Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

The Big Cheese turns 85 years young today! Well, that is not actually correct. Today is considered (by Disney and the fans) the day Mickey Mouse first appeared in cartoons. It is the day he first appeared as Steamboat Willie in 1928. But, it is not actually his first appearance in a cartoon. Mickey first appeared in Plane Crazy on May 15th, 1928.

The Disney Brother’s Studio did not have a distributor when they first released Plane Crazy. Steamboat Willie was actually the second of 130 shorts Mickey Mouse has appeared in and the first that made him popular. Plane Crazy was not widely distributed and was not popular when first released due to distribution issues.

How did Mickey Mouse come to be? You may have heard the story Walt use to tell years ago that went something like this;

Well, it was on a train on the way back from New York. Disney had just lost Oswald the Luck Rabbit and needed a new leading character. Walt was sitting on train with his wife, Lillian and was just doodling and thinking about what to do next. A funny looking mouse was what he drew and it kind of struck Walt’s fancy. Walt wanted to name this mouse Mortimer but Lillian said that name was not right and suggested Mickey.

This is what really happened. Walt went to New York to sign a contract to continue distribution with Charles Mintz, a producer who distributed through Universal Studios. Walt was hoping to ask for more his very popular Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons but Charles Mintz told Walt he, and therefore Universal Studios owned Oswald and Walt was to take a 20% cut for making future Oswald cartoons. Not only had Mintz taken Oswald he had secretly hired most of Walt’s animators out from under him as well! So Walt was left with no character and only one trusted animator, Ub Iwerks. Ub was not only an animator he was Walt’s business partner and part owner of the studio.

While traveling home Walt sent a telegram to Ub Iwerks telling him of what happened and requesting he design some new characters for him to look at when he got pack. Walt also sent a telegram to his brother Roy. Roy’s telegram said something to the effect that they had lost Oswald but everything was going to be ok.

When Walt returned to the studio Ub had several characters for Walt to look at. There were dogs and cats along with a male horse and a female cow that later returned as Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. There was also a frog that was later used as Flip the Frog.

The Disney Brother’s Studio was not the first animation studio that Ub and Walt had started. Laugh O Graham and the Iwerks Disney Studios were the other two studios they created. Both early ventures had failed. In 1925, at Laugh O Graham Hugh Harman drew mice around Walt. This picture of Walt with the mice inspired Ub to design the mouse that later became Mickey.

Walt provided the voice of Mickey from 1928 to 1946 and again for a soon to be released Mickey Mouse short (Mickey Mouse in Get a Horse) Walt’s voice is used again.
Jimmy McDonald, a sound effects artist at the Disney Studio did the voice from 1946 to 1977 when he retired.
McDonald trained Wayne Allwine to do Mickey’s voice before retiring. Allwine said the greatest advice to keep things in perspective from McDonald was, “Just remember this kid, you are only filling in for the Boss.” In 1983 Wayne make his theatrical depute as the voice of Mickey in Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Wayne was the voice of Mickey until his death in 2009. Allwine married Russi Taylor the voice of Minnie Mouse, you could say Mickey and Minnie were really married!

In 2009 Bret Iwan took over the voice work for Mickey. Even though he is the main voice actor for Mickey Chris Diamantopoulos does the voice of Mickey for the 2013 Mickey Mouse animated series.

Here are some quotes of Walt Disney about Mickey Mouse.
The life and ventures of Mickey Mouse have been closely bound up with my own personal and professional life. It is understandable that I should have sentimental attachment for the little personage who played so big a part in the course of Disney Productions and has been so happily accepted as an amusing friend where films are shown around the world. He still speaks for me and I still speak for him.”
All we ever intended for him or expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him. We didn’t burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouthpiece for frustrations or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purpose of laughter.
“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing - -
that it was all started by a mouse.”

We can’t forget Minnie Mouse!!! She first appeared in Plane Crazy and then was with her sweety in Steamboat Willie!

So Happy Birthday Mickey & Minnie Mouse!!! May you continue to live to make us laugh!!!

To find out more about how Mickey was created see if you can find the documentary by Leslie Iwerks (Ub’s Granddaughter) called, “The Hand Behind the Mouse.”

My Christmas book, “An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas” is available!!
This is a collection of 26 short Christmas stories that together bring the amazing events of Christ’s birth alive. It is my hope that this will help encourage families to spend 10-15 minutes a day together during the busy holiday season remembering the true reason for the season.
You can find it for ALL eReader formats and PDF at:

For your Nook the link is:

It is also available at the iTunes book store and many other ebook seller sites.
The only big site not carrying my book is Amazon.
You can download a Kindle version from

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