Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy 80th Birthday Mickey Mouse!

It was on this date - November 18, 1928, 80 years ago - that one of the most important events in the history of animation debuted. The first cartoon with sound was released to the movie going public. In the bouncy little cartoon titled "Steamboat Willie" we are introduced to Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney's newest animated star and the beginning of Disney's entertainment empire.
Mickey was an over-night sensation. His films were so popular that almost immediately Mickey Mouse's image was on all types of merchandise. A magazine was published starring Mickey and all his friends, and a newspaper strip debuted in many of America's papers. And it was due to this popularity that Disney had the funds to create many firsts in the field of animation. In the "Silly Symphony" series, "Flowers and Trees" (1932) it was the first animated short to be produced in Technicolor. In 1937 Disney produces the first feature length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

But it all started with a little mouse. "Steamboat Willie" shows the playfulness of Mickey as he bounces along to music that plays through-out the cartoon. It is this playfulness and the singing and dancing in his following 'toons that the world falls in love with. We are also introduced to Mickey's girlfriend, Minnie Mouse who like Mickey, sings and dances to the delight of movie-going audiences. The short also introduces "Peg-Legged Pete" or "Black Pete" as he his later called, as Mickey's antagonist. Through-out Mickey's career in films and in print, Black Pete will be the mouse's enemy and constantly make life miserable for him.

Overtime in Mickey's cartoons we are introduced to his friends. Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Goofy and more all dance and sing along in the musical based shorts. In the Silly Symphony "The Wise Little Hen" Donald Duck makes his debut. The response to the duck's antics is so great that he soon appears with Mickey and the gang and in 1937, begins his long successful run in his own shorts.

To celebrate his 80th Anniversary, The United States Post Office issued a stamp of Mickey in his Steamboat Willie outfit. Mickey Mouse has had a long and successful career and is still as popular today as he was when he debuted in 1928.

Mickey Mouse is a true Pop Culture Icon.

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