The Evolution of Mickey
All started by a Mouse
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”
He was talking about the mouse that everybody knows, loves, and adores: Mickey Mouse. Mickey was created in 1928, and appeared for the first time on screen in “Steamboat Willie” in November 1928. Decades ago, but still children everywhere are so familiar with this lively and lovely mouse even to this date.
Mickey and his friends
With Mickey Mouse’s success, Walt added supporting characters like Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. Mickey and his friends have made millions of children (including ourselves) smiled, giggled, and laughed. They are our friends whom have accompanied us through our childhood and will continue to do so with our children and most absolutely will accompany our children’s children as well. Such is the magnificent and powerful dream of Walt Disney coming true even long after he passed away. The dream that he once envisioned to continue growing and unending as long as there’s imagination left in the world.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
The time before Mickey
Walt started drawing and sold sketches to neighbors at the age of 7. When the first World War hit, he tried to enlist in Military service, but got rejected because he was only 16 at the time. Instead he joined the Red Cross and he spent that time driving an ambulance that was covered with cartoons and drawings, instead of the standard camouflage.
After the war ended, he tried his luck in California, with nothing more than drawing materials and a few dollars in his pocket. Luckily his brother, Roy supported Walt and with the capital they raised, they set up a small cartoon studio in the garage. They named the studio: the Disney Brother’s Studio. They began with a live-action series, but soon discovered near the end that animated characters were more appealing. The studio produced a new series with an animated character: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Oswald was an instant success and became popular.
But… the success didn’t last long.
After a failed negotiation, Disney lost the rights to Oswald, and lost most of his staffs to Universal, too.
An extremely hard blow for Disney. He had to start all over again on his own. It seemed so impossible to beat the popularity of Oswald and another popular animated character at the time: Felix the Cat.
Not giving up, Walt Disney created a new character to replace Oswald.
He drew the sketches of a mouse inspired by his pet mouse.
Later the sketches were fine-tuned by fellow animator, Ub Iwerks. Walt Disney personally lent his voice and personality to Mickey.
In the words of a Disney employee, “Ub designed Mickey’s physical appearance, but Walt gave him his soul.”
Sound in cartoons were new at that time. With the animation fully-synchronized with sound, it really brought the animated character come to life and complete with personality. The audience fell in love with Mickey Mouse’s personality and adored him right away.
With the success of the release of “Steamboat Willie” the first animation / cartoon with sound (featuring Mickey Mouse), Mickey became a new instant success and replaced Felix the Cat as the world’s most popular animated character.
Later, in 1932, Disney released a full-length animated musical, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, which was estimated to had been produced at the staggering cost of $1.5 million during the time of the Great Depression, the time when most people struggled to make a living because of the devastated economy. “Snow White” became an instant masterpiece of the motion picture industry.
Disney literally trumped the impossible.
Years later Disney continued to produce more animated classics, which I believe you all should have seen by now.
Classics like Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and many more.
Truly the Golden Age of Disney Animation.
“Disneyland is a work of love.”
Still full of dreams, Disney envisioned an amusement park where his employees can spend time with their children.
Interestingly enough, the engineers and planners for the Disneyland project were named “Imagineers”.
Why? Because he said that he wanted it to look like nothing else in the world. To accomplish that they have to use their imaginations.
“We did it: Disneyland, in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster – closed and forgotten within the first year.”
Disneyland officially opened in 1955, with Walt’s speech: “To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land.
Here age relives fond memories of the past …. and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.
Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Contrary to what analysts predicted, it wasn’t closed and forgotten within the first year, and became a hit.
The dream didn’t stop there for Walt, early 1964 he announced a larger version of Disneyland, to be called Disney World. With the heart of the Disney World was EPCOT, short for the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. A prototype to improve the quality of life in future America.
Too bad, he passed away because of a heart attack in 1966,
years before he could see his latest dream came true.
To honor Walt, his brother Roy took over his brother’s dream and insisted on renaming the “Disney World” to “Walt Disney World”. It was opened for public as scheduled in 1971 and EPCOT in 1982.
Even years and years after his death, his legacy lives on.
His dreams have brought joy and laughter, have inspired and entertained millions of children and adults all around the world.
It was all started by a mouse, called Mickey Mouse and it will never end as long as imagination lives on. That’s the legacy of Walt Disney.
“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”
Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966)
Walt and Mickey the Mouse that started it all
Epic Mickey with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
As for the fate of Oswald, he was finally reunited with his friends at Disney more than a half of century later, in 2006 after a trade with NBC Universal.
You can meet both Mickey and Oswald in Disney’s latest Wii Game, the Epic Mickey.
Epic Mickey’s developer Warren Spector comments on Oswald: “All he really wants is to be loved by Walt Disney.”
Next part of the story:
To make the dream a reality: the Disney Brother’s way