The Quick 10: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Mickey Mouse
As someone who grew up in a Disneyphile household, it's a pretty special day: Mickey Mouse's birthday. At least, it's the day Disney considers to be the day Mickey was born, since it's the anniversary of the cartoon Steamboat Willie. To honor the little rodent (I say that with love), here are a few facts you may not have known about the Mickster.
1. If Disney was really being accurate, they would consider Mickey's birthday May 15. That's the day his first cartoon, Plane Crazy, was released. Plane Crazy didn't really connect with audiences the way Steamboat did, though, nor did it feature synchronized sound.
2. If things had gone a little differently, the mascot of the Disney company would have been Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Universal. He was a pretty popular character, so when Disney and Universal had a spat, Universal seized control of the rabbit. Disney left shortly thereafter and ended up creating Mickey Mouse. You can see the resemblance in the early Oswald poster. Universal later had the rabbit redesigned. There's been some talk about bringing Oswald back to Disney as of late "“ in February 2006, they acquired his rights again. Oddly enough, this involved Al Michaels. Here's the story: when the Disney/ABC deal was signed, Michaels wanted out of his ABC contract to join John Madden at NBC to do Sunday Night Football. Since NBC wanted Michaels, Universal "“ which owns NBC "“ said they would return Oswald to Disney in exchange for the sportscaster. It almost sounds like hostage negotiations.
3. Despite what Disney might tell you, Minnie and Mickey are actually married. OK, the cartoon characters aren't married, but their real-life counterparts were: the people who voiced Minnie and Mickey were a couple in reality. Wayne Allwine was the third person to give Mickey a voice and did so from 1977 until his death in earlier this year. The last Disney product he worked on was the Nintendo DS game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Allwine married Russi Taylor, the current voice of Minnie Mouse, in 1991. She has been Minnie's voice since 1986 (and was also the voice of Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby, for fellow DuckTales fans).
4. Mickey hasn't always been so politically correct. Some earlier cartoons have been edited or completely shelved because of content that wouldn't exactly go over with the public these days. One is the previously mentioned Steamboat Willie - there's a scene that involves what would be considered animal cruelty today when Mickey swings a cat around by its tail and using a goose as bagpipes. Then there's Mickey's Mellerdrammer, a 1933 short that has Mickey and co. doing Uncle Tom's Cabin, with Mickey decked out in blackface. Yeah"¦ you don't really see that one playing when they run classic cartoons these days.
5. He may not have been on the front lines, but Mickey played his own small part during WWII. Intelligence officers used "Mickey Mouse" as a password amongst themselves.
6. Can you imagine "The Mortimer Mouse Club"? Doesn't really have the best ring to it, does it? We have Walt's wife Lillian to thank for the mouse's moniker - when Walt named his new character Mortimer, she told him she thought it sounded pompous and suggested the more kid-friendly "Mickey."
7. Supposedly, the reason Mickey and his cartoon cohorts wear those white gloves is simple: it's to distinguish their hands when they were against their bodies.
8. You may have heard that Mickey Mouse is merely copyrighted, which would allow the character to eventually go into the public domain. The Disney lawyers are all over that, of course "“ Mickey has also been trademarked, which means even when the copyright runs out, he's a protected class, so to speak, as long as the Disney company continues to use him. And I don't foresee them exterminating the Mouse any time soon, do you?
9. We know Mickey as a wholesome, lovable little guy with only the best intentions"¦ but that could be changing next year. Disney is working on "Epic Mickey," a Wii game that would make him a little less nice and a lot more deceptive and "naughty," says the game's designer, Warren Spector. "Mickey is never going to be evil or go around killing people," he said, but, "I wanted him to be able to be naughty — when you're playing as Mickey you can misbehave and even be a little selfish." And you know what else? Be prepared to see a "disemboweled" Donald Duck, a "twisted, broken, dangerous" version of "It's a Small World" (isn't it already a little twisted?) and the return of our old buddy Oswald the Rabbit. Interesting, no?
10. It's not just here in the States that Mickey is often a popular write-in vote for various elections "“ he's often a candidate for office around the world. In Sweden, though, it's Donald Duck (AKA Kalle Anka) who is more likely to get voted in. "The Donald Duck Party" is what people write in when they either don't care or don't care for any of the candidates. In fact, in 2006, "The Donald Duck Party" came in 21st place out of the 40 represented parties running for office.
Have any Mickey trivia to share? Or maybe you just want to geek out about Epic Mickey (I do). As always, the comments are open!