Name a more iconic fella than Mickey Mouse, we’ll wait!
Mickey is certainly a staple in and out of the Disney parks and he’s been around for almost a century! Now, we’re taking a look at some things that only the BIGGEST Disney fans will know about the Mouse!
1. “Steamboat Willie” was NOT the first Mickey cartoon.
Many folks might know that “Steamboat Willie” was the first Mickey Mouse released and the first cartoon with synchronized sound, but did you know it’s not ACTUALLY the first-ever cartoon Mickey was in? There were actually TWO fully-completed Mickey Mouse cartoons made prior to “Steamboat Willie.”
The first completed cartoon was called “Plane Crazy” and was inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s first solo flight across the Atlantic ocean. The plot had Mickey attempting to assemble his very own airplane and going on an adventurous flight with Minnie, until some unwanted things end the trip. The film tested well with audiences, but it failed to pick up a distributor after its May 1928 test screening.
“Steamboat Willie” was, however, the first Mickey Mouse short to be officially released.
2. “Steamboat Willie” netted Walt the highest-ever-paid sum for a cartoon on Broadway.
And “Steamboat Willie” was BIG. It premiered on November 18th, 1928 as one of the first cartoons to use synchronized sound. According to The Walt Disney Family Museum, it was talked about more than the future film that debuted with it.
For a two-week run, Walt received $1,000; that’s over $15,000 today. At the time, that sum was the highest-ever paid for a cartoon on Broadway.
3. Mickey’s birthday wasn’t ALWAYS in November.
Nowadays, we celebrate Mickey’s birthday on November 18th (the date that “Steamboat Willie” debuted), but that wasn’t always the case. In 1933, Walt said that Mickey’s birthday was in October saying, “Mickey Mouse will be five years old on Sunday. He was born on October 1, 1928. That was the date on which his first picture was started, so we have allowed him to claim this day as his birthday,” per The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Over the next several decades, Mickey’s birthday was altered several times, often to conform to various marketing promotions, ranging from late September to December. In 1978, the founder of the Disney Archives, Dave Smith, determined that the “Steamboat Willie” premiere was Mickey’s birthday as it was his true first public appearance.
4. Mickey is the most common write-in candidate in elections.
Did you know that Mickey is the most common write-in candidate in elections? Yep, pretty much all of them, ranging from local sheriffs to President of the United States.
According to The American Prospect, “Mickey Mouse is always the most frequent guest-star in the discard write-in pile.” One lawmaker even noted, “Mickey always gets votes. If he doesn’t get votes in our election, it’s a bad election.”
5. Mickey was the first cartoon character to ever speak.
Mickey spoke words for the first time on screen in 1929, and you might recognize what he said. They’re still a common catchphrase for The Mouse today!
According to NPR, Mickey first spoke in 1929 in the short “The Karnival Kid” saying, “Hot dog! Hot dog!” But, if you give it a listen, he doesn’t sound quite like the Mickey we know today! This Mickey was voiced by Carl Stalling with a deeper, raspier voice.
6. Walt was the original voice of Mickey…and Minnie!
When Mickey fully found his voice, he was voiced by Walt Disney himself. That’s a pretty well-known fact, but did you know that Walt also voiced Minnie Mouse at first?
Walt and other staff members voiced Minnie in her early cartoons until the early 1930s, when her voice switched over to ink & paint artist Marcellite Garner. Walt voiced Mickey starting with “Steamboat Willie” in 1928 all the way through 1946. Interestingly enough, the exception to that appears the be when Stalling voiced Mickey’s first word!
7. Why Mickey Wears White Gloves.
Ever wondered why Mickey and other pals wear white gloves? Well, there might be a few reasons. According to MentalFloss, Mickey wears gloves so that it is easier to see his hands against his body.
Mickey’s black torso could easily absorb the definition of his bare hands, so the white gloves help them to stick out! Mickey may also wear gloves, according to some sources, to make him look more human.
8. Mickey and Minnie are married…or are they?
A common question among Disney fans is what exactly is the relationship between Mickey and Minnie? In some cartoons they seem like they’re just beginning to date, in others, they seem married for years. So, what’s the deal?
Well, Mickey and Minnie have never officially married on-screen, but in the eyes of the studio, they ARE married, according to The Walt Disney Family Museum. As Walt put it, “In private life, Mickey is married to Minnie…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.”
One super cute detail is that two of the later voices of Mickey and Minnie WERE married. Wayne Allwine who voiced Mickey from 1977 to 2009 and Russi Taylor who voiced Minnie from 1986 to 2019 tied the knot together.
9. Mickey was the first cartoon character to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mickey had his fair share of firsts and one of those was being the first-ever cartoon character to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He remains one of only 17 fictional characters to hold the honor.
The official reason for Mickey being awarded a star was for his role in animated films and the star was dedicated to him on his 50th anniversary!
10. Mickey Mouse is even more recognizable than Santa Clause.
According to Time, Mickey was one of the most recognizable characters in the world in 2008. So recognizable in fact, that he surpassed Santa Claus when it came to folks knowing his face.
This is no surprise since Mickey has posed for pictures with nearly every U.S. President since Harry Truman and Disney claims that the Mouse had a 98% awareness rate among children ages 3 to 11 worldwide. Well, hot dog!
11. Mickey was originally going to be named Mortimer.
This is another one that lots of Disney fans know, but were you aware that Walt’s wife Lillian played a pretty BIG part in making Mickey who he is today? She helped give him his name!
Walt originally conceived of the idea of Mickey as Mortimer Mouse. When Walt pitched the name, Mortimer, Lillian said she didn’t think it worked for the character. So Walt went back to the drawing board and came up with the name Mickey and Lillian approved!
12. Mickey made his feature film debut in Fantasia!
Mickey may have made his screen debut in 1928, but he debuted in a feature film for the first time in Fantasia in 1940! This groundbreaking film showed the wonders of animation, and you can bet that Mickey was featured.
Since then, Mickey has performed in over 120 shorts, shows, and films.
13. Mickey only has four fingers!
Ever noticed that Mickey only has four fingers? This is true when you see him on screen AND in person in Disney theme parks! Now, why do we think that is? Perhaps real mice only have four fingers?
Nope, mice actually have four fingers and a thumb just like people. Mickey’s stuck with four digits because Walt thought five would look weird. According to AV Club, Walt was also quoted as saying, “Using five fingers would have made Mickey’s hands look like a bunch of bananas.” Well, all right then.
14. Walt didn’t plan to come up with Mickey at first.
And perhaps the biggest surprise about Mickey is that Walt didn’t plan to come up with him at first. He initially developed a lucky rabbit named Oswald to be his starring character. Mickey was born when Oswald was transferred over to Universal distributor Charles Mintz due to a contractual situation, leaving the Disney company at a loss.
Walt once wrote, “He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb, and disaster seemed right around the corner.”
According to the Kansas City Public Library, a small mouse reportedly lived in one of Walt’s desk drawers at his Laugh-O-Gram studio in Kansas City and this supposedly influenced the creation of Mickey. Well, thank goodness the Mouse came along!
Those are some pretty neat facts about Mickey! We sure are glad we have the mouse here with us today, four fingers and all.
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Did you know all of these Mickey facts? Tell us in the comments!