Mickey Mouse Turns 75
Disney and Iwerks initially produced two silent Mickey cartoons, "Plane Crazy" and "The Gallopin' Gaucho." But after the phenomenal success of THE JAZZ SINGER in 1927, the movie industry's first "talkie," Disney went ahead with STEAMBOAT WILLIE, synchronizing songs, music and sound effects. The short was a smash and so was Mickey, arriving on the cusp of technological change in American culture. By the end of the '30s, he starred in 120 animated shorts. Mickey reached an artistic culmination with his starring role in FANTASIA in 1940, which happened to coincide with Disney's animation breakthrough as an art form.
Over the years, Mickey's personality has softened, becoming less subversive and more likable in keeping with the persona of a movie star or cultural icon. His presence in movies became less dominant in the '40s and '50s, but he became a star of TV and later Disneyland and the other theme parks. Today, he's the host of ABC's HOUSE OF MOUSE, and next year stars in his first 3D CG feature, TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS, a DVD-premiere movie from DisneyToon Studios. He recently underwent a 3D transformation along with some of his Disney pals for the opening of the 3D attraction, MICKEY'S PHILHARMAGIC, at Disney World.