It is the great Mickey Mouse's birthday and we are here to celebrate! We, at AB Adventures, wanted to share with you some of our favorite stories and the history of the mouse from the time that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created him until now. He has had quite the fascinating story, so let's jump into it!
Oddly enough, Mickey was not the first character Walt Disney made successful. He had actually designed a rabbit while he was working for Universal Studios. (Yes, he and his studio where under contract for a time with Universal!) Audiences immediately loved Oswald's animation and personality. With the positive response and growing demand, Universal slated more shorts for the character. Walt, seeing the opportunity his character brought, wanted to negotiate a deal for the higher revenue he knew would be coming. Instead of allowing negotiations to proceed though, Universal essentially told him that all his employees had been bought out, they rightfully owned all of the rights for the character, and he could continue to work with them if he also agreed to a lower salary.
Well, if you know anything about Walt, you can probably guess he did not take the lower salary. Instead, he packed his bags, leaving all he had accomplished behind him at Universal. One of the few bright sides was that one animator agreed to stick with Walt, Ub Iwerks.
One of the first tasks the team of two sat down to accomplish was to create a new main character. You can imagine how frustrating this one have been to have already created a major hit, but not be able to use it. Late nights were commonplace for the Disney Bros. team. They had a few ideas, but none hit home the way Oswald had done.
Finally, they crafted a little, skinny mouse. Walt came up with a name for him--Mortimer. Now, there are quite a few ideas on how the mouse's name got switched. Possibly the most well-known is that Walt's wife really disliked the name Mortimer. Regardless of how it happened, Mortimer switched to our beloved Mickey Mouse.
Even after they landed on a great character, Mickey's first two shorts were not what most would call successful. The great character we know today did not take off with a BANG!
They initially created two short film that hit the big screen and left without many noticing.
However, along came the short Steamboat Willie. And as they say, "the crowd went wild!" Part of the reason was not just for the mouse, but for the fact that this was the first animated film to have synchronized music. Still, Mickey rode the wave of groundbreaking films. By the end of the year, he shined as a star in his own right. Walt began creating and selling Mickey merchandise, creating a fairly consistent stream of income for himself to start focusing on building the studio. Even more, not long after that, the Mickey Mouse Club was formed as well!
Now, as incredible as Walt Disney was as an animator, many still did not find Mickey as incredibly endearing as he could be. That's where a new animator, Fred Moore, stepped into the picture. If you know anything about sketching and drawing, artists typically must break down their drawings into basic shapes, especially if they were going to pass that picture onto a copy artist. Up until this point, Mickey could be broken down into simple circles. Very basic. Very simple. Fred Moore wanted to add a bit more variety and personality to the character. So, he added a few extra pieces, shortened his nose, and (most notable) gave him the iconic white gloves. It was at this point that Mickey was ready for the titular role of The Sorcerer's Apprentice in Disney's Fantasia.
Since then, Mickey has seen numerous shorts where he has been either the main character or costarred with his best buddies. When he wasn't starring in films, his character was setting the work atmosphere for the Walt Disney Company and his well-known silhouette was creating revenue around the world for the company to continue creating forever-adored films.
Which brings us to today...
Even though Mickey Mouse may have faded from the main screen, one can never forget nor ignore that the great Walt Disney Company of today... It All Started with a Mouse.