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Ageing well at 90 years young

Nov 09. 2018
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By The Nation

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One of the world's most recognisable cartoon characters, Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th birthday on November 18, the date taken from the premiere of the successful animated short film “Steamboat Willie” in which Mickey Mouse made his theatrical debut.

Mickey Mouse is a character created by Walt Disney - an endearing young boy who later assumed his continuing role as the icon for everything Disney. In early 1928, Walter Elias Disney, a 26-year-old producer, was forced to find a successor to his character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as he had lost the rights to Oswald to his distributor. While travelling on a train from New York back to California, he came up with the idea of the mouse. He originally called him Mortimer, but his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it to Mickey Mouse because it sounded cuter. Soon after, Mickey made his debut in “Steamboat Willie”. The film was a big success and Mickey’s silver screen career was launched. His popularity was unstoppable and he has enjoyed a global fan base ever since. 

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse,” Disney said on the “What Is Disneyland” television program on October 27, 1954. 

Mickey has deeply impacted Disney aficionados worldwide with his undeniable appeal. He is fun, active, optimistic and a natural leader who sparks childhood nostalgia in adults and represents positive values to children while entertaining and delighting audiences wherever he goes. Binding generations together more than any other animated character, Mickey Mouse is the “True Original” who reminds people of all ages of the benefits of laughter, optimism, and hope. With his universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations all over the world, no other character quite occupies a similar space in the hearts and minds of a global fan base. With all these factors, Mickey Mouse has become No 1 licensed character franchise in terms of global retail sales.

Here are 10 fascinating facts and fun trivia around Mickey Mouse

>> “Steamboat Willie” wasn’t Mickey’s first film: Although Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse short cartoon to be released, two others were produced first: “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho”. Sound was later added to these short cartoons for their release.

>> The first Mickey Mouse wristwatch: One of the most famous early Mickey Mouse products was a watch manufactured by the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company in 1933. It originally sold for $3.75.

>> Mickey’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: For his 50th birthday in November 1978, Mickey Mouse became the first animated character to be honoured on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

>> Evolution of Mickey’s appearance: Mickey has experienced several changes throughout the years. He was given white gloves for an entire animated short for the first time in “When the Cat’s Away” (1929) and spoke his first words, “Hot dogs!” in “The Karnival Kid” that same year. It was in “The Pointer” (1939) that the public first saw a redesigned Mickey Mouse, supervised by animator Fred Moore. In the 1950s, Mickey was given eyebrows (“Pluto’s Party”, 1952). Mickey also entered the world of CG in the late 1990s and 2000s.

>> The first person who animated Mickey Mouse: Ub Iwerks was known for producing 700 drawings in one day. He animated the first Mickey Mouse cartoons almost single-handedly and his record has never been equalled.

>> Mickey’s 121 animated shorts: Mickey Mouse was featured in 121 theatrically released animated shorts and featurettes.

>> Mickey at Oscar ceremonies: Mickey appeared on the Academy Awards ceremony telecast twice. In 1988, he presented an envelope to actor and director Tom Selleck. In 2003, he returned to present at the Oscar ceremonies with actress Jennifer Garner.

>> Mickey’s first publishing on paper: The first Mickey Mouse comic strip was published on January 13, 1930. The strips were drawn by Ub Iwerks for a few weeks and then his assistant, Win Smith, drew them for three months, to be succeeded by Floyd Gottfredson who continued to draw the strip for 45 years.

>> Mickey Mouse Magazine: In January 1933, the Mickey Mouse Magazine was created, which was a small publication containing short stories, articles, gags, games, and poems. Over the years, several different sizes were experimented with, until finally in 1940 the magazine reached the size we know today as the normal comic book size.

>> The first animated characters on the Apple Watch: Mickey and Minnie are the first two animated characters to appear on the Apple Watch. With either of the two set as the watch face, users can tap the screen to let the character speak the time.


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