History of Mickey Mouse

By: Tauqeer Ul Hassan | Posted: 22nd April 2010

Mickey Mouse is a famous cartoon character of a talking mouse. It is owned by The Walt Disney Company and has a very strong franchise for the company, its theme parks and other merchandise opportunities. Mickey Mouse is very unique among cartoon characters, it has large and round black ears, a pointed nose and wears red shorts with white buttons and yellow boots. The outline of Mickey's ears and nose are basically the logo of Walt Disney.

The origin of Mickey Mouse is not very clear. There have been different stories to suit the urge of publishers, copyright holders and those looking for a mystery. All the parties owing its creation have passed away and the real truth may never be known. Walt Disney Company claims that Walt Disney, the founder of the company had created the character himself.

Disney recalled that he drew pictures of a cartoon mouse and his best friend Ub Iwerks reworked the pictures into a form that would make the character quick to draw. The voice, attitude and personality of Mickey Mouse were provided by Walt. Many described him as the real father and rightful designer of Mickey Mouse.

A contradictory story claimed that the mouse character was originally drawn by Hugh Harman around a photo of Walt Disney in 1925. These were later used as ideas for a new character when Disney separated from Universal Studios. He was contracted to provide shorts on the character named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He asked his friend Ub Iwerk to come up with ideas which included dogs, frogs, cows, cats and horses.

Iwerks was nearly at his wits end when he remembered Harman's sketches of mouse around photo of Walt and agreed. They agreed to it and they envisioned the mouse being like a human. They had named their character as Mortimer Mouse.

Mortimer had struggled for its identity, Walt's wife was convinced that the name was snobby and would not match with the character's audience appeal. Disney wanted his new character to be cute and lovable for children. Walt credited part of the personality of Mickey Mouse to Charlie Chaplin in a later interview. Mickey Rooney stated that revealed to choose the name Mickey after seeing the character of Mickey McGuire which was played by Mickey Rooney in the early 1920s.

The first Mickey Mouse short entitled Plane Crazy was ready for distribution by May 1928 but it was not successful in finding a distributor. A second short named The Gallopin' Gaucho was filmed and introduced a previously shown character called Pegleg Pete. This also failed to find a distributor. It was however an unusual production.

Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse animated short that was successful to find a distributor. It was released in November 1928. It proved to be a quick hit and the audiences loved the use of music and sound effects to add humor to the production. It encouraged Disney to adopt sounds in tits animations and included Mickey's first spoken words in the production of The Karnival Kid in 1929.

There was a minor change in the appearance of Mickey and Minnie in late 1929. By the early 1930s, Mickey Mouse had left behind ‘Felix the Cat' and Mortimer Mouse had been introduced as Minnie's rancher uncle.

A new animator at the Disney Company redesigned Mickey Mouse in 1935. In 1978, the 50th anniversary of Mickey Mouse first short film being produced and distributed. Mickey was also awarded a star on Hollywood Boulevard and was the first cartoon character to receive a star.

The Walt Disney Company was successfully operating Mickey Mouse Clubs in cinemas across the US and claiming over a million members. The members also received coloring books and badges. By the mid of 1930s, the administrative costs for managing these proved to be uneconomic and they were closed down. However the Mickey Mouse Club was revived again in 1955 through 1959 as a television series.

The Mickey Mouse Club was aired in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, many famous pop celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears got their first broadcasting role as cast members of the revived show. A new format show named the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse began airing in 2006 and was aimed at preschoolers.

Following topics will also be interesting for you: History of Mickey Mouse and History of Sesame Street.
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Tags: walt disney, frogs, cartoon characters, cows, real truth, mickey mouse, theme parks, cartoon character, universal studios, wits end