Mickey was the brainchild of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks (That's a name I never associated with "the mouse"). Mickey was first seen in a single screen test of Plane Crazy and officially debuted in the short film Steamboat Willie on this day in 1928, making it one of the world's first sound cartoons. Since then, Mickey has appeared in over 130 films. That's a pretty impressive career for any actor! Ten of Mickey's cartoons have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In 1942, Mickey's film, Lend a Paw, won the award. In 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As early as 1930, Mickey has been featured extensively as a comic strip character that bears his name. Floyd Gottfrenson dew the Mickey comic strip for 45 years. From 1946 to 1995, Mickey had his own TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club. This enduring program made stars of many of the child actors who appeared on the show as Mouseketeers; Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, early on and, more recently, Justin Timberlake, Brittney Spears, and Christina Aguilera...to name but a few.
Did you know that Mickey started off his career as a mischievous antihero? He did, but was rebranded over time to become an "everyman"...usually seen as flawed, but an adventurous hero. In 2009, however, the Disney Studios began to rebrand him, once again, as the more adventurous and mischievous mouse, downplaying his cheerful, pleasant personality, beginning with the video game Epic Mickey.
Early in his life, Mickey bore a striking resemblance to Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit. Ub Iwerks designed his body out of circles to make it easier to animate. In 1938, Fred Moore, redesigned his body from it's circular shape to one that is more pear-shaped. Everyone was skeptical of the new Mickey version, but Walt Disney loved it and said, "That's the way I want Mickey to be drawn from now on." And so he has.
From 1928 onward, Mickey was voiced by the great Disney himself. In 1946, Walt decided to no longer voice Mickey. It is believed that, because of his extensive cigarette smoking, Walt could no longer achieve Mickey's high falsetto voice. In recent years, Mickey Mouse has become a slang term for smallish and amateurish. And he regularly gets referenced in various TV shows. Everybody knows and understands Mickey Mouse.
Whether you're a kid of 8, or one that's 88, everyone loves Mickey Mouse. He's an enduring character that we can all relate to. Mickey is one of the most eagerly-awaited characters for children to meet when visiting the Disney theme parks. And with good reason. He makes us happy. We feel good when Mickey's around. I guess that's because here's a little Mickey in all of us. We've spent our entire lives with him. Most of us can't remember a time before there was Mickey Mouse.
I hope you'll join me in wishing our friend, a very Happy 88th Birthday...and many, many more to come.
Have a great weekend, everyone! I hope you'll join me back here on Monday. Stay safe.