Monday 26 November 2018
Those iconic round black ears, the red shorts, and those huge yellow shoes: that’s how almost everyone envisions the iconic Mickey Mouse. It’s no wonder that 97% of children between the ages of 3-11 around the globe recognize him. He’s the only animated character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; he’s been nominated for an Oscar 10 times, and Forbes magazine called him the wealthiest fictitious billionaire in the world.
But the question is, how was Mickey Mouse created? Walt Disney wanted to come up with a replacement for his successful character Oswald, a rabbit, which was claimed by Universal Pictures. “We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could,” Disney recalled at one point.
Mickey Mouse made his silver screen debut on November 18, 1928 in the animated short “Steamboat Willie,” which was one of the first animated films with sound. Disney himself lent his voice to his creation and would continue to do so until 1946 when he was replaced by actor Jimmy McDonald. Since 1928, Mickey has appeared in more than 130 movies, mostly shorts, earning a total of ten Oscar nominations and winning Best Aminated Short Film in 1942. Thirty years later, Mickey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After the success of “Disneyland,” a 1954 TV program, the Disney studio and ABC struck a deal to create an afternoon television show called “The Mickey Mouse Club," which remains one of the most successful children’s programs in history. This month, ABC announced that it will broadcast a two-hour birthday special for Mickey with never-before-seen footage.
Mickey remains a key character for The Walt Disney Company, bringing in more than $6 billion each year. This is one of the reasons the company successfully lobbied for changes to copyright laws twice, something that was roundly panned by the media and the public. In 1976 (8 years before the end of the copyright on Mickey), the U.S. Congress re-worked the law to extend the license period from 56 to 75 years, adding another 20 years in 1997 to bring the total length to 95 years.
Since the creation of the character, the studio has closely guarded any products adorned with Mickey’s image, including everything from clothing, accessories, household goods, and of course toys. Czechs are also fond of Mickey: “Products with the image of Mickey Mouse have been very popular. Some brands even prepared entire collections including accessories for this year to celebrate the animated character’s 90th birthday. You can find a children’s collection with Mickey in the Orchestra boutique at the Fashion Arena Prague Outlet, or pick up luggage with Mickey made by Samsonite,” Fashion Arena Prague Outlet Director Lenka Čapková said.