Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Ragged Rabbits, to Rich Mice

Some of you believe that lovable, heartwarming cartoon rodent we know as Mickey Mouse to be Walt Disney's first original creation in theatrical animation history; however, this is not true. In reality, Walt Disney's legacy did not start with a mouse . . . but instead . . . with a rabbit.

  • When Walt Disney first started working for Universal Studios on the Alice Comedies, he and his partner Ub Iwerks together created a mischievous and spunky character that they dubbed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
  • Oswald premiered on September 5, 1927 in its first cartoon titled Trolly Troubles.
  • From 1927 to 1928 Disney made twenty-six Oswald cartoons that became pretty popular.

Now you might be wondering that if Oswald was made before Mickey, why didn't Walt Disney make him his first mascot rather than Mickey.

Back then, even though Oswald was a success, Disney had a desire to push the sound and color of his films to a higher level in terms of quality and this proved to be very expensive process. Walt decided to meet with his boss, Charles Mintz to discuss his problem and asked him for more money towards his project. Sadly, not only did Mintz refuse Walt's offer, he told him that Universal Studios legally owned all the rights to Oswald and that he would only give Walt Disney 20% of the cut on profits associated with Oswald.

Refusing the offer, Walt Disney left Universal Studios and Mintz gave the job of making the Oswald cartoons to George Winkler. Eventuallly Walt was able to come up with a good replacement for Oswald with a character that also matched the rabbit's charm and appeal, but had round ears instead.

Thus Mickey Mouse was born and put Walt Disney on a path to success. As for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, by the late 1960's it ended up being set aside and soon became a forgotten cartoon.

But now, thanks to a deal between Walt Disney Studios and Universal Studios in 2006, Oswald has returned and is part of the Disney franchise.

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