“Steamboat Willie” and the Debut of Mickey Mouse

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“Steamboat Willie” was the first Disney cartoon with synchronized sound and the first cartoon with a fully post-produced soundtrack. All of the voices in the film were performed by Walt Disney.

It was actually the third cartoon produced by Disney featuring Mickey Mouse. The first two, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho” were reworked and released after “Steamboat Willie.”

The short premiered at the Colony Theater in New York, playing ahead of a film called “Gang War,” which has since been lost. An early review of “Steamboat Willie” in Variety magazine called it the first cartoon with sound to attract favorable attention. It also said that the combination brought “laughs galore.”

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse after the pair worked on a series of cartoons starring a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who the Disney studio created for film producer Charles Mintz. Mintz cut Disney’s budget, forcing Disney and Iwerks to abandon the character and create their own. After that point, Disney owned all rights to each of the characters produced by his company. Contrary to rumor, Mickey Mouse was not named after Mickey Rooney.

Walt Disney himself voiced Mickey Mouse from 1928 through 1946, when other duties involved in running the studio (and possibly his smoking habit) prevented him from continuing full-time. He did however voice Mickey for “The Mickey Mouse Club” TV series.

Mickey has appeared in more than 130 films, second-most among Disney characters to Donald Duck.

Our question, what was the first full-length film to feature Mickey Mouse?

Today is Independence Day in Latvia and Morocco and National Day in Oman. In the United States it’s unofficially National Vichyssoise Day and National Educational Support Professionals Day. It’s the birthday of songwriter Johnny Mercer, astronaut Alan Shepard and actor Dennis Haskins, better known as Mr. Belding on “Saved by the Bell.”

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