Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character who has become an icon for The Walt Disney Company. Mickey Mouse was created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and voiced by Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Company celebrates his birth as November 18, 1928, upon the release of Steamboat Willie, although Mickey had already appeared six months earlier in an unfinished test screening of Plane Crazy (Steamboat Willie being the first Mickey Mouse Cartoon with sound). The anthropomorphic mouse has evolved from being simply a character in animated cartoons and comic strips to become one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. Mickey is currently the main character in the Disney Channel's Disney Juniorseries "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse". Mickey is the leader of The Mickey Mouse Club.
In late 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced that they will begin to re-brand the Mickey Mouse character by putting a little less emphasis on his pleasant, cheerful side and reintroducing the more mischievous and adventurous sides of his personality, starting with the newly released Epic Mickey.
- 2 Roles and designs
- 3 Mouse in transition
- 4 Later history
- 5 Design and voice
- 6 Social impact
- 7 Legal issues
- 8 Filmography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
- ==Creation and debut==
When Disney asked for a larger budget for his popular Oswald series, Mintz announced that Disney could keep doing the Oswald series, as long as he agreed to a budget cut and went on the payroll. Mintz owned Oswald and thought he had Disney over a barrel. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff, but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist,Les Clark. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.
In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up asClarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. (A male frog, also rejected, would later show up in Iwerks' own Flip the Frog series.) Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from his old pet mouse he used to have on his farm. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. "Mortimer Mouse" had been Disney's original name for the character before his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be. Actor Mickey Rooney has claimed that, during his Mickey McGuire days, he met cartoonist Walt Disney at the Warner Brothers studio, and that Disney was inspired to name Mickey Mouse after him. Said Disney:
- "We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplinfor the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could. When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it's because he's so human; and that is the secret of his popularity. I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse."===Plane Crazy, The Gallopin Gaucho, and Steamboat Willie===
Disney had Ub Iwerks secretly begin animating a new cartoon while still under contract with Universal. The cartoon was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks was the main animator for the short, and reportedly spent six weeks working on it. In fact, Iwerks was the main animator for every Disney short released in 1928 and 1929. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising also assisted Disney during those years. They had already signed their contracts with Charles Mintz, but he was still in the process of forming his new studio and so for the time being they were still employed by Disney. This short would be the last they animated under this somewhat awkward situation.
Mickey and Minnie debuted in a test screening of the cartoon short Plane Crazy, on May 15, 1928, but it failed to impress audiences, and to add insult to injury, Walt could not find a distributor. Though understandably disappointed, Walt went on to produce a second Mickey short: "The Gallopin' Gaucho" which was also not released for lack of a distributor.
Steamboat Willie was first released on November 18, 1928 in New York. It was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks again served as the head animator, assisted by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Wilfred Jackson and Dick Lundy. This short was intended as a parody ofBuster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr., first released on May 12 of the same year. Although it was the third Mickey cartoon produced, it was the first to find a distributor, and thus is considered by The Disney Company as Mickey's debut. Willie featured changes to Mickey's appearance (in particular, simplifying his eyes to large dots) that established his look for later cartoons and in numourus Walt Disney films.
The cartoon was not the first cartoon to feature a soundtrack connected to the action. Fleischer Studios, headed by brothers Dave and Max Fleischer, had already released a number of sound cartoons using the DeForest system in the mid-1920s. However, these cartoons did not keep the sound synchronized throughout the film. For Willie, Disney had the sound recorded with a click track that kept the musicians on the beat. This precise timing is apparent during the "Turkey in the Straw" sequence, when Mickey's actions exactly match the accompanying instruments. Animation historians have long debated who had served as the composer for the film's original music. This role has been variously attributed to Wilfred Jackson, Carl Stalling and Bert Lewis, but identification remains uncertain. Walt Disney himself was voice actor for both Mickey and Minnie, and would remain the source of Mickey's voice through 1946 for theatrical cartoons. Jimmy MacDonald took over the role in 1946, but Walt provided Mickey's voice again from 1955 to 1959 for the Mickey Mouse Clubtelevision series on ABC.
