First Appearances of Disney’s Cartoon Characters
In 1927, Walt Disney decided that he needed a fresh, new character and came up with a big-eared rabbit named Oswald. During a bitter dispute with his financial backers, Walt discovered that fine print in his contract meant that the backers owned the rights to Oswald. Walt promptly abandoned Oswald and began working to produce a new character. The result was Mortimer Mouse. He showed his drawings to Lillian who loved the mouse but hated the name. She suggested Mickey Mouse. Walt made two silent Mickey Mouse cartoons, Plane Crazy and Gallopin’ Gaucho, which failed to sell. In his third cartoon, Steamboat Willie, which premiered in November 1928, Walt added music and sound effects and it was huge hit. Music became a vital part in Disney’s future cartoons. Mickey’s first speaking cartoon was The Kanival Kid (1929) with Walt providing the voice (which he did until 1946).
During his first eight appearance in sound cartoons, Mickey whistled, laughed, cried and made various other sounds but it was not until his ninth sound cartoon, The Karnival Kid, that Mickey actually spoke his first words. (His first words were “Hot Dog!”)
Mickey made his first appearance in a comicstrip in 1930. The story was credited to Walt Disney Himself with the artwork by Ub Iwerks. Later in 1930, Ub Iwerks quit the Disney Studio to set up his own. He created the first MGM sound cartoon, Flip the Frog.
At first, Ub Iwers was replaced as animator by Win Smith who was also given the job of writing the scripts. After just three months, Smith abruptly resigned and was “temporarily” replaced by Floyd Gottfredson who remained in the job from 1930 until 1975.
In 1929, Walt Disney created the Mickey Mouse Club for fans of his character. This later formed the basis for the Mickey Mouse Club television show.
Did You Know?
Mickey Mouse’s voice married Minnie Mouse’s voice.
The man voiced Mickey Mouse for over 30 years, Wayne Allwine, was married to the woman who voices Minnie Mouse, Russi Taylor. It wasn’t until Wayne Allwine died in 2009 that the public realised that the two “voices” were married.
Click here for more information about The Mickey Mouse Club TV show
(from The Menzies Era)
Donald Duck was first mentioned in a 1931 storybook and made his first screen appearance in the 1934 Silly Symphonies cartoon The Little Red Hen. Donald was the creation of the animator Dick Lundy who originally gave him the familiar colours but a more elongated, plumper body with bigger feet. His original voice was provided by Clarence Nash who continued to perform it for the next 51 years.
Donald was a hit with audiences and appeared in supporting roles in most Mickey Mouse cartoons. In 1937, a rounder, cuter Donald was given his first solo role in Don Donald which also introduced Daisy Duck (although she was called “Donna” in this cartoon). Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie made their first screen appearance in the following year.
Donald was given his own daily newspaper comic strip in 1938 and Sunday comic in 1939. Both were drawn by Al Taliaferro with writer Bob Carp. Taliaferro continued to draw the comics until 1969.
The first Donald Duck comic book story was published in 1942. It was drawn by Carl Banks and Jack Hannah. The comic book character was developed mainly by Banks who also developed characters such as Scrooge McDuck, Gladstone Gander and Gyro Gearloose who, like Donald, lived in the city of Duckburg. Most of these characters reappeared in the 1987 TV series, Ducktales.
During the Second World War, audiences wanting bolder entertainment turned to brasher characters like Donald and Bugs Bunny, in preference than the cute Mickey Mouse. Between 1941 and 1965, there were more than 100 cartoons starring Donald Duck. Several of Donald’s wartime cartoons, such as Der Fuehrer’s Face made in 1943, were propaganda pieces. After the War, starred in a number of educational films, such as Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land which was made in 1959.
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