In the years before Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney’s animation business started at a humble studio in Kansas City, Missouri. Known as Laugh-O-Gram, the very first Disney studio produced a series of short funnies and cartoon retellings of classic fairytales before going bankrupt in 1923.
Broke but still determined to make it big, 22-year-old Walt sold his movie camera to make enough money for a one-way ticket to Hollywood, hopping on the train with an unfinished feel of Laugh-O-Gram’s final film, Alice’s Wonderland.
In the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, Walt moved to a Craftsman-style home at 4406 Kingswell Avenue, where his uncle Robert and aunt Charlotte rented him a room for five dollars a month. He worked on his new animation in Uncle Robert’s garage, soon to be joined by his younger brother Roy, moving to a new house across the street and founding the Disney Brothers Studio.
The finished Alice’s Wonderland, which mixed live-action and animation, was not theatrically released, but it did get the Disney brothers a distributor. The following Alice Comedies series proved to be a success, counting a total of 57 shorts in its filmography and introducing the character of Peg Leg Pete, who would go on to be Mickey Mouse’s arch-nemesis.
The Charlotte and Robert Disney House changed hands numerous times over the years, occasionally threatened by demolition. A recent public outcry seems to have solidified its fate, however, and for the better. Designated as a Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monument, the house is currently under rehabilitation and set to be restored to the way it once looked in the 1920s.