Articles > Mickey Mouse
Mouse is a fictional character, a comic animal cartoon character
who is perhaps Walt
Disney's most famous creation. Fancifully estimated as standing
69 cm (2 ft 3 in) and weighing 10 kg (23 lb), the mouse rapidly
rose to the pinnacle of American culture, becoming more widely recognized
overseas than any other American icon but the U.S. flag.
Mickey Mouse - The Icon
Mouse may be the most recognized symbol of America, save for
the flag. For over seventy-five years, Mickey has signified The
Walt Disney Company, animation, goodwill, fun, laughter and
most of all Walt Disney himself. It was said by Lillian Disney,
his wife, that over the years, Mickey and Walt grew together and
were mirrors of each other's personality. They both started off
mischievous and cheeky, but as they grew older preferred to step
out of the spotlight and observe others work their magic. President
Jimmy Carter once said, "Mickey Mouse is the symbol of goodwill,
surpassing all languages and cultures. When one sees Mickey Mouse,
they see happiness."
Mickey's three-circle silhouette serves as the logo for most of
Disney's subsidiaries, save for the ones that don't carry the 'Disney'
or 'Walt Disney' label. Andy Warhol's portrait The Art of Mickey
Mouse used Warhol's famous pop art techniques on the classic mouse.
Mickey Mouse - Creation and Debut
Mickey was originally created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky
Rabbit, an earlier star created by the Disney studio. Oswald had
been created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Charles Mintz of Universal
Studios. In fact, Mickey closely resembled Oswald in his early appearances.
However, Disney received an unpleasant lesson when he asked Mintz
for a larger budget for his popular Oswald series; in reply, Mintz
fired Disney and Iwerks and hired others to draw Oswald, to which
Mintz and Universal owned the rights. From that point on, Disney
made sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by
In order for Walt and his older brother and business partner Roy
to keep their company active, new characters had to be created to
star in their subsequent animated shorts. One day, during a train
ride, Walt desperately wanted to come up with a money-making character
to replace the one he lost, Oswald, whom he loved dearly. He had
visions of a mouse in the back of his head (he had previously made
silent cartoon shorts with animated mice). He wanted to name his
new creation Mortimer Mouse, but his wife Lillian Marie Bounds thought
the name was too pretentious, so he changed it to Mickey Mouse.
The name Mortimer would later be used for a character in a Mickey
It has been suggested that Walt Disney was influenced by an actual
mouse that he almost tamed by feeding it crumbs on his desk at the
Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Mickey's flapper girlfriend) debuted in
the cartoon short Plane Crazy, first released on May 15, 1928. The
short was co-directed by Walt Disney and Iwerks. Iwerks was also
the main animator for this short, and reportedly spent six weeks
working on it. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were credited for assisting
him; these two had already signed their contracts with Charles Mintz,
but he was still in the process of forming his new studio and so
for the time being they were still employed by Disney. This short
would be the last they animated under this somewhat awkward situation.
The plot of Plane Crazy was fairly simple. Mickey is apparently
trying to become an aviator in emulation of Charles Lindbergh. After
building his own aircraft, he proceeds to ask Minnie to join him
for its first flight, during which he repeatedly and unsuccessfully
attempts to kiss her, eventually resorting to force. Minnie then
parachutes out of the plane. While distracted by her, Mickey loses
control of the plane. This becomes the beginning of an out-of-control
flight that results in a series of humorous situations and eventually
in the crash-landing of the aircraft. A non-anthropomorphic cow
that briefly becomes a passenger in the aircraft is believed to
be Clarabelle Cow making her debut.
Mickey as portrayed in Plane Crazy was mischievous, amorous, and
has often been described as a rogue. Modern audiences have occasionally
commented on this version of Mickey as being somewhat more complex
and consequently more interesting than his later self. At the time
of its first release, however, Plane Crazy apparently failed to
impress audiences, and to add insult to injury, Walt could not find
a distributor. Though understandably disappointed, Walt went on
to produce a second Mickey short: The Gallopin' Gaucho.
Early Landmarks in Mickey Mouse's Career
First encounter with Black/Peg Leg Pete
The Gallopin' Gaucho was again co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub
Iwerks, with the latter serving as the sole animator in this case.
