Think & Grow Rich Lessons
Ken Klemm Spring Hill, FL, USA

Posted: 2018-01-17

There was a young boy from Chicago, born in 1901, who 
was shy and insecure. But there was one thing he loved 
doing more than anything...drawing.

Now, many young children like to draw. But this young 
boy loved to draw. He was passionate about drawing.

Throughout his childhood he took many art classes on 
Saturdays and a correspondence course in cartooning.

At the age of 18, the young man landed a job as an 
apprentice commercial illustrator. After Christmas, the 
firm’s revenue dropped and he was let go.

The young man and another laid off coworker decided to 
start their own company. After failing to attract many 
customers, both partners sought temporary employment 
elsewhere.

They were both hired by a film ad company in Kansas 
City. The company produced commercials using animation.

Our young man became fascinated with animation, 
borrowed a book about it, got a camera, and began 
experimenting at home.

He partnered with a couple of coworkers and formed a 
company to produce short cartoons for a local movie 
theater. The first six were modernized fairy tales.

The series became successful and a few other theaters 
bought them, so our cartoonist hired some more 
animators to expand the work.

However the income from the cartoons was not enough to 
keep the company solvent, so the cartoonist launched 
another project to market - a short film based on 
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which combined live 
action with animation.

He had a hard time making his weekly payroll, so he 
begged his staff to keep working under the promise for 
payment soon. He struggled between finding new 
customers for his cartoons, producing new cartoons 
weekly for his existing clients - with an unpaid staff, 
and working on the new project.

The Alice’s Wonderland film was completed too late to 
save the studio, which filed for bankruptcy in 1923.

That same year the cartoonist’s brother moved to Los 
Angeles to convalesce from tuberculosis, and he decided 
to follow his brother out there  - also because he 
heard cheap studio space was available in an 
undeveloped area called Hollywood.

A producer in New York saw the Alice’s Wonderland film, 
and wanted the cartoonist to make a series of them. So 
he and his brother founded a new studio and he hired a 
crew of artists, actors and animators - including his 
first business partner from Kansas City.

In 1926 another producer requested new material to 
distribute through another company. So the cartoonist 
and his company developed a series featuring a stylized 
rabbit.

In 1928 he hoped to negotiate a higher fee for the 
rabbit work, but the producer wanted to pay a lower 
fee. The cartoonist discovered the distribution company 
owned the intellectual property rights to the rabbit, 
and the producer demanded he accept the lower fee or he 
threatened to produce the work directly himself.

The cartoonist declined the ultimatum and the producer 
enticed his entire staff to abandon him and go to work 
for the producer - except his Kansas City partner.

The two loyal friends developed a new character of 
their own and featured it in the first ever film to 
combine animation with synchronized sound - a cartoon 
about a mouse driving a steamboat.

Over these many years, the mouse has garnered more 
votes for President of the United States than any other 
fictional character...

...and helped Walter Elias Disney build an 
entertainment empire which spans the entire globe.

Your friend and servant,

Ken Klemm

P.S. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the 
courage to pursue them.”
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” ~ Walt Disney