The script had Mickey serving aboard Steamboat Willie under Captain Pete. At first he is seen piloting the steamboat while whistling. Then Pete arrives to take over piloting and angrily throws him out of the boat's bridge. They soon have to stop for cargo to be transferred on board. Almost as soon as they leave, Minnie arrives. She was apparently supposed to be their only passenger but was late to board. Mickey manages to pick her up from the river shore. Minnie accidentally drops her sheet music for the popular folk song "Turkey in the Straw". Agoat which was among the animals transported on the steamboat proceeds to eat the sheet music. Consequently Mickey and Minnie use its tail to turn it into a phonograph which is playing the tune. Through the rest of the short, Mickey uses various other animals as musical instruments. Captain Pete is eventually disturbed by all this noise and places Mickey back to work. Mickey is reduced to peeling potatoes for the rest of the trip. A parrot attempts to make fun of him but is then thrown to the river by Mickey. This served as the final scene of this short.
Audiences at the time of Steamboat Willie's release were reportedly impressed by the use of sound for comedic purposes. Sound films or "talkies" were still considered innovative. The first feature-length movie with dialogue sequences, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, was released on October 6, 1927. Within a year of its success, most United States movie theaters had installed sound film equipment. Walt Disney apparently intended to take advantage of this new trend and, arguably, managed to succeed. Most other cartoon studios were still producing silent products and so were unable to effectively act as competition to Disney. As a result Mickey would soon become the most prominent animated character of the time. Walt Disney soon worked on adding sound to both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho (which had originally been silent releases) and their new release added to Mickey's success and popularity. A fourth Mickey short, The Barn Dance, was also put into production; however, Mickey does not actually speak until The Karnival Kid in 1929 when his first spoken words were "Hot dogs, Hot dogs!" After Steamboat Willie was released, Mickey became a close competitor to Felix the Cat, and his popularity would grow as he was continuously featured in sound cartoons. By 1929, Felix would lose popularity among theater audiences, and Pat Sullivan decided to produce all future Felix cartoons in sound as a result. Unfortunately, audiences did not respond well to Felix's transition to sound and by 1930, Felix had faded from the screen.
Roles and designsEdit
Mickey as a suitorEdit
The Barn Dance, first released on March 14, 1929, was the first of twelve Mickey shorts released during that year. It was directed by Walt Disney with Ub Iwerks as the head animator. This short is notable for featuring Mickey turned down by Minnie in favor of Pete. It is also an unusual appearance of the Pete character; previously depicted as a menacing villain, he is portrayed here as a well-mannered gentleman. In addition, Mickey was not depicted as a hero but as a rather ineffective young suitor. In his sadness and crying over his failure, Mickey appears unusually emotional and vulnerable. It has been commented, however, that this only serves to add to the audience's empathy for the character.
First gloved appearanceEdit
"Ever wonder why we always wear these white gloves?" - Various characters (with minor variations)
The Opry House, first released on March 28, 1929, was the second short released during the year. This short introduced Mickey's gloves. Mickey can be seen wearing them in most of his subsequent appearances. Supposedly one reason for adding the white gloves was to allow audiences to distinguish the characters' hands when they appeared against their bodies, as both were black (Mickey did not appear in color until The Band Concert in 1935). The three black lines on the backs of the gloves represent darts in the gloves' fabric extending from between the digits of the hand, typical of kid glove design of the era.
Depiction as a regular mouseEdit
When the Cat's Away, first released on April 18, 1929, was the third Mickey short to be released that year. It was essentially a remake of one of the Alice Comedies, Alice Rattled by Rats, which had been first released on January 15, 1926. Kat Nipp makes his second appearance, though his name is given as "Tom Cat" (this describes his being a tomcat, and the character should not be confused with the co-star of the Tom and Jerry series). He is seen getting drunk on alcoholic beverages. Then he leaves his house to go hunting. In his absence an army of mice invade his house in search of food. Among them are Mickey and Minnie, who proceed to turn this gathering into a party. This short is unusual in depicting Mickey and Minnie as having the size and partly the behavior of regular mice. The set standard both before and after this short was to depict them as having the size of rather short human beings. On another note, since this short was released during the Prohibition era, the alcoholic beverages would probably have been products of bootlegging.
Mickey as a soldierEdit
The next Mickey short to be released is also considered unusual. "The Barnyard Battle" was first released on April 25, 1929. This short is notable because it was the first to depict Mickey as a soldier and also the first to place him in combat.
