Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whom Walt had lost the copyright to. He needed a new character, and then he got an idea - to create a mouse instead.
The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters says, "The story of the genesis of Mickey Mouse is a fairly tangled one - and Walt himself did not help matters by cheerfully telling several different versions of it. One of these was that he and Lillian dreamt up the character on their way home from New York after having lost Oswald. It is, according to this version, thanks to Lillian Disney that this great cartoon creation was not called Mortimer Mouse... In one recounting of this tale, Walt wrote, 'Out of the trouble and confusion stood a mocking, merry little figure. Vague and indefinite at first. But it grew and grew and grew, and finally arrived - a mouse. A romping, rollicking little mouse... By the time my train had reached the Middle West, I had dressed my dream mouse in a pair of red velvet pants with two huge pearl buttons. I had composed the scenario and all was set.'
"As far as one can gather from all the diverse accounts, however, Walt was responsible single-handedly for the creation of Mickey's personality while Ub Iwerks designed the physical appearance of the little fellow."
According to The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch, "It seems appropriate that the birth of Mickey Mouse - a creature of mythic stature - should be shrouded in legend. Walt Disney is said to have conceived Mickey on the train, returning to Hollywood from his angry encounter with Mintz. There is no reason to suppose that this is not essentially true, but over the years this story became so polished by repetition that it began to lose its sense of reality and to take on the character of an official myth. A further dimension was added to the legend by the fact that Disney had managed to tame a mouse in his old Kansas City studio, a mouse that he had nicknamed Mortimer. The name Mortimer now became the first choice for his new character, but before the Mouse cartoons were released, the name was changed to Mickey (it seems that Mrs. Disney thought the name Mortimer was a little pompous for a cartoon animal, but pressure from potential distributors may also have had something to do with the switch)."
Another story is that Walt, after losing Oswald, asked Ub Iwerks to come up with new character ideas. Ub drew frogs, cats, and dogs, a male horse and a female cow, but these were all rejected (although the horse and cow are now Horace and Clarabelle). Ub then drew sketches of mice around a photo of Walt and it inspired him to create a mouse character, which was a success. So one can technically say that Ub Iwerks, not Walt Disney, created Mickey Mouse; but as it says above, Ub did his appearance, Walt did his personality. And that still counts, because Mickey's personality is a huge part of him.
Actor Mickey Rooney claimed that he met Walt Disney during his Mickey McGuire days, and that Walt was inspired to name his new character after him.
So I am not sure exactly how Mickey was created, but above is most likely how it was done. Of course, the most popular theory is that Walt made Mickey by doodling on a piece of paper on the train ride home after losing Oswald, and changed the name from Mortimer to Mickey. But as The Art of Walt Disney says, it's really more of a legend.
^Ub Iwerks drawing a picture of Mickey Mouse.
Now that Walt had a new character, he started to make cartoons starring him. The first cartoon was Plane Crazy, and then The Gallopin' Gaucho. But these two cartoons didn't have any sound in them, and no theaters would show them because they weren't interested in silent Mickey Mouse cartoons (although I've read that Plane Crazy was released in May 1928). Then Walt made a third cartoon, this one called Steamboat Willie. He added synchronized sound to it, and it was released on November 18, 1928. It was an instant hit! And thus Mickey Mouse was born.
After Steamboat Willie, Walt made and released a lot more Mickey cartoons, and everyone loved them. Even when he and his crew started making full-length animated features, they still kept making Mickey cartoons. Mickey Mouse became more popular than Felix the Cat and took over the big screen. The 1932 short Parade of the Award Nominees was his very first colour appearance, although The Band Concert from 1935 was the first official Mickey cartoon in Technicolor. In 1940, Mickey Mouse appeared in the feature Fantasia, with the role of the apprentice who tried to use magic to make his chores easier in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. (This was originally supposed to be his first appearance in his current design, but since it wasn't released until 1940, the 1939 cartoon The Pointer portrays the modern Mickey for the first time instead.) The Sorcerer's Apprentice was his most memorable and popular role.
