90 Years of Mickey and Beyond

Hi there, pals! Ninety years ago, on November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse was introduced to the public in a cartoon short called, “Steamboat Willie”, an intended parody of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. It was the first cartoon ever with sound. From there, Mickey would go on to become one of, if not, the greatest, most iconic, and most popular cartoon character of all time in the world. 

Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks after Universal had taken the rights of Disney’s original creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Mickey’s half-brother). When Walt first created him, he had originally intended to call him Mortimer Mouse; however, his wife, Lillian, convinced Walt to give him a different name because it sounded too pompous. So, Mickey Mouse it was. Technically, Mickey started out in “Plane Crazy”, but it did not do so well to impress the audience. His second short, “The Gallopin’ Gaucho”, did not do so well either. That’s where “Steamboat Willie” came in, became a huge success, and Mickey would soon overshadow Oswald, and Felix the Cat in the coming years.

Disney would be the first person to voice Mickey (even Minnie for a bit) in 1928, and when he wasn’t so busy with his work on other projects until he passed away in 1966.

Other voices during his busy times were Carl W. Stalling (1929) who said Mickey’s first words “Hot dogs!” in “The Karnival Kid”, and Clarence Nash (1934). Jimmy MacDonald took over in 1947 and stayed with the voice after Disney passed away until McDonald retired in 1977. Wayne Allwine would then take over and become the voice of Mickey for over 30 years until he passed away in 2009. His wife, however, Russi Taylor continues to provide the voice of Mickey’s girlfriend, Minnie Mouse since 1986. At one point Les Perkins did Mickey’s voice (1986-1987). The current voices for Mickey are Bret Iwan for the 3D animated cartoons since 2009, and Chris Diamantopoulos for the Mickey Mouse shorts since 2013.

Mickey has featured in over a ton of short films and films in general. He’s made cameos in films such as “Hollywood Party” (1934), “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988), and “A Goofy Movie” (1995). In 1935, “The Band Concert” became Mickey’s first colored short film. In a poll of animation professionals, this short was voted as the third greatest cartoon of all time. Perhaps his most iconic role, however, was when he was “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, where this short film played part in making 1940’s “Fantasia” the first film commercial to be played in stereophonic sound. On television, “The Mickey Mouse Club” has played a huge factor for more than 60 years following an actual club created in the 1930s. It has spanned through multiple reboots; including the current one (2017-now) which can be watched on Facebook and Instagram. House of Mouse was another big-time show, however, it only lasted about three years (2001-’03). The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lasted literally a decade (2006-2016) as a fun educational program for little kids. Mickey’s current shows are “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” (2017-now) and “Mickey Mouse” (2013-now). On his 50th anniversary of November 18, 1978, Mickey Mouse received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; 6925 Hollywood Boulevard.

Let’s not forget about a portion of everybody’s favorite things: fashion, furniture, etc. Mickey is extremely popular that he also features on t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, purses, backpacks, candies, posters, sweatpants, baby cribs, bunk beds, watches, pillows, snacks, gloves, hats, shoes, bicycles, folders, pencils, coloring books, toys, headgears, ice cream, lunch boxes/bags, bags, baby diapers, toothbrushes, the internet, and a probably a whole lot more.

He even practically has an endless list of video games starting in 1981 with “Mickey Mouse” on the Nintendo R&D1. Other games that followed were “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (1983) on the Atari 2600, “Mickey Mousecapade” (1988) on the Nintendo Entertainment System, “Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse” (1990) on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and later a remake on the PlayStation 3 and other game software, “Hide and Sneak” (2003) on the GameCube, Epic Mickey 1 & 2 (2010 & 2012); 1 on the Wii and 2 on the Nintendo 3DS, other Disney games, and the Kingdom Hearts series. Part 3 comes out in January 2019.     

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, the ABC channel aired “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular”; celebrating 90 years of one of the most beloved characters ever. Minnie Mouse happened to be there with Mickey; as well as Daisy and Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. Stars such as Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, John Stamos, Meghan Trainor, Sofia Carson, Tori Kelly, Zac Brown Band, NCT 127, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Leslie Odom Jr. and more joined in with speeches and performances honoring Mickey Mouse. Other stars such as Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Silverman, Tom Holland, Camila Cabello, and more sent out their happy birthday wishes to the birthday boy (or mouse) as well.

Ninety years of this mouse entertaining millions around the world. Back to his film history; Mickey may make an appearance in a possible Jon Favreau film of “Magic Kingdom” based off the Disney World Resort theme park. Also, a first-ever full-length feature film of Mickey Mouse himself has been ideally pitched by Walt Disney Animation Studios veteran Burny Mattinson. We’ll have to wait for who knows how long until these films are actually confirmed. Until then, so long pals, and have a magical day!

Written by Brandon Luna, Staff Writer