Mouse in transitionEdit
Theater-based Mickey Mouse ClubsEdit
In 1930, Disney began the first of what would later be many Mickey Mouse Clubs, which were located in hundreds of movie theaters across the United States.
First comic strip appearanceEdit
By this point Mickey had appeared in 15 commercially successful animated shorts and was easily recognized by the public. So Walt Disney was approached by King Features Syndicate with the offer to license Mickey and his supporting characters for use in a comic strip. Walt accepted and Mickey made his first comic strip appearance on January 13, 1930. The comical plot was credited to Walt Disney himself, art to Ub Iwerks and inking to Win Smith. The first week or so of the strip featured a loose adaptation of "Plane Crazy". Minnie soon became the first addition to the cast. The strips first released between January 13, 1930 and March 31, 1930 have been occasionally reprinted in comic book form under the collective title "Lost on a Desert Island". Animation historian Jim Korkis notes "After the eighteenth strip, Iwerks left and his inker, Win Smith, continued drawing the gag-a-day format..."
Classical music performancesEdit
Meanwhile in animation, two more Mickey shorts had been released. The first of them was "The Barnyard Concert", first released on March 3, 1930. It featured Mickey conducting an orchestra. The only recurring characters among its members were Clarabelle as a flutist and Horace as a drummer. Their rendition of the Poet and Peasant Overture (by Franz von Suppé) is humorous enough; but it has been noted that several of the gags featured were repeated from previous shorts. The second, was originally released on March 14, 1930 under the title Fiddlin' Around but has since been renamed to Just Mickey. Both titles give an accurate enough description of the short which has Mickey performing a violin solo. It is only notable for Mickey's emotional renditions of the finale to the "William Tell Overture", Robert Schumann's "Träumerei" ("Reverie"), and Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2", the latter which would appear on a regular basis in shorts starringBugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and Woody Woodpecker.
In The Band Concert, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon filmed in Technicolor, Mickey conducted the William Tell Overture, but in the cartoon is swept up by a tornado, along with his orchestra. It is said that conductor Arturo Toscanini so loved this short that, upon first seeing it, he asked the projectionist to run it again.
Mickey made his most famous classical music appearance in 1940 in the classic Disney film Fantasia. His screen "role" as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, set to the symphonic poem of the same name by Paul Dukas, is perhaps the most famous segment of the film. The segment features no dialogue at all, only the music. The apprentice (Mickey), not willing to do his chores, puts on the sorcerer's magic hat after the sorcerer goes to bed and casts a spell on a broom, which causes the broom to come to life and perform the most tiring chore—filling up a deep well using two buckets of water. When the well eventually overflows, Mickey finds himself unable to control the broom, leading to a near-flood. After the segment ends, Mickey is seen in silhouette shaking hands with Leopold Stokowski, who conducts all the music heard inFantasia.
Departure of a co-creator and consequencesEdit
"The Barnyard Concert" and "Fiddlin' Around" were followed by "Cactus Kid", released on April 11, 1930. As the title implies, the short was intended as a Western movie parody. But it is considered to be more or less a remake of "The Gallopin' Gaucho" set in Mexico instead of Argentina. Mickey was again cast as a lonely traveler who walks into the local tavern and starts flirting with its dancer. The latter is again Minnie. The rival suitor to Mickey is again Pete though using the alias Peg-Leg Pedro. For the first time in a Mickey short, Pete was depicted as having a peg-leg. This would become a recurring feature of the character. The rhea of the original short was replaced by Horace Horsecollar. This is considered to be his last non-anthropomorphic appearance. The short is considered significant for being the last Mickey short to be animated by Ub Iwerks.
Shortly before the release of "Cactus Kid", Iwerks left to start his own studio, bankrolled by Disney's then-distributor Pat Powers. Powers and Disney had a falling out over money due Disney from the distribution deal. It was in response to losing the right to distribute Disney's cartoons that Powers made the deal with Iwerks, who had long harbored a desire to head his own studio. The departure is considered a turning point to the careers of both Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. The former lost the man who served as his closest colleague and confidant since 1919. The latter lost the man responsible for his original design and for the direction and/or animation of several of the shorts released till this point, and some would argue Mickey's creator. Walt Disney has been credited for the inspiration to create Mickey, but Iwerks was the one to design the character and the first few Mickey Mouse cartoons were mostly or entirely drawn by Iwerks. Consequently some animation historians have suggested that Iwerks should be considered the actual creator of Mickey Mouse. Advertising for the early Mickey Mouse cartoons credited them as "A Walt Disney Comic, drawn by Ub Iwerks". Later Disney Company reissues of the early cartoons tend to credit Walt Disney alone.
