Today is Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse’s 92nd birthday! Mickey and Minnie debuted on November 18, 1928 at the Colony Theater in New York City with “Steamboat Willie.”
Interestingly enough they actually appeared in another short called “Plane Crazy” first. It was shown as a test screening in May of 1928, but they didn’t have a distributor, so “Steamboat Willie” is the first public appearance.
People were more interested in “Steamboat Willie” because it had synchronized sound, and it was actually the first cartoon to have a “fully post-produced soundtrack.” It’s actually interesting because they didn’t do the soundtrack until post because they weren’t sure how it would go. So Ub Iwerks set up a make shift curtain and they played the music and sound behind the screen.
Wikipedia has the following information on it:
“The live sound was produced from behind the bedsheet. Wilfred Jackson played the music on a mouth organ, Ub Iwerks banged on pots and pans for the percussion segment, and Johnny Cannon provided sound effects with various devices, including slide whistles and spittoons for bells. Walt himself provided what little dialogue there was to the film, mostly grunts, laughs, and squawks. After several practices, they were ready for the audience, which consisted of Disney employees and their wives.”
Hey, when you are inventing the future, you have to test it out in unusual ways right? This just makes me miss old Disney more though. Especially when you hear the way Walt and Ub Iwerks describe it.
“The effect on our little audience was nothing less than electric. They responded almost instinctively to this union of sound and motion. I thought they were kidding me. So they put me in the audience and ran the action again. It was terrible, but it was wonderful! And it was something new!” –Walt Disney
“I’ve never been so thrilled in my life. Nothing since has ever equaled it.” -Ub Iwerks
This is why we invent and create and not repurpose, assimilate, and reboot. When they do create something new, it’s usually fantastic. I wish they would have confidence in themselves and their people like the fans do.
After they got positive feedback for their performance they created the soundtrack and then Mickey and Minnie took off!
In the 1930s Disney made over 100 Mickey Mouse cartoons. These went on before movies, kind of like what we see with big Disney films and they have little shorts with them. According to ABC7 Chicago, “Disney’s shorts were so popular that moviegoers would often ask if a Mickey cartoon would be part of the show before purchasing a ticket, according to Robert Tieman, author of “The Mickey Mouse Treasures.”
The rest became history! However I do want to point out something. We always hear about Mickey Mouse’s “birthday”, but we usually don’t hear about Minnie Mouse’s “birthday” and it’s the same day.
I hope she gets more love moving forward. But I do think Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad makes sure it celebrates both historic cartoon mice!
What do you think? Comment and let us know!
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