The short was intended as a parody of Douglas Fairbanks' The Gaucho,
a film first released on November 21, 1927. Following the original
film, the events of the short take place in the Pampas of Argentina.
The gaucho of the title was Mickey himself. He is first seen riding
on a Rhea, instead of a horse as would be expected (or an ostrich
as often reported). He soon encounters "Cantina Argentina,"
apparently serving as the local bar and restaurant. Mickey proceeds
to enter the establishment and take a seat. He apparently just wants
to relax with some drinking and tobacco smoking. Also present at
the establishment are Black Pete (later renamed Peg Leg Pete, or
just Pete), a wanted outlaw and fellow customer for the time being,
and Minnie Mouse, the barmaid and dancer of the establishment, at
the time performing a tango. Both customers soon begin to flirt
with Minnie and to rival one another. At some point Pete proceeds
in kidnapping Minnie and attempts to escape on his horse. Mickey
gives chase on his rhea. He soon catches up to his rival and they
proceed to fight with swords. Mickey emerges the victor of this
joust. The finale of the short has Mickey and Minnie riding the
rhea into the distance.
In later interviews, Iwerks would comment that Mickey as featured
in The Gallopin' Gaucho was intended to be a swashbuckler, an adventurer
modeled after Fairbanks himself. This short marks the first encounter
between Mickey and Black Pete, a character already established as
an antagonist in both the Alice Comedies and the Oswald series.
Based on Mickey and Minnie acting as strangers to each other before
the finale, it was presumably intended to feature their original
acquaintance to each other as well. Modern audiences have commented
that all three characters seem to be coming out of rough, lower
class backgrounds that little resemble their later versions. Consequently
the short is arguably of some historical significance.
At the time of its original production though, Walt again failed
to find a distributor. It would be first released on December 30,
1928, following the release of another Mickey short. Reportedly
Mickey was at first thought to be much too similar to Oswald and
this resulted in the apparent lack of interest in him. Walt would
soon start to contemplate ways to distinguish the Mickey Mouse series
from his previous work and that of his rivals. The result of his
contemplations would be the third Mickey short to be produced, the
second to be released and the first to really draw the attention
of the audiences: Steamboat Willie.
Addition of Sound to the Mickey Mouse Series
Steamboat Willie was first released on November 18, 1928. It was
co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks again served as
the head animator. He was assisted by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark,
Wilfred Jackson and Dick Lundy. This short was intended as a parody
of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr., first released on May 12
of the same year. Despite the fact this was not the first Mickey
cartoon made or released, it is still considered by some as Mickey
Mouse's true debut. The cartoon is often listed in history books
as being the first animated film ever to feature a synchronized
sound, music, and dialogue track, although Max Fleischer released
some sound cartoons using the DeForest system in the mid-1920s.
Steamboat Willie was, however, the first sound cartoon to achieve
wide commercial success. Animation historians have long debated
who had served as the composer for the film's original music. This
role has been variously attributed to Wilfred Jackson, Carl Stalling
and Bert Lewis, but identification remains uncertain. Walt Disney
himself acted as voice actor for both Mickey and Minnie.
The script had Mickey serving aboard Steamboat Willie under Captain
Pete. At first he is seen piloting the steamboat while whistling.
Then Pete arrives to take over piloting and angrily throws him out
of the boat's bridge. They soon have to stop for cargo to be transferred
on board. Almost as soon as they leave, Minnie arrives. She was
apparently supposed to be their only passenger but was late to board.
Mickey manages to pick her up from the river shore. Minnie accidentally
drops her sheet music for the popular folk song "Turkey in
the Straw" (alternate versions include "Natchez Under
the Hill" and "Old Zip Coon". The lyrics are thought
to have been added to an earlier tune by Bob Farrell who first performed
them in a minstrel show on August 11, 1834). A goat which was among
the animals transported on the steamboat proceeds to eat the sheet
music. Consequently Mickey and Minnie use its tail to turn it into
a phonograph which is playing the tune. Through the rest of the
short, Mickey uses various other animals as musical instruments.
Later audiences have often described those scenes as humorously
exaggerated examples of animal cruelty. Captain Pete is eventually
disturbed by all this noise and places Mickey back to work. Mickey
is reduced to peeling potatoes for the rest of the trip. A parrot
attempts to make fun of him but is then thrown to the river by Mickey.
