusion of movement. Disney's short cartoons catch attention and excitement.

Family Business (03:17)

At age 20, Disney starts his own company, Laugh-O-Grams Inc. Elias and Flora Disney move in with their son after their jelly factory fails.

Value of Ideas (02:13)

With the pending collapse of his company, Disney proposes a new idea of putting a real girl in cartoons. By the summer of 1923, his business goes bankrupt and he boards a train to Los Angeles, California.

Family Partnership (03:16)

After his failure in animation, Disney strives to be a film director in Hollywood. Margaret Winkler contacts Disney in response to his Alice in Cartoonland idea. Disney partners with his brother, Roy Disney.

Disney Brothers' Studio (03:01)

Disney hires animator Ub Iwerks to work on the "Alice in Cartoonland" shorts. With the increasing demand from his distributor, Disney recruits and hires employees. The Disney brothers enjoy early success and both get married.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (03:08)

In 1926, the Disney brothers move their studio and Disney changes the name of the business. Disney takes aim at the gold standard of animation and attempts to transform it.

Disney the Driver (02:25)

Disney demands work, creativity, and productivity from his employees. Charles Mintz poaches almost all of Disney's artists and continues making Oswald cartoons.

Memories of Marceline (02:53)

Marceline, Missouri represents an idyllic, childhood place for Disney. Five year after arriving in town, Disney's parents sold their farm and moved back to the city.

Birth of a Mouse (03:15)

In 1928, after the loss of Oswald the Rabbit, Disney and his team create Mickey the Mouse. To set Mickey's shorts apart, Disney works to add a soundtrack.

Sound-Synchronization (04:00)

Disney travels to New York to secure a distributor for his new cartoon. Steamboat Willie premieres on November 18, 1928 to rave reviews. Within months, Mickey Mouse is Hollywood's newest celebrity.

Mickey Mouse Merchandise (03:42)

Disney understands the problems and hopes of ordinary people. Mickey Mouse Clubs begin to spring up in local theaters. Disney hires marketing genius, Kay Kamen.

Success and Mental Fatigue (03:46)

Mickey Mouse is Disney's alter ego. At 30, Disney becomes the first celebrity of animation. As the company grows, Disney is displeased with his new role as supervisor. In 1931, Disney suffers from a nervous breakdown.

Artistic Cartoons (04:26)

In October 1931, Disney vacations in Cuba and returns a transformed man. Disney attempts cartoon as art in his Silly Symphonies shorts.

Disney Studio Community (03:21)

Disney is jovial and informal with his employees. He regularly attends their lunch volleyball games and applauds the winner. Disney offers drawing classes at the studio.

Snow White Proposition (03:04)

In 1934, Disney holds a company meeting and acts out a one man show of Snow White. He proposes a feature-length, story driven cartoon.

Animator as Performer (04:13)

Disney believes he can draw empathy from audiences by infusing natural realism. Disney's obsession with detail slows production. Snow White requires 200,000 separate drawings.

Snow White's Approaching Deadline (03:34)

Disney Studio's staff grows to over 600 employees. At the start of 1937, the studio is behind in production. Walt insists Snow White cannot be rushed.

Premiere of Snow White (04:07)

At Snow White's premiere, Disney is in a state of high anxiety in anticipation of the crowd's reaction. During the funeral scene, audience members weep.

Motion Picture History (04:16)

When the curtain closes at the premiere of Snow White, the audience gives a standing ovation. In 1938, the cartoon plays for five weeks at New York's Radio Music Hall. Snow White grosses 8 million in its first year.

A True American Original (03:58)

Snow White is a commercial triumph for Disney. At home, Disney drives his two young daughters to school every day. The Disney brothers move their parents to Los Angeles.

Honorable Mention (02:34)

Disney identifies with his mid-western background, and understands the value of labor. Disney is given a special Oscar for his feature-length cartoon.

Coming of Age Animations (02:27)

Disney dreams of releasing a feature-length animation every six months. In the fall of 1938, Disney's mother, Flora, dies of carbon monoxide poising. He internalizes his emotions and returns to work.

High Standards of Art (04:35)

Disney makes a separation between cartoons and art. He creates a trademark Disney story line. Disney alternates his attention to different projects, including Mickey Mouse's Fantasia.

Building a Dream Studio (03:07)

Disney selects a 51 acre building lot in Hollywood Hills for the new location of Disney Studio Inc. He begins construction on his version of a perfect studio.

Personality Animation (05:19)

In February 1940, the studio releases Pinocchio. Disney promotes the camera technology and special effects in the film. Audiences walk away from the film emotionally drained and satisfied.

Big Business (02:05)

Disney's insistence for innovation pushes budget, and the company does not earn back its investment in Pinocchio. Disney Studio Inc. is opened for the public to purchase shares.

Ambition and Criticism (03:01)

Disney's abstract ambition, Fantasia, receives uneven reviews. He is accused of being pretentious in the intellectual community.

Financial Losses (04:14)

Financial deficits leave the company unable to pay its dividends to preferred shareholders. Disney's new studio suffers from being too mechanical and rigid.

Unions Emerge (02:33)

With the legislative passing of collective bargaining, Hollywood unions emerge in the late 1930s. Disney is not worried about the Screen Cartoonist's Guild.

Screen Cartoonist's Guild (03:51)

In February of 1941, Disney personally addresses union organization in his company. Most members of the 1,200 staff are left infuriated after Disney's speech.

Disney Employees Picket (02:28)

In May 1941, Disney terminates Art Babbitt for his union activities. Disney employees meet and vote to take a stand against their boss.

Credits: Walt Disney: Part 1 (02:29)

Credits: Walt Disney: Part 1

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Walt Disney built a media and entertainment company that stands as one of the most powerful on the planet, won more Academy Awards than anybody in history, created a cinematic art form, and invented a new kind of American vacation destination. Disney's work counts adoring fans on every continent and critics who decried its smooth façade of sentimentality and stubborn optimism, its feel-good re-write of American history. Part one of this two-part series focuses on Disney’s early career, Hollywood success, and his battle with maintaining a growing company. Distributed by PBS Distribution. 

Length: 115 minutes

Item#: BVL114676

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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