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The Birth of the Legendary Mouse
Transcript of The Birth of the Legendary Mouse
There are many stories about how Mickey Mouse was first created, but the story most people look too starts with a difficult train ride for Walt Disney and his wife Lillian Disney. The Disneys had gone to New York to try and smooth over an argument about contracts with Charles Mintz and the legal rights of the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney's wife said, "he was like a raging lion on the train coming home." Disney had been deeply hurt in the entire ordeal. Most of his animators had betrayed him and he only had a few faithful animators which he could trust to support him. In desperation, he began drawing on the train stationary and created a cartoon scenario called "Plane Crazy." The cartoon's main character was a mouse whom Disney named Mortimer. According to Lillian Disney, "The only thing that got through to me was that horrible name, Mortimer....I'm afraid I made quite a scene about it." Seeing Mrs. Disney's reaction to the name, Mr. Disney decided to try out other names. He finally came up with Mickey, he asked Lillian Disney if she liked it. She said, "it sound[s] better than Mortimer." So began the incredible journey of a small mouse that would change the animation industry forever.
Mickey's Early Days
Walt Disney was in a very desperate situation when he created the first ever Mickey Mouse cartoon. He only had a small source of income that would last until the end of the year, and no hope of any real contract for the next year. The plot consisted of a boy mouse, Mickey, building a plane to impress a pretty girl mouse, Minnie. They constructed this cartoon in Disney's garage away from the studio. Disney did not want the animators who had turned against him to know about the project that just might save his beloved studio. After it was filmed he brought benches into his garage so that the wives of the faithful animators and Lillian could be the first to view it. Disney had to try and sell the film quickly because he was in a desperate financial time. He went to many different companies practically begging for a contract. Not being successful, he thought up a new plan. Disney wanted to create the first ever cartoon with sound. This would be a huge step in the animation industry and many people wondered if the public would even like it. His first sound cartoon was titled "Steamboat Willie" and is still widely known today. The first showing of this film was on Broadway in the Colony Theater just to test the publics reaction. Everyone loved it and thought it to be ingenius. Walt struck a deal with a man named Pat Powers and they began distributing the films thus starting the Mickey Mouse series.
Mickey Mouse Merchandise
Walt and Roy Disney quickly realized the success of Mickey Mouse and began thinking about other ways they could earn money for the studio. In 1930 Disney was in New York with his wife when he was stopped by a man in his hotel who asked for the right to put Mickey Mouse on paper tablets. Disney needed the money so he immediately accepted making this the first Mickey Mouse product manufactured. Roy Disney then looked into creating Mickey Mouse candy bars and dolls to sell. Mickey Mouse started to appear on many different things, from watches to t-shirts to children's books. Herman Kamen was the source of almost all of the Mickey Mouse products. He worked for Disney and made huge contracts with companies to put Mickey Mouse on a large variety of products such as "Post Toasties" and Cartier diamond bracelets. The first Mickey Mouse club was created by Harry Woodin in Ocean Park, California. Children would come to the Fox Dome Theater in the afternoon to take a Mickey Mouse pledge, perform in a Mickey Mouse band, and watch Mickey Mouse cartoons. These clubs became popular nationally and by 1933 there were 50 million registered members. The club boosted Mickey's popularity even more causing children and even adults to long for more Mickey products.
Mickey Mouse truly saved the Disney studio from completely dying out.
After the "Alice" series and "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" failed Disney was in a financial crisis. Mickey Mouse saved his company and gave his spirits a boost too. The success of Mickey caused him to strive to make more films and to perfect the art of animation. Many people see this as the obvious turning point in Walt Disney's life. Mickey Mouse continued to be a huge hit even after Disney passed away and continues today.