Disney and his remaining staff continued the production of the Mickey series, and he was able to eventually find a number of animators to replace Iwerks. As the Great Depression progressed and Felix the Cat faded from the movie screen, Mickey's popularity would rise, and by 1932, the Mickey Mouse Club would have one million members and Walt would receive a special Oscar for creating Mickey Mouse; in 1935, Disney would begin to phase out the Mickey Mouse Clubs, due to administration problems. Despite being eclipsed by the Silly Symphonies short The Three Little Pigs in 1933, Mickey still maintained great popularity among theater audiences too, until 1935, when polls showed that Popeye the Sailor was more popular than Mickey. By 1934, Mickey merchandise had earned $600,000.00 a year.
In 1994, "The Band Concert" was voted the third-greatest cartoon of all time in a poll of animation professionals. By colorizing and partially redesigning Mickey, Walt would put Mickey back on top once again, and Mickey would reach popularity he never reached before as audiences now gave him more appeal; in 1935, Walt would receive a special award from the League of Nations for creating Mickey. However, by 1938, the more manic Donald Duck would surpass the passive Mickey, resulting in a redesign of the mouse; the redesign between 1938 and 1940 put Mickey at the peak of his popularity. However, after 1940, Mickey's popularity would decline until his 1955 re-emergence as a daily children's television personality. Despite this, the character continued to appear regularly in animated shorts until 1943 (winning his only competitive Academy Award—with canine companion Pluto—for a short subject, Lend a Paw) and again from 1946 to 1952.
Appearances in comicsEdit
Main article: Mickey Mouse and Friends (comic book)
In early 1930, after Iwerks' departure, Disney was at first content to continue scripting the Mickey Mouse comic strip, assigning the art to Win Smith. However, Walt's focus had always been in animation and Smith was soon assigned with the scripting as well. Smith was apparently discontent at the prospect of having to script, draw, and ink a series by himself as evidenced by his sudden resignation.
Walt proceeded to search for a replacement among the remaining staff of the Studio. For unknown reasons he selected Floyd Gottfredson, a recently hired employee. At the time Floyd was reportedly eager to work in animation and somewhat reluctant to accept his new assignment. Walt had to assure Floyd that the assignment was only temporary and that he would eventually return to animation. Floyd accepted and ended up holding this "temporary" assignment from May 5, 1930, to November 15, 1975.
Walt Disney's last script for the strip appeared May 17, 1930. Gottfredson's first task was to finish the storyline Disney had started on April 1, 1930. The storyline was completed on September 20, 1930 and later reprinted in comic book form as Mickey Mouse in Death Valley. This early adventure expanded the cast of the strip which to this point only included Mickey and Minnie. Among the characters who had their first comic strip appearances in this story were Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar and Black Pete as well as the debuts of corrupted lawyerSylvester Shyster and Minnie's uncle Mortimer Mouse. The Death Valley narrative was followed by Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers, first printed between September 22 and December 26, 1930, which introduced Marcus Mouse and his wife as Minnie's parents.
Starting with these two early comic strip stories, Mickey's versions in animation and comics are considered to have diverged from each other. While Disney and his cartoon shorts would continue to focus on comedy, the comic strip effectively combined comedy and adventure. This adventurous version of Mickey would continue to appear in comic strips and later comic books throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.
Floyd Gottfredson left his mark with stories such as Mickey Mouse Joins the Foreign Legion (1936) and The Gleam (1942). He also created the Phantom Blot, Eega Beeva, Morty and Ferdie, Captain Churchmouse, and Butch. Besides Gottfredson artists for the strip over the years included Roman Arambula, Rick Hoover, Manuel Gonzales, Carson Van Osten, Jim Engel, Bill Wright, Ted Thwailes and Daan Jippes; writers included Ted Osborne, Merrill De Maris, Bill Walsh, Dick Shaw, Roy Williams, Del Connell, and Floyd Norman.
