Mickey Mouse was born from Walt Disney’s imagination in 1928 under less than ideal circumstances. Mickey was not Disney’s first foray into cheerful, animated characters; the year prior, Disney had created a similar character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who was an instant hit and the star of a number of short films, called “shorts.” Although Disney and fellow animator Ub Iwerks had created Oswald, Universal Pictures owned the rights to the animated rabbit, giving them the upper hand and the leverage required to demand Walt and Ub continue to produce shorts starring the animated rabbit for a lower salary.
Not the type to be told what to do, Disney and Iwerks refused. Frustrated and needing to recoup the lost revenue that Oswald generated, they masterminded a new animated critter. He didn’t look too unlike Oswald, save for the shorter ears and rounder stomach. He was a mouse. He was Mickey Mouse, specifically.
Originally called Mortimer until Disney’s wife expressed disdain for the name, Mickey got his big break in his third film, a short called Steamboat Willie, which debuted on November 18th, 1928. After Steamboat Willie came a number of shorts in quick succession, all of which received positive reviews. By the end of 1928, Mickey had become a national fad, which Disney used to his advantage by initiating a number of savvy marketing moves, like starting a line of Mickey merchandise and forming the Mickey Mouse Club.
By the 1950’s, Mickey had his own theme park and comic strip, and had gone through a series of transformations. Mickey’s most notable makeover came in 1935, when animator Fred Moore gave the mouse a pear-shaped body, pupils, and those special white gloves, which, along with Mickey’s ears, have become international icons synonymous with the Disney brand. And that young animator Fred Moore? He went on to animate the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment in the acclaimed Disney film Fantasia.
For 25 years, between 1928 and 1953, Mickey starred in a number of Disney shorts. However, with the advent of Disney films like Sleeping Beauty and Bambi, Mickey faded into the background. He wouldn’t star in a Disney film for 30 years. However, Mickey remains the most timeless and iconic character in the Disney repertoire. Mickey is one of the most well-known characters around the world, even beating out Santa Claus in terms of recognizability in some places. He’s also a favorite for candidate write-ins in local elections around the country, so much so that some states have made it illegal to write his name on the ballot. At Mercury One, we are proud to have in our possession a vintage stuffed fabric Mickey Mouse felt doll from 1930.
Much like the idea of Mickey Mouse, this little guy has withstood a lot. Mickey has been a huge part of Mercury One founder, Glenn Beck’s, life and inspiration, and therefore an important part of Mercury One’s basis. Throughout the work that we do, it would be easy to feel down, hopeless…the list goes on. We see tragedy almost constantly. But, just like Walt Disney himself and Mickey Mouse, we know that hope and positivity is never far off, even when times get tough.
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