Mickey Mouse is a comic animal cartoon character who has become an icon for The Walt Disney Company. Mickey Mouse was created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and voiced by Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Company celebrates his birth as November 18, 1928 upon the release of Steamboat Willie. Although Mickey had already appeared six months earlier in Plane Crazy (Steamboat Willie being the first Mickey Mouse Cartoon with sound). The anthropomorphic mouse has evolved from being simply a character in animated cartoons and comic strips to become one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.
Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz of Universal Studios.
When Disney asked for a larger budget for his popular Oswald series, Mintz announced he had hired the bulk of Disney's staff, but that Disney could keep doing the Oswald series, as long as he agreed to a budget cut and went on the payroll. Mintz owned Oswald and thought he had Disney over a barrel. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff, but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.
In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. (A male frog, also rejected, would later show up in Iwerks own Flip the Frog series.) Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from his old pet mouse he used to have on his farm. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. "Mortimer Mouse" had been Disney's original name for the character before his wife, Lillian convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be. Actor Mickey Rooney has claimed that, during his Mickey McGuire days, he met cartoonist Walt Disney at the Warner Brothers studio, and that Disney was inspired to name Mickey Mouse after him.
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