Oswald, Mickey, and Mortimer
August 27, 2009 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Mickey Mouse's early road to fame (yt playlist with ~160 videos) has some odd twists and turns. One of Walt Disney's early cartoon creations was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the star of Trolley Troubles (5:45, 1927) and other early shorts. Disney had big plans for the popular little rabbit, and wanted to increase his budget from Universal Pictures. Unfortunately, Charles B. Mintz wanted to scale back the budget, and in the end Universal kept control of Oswald Rabbit. Without Oswald, Disney needed something new. Jack Dunham, one of Disney's Nine Old Men recalled animating Oswald and "the one without the ears." Initially, this one was called Mortimer, but Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's wife, believed the name "Mortimer" sounded too pompous and suggested the name Mickey, though Mickey Rooney claims he was the inspiration. Either way, the mouse was renamed Mickey in short order, and he starred in Plane Crazy (video, 6:00, 1928, previously). By 1929, he was wearing his iconic gloves (and talking), in The Karnival Kid (video, 7:41). But Mortimer returned, as Mickey's Rival (8:16, 1936), eventually getting his own themesong (1:56, modern recording off of TV; better quality song with a still image, 1:35) and again in a modern short (1:30, 2000), amongst other appearances. Then there's Uncle Mortimer, who first traveled with Mickey Mouse in Death Valley, though it's not always clear whose uncle he is. And in the alternate universe that is Bloom County, Mickey's fraternal twin is Mortimer (technically, he resides in Outland).
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
More like filthy time thief!

This is good.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:00 PM on August 27, 2009

I'm glad you're enjoying it. I was hoping to find more weird stuff on the various Mortimers, but I was coming up thin, and I found a lot of interesting background on the early Disney shorts and characters.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on August 27, 2009

Damn! Two epic posts in one week? filthy light thief needs to get a medal or something!

I'l have to dig through all this later. I'm still working my way through Old Time Radio.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2009

Virginia Davis, who starred in many of those Alice cartoons just passed away early this month.
posted by cazoo at 2:20 PM on August 27, 2009

Lee Harvey Oswald's nickname in the Marines was "Ozzie Rabbit".
posted by grounded at 3:20 PM on August 27, 2009

The rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, once owned by Universal, were traded to Disney to allow Al Michaels out of his contract with ABC so he could join John Madden on NBC's Sunday Night Football. An astute move by Bob Iger, I'd say.
posted by inturnaround at 3:28 PM on August 27, 2009

Mortimer enjoys current usage as well - he appeared in one episode of the computer-animated series "Mickey Mouse Club House" in rotation on the Disney channel.
posted by tilde at 4:46 PM on August 27, 2009

As a kid, Mickey Mouse always seemed very lame to me, a pointless squeeky voiced glove waving bore. Perhaps that is because I was a fan of a much more dynamic mouse....
posted by memebake at 12:22 AM on August 28, 2009

Yay! I love Oswald, I have a figurine of him on my desk. Since Disney acquired the rights back, Disney did make an Oswald ornament, put out some merchandise through their Disney Store and released a Walt Disney Treasures dvd. Lucky Brand Jeans has recently made some high-priced t-shirts featuring Oswald. But I can't wait for Disney to finally give him his due, although I'm sure they're a little unsure of how to proceed.
posted by sweetmarie at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2009

sweetmarie - I have this Oswald mug that says "Oswald's Back" on the flip side (which also shows the back side of Oswald! Hah!) Before researching this, I didn't quite know what it meant. Now it all makes sense.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:38 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

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