From PBS’ History Dectectives comes the story of a mouse toy named Micky patented in 1926. But wait you say, isn’t that two years before Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney’s beloved icon was first unleashed in Steamboat Willie? Why yes it was. Read the full transcript of the show (in PDF) then click below for more…
In addition to the idea presented that Walt’s Mickey was really just one of a number of Mice Characters and that it was through Walt’s showmanship and marketing skills that his Mickey won out, I would also like to remind everyone that Steamboat Willie wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse film. Nope. Walt and his animators had actually released Plane Crazy but were unable to get much attention with it when the ‘talkies’ came out. Walt wanted to take full advantage of this new medium, so he shelved Plane Crazy and started from scratch with Steamboat Willie (an homage/parody to silent film great Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. that had just hit the theatres). See this great Wikipedia page on the first three Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Walt’s story about creating Mickey while on the train would have occured in February of 1928 after his visit to New York where he lost the rights to Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit. Did Walt actually see the Performo Micky Toy before he turned Oswald into a Mouse? We’ll probably never know.
(Thanks to CartoonBrew for the lead!)