This served as the final scene of this short.
Audiences at the time of Steamboat Willie's release were reportedly
impressed by its use of sound for comedic purposes. Sound films
were still considered innovative. The first of them to become a
commercial success was arguably Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, first
released on October 6, 1927. Following its success, most United
States movie theaters had installed sound film equipment. Walt Disney
apparently intended to take advantage of this new trend and, arguably,
managed to succeed. Most other cartoon studios were still producing
silent products and so were unable to effectively act as competition
to Disney. As a result Mickey would soon become the most prominent
animated character of the time.
It should however be noted that Steamboat Willie was arguably the
first animated sound film to become commercially successful, but
not the first to be produced. In fact Fleischer Studios, headed
by Max Fleischer and his brother Dave Fleischer, had already produced
over a dozen cartoons with synchronized soundtracks.
Such earlier attempts would soon be more or less forgotten. Walt
Disney soon worked on adding sound to both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin'
Gaucho (which had originally been silent releases) and their new
release added to Mickey's initial success and popularity. A fourth
Mickey short was also put into production. It was The Barn Dance.
Mickey Mouse's Roles
Mickey as a Suitor
The Barn Dance, first released on March 14, 1929, would be the
first of twelve Mickey shorts released during that year. It was
directed by Walt Disney with Ub Iwerks as the head animator. The
barn dance of the title is the occasion which brings together Minnie
and her two suitors: Mickey and Pete. The latter two and their vehicles
are first seen arriving at Minnie's house in an attempt to pick
her up for the dance. Mickey turns up in his horse-cart while Pete
in a newly purchased automobile. Minnie initially chooses the later
to drive her to the dance but then the automobile unexpectedly breaks
down. She resorts to accepting Mickey's invitation. They are later
seen dancing together. But Mickey proves to be a rather clumsy dancer
as he repeatedly steps on Minnie's feet. She consequently turns
down his invitation for a second dance. She instead accepts that
of Pete who proves to be a better dancing partner. Mickey then attempts
to solve his problem by placing a balloon in his shorts. That apparently
helps him to be "light on his feet" and he proceeds to
ask Minnie for another dance. She accepts and is surprised to find
his dancing skills to have apparently improved. Pete soon discovers
Mickey's trick and points it to Minnie. Minnie is visibly disgusted
by this attempt at deception. Consequently she leaves Mickey to
resume dancing with Pete. In the finale Mickey is reduced to crying
on the floor.
This short was the first to feature its three main characters as
parts of a love-triangle. It is notable for featuring Mickey turned
down by Minnie in favor of Pete. It is also an unusual appearance
of the later. Pete was depicted as a rather well-mannered gentleman
instead of a menacing villain as before. On the other hand, Mickey
was not depicted as a hero but as a rather ineffective young suitor.
In his sadness and crying over his failure, Mickey appears unusually
emotional and vulnerable. It has been commented however that this
only serves to add to the audiences' empathy for the character.
First Gloved Appearance
"Ever wonder why we always wear these white gloves?"
- Various characters (with minor variations)
The Opry House, first released on March 28, 1929, would be the
second short released during the year. It cast Mickey as the owner
of a small theater (or opera house according to the title). Mickey
performs a vaudeville show all by himself. Acts include his impersonation
of a snake charmer, his dressing in drag and performing a belly
dance, his caricature of a Hasidic Jew and, for the finale, a piano
performance. Minnie did not appear in person in this short. Instead,
a poster of her can be seen which introduces her as a member of
the Yankee Doodle Girls, apparently a group of female performers.
