This is the day you were officially born, at the Colony Theater in New York, where for thirteen days you shared the screen with the talkie Gang War.
You were conceived in dire straights, some say on a train trip from New York to Los Angeles that started March 13th, 1928, others mention that you first saw the light in meetings between Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks late March early April. We know that Ub animated your first film Plane Crazy by himself in record time in late April in a back room at the small Hyperion Avenue studio, while it was inked and painted in Walt's Lyric Ave garage and then previewed that May 15th.
Then Ub, with Les Clark and Johnnie Cannon, animated The Gallopin' Gaucho in June and early July, after which they animated your big break-through Steamboat Willie. The now famous session where your first scenes were previewed by projecting them through the studio's rear window onto a sheet while the crew made noises to fit the actions may well have been on July 29th - the first time you convinced anyone that you really could speak. Late August the picture was finished without sound: Walt got to New York on September 4th, had the sound recorded first on September 15th - which was a disaster - then again on September 30th, for which a new click-track system was devised, about which you can read more elsewhere
on this blog. Anyway, this movie was finally booked into the Colony by Harry Reichenbach for five hundred dollars for two weeks and the rest is history. And why everyone was celebrating your birthday on September 28th (in 1936 even!), I may never know!
When Walt said it all started with a mouse, he wasn't kidding. Yes, since 1922 there have been Laugh-O-grams, a Song-O-reel, and lots of Alices and Oswalds, but only after your success as a talkie star on November 18th 1928, did the real growth of the studio that Walt and Roy Disney founded on October 16th 1923, begin. Therefor I take my metaphorical hat off to you, Mr. Mouse, and wish you a happy 80th birthday, and many more!
Here we see Walt with a whole mountain of Mickeys (note the one on the right with tiny pupils and teeth!), and an early article from Liberty magazine, January 1933, which recounts the history, only five years after the fateful date...
Thanks to Mike Barrier for the info in his great book The Animated Man, and for the top clippings I blatantly swiped from his blog
I normally do not like to do this, but I could not find more appropriate images. (Another nice version of the review is here
I'm back from Walt Disney World and the Caribbean, back from the Danish Film Expo in Hollywood (and lots of meetings), and back from a minor voluntary evacuation due to the so-called "Orange County Freeway Complex Fire," so expect to see more material here soon!
Labels: Other Disney