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 Disney character has been and always will be Mickey Mouse! Growing up I had Mickey books, lamps, stuffed animals, posters, pictures, etc….

  2. My personal favorite Disney animated film is The Jungle Book (Walt's last), and my favorite character is Baloo (and has been since I was 10)!

  3. I always hate that question because it is nearly impossible to choose! I guess I would have to go with Pluto. He is one of the most realistic characters and he was the one that started my love of dogs and why I work in animal rescue today!

  4. I absolutely love Ariel. I always wanted her long, red hair. And for a whole month after watching The Little Mermaid the first time, I drove my mom nuts trying to comb my hair with a fork. 🙂

  5. My favorite Disney character is and has always been Eeyore. I think bc he is so depressed all the time, and you just want to cuddle him and make him feel better.

  6. My favorite will forever be Figment from the Epcot attraction "Journey Into Imagination." Adorable purple dragon who can do anything! What's not to love?

  7. I went through a months-long phase when I was little where I would answer to nothing but Cinderella. I'd still have to say she's my favorite, although I do love Mickey. I remember in fifth grade, I had white leggins with Mickey's head printed all over them and a red Mickey jacket. I thought they were awesome. Unfortunately, I no longer have the same keen fashion sense. 😉

  8. My favorite ever is Woody from Toy Story, but a VERY close second goes to Professor Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective. Love me some Vincent Price, and Rattigan is so charmingly evil.

  9. When I was younger, I loved Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh. I am so excited to share my love of Disney with my daughter, who just turned 2 today and is currently into Mickey Mouse and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

  10. Whos got the sweetest disposition?…one guess, guess who..Who never, ever, ever starts an argument, Whos got the sweetest bit of temperament,Whos never wrong, but always right,Who'd never dream of starting a fight,Who gets stuck with all the bad luck…No one, but DONALD DUCK!Thanks for the chance to win!! I ❤ half price books, awesome vinyl selection!!

  11. Gaston. Beauty and the Beast. Because, as we know…No one hits like GastonMatches wits like GastonIn a spitting match nobody spits like Gaston

  12. It's so hard to narrow them down, but my favorite would have to be Belle. How can you not love a character who reads voraciously and talks to teacups?

  13. My favorite is Belle, because she knows what it's like to be different, because she has the most amazing library of all time, and because she is a beautiful, strong, caring woman. She's always been somebody I would like to be.

  14. Winnie the Pooh. I love all the Pooh Bear characters to bits and was my favorite thing to watch while growing up (and I still watch them) but without Pooh there would be no Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Gopher, Kanga & Roo, Christopher Robin, etc. So the Silly ol' Bear it is 😀

  15. It is really hard to pick a favorite Disney character because there are so many I love and have loved my whole life, but I think Bambi will always have a soft spot in my heart.

  16. My favorite Disney characters are Chip and Dale…the original not the Rescue Rangers. I was in 7th heaven when my son bought me stick pins of them back from Disney Land.My favorite movie is The Sword in the Stone. My kids used to say…not again mom. Hmm, its been a bit. may have to watch it again this weekend.

  17. My favorite Disney character has the be either Belle or Ariel. I loved both Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid when I was little and even had a room completely decorated with Little Mermaid items.

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