The only other recurring character to appear in the short is known
as Kat Nipp (apparently a play on the word catnip). This would be
his debut; he would appear in two more shorts during the year as
a minor antagonist. This short featured no dialogue and consequently
its humor relies in a long series of visual gags. The musical pieces
accompanying them notably included "Yankee Doodle" and
Georges Bizet's Carmen. More notably this short introduced Mickey's
gloves. Mickey can be seen wearing them in most of his subsequent
Depiction as a Regular Mouse
When the Cat's Away, first released on April 11, 1929, would be
the third Mickey short to be released that year. It was essentially
a remake of one of the Alice Comedies, Alice Rattled by Rats, which
had been first released on January 15, 1926. Kat Nipp makes his
second appearance, though his name is given as "Tom Cat"
(this describes his being a tom cat, and the character should not
be confused with the co-star of the Tom and Jerry series). He is
seen getting drunk on alcoholic beverages. Then he leaves his house
to go hunting. In his absence an army of mice invade his house in
search of food. Among them are Mickey and Minnie, who proceed to
turn this gathering into a party. This short is unusual in depicting
Mickey and Minnie as having the size and partly the behavior of
regular mice. The set standard both before and after this short
was to depict them as having the size of a rather short human being.
On another note, it has been commented that since this short was
released during the Prohibition era, the alcoholic beverages would
probably have been products of bootlegging.
Mickey as a Soldier
The next Mickey short to be released is also considered unusual.
It was The Barnyard Battle, first released on April 25, 1929. As
the title implies it featured a battle between an invading army
of cats and an army of mice trying to defend their homes and farms.
Pete was depicted as a leading soldier of the former army and Mickey
as a conscript of the latter one. Before joining the army, Mickey
has to pass a physical examination. This scene depicts Mickey becoming
the subject of physical and emotional abuse. After passing the examination,
he is given a machine gun and is sent to battle. Mickey's combat
efforts are comical in depiction but prove effective enough in forcing
the enemy to retreat. Mickey is hailed as a hero by his fellow soldiers
and then the short ends.
This short is notable as the first to depict Mickey as a soldier
and the first to place him in combat. The physical examination scene
has since often been edited out as being somewhat disturbing. However
modern viewers have often pointed to this scene as being the most
memorable of the short. The short did not clearly identify the war
it depicted; but it has been noted that the cats are depicted as
wearing military helmets similar to those used by the German Empire
during World War I. On the other hand, the mice are marching in
battle to the tune of "Dixie's Land", a song written in
1859 by Daniel Decatur Emmett (October 29, 1815 - June 28, 1904).
The song is known to have been popular among the forces of the Confederate
States of America during the American Civil War. The victory of
the mice is celebrated in the tune of "Battle Cry of Freedom".
Both the music and the lyrics to this song were written in 1862
by George Frederick Root (August 30, 1820 - August 6, 1895) and
it is known to have been popular among the forces of the United
States during the same conflict. In any case both wars were still
within living memory of the audiences at the time of release and
so it is possible that the details mentioned were intended as recognizable
references to both of them.
First Encounter with Horace Horsecollar
Mickey returned to civilian life with The Plow Boy, first released
on May 9, 1929. As the title implies he was depicted as a farmer
alongside Minnie. He is first seen with his horse while ploughing
a field. Then Minnie comes along with her cow. She has Mickey milk
the cow for her. As he does, the cow starts licking him in an apparent
sign of affection. Mickey does not seem pleased and replies by rolling
up its muzzle with its own tongue. Mickey eventually manages to
present Minnie with a full be short is considered mainly notable
for the livestock it featured. Minnie's cow is considered to be
Clarabelle Cow making her second appearance, and Mickey's plow horse
is considered to be Horace Horsecollar making his debut. Though
depicted as non-anthropomorphic animals during this short, later
that same year both would become as anthropomorphic as their former
First Speaking Appearance
During his first eight appearances Mickey would whistle, laugh,
cry and otherwise vocally express himself. But he would not actually
speak until his ninth appearance. This short was The Karnival Kid,
first released on May 23, 1929. Mickey's first spoken words were
"Hot Dogs!". The short featured Mickey selling hot dogs
at a carnival. Much of the humor in this short came from the interaction
between Mickey and his hot dogs, with the latter tending to act
like actual dogs in relation to their owner/trainer. Three other
recurring characters of the series also appear. The first of them
was Clarabelle Cow in a cameo. The second was Kat Nipp, making his
third and last appearance. A barker at the carnival, he briefly
gets into an argument with Mickey. The third was Mickey's recurring
love interest: Minnie Mouse "the Shimmy Dancer" of the
carnival. Having purchased one of Mickey's hot dogs, she is surprised
to see it run away. The short ends at night time. Mickey apparently
attempts to draw Minnie's attention by playing guitar singing outside
her window. He only manages to draw the attention of two alley cats
who decide to join him and then that of an irate neighbour of Minnie's
who starts throwing things at these three annoyances in an attempt
to silence them. This marks the finale of the short.
