Walt Disney's influence on American culture is almost beyond reckoning. From humble origins as a small-time animator, he built a huge empire of movies, television, theme parks and merchandise. The very name "Disney" conjures a specific mood and feeling, which anyone in the Western world immediately understands.
Disney's 1928 animated short, "Steamboat Willie," was both the first film to feature Mickey Mouse—and the first animated cartoon to feature synchronized sound.
Disney created the first feature-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," along with more than a dozen similar cartoon classics.
Disneyland, created by Walt in 1955, is one of the most popular theme parks in the world, and while he didn't live to see its completion, Walt Disney World in Florida has proven even more successful.
Disney funded the California Institute of the Arts, dedicated to training creative artists of every stripe. It produced such innovative filmmakers as John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton and Henry Selick.
According to CBS News, Disney's NBC series "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," dramatically increased the number of color televisions purchased by U.S. households.