This post is a continuation of the previous episode about the timeline of Walt Disney’s history:
This timeline page corresponds with the sixth podcast episode, which you can find here:
6. Timeline- Disney Bros. Studio & Alice’s Wonderland (1923-1925)
1923 (Walt 21 Years Old)
–August 1923– When Walt arrived in Los Angeles, “[he] was discouraged. [He] wanted to be a director.” –Walt Disney
-Walt Disney moved in with his Uncle Robert for $5 per week (Uncle Robert had retired and now lived in LA).
-Next, Walt went to go see Roy O. Disney in Sawtelle, CA.
-Walt next went to visit Hollywood. He got through security by saying he was a Representative for Selznick News, which was a company he had done a couple of newsreels for in Kansas City.
He basically had free reign over the sets, including the set where Charlie Chaplin shot, along with the set of the 1916 movie, Intolerance.
-Walt constantly spent time around the different studios: Universal, Paramount, etc.
-Walt applied for a director job with any and all studios in Hollywood, but all of them declined due to his age and inexperience.
-Walt was convinced by a friend from Kansas City to sign up to be an extra for the movie, The Light That Failed, where he would ride a horse, but his part was canceled because it was raining on the day they were supposed to film. They recast Walt’s part when by the time it was shot.
-Walt reached out to Jack Alicoate of Lloyd’s Film Storage Corporation. Alicoate tried to find a film distributor for the Alice Comedies with no success.
–September 1923– Next, Walt went to meet Alexander Pantages. He had bought a Pathe camera and offered to make comedy reels similar to the Newman Laugh-O-Grams. Walt talked with a representative of Pantages, who declined, but Pantages heard the discussion and instead voiced interest.
-Walt then reached out to Margaret Winkler, who was familiar with Walt’s Laugh-O-Gram cartoon shorts and had previously expressed interest in the Alice Comedies.
-“I am no longer connected with the Laugh-O-Gram Films, Inc. of Kansas City… I am establishing a studio in Los Angeles for the purpose of producing the new and novel series of cartoons I have previously written you about.” –Walt Disney
–October 1923– He sent the sole copy of the first Alice Comedies cartoon via Jack Alicoate in hopes Winkler would pick up the series.
–Early October 1923– Walt rented office space at 4651 Kingswell Avenue in Hollywood for $10 per month (changed to $15 per month in December).
–October 15, 1923– “BELIEVE SERIES CAN BE PUT OVER. THIS BEING NEW PRODUCT, MUST SPEND LARGE AMOUNT ON EXPLOITATION AND ADVERTISING. THEREFORE, NEED YOUR COOPERATION.” –Winkler wired Walt
-Margaret Winkler responded with a contract offer to pick up 12 cartoons for “$1,500 for each negative of the first six films and $1,800 for each of the second six,” with the caveat that Virginia Davis had to continue to play Alice, as she had done in the original cartoon. Winkler also said she would immediately pay the first six’s $1,500 when each was delivered, before any profit was made.
-Later that day, Walt went to Sawtelle to visit Roy.
-“Look at this! We’re in! Margaret Winkler wants the Alice Comedies! Can you help me get this thing started?” –Walt
-“Can you deliver the cartoons on deadline? Have you figured your costs and profit margin?” –Roy
-“Okay, kid. I’ll help you” –Roy
-Just like that, Walt and Roy became business partners as cofounders of Disney Bros.
–October 16, 1923
-Roy Disney discharged from Los Angeles Veterans Hospital.
-Roy then went to the bank and withdrew $200 from his savings.
-Afterwards, Roy approached Uncle Robert about funding their new business venture.
-Robert was reluctant to give any money to Walt Disney because of Walt’s recent bankruptcy. In addition, Aunt Margaret had recently passed from pneumonia, and Robert’s new wife was pregnant.
-Robert was convinced and loaned $500 total to the Disney brothers:
–Mid-October 1923– $200
–Late October 1923– $150
–Early December 1923– $75
–December 14, 1923– $75
–October 16, 1923– Contract signed with M. J. Winkler Productions.
