Walt Disney’s first star, Virginia Davis of Kansas City, dies at 90

Virginia Davis, the little Kansas City girl who became the star of Walt Disney's first series of hit movies, died Saturday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 90.

In the spring of 1923 Disney, then 21 and the struggling owner of Laugh-O-gram Studio at 31st and Forest, saw Davis in an ad playing at a local movie theater. He asked the 4-year-old to star in "Alice's Wonderland," performing in a hand-drawn world populated by cartoon characters.

The live-action scenes were shot at the studio and at the Davis home on Armour Boulevard.

Laugh-O-gram declared bankruptcy a few months later, and the film was completed after Disney relocated to Los Angeles. But it launched the "Alice" series, and the Davis family moved to southern California to continue little Virginia’s career.

"Did you ever have a favorite uncle, someone you idolized who would come to see you every once in a while and just light up your day? That's where I was with Walt," Davis said during a 2002 visit to Kansas City, her first in more than 70 years.

She last visited Kansas City in May for a fundraiser for Thank You Walt Disney, a local group that hopes to turn the old Laugh-O-gram building into a museum.

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