The next artist to leave his mark on the character was Paul Murry in Dell Comics. His first Mickey tale appeared in 1950 but Mickey did not become a speciality until Murry's first serial for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories in 1953 ("The Last Resort"). In the same period Romano Scarpa in Italy for the magazine Topolino began to revitalize Mickey in stories that brought back the Phantom Blot and Eega Beeva along with new creations such as the Atomo Bleep-Bleep. While the stories at Western Publishing during the Silver Age emphasized Mickey as a detective in the style of Sherlock Holmes, in the modern era several editors and creators have consciously undertaken to depict a more vigorous Mickey in the mold of the classic Gottfredson adventures. This reinnasance has been spearheaded by Byron Erickson, David Gerstein, Noel Van Horn, Michael T. Gilbert and Cesar Ferioli.
In Europe, Mickey Mouse became the main attraction of a number of comics magazines, the most famous being Topolino in Italy from 1932 on, Le Journal de Mickey in France from 1934 on, and the Greek Miky Maous.
Mickey was the main character for the series MM Mickey Mouse Mystery Magazine, published in Italy from 1999 to 2001.
On November 18, 1978, in honor of his 50th anniversary, Mickey became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located on 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Throughout the decades, Mickey Mouse competed with Warner Bros.' Bugs Bunny for animated popularity. But in 1988, in a historic moment in motion picture history, the two rivals finally shared screen time in the Robert Zemeckis Disney/Amblin film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Disney and Warner signed an agreement stating that each character had exactly the same amount of screen time, right down to the micro-second.
Similar to his animated inclusion into a live-action film on Roger Rabbit, Mickey made a featured cameo appearance in the 1990 television special The Muppets at Walt Disney Worldwhere he met Kermit the Frog. The two are established in the story as having been old friends. The Muppets have otherwise spoofed and referenced Mickey over a dozen times since the 1970s. Eventually, The Muppets were purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2004.
Mickey appeared on several animated logos for Walt Disney Home Entertainment, starting with the "Neon Mickey" logo and then to the "Sorcerer Mickey" logos used for regular and Classics release titles. He also appeared on the video boxes in the 1980s.
His most recent theatrical cartoon was 1995's short Runaway Brain, while in 1999-2004, he appeared in made-for-video features, like Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas; Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers; and the computer-animated Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.
Many television programs have centered around Mickey, such as the recent ABC shows Mickey Mouse Works (1999—2000), Disney's House of Mouse (2001—2003) and the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–present). Prior to all these, Mickey was also featured as an unseen character in the Bonkers episode "You Oughta Be In Toons".
Mickey was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day 2005.
In the Disney on Ice play, Disney Presents Pixar's The Incredibles in a Magic Kingdom/Disneyland Adventure, Mickey and Minnie are kidnapped by an android replica of Syndrome, who seeks to create "his" own theme park in Walt Disney World/Disneyland's place. They are briefly imprisoned in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction's prison cell before an assault on the robot Syndrome by the Incredible Family forces "him" to place them in laser prisons, but not without using a flamethrower in a botched attempt to incinerate their would-besuperhuman saviors. After the robot Syndrome is congealed by Frozone, Mickey and Minnie are finally liberated, the magic and happiness of the Walt Disney World/Disneyland Resort is restored, and the Incredibles become Mickey and Minnie's newest friends.
Mickey has recently been announced to star in two films. One is being based on the Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. The other is a film idea pitched by Walt Disney Animation Studios veteran Burny Mattinson centering around Mickey, Donald and Goofy. If greenlit, it will be the 54th full-length theatrical animated feature in the canon, and the first starring Mickey and his friends.
Like many popular characters, Mickey has starred in many video games, including Mickey Mousecapade on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Mickey's Ultimate Challenge, and Disney's Magical Quest on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse on the Mega Drive/Genesis,Mickey Mouse: Magic Wands on the Game Boy, and many others. In the 2000s, the Disney's Magical Quest series were ported to the Game Boy Advance, while Mickey made his sixth generation era debut in Disney's Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse, a Nintendo GameCube title aimed at younger audiences. Mickey plays a major role in the Kingdom Hearts series, as the king of Disney Castle and aide to the protagonist, Sora. King Mickey wields the Keyblade, a weapon in the form of a key that has the power to open any lock and combat darkness. Epic Mickey, featuring a darker version of the Disney universe, was released in 2010 for the Wii. The game is part of an effort by The Walt Disney Companyto re-brand the Mickey Mouse character by moving away from his current squeaky clean image and reintroducing the mischievous side of his personality.
