“Close your eyes…don’t peek! I’ve got a surprise! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Mickey! Happy Birthday to you!”
He appeared in “Steamboat Willie”, one of the first “sound” cartoons or “talkies”.
What would America be without the smile and ears of Mickey and all of the products that use his image? From Disneyland parks, to Disney TV channels, to all of the Mickey characters including Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck, and the Disney merchandise stores and of course video games that have entertained youngsters for generations.
Mickey symbolizes perhaps better than any other character the naive optimism, zest for life and fun that exists in America. In his cartoons, Mickey embodies the courageous little guy with the big heart who gets up after being knocked down and always finds a reason to smile…a kind of cartoon version of “Charlie Chaplin” without the hat and the mustache.
Mickey is probably the cartoon character which has given the most joy to people of his generation. His features are recognizable in almost every city on earth, and he has probably raised a smile from almost everyone whose life he has touched. Searching desperately for a cartoon character to replace “Oswald the rabbit” who was “owned” by Universal Studios, Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from his old pet mouse he used to have on his farm. He drew his cartoon with circles so that it would be more pleasing to the eye and, most importantly, could be animated more easily.Some people claim that he named his cartoon character after the child actor Mickey Rooney his friend at the Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood and who inspired in him the liveliness and happy-go-lucky nature he wanted to instill in his little cartoon character. Of course once he created his “mouse”, he immediately filed copyright claims and made Mickey’s ears a registered trademark.
Mickey Mouse was an overnight success. In 1933, he received 800,000 fan letters, more than any other star in Hollywood. In 1936 he made one of the first color cartoons with “Through the Looking Glass” inspired by “Alice in Wonderland”.
Perhaps one of his most famous movies was “Fantasia” released in 1940 (which was not a big success) and the last film Walt Disney made with Mickey before the late 80’s was in 1953 called “The Simple Things”.
The “Mickey Mouse Club” started in 1955 was a TV show starring a group of “Mouseketeers” and that was designed for a young audience. It was hosted and led by Jimmie Dodd who became like a boy/girl scout leader and counselor for young people. The members performed on a stage singing and dancing and then played in numerous TV dramas hat pulled more and more children into the Disney World as it was easier to identify with people than with cartoon characters. It became an overnight success for baby-boomers like me. The club members became immediate friends and their antics and adventures became more and more sophisticated as the years progressed and as we grew older. Perhaps the most notable “Mouseketeer” was Annette Funicello who was the only member who retained Walt Disney’s attention when the Mickey Mouse Club went off the air. She went on to become a popular actress in other motion pictures but she always kept her image with Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse:Here’s an extract from the show:
One more anecdote: Mickey was the 1700th star and the first animated personality to have his star engraved on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. His co-star “Donald Duck” followed soon after…Way to go Mickey!!
So…once again…Happy Birthday Mickey and may you continue to bring happiness to young and old!
|First appearance||Steamboat Willie (1928)|
|Created by||Walt Disney
|Voiced by||Walt Disney (1928–1947)Jimmy MacDonald (1947–1977)
Wayne Allwine (1977–2009)
Bret Iwan (2009–present)
|Developed by||Floyd Gottfredson
|Family||Mickey Mouse family|
|Significant other(s)||Minnie Mouse|