Mickey Mouse was born on November 18th, 1928 and soon became known as America's most famous animated mouse. Walt Disney created his character as a replacement for "Oswald the Rabbit" which was a character originally created by Charles Mintz for Universal Studios.
Disney refused to agree to Mintz's terms so he went on his own and created Mickey Mouse. Originally, Disney was to name Mickey, Mortimer, but then Disney's wife suggested Mickey instead saying Mortimer was too pompous.
His film debut was in the short, "Steamboat Willie". Mickey Mouse can be seen in dozens of shorts and also appeared in a number of feature films. In 1928, Mickey mouse appeared on screen for the first time with his girlfriend, Minnie Mouse in, "Plain Crazy".
The cartoon was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks was also the main animator for this short, and reportedly spent six weeks working on it. In fact, Iwerks was the main animator for every Disney short released in 1928 and 1929. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising also assisted Disney during those years. They had already signed their contracts with Charles Mintz, but he was still in the process of forming his new studio and so for the time being they were still employed by Disney. This short would be the last they animated under this somewhat awkward situation.
Shortly before its release, Iwerks had left the Studio in an attempt to create his own. The result of his early efforts was the Flip the Frog series. His departure is considered to mark a turning point to the careers of both Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. The former lost the man who served as his closest colleague and confidant since 1919. The latter lost the man responsible for his original design and for the direction and/or animation of several of the shorts released till this point, and some would argue Mickey's creator. Walt Disney has been credited for the inspiration to create Mickey, but Iwerks was the one to design the character and the first few Mickey Mouse cartoons were mostly or entirely drawn by Iwerks. Consequently some animation historians have suggested that Iwerks should be considered the actual creator of Mickey Mouse. Disney and his remaining staff continued the production of the Mickey series, and he was able to eventually find a number of animators to replace Iwerks.
Mickey Mouse became the leader of the Disney Toons and also the mascot for the Walt Disney Company. His character is known for having a number of skills such as being a master detective, a diplomat and a wise leader to the other animated characters. His association with Minnie Mouse as his long time girlfriend and his famous dog Pluto, make him a memorable animated character.
Throughout the 1930's, a total of eighty seven cartoon shorts were made featuring Mickey. Fans were so obsessed with him that many times viewers would sit through his shorts twice in the theaters. Also on January 13th, 1930 King Features Syndicated approached Walt Disney with the request to license Mickey Mouse in its comic strips and Walt Disney approved and the first comic book was released shortly afterwards.
In the 1930's, Win Smith was responsible for the art of Mickey along with scripting and as this became to be too much responsibility for him, he resigned leaving Walt Disney to find a quick replacement. By this time, Mickey Mouse was so popular that by 1935 Mickey Mouse merchandise was earning $600,000 a year.
In the beginning of the creating of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney provided the characters voice until in 1946, Jim Macdonald took over the voice for the next thirty years until he entered retirement in 1974. After Jim retired, Wayne Allwine took over Mickey's voice and continues to play Mickey Mouse today.
In 1932, Mickey Mouse's creator, Walt Disney was actually awarded an Oscar for the creation of Mickey Mouse. In 1940, he starred in his first feature film, "Fantasia" in which the animated techniques in the feature were years ahead of the times. It was also the first film to introduce stereophonic sound to theaters. Along with many shorts and a couple feature films, Mickey Mouse has can be seen as Disney's ambassador for its advertisements and theme parks.
His character also played a significant role during World War II when Disney Studio's concentrated on aiding war efforts and Mickey Mouse appearing on insignia and posters urging national security and the purchase of war bonds.
After the war ended, Mickey Mouse continued to be seen in more cartoons and even did his second feature film, "Fun and Fancy Free" (1947). In this film he co starred with Goofy and Donald Duck.
In 1955, "The Mickey Mouse Club" was broadcast which was the same time that Disneyland opened to the public. Mickey Mouse became the chief host of Disneyland and would welcome visitors annually.
The "Mickey Mouse Club" continued to be revived in 1977 and again in 1990 gaining a new generation of fans. Mickey Mouse's 60th birthday was honored in 1988 by creating Mickey's birthdayland now known as Mickey's Starland at the various Disney theme parks. Then in 1993, Mickey's Toontown was also opened.
In 1978, Mickey Mouse became the fist animated character to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and along with his popularity on television, films, advertisements and comic books, Mickey Mouse has also appeared in a number of video games.
Mickey Mouse was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day 2005.
The Mickey Mouse character like all other Disney characters is protected by a trademark and will remain one of the most animated characters is Disney's history.
"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse." — Walt Disney