For billions of people spanning close to a century, there have been few names as recognizable worldwide as that of Walt Disney. The animation pioneer helped to launch one of the most successful family film studios and in the process earned a whopping 22 Oscar wins as well as four Honorary Oscars. He was also key in helping to create a land of enchantment, nicknamed "The Happiest Place on Earth" by creating the theme park Disneyland. Today, it marks its 60th anniversary since its opening day. This feels like as good a time as any to look back on the namesake's work by looking at the night in which Disney won four literal back-to-back Oscars.
It would be exhaustive to count all of the achievements that Disney and his subsequent company continue to make. Even beyond the man, his studio has won countless awards in almost every category imaginable, most recently with Best Animated Film winner Big Hero 6. We all likely know the songs "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Love is a Song That Never Ends." The images of Dumbo fill our hearts with sentiments. A lot of it to be thanked to this man, who may be the most influential and recognizable person to have never won a Best Picture award.
This may be a prospect that seems alarming. If Disney is such a great company, how could he never have had a Best Picture win, especially since he won 22 awards? It could just be that our societal acceptance of animation has changed in the decades following his passing in 1966. However, a large portion of what makes Disney so beloved is in what he did for the art form in general. His countless shorts in both live action and animation may not be as remembered, but it helped him to rack up tons of nominations and wins. In fact, he does have a Best Picture nomination to his credit, and it is a great one. Mary Poppins is the only film that he was nominated for as producer.
Among the achievements that he also held included an impressive year in 1954. Marilyn Erskine and Keefe Brasselle presented the categories of which he won. Among the list was Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and Best Short Subject (Two-Reel) for Bear Country. While not in the video, he would also win Best Documentary (Short Subject) for The Alaskan Eskimo and Best Documentary for The Living Desert.
Check out the video below:
It is fun to see Erskine and Brasselle crack up as they get caught up in all of Disney's nominations (don't worry, he lost to himself twice that night). However, it is the second speech that had a brighter and funnier Disney. After an initial humble speech, he decides to cut loose and make comments suggesting that he should retire after such a massive winning streak. For our sake, he didn't retire and received another 19 nominations, of which featured 4 additional wins.
Disney got his start with the Oscars in 1932 in which he started off the multiple win trend by winning Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for Flowers and Trees (his Mickey's Orphans lost) as well as an Honorary Oscar for creating Mickey Mouse. Among his more noteworthy wins includes an Honorary Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - which had seven miniature Oscars made to commemorate its small characters. He also received an Honorary Oscar for Fantasia. His Nazi-bashing short Der Fuehrer's Face won the following year. His final win was given posthumously for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
While his studio continues to be nominated and Disneyland continues to draw thousands of guests daily, it is interesting to look back at one man's legacy and how he changed the face of pop culture unlike any other. He won four Oscars in one night, joked about retirement, and still went on to do phenomenal work. So even if you cannot make it out to Disneyland today, or this weekend, take some time to be thankful for the work he has produced while paying tribute to Oscar history and one of its biggest winners.