My Mini Tour of Walt Disney's Hollywood
I've been reading my way through Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas. It's THE biography to read if you want to learn about Walt Disney and the beginnings of the Walt Disney Company. This book chronicles Walt's early struggles, the many failures, and achievements that would end up growing the Disney Company.
You have to understand that famous biographer, Bob Thomas, was given access to the Disney family for interviews and other materials. Thomas had also known Disney personally and had written previous materials. You also read about a lot of people who were important to Walt and the Company whose names would later grace some of the windows on Main Street USA. It's not sugar coated and you get an appreciation of the challenges that Walt faced that influenced his success as a film maker and entrepreneur. It was first printed in 1976 and is still around. It's really a great read.
The first couple of chapters features Walt's childhood in Missouri, his years in the Red Cross and his move to Los Angeles in 1923. During his early days as a carton maker in this area, you not only get the sense of how determined Walt was to get his work out there, but how much of an innovator he was as a film maker and story teller. Through the book and other information on the web, my friend I went on an adventure to see some of the landmarks that make up Walt Disney's Hollywood. These are places where Walt Disney worked and lived.
Our first stop was the 4649 Kingswell Ave. This was the first location "Disney Bros Studio." This is where the Alice Comedies were created. This is where Walt would hire his future wife, Lilian Bounds, as an Ink and Paint girl.
It's currently a small business providing mail/copy services. We went inside the tiny location. The proprietor was kind enough to let us take these photos of things on the wall that let people know of the historical significance of this location. She told us that one of her customers had painted the mural.
Next stop, we passed by a home on the same street (Kingswell) that is known as "Uncle Robert's home". This is where Walt rented a room from his uncle when he first got to Los Angeles. I could see how easy a walk it was from the Disney Bros Studio to this house. Sorry I forgot to get a photo but you can see one HERE.
Then we drove a short distance to Lyric Ave. This is where Walt and Roy bought two matching homes in the Los Feliz hills. The houses sit on a corner. Rumor is that that current owners are aware of their famous homes but are not warm to Disney fans. Luckily, it was a quite time when we arrived and I quickly took these photos.
Just up the street from these houses is John Marshall High School. It doesn't have anything to do with Walt Disney's Hollywood but it is notable. It's been used in movies like School of Rock, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Pretty in Pink. Some of its famous students are Leonardo DiCaprio and will.i.am.
We tried to drive through the winding hills in search of 4053 Working Way, the Los Feliz home where Walt and Lilian would raise their family. They would live here from 1932-1949 before moving to the Carolwood home. We ran out of time to find it and navigating through the narrow roads was a little tough. Next time.
We made one more stop on our way to our dinner engagement. This was the original site of the Animation Studio in the Silver Lake District. There is now a Gleson's market where the Hyperion location stood. Inside the market, they have this one photo to make note of the Disney property that was once there. In addition, there is a sign on the light post in the parking lot that designates the location as a Point of Historical Interest.
One of the things I learned from my personal mini tour of Walt Disney's Hollywood land is that they simply named the locations based on the streets they were located. It was as simple as that. I also can see how much the areas have evolved since the 1923, when Walt Disney first came to the Los Angeles area. I can now appreciate all the details that went into creating Buena Vista Street over at Disney California Adventure.
Off to read more chapters in my book. Have a great Friday!