-First Alice Comedy had deadline of January 2, 1924.
-Winkler also offered a contract for 24 additional cartoons, all 24 of which spread over 1925 and 1926, but with the stipulation that Winkler owned the rights to all cartoons made during the contract’s term.
-Walt responded, saying Alice’s Day at Sea, the first Alice cartoon, could be ready as early as December 15.
-Same day, Walt contacted the Davises to entice Virginia Davis to come out to Hollywood to play Alice. He told them that he finally had someone to distribute the cartoons.
-Walt offered contract to Davises:
-$100/month for first year
-Increase pay by $25 for the last four months of the first year
-Pay can go up to $250 total for next 12 months
-Virginia Davis and family wanted her to be a star. They had failed to land a part in their previous auditions in California, despite 2.5 years of dance lessons.
-The Davises were also encouraged by their doctor to leave Kansas City for a warmer, arid climate, like California, to help with Virginia’s pneumonia.
-Mr. Davis was able to transfer his job as a traveling furniture salesman to California.
–October 28, 1923– Davises accepted terms of contract/payment.
–Carl Stalling gave $75 before Winkler’s contract, and $200 after he signed.
–Robert Irion, Walt’s uncle-in-law, gave $50.
–Edna Francis, Roy’s girlfriend, gave $25.
-Virginia Davis’s mom gave $200.
-Walt shot scenes of Virginia Davis in front of a white canvas. He would use a hood over the camera to mark the positions of the cartoon characters in the scene. After the shooting, he would animate the cartoon himself in the white background, like a modern-day green screen.
-Roy operated the newly purchased $200 camera, Walt animated the cartoon, Alice’s Day at Sea, and 2 women were hired to “blacken” and “opaque” (ink and paint, respectively) the approximately 10,000 cells.
-First woman was hired by a recommendation from Hazel Sewell, Kathleen “Kathy” Dollard.
-Walt and Roy were poor, so Kathy would cook meals for the Disneys. Her cooking was so good that Walt “proposed,” but she jokingly declined because “she didn’t think he’d amount to anything.”
-Second woman was hired on December 8, 1923, Ann Loomis.
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–November 1923– Margaret Winkler married Charles Mintz, a film distributor who worked for Winkler since 1922.
-He was overbearing towards Walt and demanded more and more as the years progressed.
-When Winkler became pregnant with their first child, she handed the business over to Mintz.
-Mintz would even send his brother-in-law, George Winkler, to execute his improvement suggestions and oversee production. George Winkler would eventually suggest Walt get a trained cameraman because Walt was an amateur. Walt hired a cameraman from Century Studios because of this.
–November 1923– Walt and Roy moved in together in the Olive Hill Apartments
–December 1923– Walt and Roy moved to a house two blocks from their studio, near Uncle Robert’s house.
–December 26, 1923– Alice’s Day at Sea was finished and sent to Margaret Winkler for distribution.
-Walt received payment of $1,500 for first completed Alice cartoon. After this payment, Walt repaid Uncle Robert’s debt, which was accruing 8% interest.
–December 1923– Lillian Bounds came to Hollywood from Idaho to live with Hazel Sewell after graduating from college with a business degree.
1924 (Walt 22 Years Old)
-To help with the next Alice Comedy, Alice Hunting in Africa, Walt considered hiring a 3rd inker. Kathy Dollard recommended hiring Hazel Sewell’s sister-in-law, who was a stenographer at the time, Lillian Bounds.
–January 19, 1924– Lillian Bounds was hired as an inker for $15 per week. (Took job “because it was within walking distance of [Hazel Sewell’s house] and didn’t require her to spend bus fare.”)
-Walt also hired two men to help operate the camera and help out overall.
–Late January 1924– Walt completed Alice Hunting in Africa.
-Disney Bros. moved their studio next door to expand.
-Hired first animator, Rollin “Ham” Hamilton.
-Alice Comedy #3- Alice’s Spooky Adventure
-Winkler began distributing in New Jersey and Washington DC.
