Business and animation: Walt Disney

Walt Disney, 1901-1966. An American animator and businessman.

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Walt Disney was born in 1901 in Illinois, U.S. He is one of the co-founders of the Walt Disney Productions (the other being his brother, Roy).

Disney began to draw cartoons when he was still in school, completing some of his early work for the newspaper. When he was 16, he joined the Red Cross and drove ambulances in France during World War I. Upon his return, Disney worked for a newspaper as well as a film ad company. He also began to experiment with his camera, drawing various animations, and decided to start his won business.

The company was called Laugh-O-Grams, which produced very popular animations. However, by 1923, Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy and he moved to Hollywood with his brother and another cartoon artist Iwerks, where they started the Disney Brothers’ Studio.

In 1927, Disney found out that their distributor, Margaret Winkler stole all of their animations and ideas, and so he went on to create new characters, including that of Mickey Mouse. It became a great success. In 1937, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” – a first full-length animated film premiered, making over a million U.S. dollars, which was a huge sum at that time.

*The success was reinforced with other productions that followed, and in 1955 Disney opened the first $17 million Disneyland theme park. After his death, his brother would finish another Florida theme park.

Science: Cecil Powell

Cecil Frank Powell, 1903-1969. An English physicist.

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Cecil Powell was born in 1903 in Kent, England. He is best known for developing the photographic method of studying nuclear process.

Powell graduated from the Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1925 with a degree in natural sciences. In 1928, he began his work as a research assistant at the University of Bristol, where he later became a professor of physics. By 1945, he developed a method to record the paths of cosmic rays. This would lead to the discovery of pion in 1947, and of antipion in 1949.

*Powell received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1950 for his discovery of pion.

History: Francisco Franco

Francisco Franco, 1892-1975. A Spanish dictator.

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Francisco Franco was born in 1892 in El Ferrol, Spain. He would become an undisputed dictator and ruler of Spain in 1939.

Franco grew up in a military family, and he followed in the footsteps of his ancestors. A successful military commander, after he suppressed a rebellion in Morocco, Franco made a general, making him the youngest man in Europe to hold that post (he was only 33 at that time). By 1936, Spain slipped into chaos, as right- and left-wing forces fought each other for power. Franco was appointed to posting in Canary Islands. Although this was a marginalized position, he accepted it, but other officers began to discuss a potential coup against the government.

That year, Franco announced a Nationalist manifesto, while still at Canary Islands. The Nationalist forces, supported by Italy and Germany began assault on Madrid, however were repelled, and Spanish Civil War broke out. After brutal military campaign, that involved executions by Franco’s forces, the leftist forces surrendered in 1939.

Franco became the undisputed dictator, who ruled Spain with iron fist for the next four decades. He established many tribunals after the end of Civil War, and executions continued. During World War II, he declared Spain to be a neutral country, however, he sent over 50,000 volunteers to Adolf Hitler, as well as opening Spanish ports to German ships. By the end of the war, Spain became isolated as its aid to the Axis powers was not forgotten by the United Nations. However, as the Cold War began, Franco’s anti-communist policies were favored by the U.S. that sent Spain economic aid.

By the end of his rule, Franco began to lift some of the censorship and promoted economic reforms. He declared Juan Carlos I to be his successor, believing that the latter would keep the same political structure in base. However, after Franco’s death, the Juan Carlos would restore a multi-parties system, leading Spain to becoming a democratic regime.