Hey Mickey You're So Fine! (Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse: 1928 - Forever)

Ranjit Rodricks , 18 Nov 2011
It's Mickey Mouse's birthday today
It's Mickey Mouse's birthday today

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” — Walt Disney (in 1954).

How do you write a birthday tribute to a mouse who is larger than life? How do you cover the life of a world-famous icon in a single blog-post? How is that, even at the age of Eighty-three, his popularity increases by the day?

When MissMalini asked me to write a birthday blog on Mickey Mouse, I was overjoyed. But when I began to research his beginnings and his journey to super-stardom, I was dwarfed by the wealth of information and the amount of history this lovable mouse has achieved over the past eight decades.

Walt Disney sketches Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney sketches Mickey Mouse

Thanks to the ever-popular Wikipedia, here are the most important landmarks in the life and times of Mickey Mouse.

Right from his first appearance which was a flop to his actual public debut, to why he has only three fingers and a thumb, we sift the treasure-trove of information for some fun facts:

– Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from his old pet mouse he used to have on his farm. He originally planned to call the character Mortimer Mouse but his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it. The name Mortimer Mouse was later given to a side-character, Minnie Mouse’s uncle.

– Mickey was first seen in a test screening of the cartoon short Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928, but it failed to impress the audience and didn’t attract distributors. Then, in November 1928, Steamboat Willie was first released and although it was the third Mickey cartoon to be produced, it was the first to find a distributor, and is thus considered by The Disney Company as Mickey’s debut.

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie
Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie

– This was in the days of silent films so Mickey does not talk in the earlier few films. But, in 1929, theaters began introducing sound-systems so Disney made a short film in 1929, called The Karnival Kid when Mickey’s first spoken words were, “Hot dogs, Hot dogs!” He was while trying to sell hot dogs at a carnival.

– Another first – Mickey’s official first color film came in 1935 with The Band

– Since his debut, Mickey Mouse has appeared in over 130 films.

– Out of those, nine of Mickey’s cartoons were nominated for the Oscars for Best Animated Short Film.

– In 1932, Mickey received his first Academy Award nomination for Mickey’s Orphans (1931).

– But it was Lend A Paw that won the Academy Award in 1942.

– In 1940 Mickey appeared in his first feature length film, Fantasia.

– On his 50th Anniversary, Mickey Mouse was granted a star on the famous Hollywood Walk Of Fame. He was the first cartoon character to be bestowed with the honour.

– Mickey made his first comic strip appearance on January 13, 1930.

It's party time for Mickey
It's party time for Mickey

Have you ever wondered why Mickey’s hands have only three fingers and a thumb? Or why he wears gloves?

According to a statement by Walt Disney, “Artistically five digits are too many for a mouse. His hand would look like a bunch of bananas. Financially, not having an extra finger in each of 45,000 drawings that make up a six and one half minute short has saved the Walt Disney Studio millions.”

Imagine that! Not drawing in an extra finger (to make his hands look more human), can actually help the studio save millions of dollars!

As for why the cute little mouse prefers white gloves are more of a choice of perspective on the part of the animators rather than a fashion or sartorial trend. Apparently, Mickey wearing white gloves is to allow for the audiences to “distinguish the characters’ hands when they appeared against his body” since both are black.

He is spotted wearing the white gloves (with three darts on them) in The Opry House which was released in March 1929.

Ira Dubey wears Manish Arora's Mickey tunic in the film Aisha
Ira Dubey wears Manish Arora's Mickey tunic in the film Aisha

Mickey also has an Indian connection – a few years ago, he made his debut on the catwalk with Indian designer Manish Arora. Emblazoned across a tunic in a gladiator avataar, the outfit with Mickey’s image was also seen in the film, Aisha, on actress Ira Dubey.

With Eighty-three years behind him and no signs of slowing down any time soon, here’s wishing Mickey Mouse a truly spectacular birthday.

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