These days, I don't think there is a soul on earth who doesn't know who Mickey Mouse is. If we find a three-circle shape, we say, "It looks like Mickey Mouse." We also recognize Mickey's friends - Pluto (in fact, I think of the dog every time I read about the planet), Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy. (Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow are sadly not as popular.) Mickey has been mentioned (and even seen!!) on the hit TV show Full House, and Nermal dresses up like him in one Sunday Garfield comic, you can pretty much always find merchandise of him in stores (especially toy stores), and he generally appears everywhere!
Mickey Mouse is now a symbol of joy and laughter throughout the world. He is also one of the most well-known, well-loved characters of all time. We are all thankful to Walt Disney, America's folk hero of the 20th century, for Mickey Mouse and all that Mickey represents.
General info about Mickey
Full name: Mickey Mouse (not Michael or Mitchell, contrary to popular belief)
Birthday: November 18, 1928
Home: Mouseton, Calisota; Guillard County (I don't know his exact address, though)
Height: 2'3" (27")
Weight: 23 lbs
Eye color: Sky blue (I can prove this)
First Words: "Hot dogs!"
-Walt Disney was afraid of regular mice.
-Mickey Mouse is ambidextrous. (So are all the other Disney characters, except for Captain Hook.)
-The password of the Allied forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944, was Mickey Mouse.
-Peg-Leg Pete was created before Mickey Mouse was; therefore, Mickey is not the oldest Disney character. But he is the most famous!
-Mickey Mouse is Walt Disney's son. I can prove this. Walt himself said (or should I say wrote?) so.
-In 1936, Adolf Hitler declared Mickey Mouse to be an enemy of the state in Nazi Germany.
-In World War II, English children were given Mickey Mouse gas masks to make air raids more fun.
-Mickey received 800,000 fan letters in 1933.
-Mickey has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, although he is not the only animated character to have one.
-Mickey didn't actually speak in Steamboat Willie - he only whistled.
-Mickey Mouse is known by different names all around the world. Here are a few of them (taken from the book Birnbaum's Walt Disney World for Kids by Kids):
In Italy he's called Topolino.
In Greece he's known as Miky Maoye.
Norwegians call him Mikke Mus.
In Sweden he goes by Musse Pigg.
And in China he's Mi Lao Shu.
-The most recent voice actors for Mickey and Minnie, Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor were married in real life until Wayne died on May 18, 2009. (Russi is still alive and voicing Minnie.) They met while auditioning for the voices.
-Bret Iwan is Mickey's new voice actor. Mickey now sounds much like he did in The Prince and the Pauper, although I think Bret needs to work on the accent a little more and be less breathy. He sounds very close though - like Wayne, only higher.
UltimateDisneyGeek on YouTube says, in the info of her Walt Disney slideshow, "It just occured to me the other day of how different the world would be (especially for a child) if Walt had never gotten the thought and inspiration to put pencil to paper, to make a single mark that would someday become a little mouse that would lead to theme and water parks all around the world, hundreds of movies, thousands of characters, an entire cruise line, at least two TV stations, multiple stores, and a whole lot more. For me personally, who knows what I'd be doing by now."
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901. He was interested in drawing at an early age and then later became interested in animation.
Before either Oswald or Mickey was created, Walt fell in love with one of his employees, Lillian Bounds. On June 13, 1925, they got married. On December 18, 1933, they had a daughter, Diane Marie Disney. Before Diane was born, Lillian had had two miscarriages. After Diane, she suffered another miscarriage, so she and Walt decided to adopt another child. In January 1937, they adopted a two-week-old girl, Sharon Mae Disney.
