Disney, Walter E. (1901–1966)

Disney and von Braun

Walt Disney (left) with Wernher von Braun.

Walt Disney was a American motion-picture and television producer who famously pioneered animated films and created the cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. In 1955, Walt Disney's weekly television series aired the first of three programs related to space flight. "Man in Space" premiered on Disney's show on 9 March 1955 with an estimated audience of 42 million. The second show, "Man and the Moon," also aired in 1955 and sported the powerful image of a wheel-like space station, designed by Wernher von Braun, as a launching point for a mission to the Moon. The final show, "Mars and Beyond," premiered on 4 December 1957, after the launching of Sputnik 1.


Walt Disney planned and built Disneyland, an amusement park – the first of its kind – that opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. Among his better-known animated films are: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Fantasia (1940), Pinocchio (1940), Alice In Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), and 101 Dalmatians (1961). Mary Poppins (1964) was his benchmark for combined live/animation filming. On television Disney, in the 1950s, created the children's series Zorro and Davy Crockett as well as Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.