First Singing Appearance
This following Mickey short to be released was Mickey's Choo Choo,
first released on June 20, 1929. As the title implies, Mickey is
depicted as the engineer in charge of an unusually anthropomorphic
locomotive. His only passenger seems to be Minnie, cast as a fiddle
player for this short. At some point Mickey loses control of the
locomotive. Clarabelle has another brief appearance as a cow running
out of its way. It was soon followed by Mickey's Follies, first
released on June 26, 1929. The short featured a barnyard show including
various numbers. A female pig singing opera is considered to be
Patricia Pig making her only animated appearance. She would be a
recurring character early in Mickey's comic strip series. But the
short is more notable for Mickey's main act. It has Mickey singing
Minnie's Yoo Hoo for the first time. This humorous little song is
considered to have a historical importance of its own. For one thing
"the guy they call little Mickey Mouse" for the first
time addresses an audience to explain that he has "Got a sweetie"
who is "Neither fat nor skinny" and proudly proclaims
that "She's my little Minnie Mouse". For another this
would serve as the new theme song for the series. The music to the
song was written by Carl Stalling and the lyrics by Walt Disney.
Finally, animation historians have pointed that it seems to be the
first song with original lyrics created by Walt's studio.
From Comedy to Musical
The ninth Mickey short to be released that year was The Jazz Fool,
first released on July 5, 1929. The title was probably intended
to be reminiscent of both The Jazz Singer, and also The Singing
Fool, first released on September 19, 1928. Both musical films featured
Al Jolson as their star and had proved commercially successful.
This film followed the originals in having minimal plot and focusing
on musical performances. Mickey and his friend Horace Horsecollar,
the later in his first anthropomorphic appearance, are cast as the
sole two performers of "Mickey's Big Road Show". The former
plays the piano and the later the xylophone. The soundtrack of the
film reportedly contained elements of both ragtime and Dixieland
jazz. This short is considered to be representative of a change
of focus early in the series. The preceding shorts already featured
their share of song and dance numbers as part of their comedic plots.
Many of the following ones can better be described as animated song
and dance shows with little to no plot.
First Encounter with Ghosts
This was not the case however with the next Mickey short to be
released: Haunted House, first released on August 1, 1929. The short
begins at night time. Mickey is seen caught up in a storm with an
umbrella serving as his only protection from the rain. Mickey is
naturally seeking a refuge for himself. He soon discovers an apparently
deserted house and proceeds to enter it. The door suddenly shuts
behind him and seems to be locked. Mickey is somewhat unnerved and
his encounters with bats and large spiders only increase his growing
fear. At this point, Mickey finds out that the house is indeed inhabited
... by ghosts in skeleton form. Mickey has entered a haunted house.
The figure of the Grim Reaper orders him to play music to entertain
them. Mickey is surprised but clearly too scared to argue with it.
Skeletons are seen dancing to Mickey's tune. At some point, Mickey
attempts to escape but any room he attempts to enter contains more
skeletons. The finale has a terrified Mickey crushing through a
window to escape.
The short is clearly similar to The Skeleton Dance, first released
on August 22, 1929, which was the first short of the Silly Symphonies
series. Both feature elements generally found in horror fiction
and particularly in horror films effectively combined with music
and dance. A series of creative and rather morbid gags provide comedic
elements. The result is often described as surreal and at points
impressive. Consequently both shorts have been considered among
the highlights of their respective series and animated classics.
Earliest Adventure at Sea
Another Mickey short was released in between them: Wild Waves,
first released on August 15, 1929. Mickey and Minnie are featured
spending a day at the beach. They are at first singing and dancing
at the shore but at some point Minnie is swept by a wave into the
sea. She panicks and seems to start drowning. Mickey discovers a
rowboat placed upside-down on the beach. He lifts it to discover
an amorous couple who were using the boat as their cover from prying
eyes. Mickey proceeds to place it into the water and then rows the
boat forward until he reaches Minnie. He manages to rescue her and
return her to the shore but Minnie is still visibly shaken from
the experience. Mickey starts singing the tune of Rocked in the
Cradle of the Deep, a maritime ballad written in 1832 by Emma Hart
Willard (February 23, 1787 - April 15, 1870), in an apparent effort
to cheer her up. Soon seals, walruses, penguins, pelicans, and other
water birds start dancing to Mickey's tune. Minnie cheers up and
the short ends. Mickey was depicted acting much like a lifeguard
during the short. Otherwise it is only notable as the first of Mickey's
adventures at sea.
