When people think of Walt Disney they almost always picture it’s most famous character, Mickey Mouse who is know all around the world. The outline of Mickey’s head featuring his large round ears have become the basic symbol for the company and appear on merchandise, Disney ornaments and at its theme parks.
How Mickey Mouse came to be is not crystal clear. The story seems to change based on who is telling it. Since all the parties involved and mentioned in the original creation of Mickey have passed away the absolute truth may never be known. Many claim that Walt Disney himself created the popular mouse. Disney is said to have drawn the cartoon mouse and his close friend Ub Iwerks revised the drawing into a form that would be quicker to draw. The personality and voice for Mickey were done by Walt Disney himself. Another story claims that Hugh Harman turned a picture of Walt Disney into Mickey. In any event this mouse started out as Mortimer Mouse until Walt’s wife convinced him that the name did not match with the characters audience, and would sound too snobby. Walt Disney also has said that part of Mickey’s personality was based on silent movie superstar Charlie Chaplin.
In 1928 the first short called Plane Crazy was made available but Disney was unable to find a distributor. A second short named The Gallopin’ Gaucho also failed to find a company unwilling to distribute the cartoon short. In November 1928 Steamboat Willie became the first Mickey Mouse short to find a distributor. In November of 1928 the short became an instant hit and audiences loved that music and sound effects were used to add humor to the cartoon. This success encouraged Disney to adopt sounds into all future animations and the 1929 short The Karnival Kid featured Mickey’s first spoken words. In 1935 a new animator redesigned Mickey to his more familiar appearance that we have grown to love today.
In 1978 to celebrate 50 years of Mickey Mouse he was awarded his own star Hollywood Boulevard, a first for an animated character. Over eighty years later Mickey Mouse is still around and new cartoons featuring the mouse are still being made. Currently the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, designed for preschool age children, is shown daily on Disney’s own cable channel.
From a humble start Mickey Mouse has grown into an international cartoon icon. Today you can find Mickey Mouse on Disney Ornaments, snow globes, and many, many other types of merchandise.
Now that you know how Mickey got his start check out this article about how the tradition of the Christmas Ornaments started.