Toys and gamesEdit
In 1989, Milton Bradley released the electronic-talking game titled Mickey Says, with three modes featuring Mickey Mouse as its host. Mickey also appeared in other toys and games, including the Worlds of Wonder-released Talking Mickey Mouse.
Design and voiceEdit
The character has gone through some major changes through his existence. The first one happened with The Pointer in 1939 and The Sorcerer's Apprentice section of Fantasia in 1940, where he was given pupils in his eyes, a Caucasian skin colored face, and a pear-shaped body. In the 40's, he changed once more in "The Little Whirlwind", where he used his trademark pants for the last time in decades, lost his tail, got more realistic ears that changed with perspective and a different body anatomy. But this change would only last for a short period of time before returning to the one in "The Pointer", with the exception of his pants. In his final theatrical cartoons in the 50's, he was given eyebrows, which were removed in the more recent cartoons.
Mickey's top trademark is his ears, and they have also become a trademark of the Disney company in general. Basic design of Mickey's ears is two very round ears that are attached to a very round head. Other than the 1940s Mickey, he and Minnie's ears have had the unusual characteristic of always being viewable with the same symmetry despite which direction that their respective head is facing. In other words, the ears are always generally in the same position as they are in a frontal view of the character, and appear to be sideways on their head when facing left or right.
A large part of Mickey's screen persona is his famously shy, falsetto voice. From his first speaking role in The Karnival Kid onward, Mickey was voiced by Walt Disney himself, a task in which Disney took great personal pride. (Carl Stalling and Clarence Nash allegedly did some uncredited ADR for Mickey in a few early shorts as well.) However, by 1946, Disney was becoming too busy with running the studio to do regular voice work which means he could not do Mickey's voice anymore (and as it is speculated his cigarette habit had damaged his voice over the years), and during the recording of the Mickey and the Beanstalk section of Fun and Fancy Free, Mickey's voice was handed over to veteran Disney musician and actor Jimmy MacDonald. (Both Disney's and MacDonald's voices can be heard on the final soundtrack.) MacDonald voiced Mickey in the remainder of the theatrical shorts, and for various television and publicity projects up until his retirement in the mid-1970s, although Walt voiced Mickey again for the introductions of the original 1954—1959 The Mickey Mouse Club TV series and the "Fourth Anniversary Show" episode of the Disneyland TV series aired on September 11, 1958. 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol marked the theatrical debut of the late Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, who was the voice of Mickey until his death in 2009. Allwine was, incidentally, married to Russi Taylor, the current voice of Minnie Mouse. Les Perkins did the voice of Mickey in the TV special Down and Out with Donald Duck released in 1987.
Bret Iwan, a former Hallmark greeting card artist, is the current voice of Mickey. His early recordings in 2009 included work for the Disney Cruise Line, Mickey toys, Theme Parks, and also the Disney on Ice: Celebrations! ice show. His first video game voiceover of Mickey Mouse can be found on Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, a video game for PlayStation Portable. He has also voiced the character in the next games for the Kingdom Hearts series. Bret also does the vocal effects of Mickey in Epic Mickey.
Use in politicsEdit
In the United States, protest votes are often made in order to indicate dissatisfaction with the slate of candidates presented on a particular ballot, or to highlight the inadequacies of a particular voting procedure. Since most states' electoral systems do not provide for blank balloting or a choice of "None of the Above", most protest votes take the form of a clearly non-serious candidate's name entered as a write-in vote. Cartoon characters are typically chosen for this purpose; as Mickey Mouse is the best-known and most-recognized character in America, his name is frequently selected for this purpose. (Other popular selections include Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny.) This phenomenon has the humorous effect of causing Mickey Mouse to be a minor but perennial contestant in nearly all U.S. presidential elections. A similar phenomenon occurs in the parliament elections in Finland and Sweden, although Finns and Swedes usually write Donald Duck or Donald Duck Party as a protest vote.