Mouse in Transition
Mickey Mouse Entering the Depression Era
The twelfth and last Mickey short released during the year was
Jungle Rhythm, first released on November 15, 1929. Mickey is seen
in a safari somewhere in Africa. He rides on an elephant and is
armed with a shotgun. But the later proves to be problematic soon
after Mickey finds himself standing in between of a lion and a bear.
Mickey proceeds to play music to calm them down. During the rest
of the short, various jungle animals dance to Mickey's tunes. The
tunes vary from the previously mentioned "Yankee Doodle"
and "Turkey in the Straw" to Robert Burns' "Auld
Lang Syne" (1788), Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube"
(An der schönen, blauen Donau - 1867) and Queen Liliuokalani
of Hawaii's Aloha `Oe - 1878. This was the first Mickey short to
be released during the Great Depression. Mickey's efforts as an
entertainer to the jungle can be seen as representative of a function
often credited to him. To provide relatively cheap but much needed
entertainment to the audiences of the period.
First Comic Strip Appearance
By this point Mickey had appeared in fifteen commercially successful
animated shorts and was easily recognized by the public. So Walt
Disney was approached by King Features Syndicate with the offer
to licence Mickey and his supporting characters for use in a comic
strip. Walt accepted and Mickey made his first comic strip appearance
on January 13, 1930. The comical plot was credited to Walt Disney
himself, art to Ub Iwerks and inking to Win Smith. The first week
or so of the strip featured a loose adaptation of Plane Crazy. Minnie
soon became the first addition to the cast. The strips first released
between January 13 and March 31, 1930 have been occasionally reprinted
in comic book form under the collective title "Lost on a Desert
Classical Music Performances
Meanwhile in animation, two more Mickey shorts had been released.
The first of them was The Barnyard Concert, first released on March
3, 1930. It featured Mickey conducting an orchestra. The only recurring
characters among its members were Clarabelle as a flutist and Horace
as a drummer. Their rendition of the Poet and Peasant (Dighter und
Bauer), an overture written in 1846 by Franz von Suppé (April
18, 1819 - May 21, 1885), is humorous enough; but it has been noted
that several of the gags featured were repeated from previous shorts.
The second was originally released on March 14, 1930 under the title
Fiddlin' Around but has since been renamed to Just Mickey. Both
titles give an accurate enough description of the short which has
Mickey performing a violin solo. It is only notable for Mickey's
emotional renditions of the finale to Gioacchino Rossini's William
Tell Overture - 1829, Robert Schumann's Träumerei (Reverie),
which is a notable extract from Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood
- 1838), and Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, written after
Departure of a Co-creator and Consequences
They were followed by Cactus Kid, first released on April 11, 1930.
As the title implies the short was intended as a Western movie parody.
But it is considered to be more or less a remake of The Gallopin'
Gaucho set in Mexico instead of Argentina. Mickey was again cast
as a lonely traveler who walks into the local tavern and starts
flirting with its dancer. The later is again Minnie. The rival suitor
to Mickey is again Pete though using the alias Peg-Leg Pedro. For
the first time in a Mickey short, Pete was depicted as having a
peg-leg. This would become a recurring feature of the character.
The rhea of the original short was replaced by Horace Horsecollar.
This is considered to be his last non-anthropomorphic appearance.
The short is considered significant for being the last Mickey short
to be animated by Ub Iwerks.
Shortly before its release, Iwerks had left the Studio in an attempt
to create his own. The result of his early efforts was the Flip
the Frog series. His departure is considered to mark a turning point
to the careers of both Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. The former
lost the man who served as his closest colleague and confidant since
1919. The latter lost the man responsible for his original design
and for the direction and/or animation of several of the shorts
released till this point, and some would argue Mickey's creator.
