Holly-Vermont Realty refers to the very early days of the Disney company. Walt declared he could only pay $10 per month and the only place at that price was a room at the back of the real-estate office. The Walt Disney Company started in 1923 in the rear of a small office occupied by Holly-Vermont Realty at 4451 Kingswell Ave in Los Angeles. It was there that Walt Disney, and his brother Roy, produced a series of short live-action/animated films collectively called the Alice Comedies. Within four months, the ever-growing staff moved next door to larger facilities, where the sign on the window read “Disney Bros. Studio.” A year later, in 1925, the Disneys made a deposit on a Hyperion Avenue lot in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.
0077 Holly-Vermont Realty Door
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World – Florida – United States
GPS: 28.35745, -81.559511
In 2023 the Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
But what is the story of ‘where’ and ‘how’ this vast international empire came to be?
Back in 1922 Walt started the Laugh-O-gram animation studio in Kansas City.
His team of artists had been working on the film Alice’s Wonderland, to lure potential investors.
By the end of 1922, they had finished that project and had half-way completed their first Alice Adventures film.
But without an investor, Laugh-O-gram studio went broke.
The animators left, and Walt was there, by himself, trying to finish the film.
Walt slept in the Laugh-O-gram office, ate on credit at the small Café downstairs, and bathed once a week at Union Station for a dime.
Walt’s older brother Roy, who was recovering from tuberculosis in a Los Angeles veterans hospital, told Walt to close the shop and come join him in California.
In August of 1923, Walt Disney declared bankruptcy and bought a train ticket to Los Angeles, to be in the heart of the entertainment industry.
Walt rented a room from his Uncle, Robert Disney, for five dollars per week and rented his uncle’s tiny garage for $1 per week to use as his animation studio.
But just as Walt was setting up shop, the promotional film produced by Laugh-O-gram was released.
Alice’s Wonderland made its first public appearance just two months after Walt had moved to California.
Suddenly there was a potential investor for more animated films, and Walt needed a larger, dedicated studio space, fast.
Walt walked two blocks down the street from Uncle Robert’s house to the Holly-Vermont Realty office.
Walt inquired about office space rental, and said that he only needed just enough room “to swing a cat in.”
But he could only afford to pay ten dollars per month, and there were no spaces in the area for that amount.
So on October 8, 1923, the Holly-Vermont Realty Office, at 4651 Kingswell Avenue, rented Walt Disney a small room at the back of their office for $10 per month.
On October 15, 1923, Walt was offered a contract with M.J. Winkler, a New York film distributor, to produce at least twelve more Alice Comedies.
Walt ran to his brother in the veterans hospital that same day to show Roy the telegram and urged him to be his partner on this project.
The very next day, October 16, 1923, Roy signed himself out of the hospital.
And then later, that same day, in a back room of the Holly-Vermont Real Estate Office, Walt signed what Disney historians describe as “the most important document in the history of The Walt Disney Company”: the contract for a series of Alice Comedies.
October 16, 1923 in the back office of the Holly-Vermont Realty Office in Los Angeles.
By signing this contract, it was here that Roy and Walt Disney first established the ‘The Disney Bros Studio.’
This is considered the birth date and birth place of what we now know as the Disney Company.
In that small space, Walt and Roy, alone, finished the Disney Bros. very first film, Alice’s Day at Sea.
Walt Disney, without his animation and production team from Kansas City, single-handedly wrote, designed, directed and animated the entire film.
Roy, was the business manager as well as the company cameraman. He photographed the individual animation stills and filmed the live action scenes.
Walt worked for two months, day and night, to finish animating the film, by himself.
Alice’s Day at Sea was then delivered to distributor M.J. Winkler on December 26, 1923.
Less than four months after they moved in, The Disney Bros Studio moved to a larger office next door at 4649 Kingswell Avenue.
As an homage to this important event in the History of the Disney Company, there is a subtle reference at Disney’s Hollywood Studio.
As guests come around the corner and go beyond the Keystone Clothier Shop, they’ll pass a door for Holly-Vermont Reality Offices of Hollywood – Beverly Hills.
The “For Rent” sign in the upper window suggests that Walt and Roy have already moved out in pursuit of a larger office space.
Walt famously said, “it all began with a Mouse”
But when the Disney Company was born, Mickey was still nearly six years away.
The Walt Disney Company really all began with the ambition, imagination, determination, and dedication to quality, of the youthful go-getter who might have taken a pause in some very rough times, but never gave up on his dreams.
Walt Disney went on to create a new, inspiring, and inclusive entertainment empire that we now know as ‘the Disney Company’.
And it all started in a tiny room in the back of the Holly-Vermont Real Estate office.
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