Happy 93rd Birthday to Mickey Mouse!

A look back on the mouse who started it all for Walt Disney.

A photograph of Walt Disney with an older drawing of Mickey Mouse.

U.S National Archives

A photograph of Walt Disney with an older drawing of Mickey Mouse.

Ashleigh Thorson, Staff Writer

On Nov. 18, Mickey Mouse will celebrate his 93rd birthday. He is the brand mascot for Disney and can typically be seen in red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves. Throughout the years, he has appeared in films, shows, on merchandise, and in Disney parks around the world. 

Before Mickey was born from Walt Disney’s imagination, there was another cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who was quite successful for Disney; however, Charles Mintz, a Universal distributor, stole Oswald and most of the Disney artists from Disney.

After many of Disney’s characters were stolen, Walt Disney collaborated with his brother, Roy Disney, and his trusted friend and animator, Ub Iwerks, to create Mickey. They had to work quickly and keep it under wraps until he appeared in his first cartoon so they wouldn’t lose Mickey like they lost Oswald.

His first appearance was actually “Plane Crazy” which premiered in Hollywood on May 15, 1928. It was in the form of a test screening, but failed to gain distribution. The same fate met his second cartoon, “The Gallopin’ Gaucho.” 

It wasn’t until “Steamboat Willie” premiered on Nov 18, 1928 in New York’s Colony Theatre that Mickey and Disney got their big break. It was one of the first cartoons to successfully utilize sound and was more popular than the films shown after it in theaters. 

Disney received $1,000 in a two-week run of the cartoon, which was a lot of money at the time. It is one of the most notable cartoons of the 1920’s. A star had been born!

However, for the next few decades following Mickey’s inception, his birthday seemed to change dates constantly. In 1933, Disney himself said that Mickey’s birthday was on Oct. 1, 1928 because it was the day his first picture started. This date wouldn’t last though. It would range from September to December to satisfy specific promotions.

Finally, in 1978, Dave Smith, the founder of the Disney Archives, determined that Mickey’s appearance in “Steamboat Willie” was his true birthday.

Over the years, Mickey has been on many merchandise items, ranging from clothing to kitchenware items, including candy wrappers, treat shapes in the parks, and of course, the  iconic Mickey ears. 

While this year the main focus in the parks is Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary, Mickey and Minnie (as it is her birthday too) got amped up costumes for their birthday and this occasion.

In the past, the parks have celebrated their birthday with merchandise, clothing, and treats, but nothing has been said as of yet for what Disney is doing for this occasion. It’s sure to be a fun milestone for the mouse who started it all and his companion, Minnie!