Mickey Mouse – The Tale of the Star With a Tail | By Kenny Leones
Mickey Mouse is undoubtedly the most-beloved cartoon character of all time. To the delight of children and the nostalgia of grownup fans everywhere, the widespread appeal of this quintessential animated icon spans not only the entire world, but across generations as well.
The enduring popularity of the world’s most famous mouse should not come as a surprise, as the character has been around long enough to make an indelible mark upon modern pop culture, yet still seems as fresh and hip to younger fans as ever before. Indeed, kids today might be surprised to find out just when was Mickey Mouse born.
Mickey Mouse was born way back in 1928 from the fertile imagination of the man whose name would be synonymous with animation, Walt Disney. But before the mouse, there was a rabbit. “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” was actually Walt Disney’s first great cartoon creation, producing 26 short animated films from 1927 to 1928. Unfortunately, the then 26-year-old Disney had lost the rights to the character to Universal Studios. So while on a train from New York bound for Los Angeles, Walt conceived of a new character, a sympathetic little mouse in red short pants. Initially named “Mortimer,” Walt’s wife Lillian thought that it sounded too pompous and instead suggested the name “Mickey.”
The very first Mickey Mouse cartoon that Walt Disney worked on was a silent animated short entitled “Plane Crazy.” Unfortunately, film distributors at the time were unimpressed and refused to buy the short. The case was the same for the second Mickey short, “Gallopin’ Gaucho.” Another stumbling block to Disney’s success was that after Warner Bros. introduced sound films with the 1927 Al Jolson-starrer “The Jazz Singer,” the age of the silent movie was at an end.
In order to keep up with the film trends, Disney decided to add sound to the next Mickey Mouse short “Steamboat Willie,” even providing the character’s voice himself. Disney had spent everything on the film’s production, but the gamble would ultimately pay off. An enterprising theater manager took a chance with the new sound cartoon, and the film became a huge success. Eventually, Disney would also add sound to the two previous cartoons.
Mickey Mouse would go on to star in hundreds of cartoons, paving the way for other well-loved Disney characters such as Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and many more. Appearing on film and television, and on everything from comics to toys and games and other children’s items, these colorful cartoon superstars would launch the giant Disney entertainment empire that continues to endure today.
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