Of all the characters in the Disney family, no character is more well-known than Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse first appeared in an animated short called Steamboat Willie. The film premiered at the Colony Theatre in New York City on 18 November 1928.
Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon with synchronized sound. In this initial Mickey cartoon, the little mouse plays the role of a riverboat deckhand. He uses animals to play the song Turkey in the Straw. Minnie Mouse is his enthusiastic audience as he does so. Unfortunately, the riverboat captain named Captain Pete punishes the mischievous Mickey by sending him to peel potatoes in the ship's galley.
This first cartoon paved the way for Mickey to become what he is today—a cultural icon. Since that debut, Mickey has appeared in hundreds of cartoons. In the 1950s, he even starred in The Mickey Mouse Club, a popular television program for kids. Today, Mickey's picture is plastered on t-shirts, watches, lunch boxes, and any other merchandise found in stores.
The creator of Mickey was Walt Disney. Walt was born on 5 December 1901 in Chicago, IL to an Irish-Canadian father and a German-American mother. He was one of five children, and from an early age the young Disney demonstrated an interest in drawing. He spent most of his childhood in Marceline, Missouri. At age seven, he often drew pictures and sold them to his neighbors. This early penchant for sketching led him to a career in animating.
The character Mickey Mouse was born when Disney lost the rights to his character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He partnered with Ub Iwerks to design a mouse character. Original sketches for Mickey showed him with circles for his head, body, and ears.
In 1939, the film called The Pointers revealed a character with a more pear-shaped body. Pupils were drawn on his eyes to give him the ability to be more expressive. The 1940s animators desired to give his ears a three-dimensional appearance; however, today's Mickey looks more like the Mickey of the early days.
Walt Disney was the first person to give his mouse character a voice, but he later gave this job to a man by the name of Jim MacDonald. The character with the distinctive, squeaky voice quickly became an audience favorite. After MacDonald, the Disney empire would have other actors take over the voice work.
The proliferation of Mickey continued to grow. The irrepressible mouse starred in his own comic strip beginning on 13 January 1930. In 1932, Walt Disney won an Oscar for his creation of Mickey Mouse.
In 1933, Ingersoll manufactured the first Mickey Mouse watch. It cost $3.25 US Dollars (USD) but was later discounted to $2.95 USD. Today, millions of Mickey Mouse lovers can see him in person if they visit a Disney theme park. In fact, Mickey holds the title of Chief Greeter at the hugely popular theme park resorts. The fascination with Mickey has endured since his introduction in 1928. Children and adults all over the world associate magic and excitement with the character Mickey Mouse.