And we all know what happened in the following years. Despite some financial trouble and bad attitudes of staff, Walt kept on working and making new movies and cartoons featuring not only Mickey Mouse but also Donald Duck and Goofy. He was very perserverant, and he loved children. And he made a theme park called Disneyland, which opened on July 17, 1955. Later, Walt had a dream for another park. But he didn't live long enough to see it happen. In late 1966, Walt Disney was diagnosed with lung cancer - a result of years of smoking. He didn't want to stop working and he didn't want his family to worry about him. But later his family was told that he had up to only two years to live.
After being in the hospital for about 16 days, he died on December 15, 1966, at the age of 65. It came as a shock to almost everyone, and the world was very sad. But his brother, Roy Disney, made sure his dream did not die with him. On October 1, 1971, Walt's dream park was opened. In his brother's honor, Roy announced that it would be called Walt Disney World.
Trivia of Walt Disney
-He was born at 12:30 AM CST.
-He became interested in personalizing animals' characters after carelessly killing a small owl as a young boy. He felt deeply remorseful and guilty and vowed never again to kill a living creature.
-He was dyslexic.
-He loved to play polo. He had organized a team at the studio and arranged games between some of the other Hollywood luminaries. Unfortunately, he had to stop when an accident crushed four of his cervical vertabrae, contributing to an arthritic conditon that plagued him for the rest of his life.
-He was a chain smoker. He avoided smoking when he was in public view, especially where he might be seen by children. His smokers' cough often heralded his arrival in a particular wing of the studio, allowing off-task employees time to get on task.
-Just months after the first earth-moving equipment arrived at the site of the Florida project (Walt Disney World), Walt was in the hospital and dying. During this final ilness, he could think of nothing but the Forida project and spent his remaining reserves of energy describing every detail of his vision to his family. A description of Roy Disney's report of one of his last visits to his brother is as follows: "Walt was hallucinating, but it was as if he could see this map of the property on the ceiling, and he was pointing to it with one hand and describing it, explaining why we'd have to build an east-west road running through, and so on. It was as if the whole thing was there in full detail. He was obsessed."
-It is Hollywood legend that, lying on his deathbed in St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank (across the street from Disney studios) his last words were about how shabby the studio's water tower looked. Visible from a nearby freeway, towering above the blacklot, it is adorned with the image of his most beloved creation, Mickey Mouse. In adherance with what they believed were their founder's last wishes, studio executives have made sure the water tower was regularly repainted since he died in 1966.
-His death was not publicly announced until after his funeral, which was attended only by close family members.
-His death spawned two rumors that have become urban legends. The first is that he had his body cryogenically frozen. The second held that he was buried under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Both rumors have found to be untrue. Actually, he was cremated and his ashes are now buried at Forest Lawn Cemetary in Los Angeles, California.
Quotes from Walt Disney
"I believe in being an innovator."
"If you can dream it, you can do it."
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
"Reality can be beaten with enough imagination."
"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do."
"Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive."
"I think it's important to have a good, hard failure when you're young."
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."
"I love ths nostalgic, myself. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past."
"I don't make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures."
"I'm not interested in pleasing the critics. I'll take my chances pleasing the audience."
"Girls bored me, they still do. I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known."
"Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures."
"When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it's because he's so human; and that is the secret of his popularity."
"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."
"Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They don't remember what it's like to be twelve years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well, I don't do that."
"All we ever intended for him, or expected of him, was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him. We didn't burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouth piece for frustrations or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter."
"The life and ventures of Mickey Mouse have been closely bound up with my own personal and professional life. It is understandable that I should have sentimental attachment for the little personage who played so big a part in the course of Disney Productions and has been so happily accepted as an amusing friend wherever films are shown around the world. He still speaks for me and I still speak for him."
"Mickey Mouse, to me, is a symbol of independence. He was the means to an end. He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at a lowest ebb, and disaster seemed right around the corner. Born of necessity, the little fellow literally freed us of immediate worry. He provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium of cartoon animation toward new entertainment levels. He spelled production liberation for us."
But the most popular quote is:
"I only hope we never lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."