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Interview with Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse exposé
Are you surprised that I can interview Mickey Mouse . . . the famous international film star who happens to be an anthropomorphic celluloid rodent brought into the world by his creator, Walt Disney?
You already know that with my unbelievable, supernatural powers, I can interview dead celebrities like Genghis Khan and James Dean. As well as weird vocal animals like the Proboscis Monkey. And voluble insects like the Banana Spider. So my uncanny interviewing skill should come as no surprise.
Maybe Mickey will expose what he knows about Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake!
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in "Trolley Troubles" 1927
me – Here is Mickey now! How do you do, Mr. Mouse? This is a distinct pleasure. Please forgive me for attacking you with that broom when you first appeared. Old habits die hard.
Mickey Mouse – No problem. It’s my fault. I had no business running around without my red shorts … or yellow shoes … or signature white gloves. But ‘Mr. Mouse’ is too formal; please call me Mickey.
me – Thanks, Mickey. You know, I have been a fan of yours for a long time. When did you begin your film career?
Mickey – I first appeared as "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" in an animated black and white film cartoon in 1927.
I have to admit I was not the best-looking rabbit on the block. Instead of a good-looking, lucky rabbit, I looked more like a laughable-looking unlucky mouse with preposterous long black ears.
me – Were you the first Disney cartoon creation?
Mickey – No, Walt founded a company called Laugh-O-Gram Films in 1922 in Kansas City, Missouri, and created live-action/animation short films like Alice’s Wonderland. But times were tough.
me – How tough were they?
Mickey – By the end of that year Walt Disney was living in his office and taking baths once a week at Union Station – the railway depot.
In 1923, he filed for bankruptcy and moved to Hollywood, California.
• The first two Mickey Mouse cartoons that Walt Disney produced cost him $2,500 each.
• Mickey Mouse's name has appeared fraudulently and frequently on voter registration lists, most recently in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.
"Plane Crazy" 1928
"Steamboat Willie" 1928
Why a Mouse?
me – Where did Disney get the inspiration of using a mouse as a cartoon character?
Mickey – He kept a timid little brown mouse as a pet in a wire cage on his desk in Kansas City. He would tap him gently on the nose with his pencil and train him to run inside a black circle drawn on his drawing board.
When Walt decided to move west, he took the mouse to a friend's large garden and set it free.
He showed his drawings of the mouse to his wife, Lillian, and said he was naming it Mortimer Mouse. She said the name sounded “too sissified” and suggested Mickey Mouse instead.
me – How did you morph from Oswald Rabbit into Mickey Mouse?
Mickey – When Disney’s distributor appropriated the rights to Oswald, Walt changed the cartoon character from a forgettable-looking rabbit to a lovable mouse – me.
Ubbe Iwerks (that was his real name) was the animator who drew me, and Disney himself provided my falsetto voice until 1947. He was also the voice for my beautiful girlfriend, Minnie Mouse.
He produced two silent cartoons featuring me – Plane Crazy (1928) and Gallopin’ Gaucho (1928). Then sound was invented for films and I starred in the first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie (1928).
Willie became an immediate sensation and I became an animated star. But I didn’t have a speaking part until the cartoon, The Karnival Kid (1929).
me – Did you have much dialogue to memorize?
Mickey – “Hot dogs!” That’s it. But I did get to repeat it twice.
• In 1932, Walt Disney was given a special award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
• 59 Mickey Mouse cartoons have been nominated for Academy Awards and have won 22 times, in addition to 7 Emmy awards.
• Mickey Mouse became so popular that Mickey Mouse Clubs were formed in 1929 at hundreds of movie houses around the U.S. Several million Mickey Mouse Clubbers met every Saturday afternoon for cartoons and games in local theaters.
"The Band Concert" 1935 - first cartoon in Technicolor
White Gloves Mystery
me – I have always wondered, Mickey, why did you wear those large white gloves?
Mickey – I’m a gemophobe. (Laughs). No, just kidding. When my hands were drawn black like the rest of me, it was difficult for audiences to see them when they were in front of my body. So Walt put large white gloves on them so they would stand out on the screen.
In cartoons, I was often joined by Minnie Mouse, as well as my animated friends including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Peg Leg Pete.
I was usually laid-back, cheerful and often slightly shy. Donald was just the opposite: forceful, loud and very opinionated.
me – Was that the William Tell Overture you were conducting so flamboyantly in your cartoon, "The Band Concert?"
Mickey – Funny you should ask. The famous conductor, Arturo Toscanini, became so infatuated with that cartoon he asked the projectionist to rerun it several times.
me – I know you were the star of 124 short cartoons and have become a worldwide cult figure.
Mickey – My cartoons became so popular that movie goers would first ask the ticket taker if they were ‘running a Mickey’ before they purchased a ticket.
