Man Behind the Mouse

In an era of ‘Which Disney Princess Are You?’ quizzes and incessant Frozen sing-alongs, the cult of Walt Disney has practically become a bona fide religion. It’s easy to forget that the princesses, theme parks, films, and cartoons all began with one man and one dream.

    The film Walt Before Mickey, written and produced by Palm Beach Gardens–native Arthur L. Bernstein and Miami-born Armando Gutierrez, depicts Walt Disney’s rise from talented young artist to tenacious entrepreneur. The movie was filmed entirely in Florida and opens at several Palm Beach County theaters, including Downtown at the Gardens 16 in Palm Beach Gardens and Movies of Delray in Delray Beach, on Friday, September 4.

   Based on a book of the same name, Walt Before Disney follows Walt (Thomas Ian Nicholas) in the years between 1919 and 1929. During this time, a young Walt sets out to establish his own animation company, beginning with Laugh-O-Gram Studios in Kansas City, not far from his childhood town of Marceline, Missouri. Despite a series of financial hardships, Walt perseveres with the help of his brother Roy (Jon Heder), his aunt Charlotte (Jodie Sweetin), and his fellow animators Rudy Ising (David Henrie) and Ub Iwerks (Armando Gutierrez). Given this unique perspective, Walt Before Disney is sure to surprise Disney fanatics and novices alike.

   To learn more about the film and to find more showings, visit

Armando Gutierrez as Rudy Ising and Thomas Ian Nicholas as Walt Disney in Walt Before Mickey. Images courtesy of


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