John Kenneth Peterson was born in 1909 in San Francisco, California.

He was a sales manager after college, but his true love was art. During the Great Depression he quit his job and, without any formal training, set out to become a cartoonist. After a brief attempt at making his own animated motion pictures, he joined Disney on January 20, 1936.

In 1941, he represented his fellow animators during the Disney strike, then did layout and story on Navy training films. When the Animation Board was established, in the spring of 1946, Ken moved to the administrative side of the business.

After Disneyland was built in Anaheim, California, in the 1950s, Walt Disney asked Peterson to develop merchandise. He began framing cels in his garage that then were sold at the park for about $2 each.

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