Article and Illustration by Katie Bertussi
Walt Disney’s beloved fury friend Mickey Mouse will be celebrating his 90th Birthday on Sunday, November 18, 2018. But this celebration calls for more than one cake; a little-known secret, Mickey’s sweetheart Minnie Mouse shares the same birthday!
Both mice first came to life on the big screen on May 15, 1928 in the silent short Plane Crazy, but they did not receive national recognition until their November 18th debut in Steamboat Willie. With a running time of only 7 minutes 45 seconds, this short film revolutionized the movie industry, becoming the first animated feature to perfect synchronized sound using a technique invented by Disney himself. Although Mickey and Minnie became known for their unique and comical personalities, neither mouse spoke until the 1929 film Karnival Kid. Minnie Mouse was voiced by Walt Disney, who fittingly adopted the role of Mickey Mouse in later films. What were Mickey’s first words? “Hot-dogs!”
Contrary to what the two theme parks suggest, Walt Disney is NOT the sole inventor of Mickey Mouse. Mickey, Minnie and many of their friends were actually co-created by Walt Disney and his good friend Ub Iwerks. While Disney brought the mouse to life with his voice, personality and mannerism, Ub Iwerks is the true designer of Mickey Mouse. Despite completing upwards of 700 drawings a day, inventing a new technique for combining live action and animated film and winning two Academy Awards, this “forgotten man of Disney” became more well-known for his unusual name than for his role as Mickey’s chief designer and animator. Nevertheless, both men agreed that “Mickey” was a much more suitable name than their original choice, Mortimer. Interestingly, “Minnie” is actually short for Minerva.
In honor of his 50th Birthday, on November 13, 1978, Mickey Mouse became the first cartoon character to be represented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was quickly joined by Snow White in 1987, Donald Duck in 2004, Winnie the Pooh in 2006 and Tinkerbell in 2010. Yet Minnie Mouse, who starred alongside Mickey, did not receive her star until January 22nd of this year.
If you forgot to tune in to ABC for the “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular” television special on November 4th, don’t worry – you can still celebrate with limited edition Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake Oreos. Better yet, if you happen to be in one of the Disney theme parks on Mickey and Minnie’s birthday, be sure to get your honorary “Happy 90th Birthday Mickey” pin.