The movie houses soon began displaying posters that proclaimed: ‘Mickey Mouse playing today!’ Sometimes the patrons sat through the movie twice in order to see me again. (Puffs out tiny chest).
me – How many cartoons did you star in during the thrities?
Mickey – I would call that my Golden Age - I was the 'Everyman/Everymouse' hero in 86 different cartoon shorts. I was a fireman, a Giant killer, a cowboy, an inventor, a plumber, a detective, a house mover, a pilot, a bandleader, a farmer, a whaler, a tailor - you name it. I left no occupation unoccupied. No vocation was safe from my interpretation. I filmed a session for almost every professon.
"Moving Day" 1936
Pluto and Goofy Mystery
me - One of the questions of the ages has always been: Why does Pluto, a dog, walk on all fours - like a dog - in your cartoons.
And Goofy who is also a dog walks upright, dressed and acting like a human?
Mickey - Simple! Pluto is my pet. Goofy is my friend and cartoon colleague.
me - What was your favorite cartoon role?
Mickey - That's easy. In 1940, I starred as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in a major artistic feature film, "Fantasia." The animation techniques were years ahead of their time and have never been matched to date. Stereophonic sound was introduced in this film.
me - That segment with you as the apprentice was one of my favorites, Mickey. The other was the dancing hippos - I featured them in my Hippo Interview.
Mickey - You may remember that the Apprentice role featured no dialogue at all - only the classical music of that symphonic poem by Paul Dukas. I borrowed the Sorcerer's magic hat and cast a spell on a broom to fill a deep well with buckets of water almost causing a flood.
At the end of the film, I am seen in silhouette shaking hands with another famous conductor, Leopold Stokowski, who conducted all the music in "Fantasia."
More Mickey Morsels
• From 1932 on in Europe, Mickey Mouse was adored as 'Topolino' in Italy, 'Le Journal de Mickey' in France, and 'Miky Maous' in Greece.
• Walt Disney stopped doing the high-pitched voice work for Mickey in 1947. Jim MacDonald replaced him until 1977 followed by Wayne Allwine until 2009. Bret Iwan currently provides Mickey's shy, squeaky voice.
• The first Mickey Mouse wrist watch was produced by the Ingersoll-Waterbury company in 1933. It sold for $3.75.
• Mickey became the first cartoon character to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honor of his 50th anniversary in 1978.
me – I know that Disney suspended almost all commercial activity during World War II and produced military training films. Were you on sabbatical?
Mickey – Au contraire! I appeared in movies and on posters everywhere urging the purchase of War Bonds.
In fact, I was the star of D-Day, June 6, 1944 when Allied forces landed in Normandy.
me – Say what?
Mickey – Most people don’t know this but it’s safe to reveal this secret now. The code name for the Allied forces invasion in 1944 was . . . “Mickey Mouse.”
me – Incredible.
Mickey – Yes, I am. (proudly)
me – I've noticed that in the 40s and 50s Donald Duck and Goofy were featured more in Disney cartoons. Had you retired?
Mickey – Not really, But I had evolved into a Disney symbol of goodness and virtue so it was difficult to create adventurous cartoon situations for me. My trademark expressions were: "Gosh? ... Oh boy! ... That sure is swell ... Aw Gee!"
My fans objected if I were sneaky or devious in cartoons. But they had no problem with Donald or Goofy being more flexible, if you know what I mean.
Goofy in "How to Dance" 1953
Mickey Mouse Club on television
me – Since I am older than dirt, I remember watching the Mickey Mouse Club which became the most successful children's program on television during the 70s and 80s.
Dd you know the 12 Mouseketeers well?
Mickey – Did I know them well? I taught them everything they know.
Who do you think showed Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake those, dancing moves?
Even Ryan Gosling improved when I taught him the Moonwalk.
me – Were Britney and Justin an item then?
Mickey – They only had eyes for each other and became VERY, VERY good friends.
Remember, I taught them everything they know.
me – I know you have appeared in comic strips, books, board games, on television, and in video games. What has pleased you the most?
Mickey – I love being a Chief Host and Greeter at all the Disneyland Resorts - California, Florida, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. But two events in particular made me squeal with joy.
me – Which were . . . ?
Mickey – Way back in 1935 I led the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City as a 55-foot high Mickey Mouse balloon. That was a trip.
And I was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day 2005.
me – I can think of no better way to thank you, Mickey, for the joy and laughter you have brought the world than to repeat this tribute from Walt Disney regarding Disneyland: "I hope we never lose sight of one fact ... this was all started by a Mouse!"
• In February 2006 (78 years later) the rights to “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” were re-acquired by The Walt Disney Company from NBC as part of a deal that traded sportscaster Al Michaels from Disney's ABC and ESPN to NBC Sports.
"I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known." - Walt Disney
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2011, 2013 Rev. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."
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