Alice Gets Rolling
Two months after arriving in California, Walt made a deal with New York distributor M.J. Winkler for the Alice series of cartoons about a real little girl in a cartoon world. Despite Walt's promises that he was establishing a fully staffed studio, early on, the staff consisted of little more than Walt, Roy and four-year-old star, Virginia Davis.
The end of 1923 was a bustling time for the brothers. In November, they moved into an apartment together, and then to a new cheaper one in December. Nearby was their first official studio -- a tiny office they rented for $15 a month at the back of 4651 Kingswell, a storefront real estate office. In December, with the money they’d borrowed, they also rented a small space for outdoor shooting and bought a $200 camera.
For the moment, Walt decided he’d do the animation himself and direct the live-action scenes, while Roy took on the unfamiliar role of cameraman, photographing both the animation and the live action.
The first of the new Alice Comedies, Alice’s Day at Sea, was delivered on December 26, 1923, and the Disney Brothers studio received their first earnings of $1,500. On January 12, 1924, Uncle Robert was repaid the money he had lent his nephews, with interest: $528.66.