If one were asked to name the most successful American artist of all time, who would it be. Forget about defining "success", he would probably lead in most every category and by most every definition. Play a little guessing game here with me. He was born in 1901 in Chicago. His father was a not-very-successful Canadian-born building contractor. His mother sometimes went out and worked with her husband's employees.

In 1906 they gave up the family business to try farming. It was there our young artist did his first paid work, a drawing in crayon of their doctor's horse for which he earned 5 cents. By 1910, they were forced to sell the farm and move to Kansas City where our budding young artist managed a paper route while studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. He was 14.

In high school, he contributed cartoon drawings to the school newspaper before enlisting in the war effort as an ambulance driver, eventually being station in Paris and soaking up a bit of the French art scene. Back home, after the war, he was determined to make a career in commercial art. In time, he found himself working for a small Kansas City film company where he pioneered many early animation techniques in the early 1920's. He founded his own company. By 1923 the company was broke and our artist and would-be entrepeneur was on a train to California. There he founded a similiar, somewhat more successful enterprise. Today that company is worth upwards to 100 BILLION dollars.

Well, if you haven't guessed by now, our artist-turned-film-maker-turned-entrepeneur is Walter Elias Disney. Though he never did much in the way of drawing after the 1920's, his imagination, creative genius, leadership, and sheer will-power drove a team of artist, painters, musicians, cinematographers, actors, writers, and (his own word) "imagineers" to create an entertainment powerhouse with animated fingers in just about every liesure-time pursuit imaginable. His animated films represent a line of classics stretching from the ground-breaking Snow White to last year's Anastasia. My own all-time favorite, Fanastsia, while an artistic masterpiece was a big-time loser at the box-office. It took some 35 years to show a profit, becoming successful only after Disney's death in 1966. Today, though the film is almost 60 years old, it continues to be an artistic high-water mark, marrying the best of painting, music, and film-making into a wonderously exciting work of art that stands alone in it's genre.