The infamous story of the birth of Mickey Mouse


The story starts with a rabbit which was just another brilliant product manufactured in the animation machine of Disney Brother Studio for Universal Pictures’ in 1927. The character was called Oswald the Lucky rabbit by its creator Walt Disney. Little round white face, floppy black ears, big button nose and ever-smiling Oswald was an immediate hit.
When Disney met the executives of Universal Pictures to negotiate the contract in 1928, the rabbit was still in demand. The animator thought he had an upper hand but to his shock, the company had hired a new set of animators and also had retained the rights of the rabbit. Disney was too offered a job at a lower salary which he happily refused.
Ub Iwerks – the only loyal animator who stayed with the Disney Brother Studio and Walt Disney returned to their lab and started brainstorming sessions for replacement of Oswald. They added some padding in the middle and reduced the size of the ears. Hence, the rabbit was turned into a mouse – Mortimer. This mouse didn’t last much. There have been a number of stories all around which explains why and how. According to the most popular one, the name didn’t go well with the wife of Walt Disney and she even suggested the replacement. Hence Mickey made his debut.
The earlier shots of Mickey drew little attention. However, then came the first animation to feature synchronized music and sound effects, Steamboat Willie which was an instant hit. Within no time, the mouse was a national hero. This is when the genius of Walt Disney came into play – marketing. He started a new line of merchandise inspired by Mickey Mouse. Within a couple of years, the Mickey Mouse Fan Club for children was up and gaining its popularity among children.
Seven years later, a young animator Fred Moore gave Mickey his first makeover. Unlike earlier animators, he gave him a pear-shaped body, shortened his nose and gave him a pair of white gloves. 1935 was also the year when Mickey appeared in color for the first time. The design was so innovative that critics to date consider it to be a masterpiece.
In another couple of years, Disney Brother’s Studio was producing a dozen Mickey shorts a year. The high-pitched voice to this iconic character was given by Disney himself. He suddenly became a soldier, a football player and a hunter. He was recusing Pluto from the dog catcher, crashing car into the barn, fighting wars with the army and innumerable times losing Minnie to a bunch of muscular bad boys (not to mention, he always won her in the end).
By the mid of the century, Mickey was featuring on newspaper comic strip, had a theme park on his name and a hit television show The Mickey Mouse Club which launched the careers of several teen stars. But soon Disney feature films like Sleeping Beauty and Bambi began making huge numbers at the box office and the mouse faded in the background.
Despite Mickey’s semi-retirement, he still remains to rule the hearts of children. Mickey Mouse turns a year older. Agreed, he is a little round and he has been wearing the same clothes for decades but we still love him. Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse.


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