The Idea of a Mouse: 83 Years of Mickey

While traveling by train from New York to California after loosing the rights to Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney began toying with the idea of a mouse.  At first, Disney called the mouse Mortimer, but his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change the name to Mickey because it sounded cuter.  Then, on November 18, 1928, at the Colony Theater in New York, Mickey Mouse whistled his way onto the screen in the cartoon short Steamboat Willie.  And 83 years later, we are still enamored with the simple idea of a mouse.  So, to celebrate Mickey’s birthday, I’ve gathered up some fun facts about the world’s favorite mouse.
Did you know…?

  • Two Buster Keaton films, The Navigator (1924) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) provided the inspiration for Steamboat Willie.
  • Animator Ub Iwerks completed Steamboat Willie as a silent film.  Sound was post-synchronized to match the action.
  • Although Steamboat Willie had sound, Mickey did not utter his first word until The Karnival Kid (1929).  Walt Disney himself played Mickey’s voice.
  • The first item of merchandise to feature Mickey Mouse was a child’s school tablet in 1929.
  • After Emperor Hirohito of Japan received a Mickey Mouse watch while visiting Disneyland in 1978, he wore the watch on his wrist everywhere he went.  One day when the watch stopped ticking, he called in Japan’s finest jewelers to solve the problem.  The result was one new battery and a very happy emperor.
  • The first Mickey Mouse comic strip was published on January 13, 1930.
  • Although Mickey has only starred in a few of Disney’s full length feature presentations  – Fantasia (1940), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – he has found a way to sneak into several others, such as The Rescuers (1977), The Little Mermaid (1989), and 101 Dalmatians (1961).  Can you find where he is hiding in those movies – perhaps do you know of other Disney movies where Mickey has found a way to make a cameo? Put your Disney trivia knowledge to the test and submit your answers in the comments below.

So today, in celebration of our favorite mouse, and because it’s Friday (who doesn’t love Fridays?!), we’re giving away some fun HPB prizes – including an HPB Gift Card, reusable tote bag and a coveted HPB T-shirt. Make a comment below telling us who is your favorite Disney character. Three (3) winners will be randomly selected at 3:00 pm CST on Friday, November 18. Ready, set, go!

Happy Birthday, Mickey!

— Julie 


UPDATE: Congratulations to our 3 winners – Nick Spacek and his adoration of Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove (you’ve won an HPB Gift Card), Veronica Deslauriers and her poem praising our feathered friend Donald Duck (you’ve won a reusable tote bag), and Shellie and her vote for the birthday boy himself, Mickey Mouse (you’ve won an HPB T-shirt)! To claim your prize, please email with “Mickey” in the subject line. This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned to the Half Price Blog for more news, reviews and free goodies.

75 thoughts on “The Idea of a Mouse: 83 Years of Mickey

  1. My favorite is Belle! I love all of the Disney Princesses though and still aspire to become one when I grow up! I turned 30 this year! 🙂

  2. If I have to pick just one disney person I would have to say Mr. Walter Elias Disney! I say him because he was the one with this dream to have Walt Disney even come to life. With out this main main we wouldn't have any of our lovable characters to pick from. Some of my favorite characters would be ones that are considered the "classic" ones. Dopey (my first ever movie to see in thearters), Pluto, Eeyore, & baby simba,

  3. His wife was right, Mickey is much cuter. I'm now going to have to rewatch the Little Mermaid to find his appearance. :O)Thanks for the fun fax.Coveting a TShirt

  4. M – – – – – – – – – – – – – – M- – – I – – – – – – – – – – – – – O- – – – – C – – – – – – – – – – – – U- – – – – – – K – – – – – – – – – – – – S- – – – – – – – – E – – – – – – – – – – – – E- – – – – – – – – – Y – – – – – – – – – – – – – !

  5. They may not be very popular, but I would honestly have to say Chip 'n' Dale. Not so much because of the cartoon, but every time my family took me to Disney World many years ago, they were the most fun characters roaming around. They would have quite a bit of fun messing with me and always made me laugh. So even though that was a few decades ago by now, they still remain my favorite for that reason.

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