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Animation from 1928 - 1945

Steve Cavalier | Thursday April 09, 2009

Categories: Film, Animation, 1928 - 1945, Other Topics

The Rise Of Disney and The First Sound Cartoons

In 1927 the first ‘talking’ motion picture was released, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolsen, which helped to popularize sound in films. Many cinemas now fitted the sound technology to show the new films.

Walt Disney

In 1928 Walt Disney rushed out ‘Steamboat Wille’ the first widely distributed synchronised sound cartoon, ‘Steamboat Wille’ (synchronised or sync, means when the sound effects and talking are in time with the actions seen on screen). The cartoon ushered in what has become known as the Golden Age of American Animation, which lasted until the early sixties. The film is also famous for the introduction of Mickey Mouse, the biggest superstar of animation history!

Disney had actually made a couple of other Mickey Mouse shorts before ’Steamboat Wille’ but he hadn’t been able to sell them to distributors and so they weren’t shown to the public at the time. The investment in quality sound for ‘Steamboat Wille’ was considered a huge risk but Disney was determined to persevere. The Disney name is associated with global success but this kind of self-belief and dogged determination to keep trying despite initial failure was a characteristic of Walt Disney’s career and played a big part in his later success.

After serving with the Red Cross in France in the First World War, the young Walt Disney worked as a cartoonist for local papers and magazines in Kansas City and learned animation making cinema ads. He met another cartoonist named Ube Iworks and in 1920, when Disney was just nineteen, the two of them decided to set up a small company called ‘Disney-Iwerks Commercial Artists’. They produced several cartoon newsreels called Laugh-O-Grams and then hired more local artists to make a series short fairy tale send-ups. The distributor went bankrupt soon after and they both went back to working for other people.

Disney then got together with his brother Roy to...

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