Mickey was a replacement for Oswald
Every big Disney fan I’m sure already knows this one! Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Walt Disney’s first big creation, in 1927. It wasn’t until 1928 that Walt discovered that Universal Pictures, who his studios were then operating under, owned a lot more of Oswald than he first realised. They had taken on most of his staff under their own contract and retained the rights to Oswald. Walt Disney and a loyal animator, Ub Iwerks, refused to continue working under Universal and created their own replacement for Oswald.
But “Mickey” was almost “Mortimer”
The Mickey Mouse we know and love today was very nearly called “Mortimer”. He was created by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney, but it took Lillian, Walt’s wife, to convince them that he should be called Mickey – much more catchy, don’t you think? Mortimer ended up being two different characters over the years: Minnie’s uncle, and a separate character, Mickey’s rival.
The original Mickey voice was none other than Walt Disney himself
Take a look at him voicing an original short here:
Steamboat Willie wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon
Steamboat Willie is certainly an iconic piece of Disney history, but it isn’t, as many assume, his first cartoon. In fact, that was Plane Crazy, originally only shown to a test audience on 15th May 1928 who it failed to impress:
Steamboat Willie was actually Mickey’s 3rd cartoon, and the first in which he was given simple black dots for eyes that became his look for several years.
But Steamboat Willie did mark a great occasion
Steamboat Willie was the first example of the Disney Studios syncing character sounds and a musical score which Walt determined to be the future of cartoons.
Mickey’s birthday is 18th November 1928
The 18th November 1928 was the release date for Steamboat Willie, and despite there being earlier cartoons, this is considered to be his birthday.
Donald Duck almost usurped Mickey’s throne
Donald Duck was created in 1934 and his popularity grew quickly. In 1938, polls were showing that he was almost, if not as popular as Mickey Mouse. Walt had always wanted Mickey to be his main character, so he began work on Fantasia to reintroduce Mickey to the masses.
Mickey and Minnie are married
Despite the fact that we’ve never seen their marriage or any evidence of it, Walt declared that Mickey and Minnie are married, but only in private life. He told Pictorial Magazine in 1933:
“In private life, Mickey is married to Minnie. A lot of people have written to him asking this question, because sometimes he appears to be married to her in his films and other times still courting her. What it really amounts to is that Minnie is, for screen purposes, his leading lady. If the story calls for a romantic courtship, then Minnie is the girl; but when the story requires a married couple, then they appear as man and wife. In the studio we have decided that they are married already.”
Interestingly, the couple that voiced Minnie and Mickey for most of their screen careers were married in real life!
Mickey was the first ever cartoon character to have his own Hollywood Star
And doesn’t he deserve it? He was awarded his Hollywood Star in 1978 in celebration of his 50th birthday.