-Alice Comedy #4- Alice’s Wild West Show
-Walt began trying to convince Ub Iwerks to leave AV Cauger’s Film Ad Company in Kansas City.
–Early June 1924– Margaret Winkler visited Walt in California and convinced Walt to begin a two-cartoon-per-month schedule.
-At this time, Ub agreed to come to California as an animator.
-Walt convinced Mr. Davis to let Ub drive him and his mother to LA using the Roadster Mr. Davis had left behind in Kansas City.
–July 1, 1924– Ub Iwerks was officially hired for $40 per week (down from $45 at Film Ad Co.) at Disney Bros. as an animator. (By this point, Ub had officially changed his name to “Ub Iwerks” from “Ubbe Iwwerks.”)
-Ub had become a very good and efficient animator, so he began animating more in place of Walt.
-Despite the changes made in staff and technique (trying to use a matte instead of a white canvas), in conjunction with the shortened production schedule, Walt was barely able to improve the quality of the cartoons.
-Walt also began using Julius the cat more and more in his cartoons, eventually overshadowing Alice in the cartoons.
–August 1924– Walt wired Mintz that he needed extra resources to both keep up with the production schedule and meet the standards Mintz demanded.
-Mintz refused to give Walt a payment advance, so Walt had to put the Davis’s pay on temporary hold.
-Because of the money problems with the studio, Walt and Roy didn’t get a paycheck until December 1924 ($50 per week). Walt also had to continue borrowing money from Uncle Robert.
–December 8, 1924– George Winkler, Margaret Winkler’s brother, brought Walt a new contract:
-26 Alice cartoons for $1,500 per cartoon
-$900 paid for the negative of the cartoon
-$600 paid within 90 days
-Disney Bros. shared profits after first $4,000 (Got first $350, then split excess evenly with Mintz), but this prospect was slim.
-Starting March 1, 1925, the first 13 were to be produced every 3 weeks, and the second 13 cartoons were every 2 weeks. (Current was every 4 weeks). However, because Walt needed the money, he began shipping out cartoons every 16 days instead of 3 weeks, causing eventual tension with Mintz.
1925 (Walt 23 Years Old)
–February 1925– Walt tried to convince Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising to come to California from Kansas City and animate for him.
–End of April 1925– Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising join Disney Bros.
–April 1925– Walt Disney grew a mustache because of love of disguises and to help with business deals at age 23. Ub Iwerks also grew a mustache, which both men would keep throughout their adult lives.
–Spring 1925– Roy formally proposed to Edna Francis (They had been engaged since 1920).
–April 7, 1925– Edna Francis and her mom arrived in California.
–April 11, 1925– Roy Disney and Edna Francis got married at Uncle Robert’s house. Walt was best man, and Lillian Bounds was maid of honor.
Walt and Lillian
-Walt drove Lillian home in Mr. Davis’s Ford, then later in his Moon Roadster.
-Walt asked Lillian out “if he got a new suit. Lillian [said yes], so he and Roy went to Foreman & Clark’s… and bought themselves each a two-pant suit.” Walt’s was a “gray-green double-breasted suit.”
-“I didn’t have any other dates, and neither did he.” -Lillian
-Walt proposed by asking Lillian if they wanted to go in together on a new car or a ring. Lillian said ring, so Walt bought “a ¾ carat diamond mounted on a thin platinum band and surrounded by blue sapphires” for $75.
–Early July 1925 (Week before wedding)– Disney Bros. placed $400 deposit for land with an office building on Hyperion Avenue.
–July 13, 1925– Walt and Lillian Disney got married at Lillian’s brother’s house in Lewiston, Idaho/Washington. “Walt didn’t like to be alone” Lillian said after Roy moved out to live with Edna.
-To prep for travel/wedding/honeymoon, Walt withdrew $150 from studio. -Walt raised his salary to $75.
-Honeymoon spent at Mount Ranier National Park, then Seattle, then Portland to visit Elias and Flora Disney (Couldn’t attend wedding).Follow for the latest updates: