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For other uses, see Mickey Mouse (disambiguation).

Mickey Mouse is a fictional character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. He is an anthropomorphic mouse with round ears, red shorts, white gloves, and yellow shoes. He is traditionally characterized as a sympathetic underdog who gets by on pluck and ingenuity in the face of challenges much bigger than himself.[2]

Mickey made his first public appearance on November 18, 1928, in the short film Steamboat Willie. He has appeared in over 130 films, and is frequently seen with his girlfriend Minnie Mouse, friends Donald Duck and Goofy, as well as his pet dog Pluto. Apart from films and animated series, Mickey has also appeared in comic strips, comic books, video games, merchandising, and as a meetable character at the Disney parks.

Mickey is one of the world's most recognizable and universally acclaimed fictional characters of all time, and is the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company. He has received nominations for the Academy Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Physical appearance[]

As designed by Ub Iwerks, Mickey's body was primarily comprised of circles and soft, rounded shapes. Mickey's most notable physical features are his ears, which are always depicted as circular from every angle. Mickey's 3-circle silhouette has become a well-known emblem of the character and an established symbol in pop culture. Originally, Mickey's face was a plain white color. When Fred Moore redesigned the character, Mickey's face adopted a Caucasian-toned hue.

One of the most significant changes to Mickey's design were his eyes. They were originally drawn as blackened ovals, which moved across the entirety of his face to convey looking in different directions. For a brief period of time, beginning in The Karnival Kid, Mickey was drawn with "pie eyes" to create the illusion of light reflection. For Moore's redesign, pupils were added to Mickey's eyes to allow for more expression in the character animation. In Kingdom Hearts III—which adds further detail to the character models through computer animation—Mickey is depicted with blue irises.

Mickey is diminutive in stature, standing at roughly 2 ft. He had a portly figure through the mid-1930s. In the Moore redesign, Mickey's body became a slimmer, pear shape. He is traditionally depicted as wearing a pair of red shorts with two white buttons on the front. In some instances, two additional buttons appear on the back of the shorts. Occasionally—as was the case in Parade of the Award Nominees—Mickey's buttons are instead colored yellow. When not wearing his usual shorts, red typically endures as Mickey's primary color motif (as seen in The Band Concert and Clock Cleaners).

Since The Opry House in 1929, Mickey has worn a pair of white opera gloves. Also known as "Toon Gloves", the garments were added to Mickey's ensemble as a means of distinguishing his hands from his black-furred body. In the first of Mickey's colored cartoons, his gloves were yellow. Mickey sports only three fingers and a thumb, which was a conscious choice by Walt Disney and his animators. Disney once stated, "Artistically, five digits are too many for a mouse. His hand would look like a bunch of bananas. Financially, not having an extra finger in each of 45,000 drawings that make up a six and one-half minute short has saved the studio millions."

Mickey's traditional ensemble is completed by a pair of large, yellow shoes, which first appeared in The Gallopin' Gaucho. Initially blocky in design, Mickey's shoes adopted a somewhat plush appearance over time, being pliable with rounded edges. For a period of time in the 1940s, the shoes were instead colored brown.

Personality[]

Steamboat Willie establishes Mickey's core characteristics. He is cheerful in spirit, yet roughish in complexion. He ignored the commands of his overbearing boss for the sake of gallivanting around the steamboat. His mentality mirrored that of a rebellious child, as he mocked his superiors and threw a tantrum when others rebuked his merriment. Though impishly self-serving, he showed empathy and chivalry by forgoing protocol to aid Minnie during her time of need. With an air of valiance in spite of his diminutive stature and put-upon background, Mickey is an underdog with a heart of gold. By the high society denizens seen in Society Dog Show, Mickey is regarded as riff raff. In The Klondike Kid, Mickey describes himself as "a nobody". Pete often refers to Mickey as "Runt", a derogative term meaning an undersized or weak person. Regardless, Mickey remains jovial. His rebellious and independent mien allows him to take his downtrodden lot in life in stride with a smile and laugh.

Walt Disney once explained that elements of Mickey's character were derived from comic actor Charlie Chaplin, stating, "I think we were rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for 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." Iwerks described Mickey's characterization as having been inspired by Douglas Fairbanks. Iwerks once wrote, "He was the super-hero of his day, always winning, gallant and swashbuckling. Mickey's action was in that vein. He was never intended to be a sissy, he was always an adventurous character. I thought of him in that respect, and I had him do naturally the sort of thing Doug Fairbanks would do." In addition to Chaplin and Fairbanks, Disney has attributed the development of Mickey's personality to other Hollywood figures, as well, such as Fred Astaire and Harold Lloyd.

With limited resources to his name, Mickey's greatest attribute is his wit. He is a thinker and schemer, being able to construct quick plots and ploys to advance his ambitions. This is prominently displayed in times of crises, in which Mickey must come up with hasty solutions to rescue his friends from perils, such as natural disasters, or his nemesis Pete. When paired with Donald and Goofy, Mickey serves as the resourceful "brains" of the trio by coming up with the plans and directing his companions to their desired goals. However, Mickey's schemes are often hindered by his own clumsiness and reckless abandon. Though he presents himself as slick and confident, Mickey is awkward and bumbling in actuality. In Fantasia, Mickey carried himself with a mighty air while donning Yen Sid's sorcerer hat, but fumbled with his oversized clothing and bungled his magic spells. He enjoys dressing in dapper attire to imitate high society as seen in cartoons, such as Mickey Steps Out and Mickey's Delayed Date, only to trip over himself while showing off. When exposed for the little guy he is, Mickey's typical response is a sheepish, self-reflecting grin.

Even with his foibles, Mickey retains a can-do spirit that allows him to smile in the face of danger and move pass his mistakes. He gets by through optimism and has a positive outlook on the world and himself, often displayed by his jovial demeanor. Mickey's optimism is a double-edged sword, however, as while it pushes him to pursue his goals, it also causes him to underestimate trouble under the belief that he can do anything. In "Mickey's Piano Lesson", in fact, he justified his insolence by arrogantly proclaiming, "I'm Mickey Mouse!". Mickey is quick to share his positivity with others, to keep their spirits high during low times. At times, Mickey's buoyancy can be invasive. In cartoons, such as "The Adorable Couple", he attempts to force his positive demeanor onto Donald and Daisy, to disastrous results.

For all his juvenile mischief, Mickey is a reliable leader. When put in charge of a production, for example (such as a stage show or the House of Mouse nightclub theater) he is professional and composed, even when inconveniences get in the way. In addition to being a strong leader, Mickey is a devoted friend. He has, on numerous occasions, risked his life for the safety of others while never expecting recompense. This is most prominently seen with Minnie, for whom Mickey has often felt inclined to sacrifice his own happiness as seen in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas. He is charitable and selfless, looking out for the less fortunate despite often being in undesirable predicaments, himself. In Mickey's Good Deed, Mickey sold Pluto to a wealthy household and used the money to supply a poor family with food and Christmas gifts—despite being homeless and hungry, himself. In Epic Mickey, Mickey sacrificed his only chance of escaping the Wasteland to rescue Oswald and Gus from danger, both of whom he had just met. A hero at his core, Mickey takes charge without second thought when trouble arises. In cartoons, such as Gulliver Mickey and Runaway Brain, he fearlessly fought against monsters to protect the people around him.

Occasionally, Mickey can be too caring towards others, which can drive him to disregard his own needs. At times, his empathetic heart blinds his better judgment, resulting in Mickey being taken advantage of by malicious forces. There have also been instances where Mickey's desire to help can be excessive to the point of being intrusive, thus causing even more trouble in the long run.

Mickey's temper can be rather explosive after being pushed to a certain limit. When faced with his two most frequent adversaries, Pete and Mortimer Mouse for example, Mickey tends to act irritable and churlish. He is also relentless when it comes to getting back at his foes for their harassment. In some cases, instead of outright giving his enemies satisfaction by losing his temper, Mickey would resort to sly pranks and trickery to best his foes—this being a way to one-up them, while also getting in a few laughs at the same time. Because of his laid-back nature, however, Mickey is usually remorseful after letting his anger get the best of him, and does all that he can to remedy affected feelings, if any.

Mickey evidently struggles with insecurity to some extent. In "Goofy for a Day", he panicked at the prospect of losing his hosting job at the House of Mouse, believing "show business" is the only profession that he's actually good at. His popularity seems to act as a double-edged sword. While he typically enjoys the attention, Mickey also feels a sense of pressure from the public to always be at his very best. This is most notably seen when Mickey is tasked with hosting live entertainment in front of a large audience. In which, he becomes short-fused and anxious. His insecurities are also apparent in his relationship with Minnie, as Mickey has repeatedly gone to great lengths to impress her—typically out of fear of losing her, as seen in "Mickey's Rival Returns" and "Mickey Tries to Cook". Some cartoons suggest that Mickey has commitment issues. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Mickey exclaims, "I just had the scariest dream!" after waking from a dream in which he married Minnie. The cartoon Mickey's Nightmare highlighted Mickey's apprehensions regarding parenthood.

In spite of being an anthropomorphic mouse, Mickey has the tendencies to act with his animal nature, including the fact that being a mouse, he loves cheese. In the television series House of Mouse, Mickey, being a mouse, is made fun of when he is shown to exercise on a hamster wheel and drink from a rodent drinking bottle (like the ones found in a hamster cage). These particular facts seem to only exist in the House of Mouse and haven't been shown again, proving to have been used for brief gags only.

History[]

Creation and debut (1928)[]

Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character that was created by the Disney studio but owned by Universal Pictures. Charles Mintz served as a middleman producer between Disney and Universal through his company, Winkler Pictures, for the series of cartoons starring Oswald. Ongoing conflicts between Disney and Mintz and the revelation that several animators from the Disney studio would eventually leave to work for Mintz's company ultimately resulted in Disney cutting ties with Oswald. Among the few people who stayed at the Disney studio were animator Ub Iwerks, apprentice artist Les Clark, and Wilfred Jackson.

On the train ride back to California, Walt desperately brainstormed ideas for a new cartoon character, in order to keep his studio afloat. He would eventually conceive a mouse character. Disney believed that a mouse would make for a cute and sympathetic character. He also felt that mice hadn't been overused in motion pictures, allowing for Mickey to stand out against the competition of the time. Walt would name his new character "Mortimer Mouse". His wife, Lillian Disney, disliked the name and instead suggested "Mickey Mouse".

Walt created a sketch to get the basic idea of the character, and later shared it with Ub, who refined it. Mickey's model greatly resembled that of Oswald and other animal characters of the time, such as Otto Messmer's Felix the Cat. Iwerks would explain, "Pear-shaped body, ball on top, a couple of thin legs. You gave it long ears, and it was a rabbit. Short ears, it was a cat. With an elongated nose, it became a mouse." Along with Ub and a few other loyalists, Disney worked on the first two Mickey cartoons in secret, while simultaneously abiding to his contractual obligation to complete his final Oswald cartoons for Universal.

Mickey was first seen in a test screening of the cartoon short Plane Crazy, on May 15, 1928, but it failed to impress the audience and Walt could not find a distributor for the short. Walt went on to produce a second Mickey short, The Gallopin' Gaucho, which was also not released for lack of a distributor.

Mickey officially debuted with the short film Steamboat Willie, released on November 18, 1928, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Disney served as the original voice actor for Mickey.

Mickey Mouse Sound Cartoons (1928-1953)[]

In 1935, Mickey appeared in the short film The Band Concert, the first Mickey Mouse film to be produced in color, albeit Mickey does not speak. In the short, Mickey is the conductor of a public band concert. Despite the breakthrough, two more Mickey cartoons released that year in black and white. One of which was Mickey's Service Station, which is notable for being the first in a series of comedy films starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy together. The last of Mickey's black and white cartoons was Mickey's Kangaroo. With the introduction of color, Mickey's body structure was given a new look; his round body was replaced by a pear-shaped looking one and his head was changed so his nose was closer to his face. His ears were turned from round to oval and his eyes became more detailed (the pupils smaller, the eye itself outlined instead of partially open). The redesign by animator Fred Moore was first seen in The Pointer (1939).

By 1938, the more manic Donald Duck would surpass the passive Mickey, resulting in a redesign of the mouse between 1938 and 1940 that put Mickey at the peak of his popularity. The second half of the 1930s saw the character Goofy reintroduced as a series regular. Together, Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy would go on several adventures together. Several of the films by the comic trio are some of Mickey's most critically acclaimed films, including Mickey's Fire Brigade (1935), Moose Hunters (1937), Clock Cleaners (1937), Lonesome Ghosts (1937), Boat Builders (1938), and Mickey's Trailer (1938). Also during this era, Mickey would star in Brave Little Tailor (1938), an adaptation of The Valiant Little Tailor, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

In 1940, Mickey appeared in his first feature-length 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 and one of Mickey's most iconic roles. 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 in Fantasia. Mickey has often been pictured in the red robe and blue sorcerer's hat in merchandising. It was also featured into the climax of Fantasmic!, an attraction at the Disney theme parks.

The last regular installment of the Mickey Mouse film series came in 1953 with The Simple Things in which Mickey and Pluto go fishing and are pestered by a flock of seagulls.

1953-2000[]

In the 1950s, Mickey became more known for his appearances on television, particularly with The Mickey Mouse Club. Many of his theatrical cartoon shorts were rereleased on television series such as Ink & Paint Club, various forms of the Walt Disney anthology television series, and on home video. Mickey returned to theatrical animation in 1983 with Mickey's Christmas Carol, an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in which Mickey played Bob Cratchit. This was followed up in 1990 with The Prince and the Pauper.

Following the regular Mickey Mouse shorts, two featurettes were produced: Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and The Prince and the Pauper (1990).

Throughout the decades, Mickey Mouse competed with Warner Bros.' Bugs Bunny for animated popularity. But in 1988, 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 the same amount of screen time in the scene.

In 1995, Mickey appeared in a one-shot short film entitled Runaway Brain.

From 1999 to 2004, he appeared in direct-to-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.

2000-present[]

From 2001 to 2003, Mickey appeared in the animated series House of Mouse, where he is the owner of the eponymous popular night club in downtown Main Street. Mickey strives to keep the club profitable to keep safe from its villainous landlord, Pete. All the while, he must maintain the stability of both his madcap crew. Like his previous series, Mickey's mischief often gets the club into hot water, such as in "Rent Day", where he spent the club's rent on a large order of cheese.

From 2006 to 2016, Mickey and his friends appeared in the Playhouse Disney animated series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the first Mickey Mouse-related series aimed at preschoolers. In this show, he serves as the host in which he uses brains and teamwork to solve problems. Mickey is the leader of the clubhouse gang and often going on various adventures to help and/or save his friends.

In 2013, Mickey and his friends had a redesign for the Mickey Mouse shorts, designed by Paul Rudish. The look incorporates elements of Mickey's late twenties-early thirties look with a contemporary twist. Chris Diamantopoulos took over as the voice of Mickey, as the producers wanted Mickey's voice to sound closer to Walt Disney's. In the same year, he appeared in Get a Horse!, his first theatrical cartoon short in nearly two decades.

2017 saw the return of Bret Iwan as the voice of Mickey Mouse, with the animated series Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures and Mickey Mouse Funhouse.

Mickey is the subject of the 2022 documentary film Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, directed by Jeff Malmberg. Debuting at the South by Southwest film festival prior to its premiere on the Disney+ streaming service, the documentary examines the history and cultural impact of Mickey Mouse across. The feature is accompanied by an original, hand-drawn animated short film starring Mickey titled Mickey in a Minute.

Voice actors[]

Appearances[]

Television[]

  • Mickey Mouse Works (1999-2000)
  • House of Mouse (2001-2003)
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006-2016)
  • Mickey Mouse (2013-2019)
  • Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures (2017-2021)
  • The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse (2020-present)
  • Mickey Mouse Funhouse (2021-present)

Film[]

Shorts[]

  • Plane Crazy (1928)
  • The Gallopin' Gaucho (1928)
  • Steamboat Willie (1928)
  • The Barn Dance (1929)
  • The Opry House (1929)
  • When the Cat's Away (1929)
  • The Barnyard Battle (1929)
  • The Plowboy (1929)
  • The Karnival Kid (1929)
  • Mickey's Follies (1929)
  • Mickey's Choo-Choo (1929)
  • The Jazz Fool (1929)
  • Jungle Rhythm (1929)
  • The Haunted House (1929)
  • Wild Waves (1929)
  • Fiddling Around (1930)
  • The Barnyard Concert (1930)
  • The Cactus Kid (1930)
  • The Fire Fighters (1930)
  • The Shindig (1930)
  • The Chain Gang (1930)
  • The Gorilla Mystery (1930)
  • The Picnic (1930)
  • Pioneer Days (1930)
  • Minnie's Yoo Hoo (1930)
  • The Birthday Party (1931)
  • Traffic Troubles (1931)
  • The Castaway (1931)
  • The Moose Hunt (1931)
  • The Delivery Boy (1931)
  • Mickey Steps Out (1931)
  • Blue Rhythm (1931)
  • Fishin' Around (1931)
  • The Barnyard Broadcast (1931)
  • The Beach Party (1931)
  • Mickey Cuts Up (1931)
  • Mickey's Orphans (1931)
  • Around the World in 80 Minutes with Douglas Fairbanks (1931) [produced by United Artists]
  • The Duck Hunt (1932)
  • The Grocery Boy (1932)
  • The Mad Dog (1932)
  • Barnyard Olympics (1932)
  • Musical Farmer (1932)
  • Mickey's Revue (1932)
  • Mickey in Arabia (1932)
  • Mickey's Nightmare (1932)
  • Trader Mickey (1932)
  • The Whoopee Party (1932)
  • Touchdown Mickey (1932)
  • The Wayward Canary (1932)
  • The Klondike Kid (1932)
  • Parade of the Award Nominees (1932)
  • Mickey's Good Deed (1932)
  • Building a Building (1933)
  • The Mad Doctor (1933)
  • Mickey's Pal Pluto (1933)
  • Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1933)
  • Ye Olden Days (1933)
  • The Mail Pilot (1933)
  • Mickey's Mechanical Man (1933)
  • Mickey's Gala Premier (1933)
  • Puppy Love (1933)
  • The Steeple-Chase (1933)
  • The Pet Store (1933)
  • Giantland (1933)
  • The Night Before Christmas (1933) (cameo)
  • Shanghaied (1934)
  • Camping Out (1934)
  • Playful Pluto (1934)
  • Gulliver Mickey (1934)
  • Hollywood Party (1934) [produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer]
  • Mickey's Steam-Roller (1934)
  • Orphan's Benefit (1934)
  • Mickey Plays Papa (1934)
  • The Dognapper (1934)
  • Two-Gun Mickey (1934)
  • Mickey's Man Friday (1935)
  • The Band Concert (1935)
  • Mickey's Service Station (1935)
  • Mickey's Kangaroo (1935)
  • Mickey's Garden (1935)
  • Mickey's Fire Brigade (1935)
  • Pluto's Judgement Day (1935)
  • On Ice (1935)
  • Mickey's Polo Team (1936)
  • Orphans' Picnic (1936)
  • Mickey's Grand Opera (1936)
  • Thru the Mirror (1936)
  • Mickey's Rival (1936)
  • Moving Day (1936)
  • Alpine Climbers (1936)
  • Mickey's Circus (1936)
  • Mickey's Elephant (1936)
  • The Worm Turns (1937)
  • Magician Mickey (1937)
  • Moose Hunters (1937)
  • Mickey's Amateurs (1937)
  • Hawaiian Holiday (1937)
  • Clock Cleaners (1937)
  • Lonesome Ghosts (1937)
  • Boat Builders (1938)
  • Mickey's Trailer (1938)
  • The Whalers (1938)
  • Mickey's Parrot (1938)
  • Brave Little Tailor (1938)
  • The Fox Hunt (1938) (cameo)
  • Society Dog Show (1939)
  • Mickey's Surprise Party (1939)
  • The Pointer (1939)
  • The Standard Parade (1939)
  • Tugboat Mickey (1940)
  • Pluto's Dream House (1940)
  • Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip (1940)
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1940)
  • The Little Whirlwind (1941)
  • The Nifty Nineties (1941)
  • Orphan's Benefit (remake) (1941)
  • A Gentleman's Gentleman (1941)
  • Canine Caddy (1941)
  • Lend a Paw (1941)
  • All Together (1942)
  • Mickey's Birthday Party (1942)
  • Symphony Hour (1942)
  • Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line (1942) (cameo)
  • Pluto and the Armadillo (1943)
  • Squatter's Rights (1946)
  • Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
  • Mickey's Delayed Date (1947)
  • Mickey Down Under (1948)
  • Pluto's Purchase (1948)
  • Mickey and the Seal (1948)
  • Pueblo Pluto (1949)
  • Crazy Over Daisy (1950) (cameo)
  • Plutopia (1951)
  • R'Coon Dawg (1951)
  • Pluto's Party (1952)
  • Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952)
  • The Simple Things (1953)

Feature films[]

References[]

  1. Symphony Hour
  2. Jackson, Kathy (2003). Mickey and the Tramp: Walt Disney's Debt to Charlie Chaplin (26th ed.). The Journal of American Culture. pp. 439–444.

External links[]

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