Walt Disney received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
1. Walt joined the Red Cross at just 16 years old and spent a year driving an ambulance overseas during World War I
2. Walt's first animation studio, Laugh-O-Gram, went bankrupt less than a year after it was founded.
3. He left for Hollywood with only $40, a few drawing materials, and an animated and live-action film.
4. Walt's first commercial success was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but he ended up losing ownership of Oswald completely.
5. He came up with the idea for Mickey Mouse on a train ride from New York City to Los Angeles.
6. He voiced Mickey Mouse himself for almost two decades.
7. During World War II, Walt and his team of animators helped produce close to 70 hours of instructional films for all branches of the armed forces.
8. Walt and his production team produced the first commercially released film using Technicolor's three-color process in 1932.
9. Walt and his production team made their first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for $1.5 million — an astounding amount at the time.
10. Walt was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
11. Walt purchased the nearly 27,000 acres for Disney World under numerous fake names in order to keep the project a secret.
12. Walt gave his longtime housekeeper and cook, Thelma Howard, so much Disney stock throughout the years that by the time she died, she had amassed nearly $9.5 million.
13. Walt was named Chairman of the Pageantry Committee for the 1960 Winter Olympics.
14. Before his death in 1966, Walt and Roy founded the California Institute of the Arts, a place where they hoped future artists could develop their craft.
15. Disneyland and Disney World employees only have their first name on their name tags because Walt hated being called Mr. Disney. He believed last names were too formal.
16. Walt still holds the record for the most Academy Awards ever won. He won 26 over the course of his career and was nominated 59 times.
17. When Walt died in 1965, among his possessions was a note on his desk that simply read "Kurt Russell" — most likely a casting idea he had for a new movie.