Mickey Mouse is turning 88 years old!
Like, really. Like Friday, November 18th.
One of the biggest cartoon icons ever created, Mickey Mouse burst into pop culture lexicon with his debut on-screen performance November 18, 1928 in the black and white short Steamboat Willie.
As the smiling face of the powerhouse company Disney with over 130 film credits to his name, Mickey Mouse has become one of the most recognizable characters in the world. But there's much more to this mouse than meet the eye.
Here are a few things you might not have have known as we celebrate the birthday of everyone's favorite mouse.
1. Naming of the Shrew
Mickey was not his originally intended name. When Walt Disney first thought to create him, the name he chose for the mouse was Mortimer. It wasn't until Disney's wife Lilian convinced him that the name didn't sound right that he decided to name him Mickey.
Rumor has it that actor Mickey Rooney claimed Walt Disney told him that the mouse was named after him, but there are many who called b.s. on that, like Disney historian Jim Korkis. Yup, Disney historians are actually a thing.
2. "Hot dogs!"
As the phenomenon of the "talkies" didn't take over until the 1930's, television was just about to cross that threshold when Mickey popped onto the scene. He was the first ever cartoon character to audibly speak on screen in the 1929 episode, The Karnival Kid.
And what were those history-making words, you might ask? "Hot dogs!"
3. How's That for Irony?
Although they're by no means intimidating or ugly creatures, many people have a legitimate fear or mice, called musophobia. One person who has this mouse aversion was none other than Walt Disney himself.
However, he viewed mice as sympathetic creatures despite his fear of them, and thought that more people would find him endearing rather than scary, since a rabbit character was already taken by Universal.
Some stories say it was also inspired by a tame mouse that lived at Disney's Laugh-O-Gram Studios.
4. Whose Line Is It Anyway?
There have been five voices that gave Mickey Mouse his signature plucky voice over the years, the first being his creator Walt Disney himself. The British-born John James MacDonald started voicing the mouse in 1947 through 1983, taking over fully after Walt's passing due to cancer in 1966.
In 1983, Mickey’s Christmas Carol marked the debut of Wayne Allwine, who voiced the mouse until his death in 2009. He currently holds the title for the longest running voice of Mickey at 32 years.
California-native Bret Iwan took over after Allwine and is the current voice of Mickey for all the parks, cruise lines, toys, shows and video games. Mickey's other voice nowadays is Chris Diamantopoulos, who voices Mickey in the modern animated series currently running on Disney Channel.
5. Here Comes the Bride
It's no secret that Mickey is married to his leading lady Minnie, who also made her debut in Steamboat Willie in 1928. But there was a non-animated Disney romance that took place in 1986 when Russi Taylor began playing the voice of Minnie.
Wayne Allwine was voicing Mickey at the time and the two fell in love. They tied the knot in 1991 and spent many years voicing Mickey and Minnie as real-life husband and wife.
It seems that Mickey and Minnie really are soul mates, no matter the medium.
6. Star Spangled Banter
Mickey was not only very popular with the American people, but with the U.S. Presidents as well! With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, who never visited Disney World, every sitting President since Truman has not only been to the park, but posed for a picture with the famous mouse.
How's that for a political cartoon?
7. The Walk of Fame
Although Mickey isn't the only cartoon character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he was the one to start it all off.
Mickey Mouse received the honor of his own star on November 18th, 1978 for his 50th birthday. Later on the likes of Bugs Bunny, Snoopy, Woody Woodpecker and Snow White would join him on the prestigious strip. Ain't he such the trendsetter?
8. Vote the House of Mouse!
Mickey Mouse is the most frequently used write-in candidate in American local elections, still topping the list as recently as last November. His bumbling buddy Donald Duck comes in at a close second.
It was getting so out of control that by 1987, the state of Georgia
actually had to make it illegal to vote for Mickey and Wisconsin is
apparently considering similar legislation. I mean, he's a better choice than a few candidates that have been up for election recently, am I right?
9. I Spy With My Little Eye
Starting with Disneyland's 50th anniversary, Disney Imagineers hid 50 versions of Mickey's iconic ears throughout the park for guests to find. Since then, hundreds of these silhouette ears, called Easter Eggs, have been hidden all over Disney's projects.
From all of the parks and Disney hotels to full-length movies and retail stores, finding Mickey ears that have been slyly placed in unexpected places has become a never-ending game of "Where's Mickey" for Disnerds across the world.
10. This is Not the End...
In a very adult story arch called Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers, Mickey wrongly believes that Minnie is cheating on him and decides to end it all, trying to commit suicide in several ways, each with so-called "comedic" failures.
He tries to gas himself and a squirrel steals it to blow up balloons. He attempts to drown himself, but decides against because the water is too cold.
Finally, while attempting to hang himself from a tree, woodland creatures come to change his mind and he instead uses the rope to make a swing. Disney just can't resist a happy ending.[Feature Image Courtesy Priceonomics.com]