In this story, we address the life and work of Walter Elias Disney, one of the most famous men in the world. Telling this story brings special challenges.
Over the last two years, we at the Archbridge Institute have written the life stories of more than twenty “American Originals.” These men and women overcame great obstacles, including impoverished and troubled beginnings, to rise to “success.” They changed the world of their times and shaped the world that we live in today.
We estimate that several times as many books and articles have been written about Walt Disney as about any other American businessperson or entrepreneur. Libraries can be filled with the thousands of books and many biographies about him, which continue to be published over forty years after his death. Those books and articles each attempt to provide a different take on the man—from idolization to vilification. Was he one of the greatest geniuses our nation has ever created, or a soul warped by his abusive father, troubled by alcohol and other evils? Did he raise the standards of American media or did he damage our culture, promoting an unrealistic ideal of singing animals and happy families? Thousands of authors, scholars, and critics have waded into these waters.