First, thank you to everyone who has posted a reply. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. It was fun taking the photos and researching the article.
Walt Disney joined the Red Cross, not the Army. I agree that it was a surprising move for the 16-year-old.
Originally Posted by RenMan
In The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney (2007, University of California Press), biographer Michael Barrier described that Walt got the idea because his older brother Roy was in the Navy:
Roy Disney had joined the navy on June 22, 1917, soon after the United States entered the First World War. He was called up in the fall of that year, and after leaving Kansas City he passed through Chicago with other recruits on their way to Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Walt met Roy at the rail terminal, where Walt was briefly mistaken for one of the recruits. “It put a bee in my bonnet,” he said. When Roy came down from Great Lakes to visit the family, “he looked swell in that sailor’s uniform,” Disney said. “So I wanted to join him.”
He was too young, but in the summer of 1918, when he was working in the Chicago post office, he signed up with “a private subscription deal forming for the Red Cross,” as a driver in the American Ambulance Corps. “I was still a year too young,” he said, and his father balked at signing the required affidavit, so his mother signed for both of them. Disney then altered his birth date on the affidavit, changing “1901” to “1900,” so that he would appear to be seventeen, rather than sixteen, and thus old enough to get the required passport.
To me, that doesn't really answer the question of why a 16-year old, who at time aspired to be a cartoonist, chose to go overseas to drive an ambulance rather than staying in Chicago and continuing to develop his skills as an artist.
Biographers have had different opinions about the temperament of Walt's father Elias Disney. If you choose to believe some of the more negative portrayals, it's possible Walt wanted to get away from home.
In any case, it seems that Walt was highly ambitious and hard-working. I can imagine that he found high school to be limiting.
I have have no idea if the name Parr in The Incredibles is a reference to Rev. Walter Parr or just a coincidence.
Originally Posted by RenMan
When I heard the name Parr during The Incredibles, I thought of Jack Paar, the host of The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962 — after Steve Allen and before Johny Carson. The youngest member of the Parr family in The Incredibles is even called Jack Parr, which sounds the same as Jack Paar. But that's probably just a coincidence.
I like the connection between Bob Parr and Walter Parr that's been discussed in his thread. It's better theory than any connection to Jack Paar.