Looking Back: Walt Disney and the Alice Comedies

October 16th, 1923 is an important date for Walt Disney fans; it's that day that Walt signed a contract with M. J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice Comedies. Looking back through history it is widely considered to be the start of Walt Disney's success in its first incarnation as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. 89 years ago today, the Walt Disney Company was born.

Alice Comedies Poster Signed by "Alice"Alice Comedies Poster Signed by "Alice"
Walt had arrived in California just a few months earlier with not much more than a dream and a "pilot" reel of a cartoon he had made back in Kansas about a little girl named Alice. It had been made shortly before he had to file for bankruptcy of Laugh-O-Grams, and never had the chance to make it's way to a distributor. Though there had been previous movies that incorporated both live action and animation, none had done it in the same way that Walt Disney had in this reel. His unique perspective and innovative techniques would drive the company forward and keep the public asking for more. This first reel, Alice's Wonderland (a silent film with a musical accompaniment) was the first movie to incorporate a live action star in an animated surrounding.

Thanks to the The Classics Disney Channel on YouTube for sharing

Set up in a garage on Kingswell Avenue in Hollywood, Walt and his brother Roy were the only staff on the first six of the Alice comedies. Walt animated them alone and Roy shot the live action footage. The Alice series was a hit and by the next year the Disney brothers had hired a staff and moved to a rented office space just blocks from their home on Kingswell Avenue. Amongst that staff was an ink-and-paint girl that would be his future wife Lillian.

Disney's Staff in Front of the Kingswell OfficeDisney's Staff in Front of the Kingswell Office
Disney's Alice series was in production for four years and included more than 50 short films. It was the stepping-stone that the Disney Brothers needed even though there were still rocky grounds to cover ahead.

The Walt Disney Company had many pivotal points in its journey to become what we see today. Leave a comment telling me what you think some of them are and I will try to use them in future articles.

The Cookie Crumbler wrote on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 03:12:

The Cookie Crumbler's picture

A great snippet of history. Thanks for the write up, Kristen!

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:22:

Kristen K.'s picture


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.

More information about formatting options