Pejorative use of Mickey's nameEdit
"Mickey Mouse" is a slang expression meaning small-time, amateurish or trivial. In the UK and Ireland, it also means poor quality or counterfeit. However, in parts of Australia it can mean excellent or very good.
- In The Godfather Part II, Fredo's justification of betraying Michael is that his orders in the family usually were "Send Fredo off to do this, send Fredo off to do that! Let Fredo take care of some Mickey Mouse night club somewhere!" as opposed to more meaningful tasks.
- In an early episode of the 1978-82 sitcom Mork & Mindy, Mork stated that Pluto was "a Mickey Mouse planet," referring to the future dwarf planet having the same name as Mickey's pet dog Pluto. Actually, the planet was named shortly before the dog was.
- In 1984, just after an ice hockey game in which Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers beat the New Jersey Devils 13-4, Gretzky was quoted as saying to a reporter, "Well, it's time they got their act together, they're ruining the whole league. They had better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on the ice." Reacting to Gretzky's comment, Devils fans wore Mickey Mouse apparel when the Oilers returned to New Jersey.
- In the 1993 Warner Bros. film Demolition Man, as Sylvester Stallone's character is fighting the malfunctioning AI of his out-of-control police car, he shouts for the system to "Brake! Brake! Brake, now, you Mickey Mouse piece of shit!"
- In the 1996 Warner Bros. film Space Jam, Bugs Bunny derogatorily referred to Daffy Duck's idea for the name of their basketball team, asking, "What kind of Mickey Mouse organization would name a team 'The Ducks?'" (This also referenced the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a NHL team that was then owned by Disney. This was showing the Disney/Warner Bros. rivalry.)
- In the United States armed forces, actions that produce good looks, but have little practical use (such as the specific manner of making beds in basic training or the polishing of brass fittings onboard ship) are commonly referred to as "Mickey Mouse work".
- In schools a "Mickey Mouse course", "Mickey Mouse major", or "Mickey Mouse degree" is a class, college major, or degree where very little effort is necessary in order to attain a good grade (especially an A) and/or one where the subject matter of such a class is not of any importance in the labor market.
- Musicians often refer to a film score that directly follows each action on screen as Mickey Mousing (also mickey-mousing andmickeymousing).
- The software company Microsoft has been derogatorily called "Mickeysoft".
- During World War II, the Motor Minesweepers used by the British Royal Naval Patrol Service were unofficially known as "Mickey Mouses".
- In the beginning of the 1980s, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once called the European Parliament a "Mickey Mouse parliament", meaning a discussion club without influence.
- In the British sitcom Red Dwarf, in the episode "Quarantine", after the team's substandard equipment nearly cost them their lives, Lister pointed out, "We're a real Mickey Mouse operation, aren't we?" The Cat replied, "Mickey Mouse? We ain't even Betty Boop!"
Parodies and criticismEdit
Mickey Mouse was originally portrayed as a minstrel character. From 1929 to well into the 1930s the character of Mickey Mouse was understood and openly described as "minstrel". These portrayals can be seen in early depictions such as the original version of "Steamboat Willie", as well as "Mickey's Mellerdrammer", the advertising for which featured Mickey in blackface with pronounced facial features understood to resemble caricatures of African-Americans in the 1930s.
Mickey Mouse's global fame has made him both a symbol of The Walt Disney Company and as of the United States itself. For this reason Mickey has been used frequently in anti-American satire, such as the infamous underground cartoon "Mickey Mouse in Vietnam". There have been numerous parodies of Mickey Mouse, such as the Mad Magazine parody "Mickey Rodent" by Will Elder in which the mouse walks around unshaven and jails Donald Duck out of jealousy over the duck's larger popularity. The grotesque Rat Fink character was created byEd "Big Daddy" Roth over his hatred of Mickey Mouse. In The Simpsons Movie, Bart Simpson puts a black bra on his head to mimic Mickey Mouse and says: "I'm the mascot of an evil corporation!" In the South Park episode "The Ring" Mickey Mouse is depicted as the sadistic, greedy boss of The Walt Disney Company, only interested in money.