Walt Disney has been credited for the inspiration to create Mickey,
but Iwerks was the one to design the character and the first few
Mickey Mouse cartoons were mostly or entirely drawn by Iwerks. Consequently
some animation historians have suggested that Iwerks should be considered
the actual creator of Mickey Mouse. It has been pointed that advertising
for the early Mickey Mouse cartoons credit them as "A Walt
Disney Comic, drawn by Ub Iwerks". Later Disney Company reissues
of the early cartoons tend to credit Walt Disney alone.
In any case, Walt and his remaining staff continued the production
of the Mickey series. Mickey continued to appear regularly in animated
shorts until 1943 and again from 1946 to 1953. But back in early
1930, Walt had another matter to attend to: the creation of the
comic strip after Iwerks' departure. At first Walt was content to
continue scripting it and assigning the art to Win Smith. However,
Walt's focus had always been in animation and Smith was soon assigned
with the scripting as well. Win Smith was apparently discontent
at having to script, draw, and ink a series by himself. This became
evident by his sudden resignation.
Walt proceeded to search for a replacement to Smith among the remaining
staff of the Studio. For uncertain reasons he chose Floyd Gottfredson,
a recently hired employee. At the time Floyd was reportedly eager
to work in animation and somewhat reluctant to accept his new assignment.
Walt had to assure Floyd that the assignment was only temporary
and that he would eventually return to animation. Floyd accepted
and ended up holding this "temporary" assignment from
May 5, 1930 to November 15, 1975.
Mickey Mouse Comics Appearances
Floyd at first had to work on the continuation of a storyline which
his predecessors had started on April 1, 1930. The storyline was
completed on September 20, 1930 and was later reprinted in comic
book form as Mickey Mouse in Death Valley. This early adventure
contributed to the extension of the comic strip cast which by this
point only included Mickey and Minnie. This story would bring the
first comic strip appearances of Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar
and Black Pete as well as the debuts of corrupted lawyer Sylvester
Shyster and Minnie's uncle Mortimer Mouse. The story was followed
by Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers, first printed between September
22 and December 26, 1930, which introduced Marcus Mouse and his
wife as Minnie's parents.
Starting with this two early comic strip stories, Mickey's versions
in animation and comics are considered to have diverged from each
other. While Disney and his cartoon shorts would continue to focus
on comedy, the comic strip effectively combined comedy and adventure.
This adventurous version of Mickey would continue to appear in comic
strips and later comic books throughout the 20th and into the 21st
Later Mickey Mouse History
In his earliest cartoons Mickey was often mischievous and the cartoons
sometimes used outhouse humor. As the series became more popular,
Disney decided to change his best-known character into a well meaning
everyman, and creating mischief was thereafter left to other characters.
From 1930 until 1950, though the numbers of the comic creators
that worked on Mickey increased, the most popular version (considered
the "classic" version today) was that of Floyd Gottfredson,
who developed Mickey's character, adopted characters from the cartoons,
and created many others. Since 1950 the most popular version of
Mickey has been that of Italian creator Romano Scarpa, who has further
developed Gottfredson's characters and has added many of his own.
Mickey's most well known supporting characters are his girlfriend,
Minnie Mouse; his dog, Pluto; and his best friends, Goofy and Donald
By his sister Amelia
Fieldmouse, Mickey Mouse has two nephews, the lesser-known Morty
and Ferdie Fieldmouse (in contrast to Donald Duck's famous nephews,
Huey, Dewey and Louie).
In 1929, Disney created the original Mickey Mouse Club for fans
of his character and cartoons, which later formed the basis for
a popular 1950's television show (with follow-ups of the same name
in the 1977 and 1989).
Mickey has only starred in one feature film: the "Mickey and
the Beanstalk" segment of Fun and Fancy Free (1947). He has
also starred in two half-hour theatrical featurettes, Mickey's Christmas
Carol (1983, screened in front of a re-issue of The Rescuers) and
The Prince and the Pauper (1990, screened in front of The Rescuers
Many television programs have centered around Mickey, such as the
recent shows Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse.
For many years, Mickey Mouse has served as the mascot for The Walt
Disney Company, alongside Jiminy Cricket and Tinkerbell.
