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Walt Disney: An American Original [Paperback]

Bob Thomas
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1994 Disney Editions Deluxe
Walt Disney is an American hero--the creator of Mickey Mouse, and a man who changed the face of American culture. After years of research, with the full cooperation of the Disney family and access to private papers and letters, Bob Thomas produced the definitive biography of the man behind the legend--the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt on his first movie venture but became the genius who produced unmatched works of animation. Complete with a rare collection of photographs, Bob Thomas' biography is a fascinating and inspirational work that captures the spirit of Walt Disney.

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Walt Disney: An American Original + The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom + Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Made Me Believe! Jan. 20 2004
This was the most inspiring biography I have ever read. I bought it while on vacation at Disneyworld in Orlando this past November with my girlfriend and family, and I couldn't stop reading it. I found the most interesting period of his life to be the years between 20-35, when no one would give him a chance. I am a fiction writer who has written seven novels in the past decade (my 20s), and each of them has been rejected so many times I don't even want to think about it. I can not tell you how difficult it is to put everything I am as a human being into something I believe in and to face as much disinterest from agents, publishers, editors, magazines, and universities as I have.
Many of Disney's friends gave up on him. Even his family began to think he was crazy.
To read that Walt Disney went through a very similar period in his life to what I'm currently going through was like giving me a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. It made me hope. And when a book can do that, you know it is something special, man. Walt Disney truly was an American original; more than that, though he was a person who inspired dreams, goodness, and optimism even in the face of terrible adversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book Feb. 14 2004
By A Customer
I just finished reading this book and thought it was absolutely fantastic. It takes you through the life of Walt and his associates as he/they make 'Disney' a household name. The author speaks of the struggles and triumphs along the way. It was interesting to read how many failures he had before becoming successful. This book traces the origins of Mickey Mouse, many of the GREAT Disney films, and, of course, Disneyland. There's a lot of personal stuff. It starts with his father's birth and works it's way to that sad day when Walt passed away. I found the Disneyland part to be some of the most interesting. Honestly, I found this book to be so entertaining that I read it in a few days. After reading, you will understand why Walt Disney is/was such a great man. This book doesn't sugar-coat the truth. It's a great and interesting read. I highly recommend this one to all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Key to the Kingdom Jan. 5 2003
"Walt Disney: An American Original" professes to be the authorized biography of Walt Disney. Originally written in 1976, ten years after Walt's death, and then revised in 1994 for the Hyperion Press. The book is well written and told in almost story-like fashion tells the active life of one of the all-time greats of the 20th century: Walt Disney.
Author Bob Thomas nicely builds his life from his ancestral French relatives and how they came to settle in Small Town U.S.A. Giving a sturdy view of his grandparents and parents lives, we come to understand the lifestyle and times in which Walt was born under so we better appreciate his influences. I particularly found it interesting how Walt himself can recall his own childhood with such vividness from the smells, sights and events that went on around him. Seems such a curious child but always with a hopeful attitude.
Once he began working in the animation studio with Ub Iwerks, his longtime friend and extremely gifted animator as well, we can see Walt's career unfolding. The small nuances of the transitions between the Alice comedies and Oswald and Mickey always seemed vague to me, however, this book discussed those moments which became clearer. How Roy came aboard to help Walt is also better understood from this book.
When Walt finally broke ground with Steamboat Willie and Mickey Mouse became a household name, Bob Thomas began already looking towards the theme park as Disney's ultimatum in life. As Walt began preparing the actual construction for the theme park, the author leads us to believe that everything that pre-dated the idea was all for a theme park. From this he began to neglect the animation department and the films themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A look inside the man that is Walt Disney... Feb. 27 2002
By J. Long
I loved this book. I'm a Disney fan. When I say that, I don't mean that I'm a fan of the "Buy anything and everything" corporate God that is The Walt Disney Comapny. I like them and love Walt Disney World, but I'm more of a fan of the man himself and this book helped me to understand that man.
Tracing his life from birth to his first interests in cartooning, to Laugh-O-Grams, to Mickey Mouse and beyond, this book got inside the personality of Walt himself. It really gave me a sense of what kind of man he was: Hard working, loving, focused, motivated, and always willing to look ahead to tomorrow. You'll look at the Disney empire in a totally different way and feel like you know what Walt would and would not have done with the business had he lived on.
If you want to take a trip back to a time when the name Disney meant quality family entertainment and a vision for a better tomorrow or if you just want a well written biography of a man that helped to change the world, look no further than this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!! May 27 2001
This was such a great book!!! It catalogues the life of this great man from the start of his life to his fatal battle with lung cancer. From his early failures to his great successes.
Bob Thomas offers a touching tribute to the man who did so much to bring joy to others and change people's way of thinking. Thomas, who over the years conducted several interviews with Walt, wrote this book from a reporter's point of view, but with respect to the legacy of Walt Disney.
Walt was known as a champion risk-taker and never stopped thinking of what the future held. From his earliest days in Marceline, Missouri, Walt possessed the ability to get what he wanted from the people around him, and the ability to continue when life hit him hard.
Most know and remember Walt Disney as the creator of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, but few realize just how hard it was for him to reach the top. Walt overcame many battles, and Thomas illustrates that in detail by including excerpts from interviews and material from the Disney Archives. Walt had to face a rough childhood, bankruptcy, disloyal employees, stolen characters, numerous creditors and countless skeptics before he encountered success. He always found a way to make things work, though, and brought joy to millions of people in doing so.
By reading this book, you are able to share in Walt's triumphs and losses and feel as though you have lost a great friend when it goes into his battle with lung cancer and untimely death at age 65. Upon Walt's death, the world mourned, but his legacy continues to live and will continue to touch the lives of children, young and old, for generations to come.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In Depth Biography of a Magical Man
This is an excellent in depth biography, that captures the many facets that made up the man known as Walt Disney. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Vecchio
1.0 out of 5 stars Walt Disney an American
Disney might have done more to win World War 2 than any other general, president, or any otherworld leader combined. Read more
Published on May 20 2004 by Carlos
5.0 out of 5 stars A true original
This was a thoroughly riveting and revealing insight to the great man and his dream.
Published on March 4 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but not historical
Let me first say I am pro Disney. I read this book for personal interest and chose it after reading the comments listed below. Read more
Published on Dec 21 2003 by John Gilmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
I was reluctant to read this particularly biography of Walt Disney because of its apparently sponsorship by the Disney corporation . . . Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful way to celebrate
I recently finished reading this book, which I found hard to put down. I have always been fascinated with Walt Disney and all of his wonderful work. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2001 by P. Huntsinger
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of an American icon
I read this biography with considerable interest. I was not very old when Walt Disney died, but I remember watching the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday evening. Read more
Published on July 29 2000 by R. Mohr
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate biography for a first-rate man
Walt Disney was my hero as a child. I grew up a few miles from Disneyland; the re-release of a Disney animated classic was a major event in my life. Read more
Published on July 25 2000 by Robert James
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