On September 20, 2008 Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid claimed that the sharia considers mice to be harmful vermin and that characters like Mickey Mouse and Jerry from Tom and Jerry are to be blamed for making mice such lovable characters. He issued a fatwā against Mickey, which made international headline news and was the subject of much controversy and ridicule. Sheikh Muhammed Al-Munajid issued a statement afterwards in which he stated that he was misquoted and translated badly.
In January 1936, Julius Herskowitz, a trade unionist trying to organize a plant that made Mickey Mouse dolls, was beaten by an unknown assailant and his skull was fractured. He had received threats from the owner of his factory.
It is sometimes erroneously stated that the Mickey Mouse character is only copyrighted. In fact, the character, like all major Disney characters, is also trademarked, which lasts in perpetuity as long as it continues to be used commercially by its owner. So, whether or not a particular Disney cartoon goes into the public domain, the characters themselves may not be used as trademarks without authorization. However, within the United States, European Union and some other jurisdictions, the Copyright Term Extension Act (sometimes called the 'Mickey Mouse Protection Act' because of extensive lobbying by the Disney corporation) and similar legislation has ensured that works such as the early Mickey Mouse cartoons will remain under copyright until at least 2023. However, some copyright scholars argue that Disney's copyright on the earliest version of the character may be invalid due to ambiguity in the copyright notice for Steamboat Willie.
The Walt Disney Company has become well known for protecting its trademark on the Mickey Mouse character, whose likeness is closely associated with the company, with particular zeal. In 1989, Disney threatened legal action against three daycare centers in Florida for having Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters painted on their walls. The characters were removed, and rival Universal Studios replaced them with Universal cartoon characters.
Walt Disney Productions v. Air PiratesEdit
In 1971, a group of underground cartoonists calling themselves the Air Pirates, after a group of villains from early Mickey Mouse films, produced a comic called Air Pirates Funnies. In the first issue, cartoonist Dan O'Neill depicted Mickey and Minnie Mouse engaging in explicit sexual behavior and consuming drugs. As O'Neill explained, "The air pirates were...some sort of bizarre concept to steal the air, pirate the air, steal the media...Since we were cartoonists, the logical thing was Disney." Rather than change the appearance or name of the character, which O'Neill felt would dilute the parody, the mouse depicted in Air Pirates Funnies looks like and is named "Mickey Mouse". Disney sued for copyright infringement, and after a series of appeals, O'Neill eventually lost and was ordered to pay Disney $1.9 million. The outcome of the case remains controversial amongst free-speech advocates. New York Law School professor Edward Samuels said, "[The Air Pirates] set parody back twenty years."
In 1930, The German Board of Film Censors prohibited showing a Mickey Mouse film because they felt the kepi-wearing mouse negatively portrayed the Germans and would "reawaken the latest anti-German feeling existing abroad since the War". A mid 1930s German newspaper article even stated:
"Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed...Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal...Away with Jewish brutalization of the people! Down with Mickey Mouse! Wear the Swastika Cross!"
The 1935 Romanian authorities banned Mickey Mouse films from cinemas after they feared that children would be "scared to see a ten-foot mouse in the movie theatre". In 1938, based on the Ministry of Popular Culture's recommendation that a reform was necessary "to raise children in the firm and imperialist spirit of the Fascist revolution," the Italian Government banned foreign children's literature except Mickey; Disney characters were exempted from the decree for the "acknowledged artistic merit" of Disney's work. Actually Mussolini's children were fond of Mickey Mouse, so they managed to delay his ban as long as possible. In 1942, after Italy declared war on the USA, fascism forced the Italian publishers to suddenly stop printing any Disney stories. Mickey's stories were replaced by the adventures ofTuffolino, a new human character created by Federico Pedrocchi (script) and Pier Lorenzo De Vita (art). After the downfall of Italy's fascist government, the ban was removed.
- Epic Mickey, a video game released in 2010
- Mickey Mouse universe, the phenomenon that has spawned from the Mickey Mouse series and other related characters
- Mouse Museum, a Russian museum featuring artifacts and memorabilia relating to Mickey Mouse
- Mickey Mouse Adventures, a short-lived comic starring Mickey Mouse as the protagonist
- Hidden Mickey, a phenomenon involving hidden images in Disney films, theme parks and merchandise
- Celebration Mickey, a 2-foot-tall (0.61 m), 100 lb (45 kg), 24-karat gold authentic Mickey Mouse sculpture