On November 18, 1978, in honor of his 50th anniversary, he became
the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame. The star is located on 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Throughout the decades, Mickey Mouse competed with Warner Bros.'
Bugs Bunny for animated popularity. But in 1988, in a historic moment
in motion picture history, the two rivals finally shared screen
time in the Robert Zemeckis film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Warner
and Disney signed an agreement stating that each character had exactly
the same amount of screen time, right down to the semi-second.
Only three people have regularly provided the voice for Mickey
(not including theme park attractions and parades): Walt Disney
from 1928 to 1947, James MacDonald from 1948 to 1983, and currently,
Wayne Allwine, who first voiced the Mouse in Mickey's Christmas
Carol in 1983. His most recent theatrical cartoon was 1995's short
Runaway Brain, while in 2004 he appeared in the made-for-video features
The Three Musketeers and the computer-animated Mickey's Twice Upon
Mickey will co-star in the children's television series Disney's
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Mickey was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade
on New Year's Day 2005 to help promote Disneyland's 50th anniversary
celebration. Mickey Mouse and his character friends received new
costumes for their appearances at Disneyland as part of the park's
50th anniversary celebration.
In the Kingdom Hearts video game series, King Mickey Mouse resides
over Disney Castle alongside Queen Minnie Mouse. Donald Duck is
his Court Wizard, while Goofy Goof is the head of the King's royal
guard. Mickey only appears briefly in the first game, but is expected
to play a much larger role in the sequel, Kingdom Hearts II. He
also appears in the Game Boy Advance "semi-sequel", Kingdom
Hearts: Chain of Memories.
In the United States, protest votes are often made in order to
indicate dissatisfaction with the slate of electors presented on
a particular ballot, or to highlight the inadequacies of a particular
voting procedure. Since the American electoral system does not provide
for blank balloting or a choice of "None of the Above",
most protest votes take the form of a clearly non-serious candidate's
name entered as a write-in vote. Cartoon characters are typically
chosen for this purpose; as Mickey Mouse is the most well-known
and well-recognized character in America, his name is frequently
selected for this purpose. (Other popular selections include Donald
Duck and Bugs Bunny.) This phenomenon has the humorous effect of
causing Mickey Mouse to be a minor but perennial contestor of nearly
all U.S. presidential elections.
Pejorative Use of Mickey Mouse's Name
"Mickey Mouse" is a slang expression used as a diminutive
adjective and adverb meaning small-time, amateurish or of inferior
quality. A poorly executed construction project, for instance, could
be pejoratively described as a "Mickey Mouse job". Presumably,
this comes from the insinuation that the object or action in question
was taken as seriously as a Mickey Mouse cartoon (that is to say,
not at all). The term does not imply any actual connection to Mickey.
An alternative theory comes from the fact that Mickey Mouse watches
were notorious for breaking down.
In Finland, the software company Microsoft is often derogatorily
called "Mikkisofta" ("Mickey Software").
"Mickey Mouse money" is a derogatory term for foreign
currency, often used by Americans to describe indiginous currency
in a foreign country in which they are travelling.
The Walt Disney Company has become well known for protecting its
copyright on the Mickey Mouse character, whose likeness is so closely
associated with the company, with particular zeal. Disney chose
not to sue Paul Krassner for publishing Wally Wood's illustration
of The Disneyland Memorial Orgy in the underground newspaper The
Realist in 1967, and didn't pursue legal redress until a bootleg
blacklight poster appeared. In a protracted case in the 1970s, Disney
sued underground cartoonist Dan O'Neill for his comic book Air Pirate
Funnies, even going so far as to request the court press criminal
charges. Disney has lobbied for and achieved repeated copyright
term extensions from the United States and the European Union that
have prevented the character from entering the public domain. Disney's
lobbying efforts have contributed to the ability of other copyright
owners to extend their copyrights as well. This has caused the United
States, once known for its disrespect for copyrights and respect
for the public domain, to develop one of the most restrictive copyright
policies in the world. Critics (such as Lawrence Lessig in his book
Free Culture), have argued that Disney's protection of this copyright
is ironic and hypocritical, since Mickey Mouse was first seen in
Steamboat Willie, a film clearly based on Buster Keaton's movie
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
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