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Hollywood Graveyard – The MICKEY MOUSE Special


On November 18th 1928 a spunky little
mouse burst onto the scene and would change animation and family
entertainment forever. He’s grown a lot over the years, but he’s still that
lovable mouse from our childhood. Today we set out to remember and celebrate the
lives of those who brought Mickey Mouse to life 90 years ago today. “Personality, and good looks? Mickey Mouse, you are one lucky guy!” “He popped out of my mind onto a drawing
pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood, at a time when
the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb, and
disaster seemed right around the corner.” That’s how Walt Disney recounts the
origin of the idea of Mickey Mouse, the character that would save and eventually
define the Walt Disney Company. But there’s much more to the story, and the
only place to begin is with Walt Disney himself, who was laid to rest at Forest
Lawn Glendale near the Freedom Mausoleum. In 1928 Disney was riding high on the
success of their cartoon, a rabbit named Oswald, which was distributed through
Universal. He made a trip out to New York to negotiate a raise, but instead was
informed that Universal was taking control of Oswald, hiring away most of
his staff, and actually cutting his budget. Walt was crushed, and on the train
ride home, at the edge of ruin, he knew he had to come up with a new character, fast.
The accounts from this point vary slightly, but the essence is that Walt
worked with one of his animators who remained loyal to him, Ub Iwerks, to
create and design a new character. The mouse was similar to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but with shorter ears, a longer nose, and
a tail. They named him Mortimer, but Walt’s wife, Lillian, was not a fan of the
name, and urged him to change it. And so he became Mickey Mouse. The first Mickey
cartoon produced was Plane Crazy in May of 1928, followed by Gallopin’
Gaucho, but these were put on the back burner as Steamboat Willie was being
produced with the novelty of synchronized sound. Mickey Mouse made his
debut in Steamboat Willie in New York on November 18th 1928, 90 years ago today,
and a star was born. In the years that followed Walt would
also provide the voice of Mickey Mouse. The success of all things Disney is owed
to the success of this little mouse. When Disneyland opened in 1955 Walt said,
“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a
mouse.” Walt was an idea man, a storyteller, a visionary, but it was his right-hand
man, Ub Iwerks, who held the pencil. As mentioned earlier, Ub was the co-creator of
Mickey Mouse, gave him his first design, and almost single-handedly drew every
frame of the early Mickey cartoons. He was renowned for his speed. Ub was laid to
rest here at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills, across the street from
the Disney studio. While Ub pretty much single-handedly drew the first Mickey
Mouse cartoons he wasn’t alone and had a little help from two young artists who
had come out from Kansas City as well: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising are best
known as the creators of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons (plays off of Disney’s and Silly Symphonies) but they began their careers working for
Disney, and Ising, buried here at Pacific View in Orange County, was an assistant
animator on the very first Mickey short produced: Plane Crazy in 1928.
It’s also been said that Walt and Ub were inspired to use a mouse as their new
character from a drawing that Hugh Harman had done of mice around a photo
of Walt. Mickey has gone through several design changes from his very first
appearance in 1928. Disney animator Fred Moore, buried here at Forest Lawn
Hollywood, was one of the men who contributed to and helped define the
distinctive Disney look in the 30s and 40s. He specialized in Mickey Mouse and
was responsible for Mickey’s redesign in 1938 for his landmark role in Fantasia,
which is Mickey’s official look today. When Walt saw the redesign he said,
“That’s the way I want Mickey drawn from now on.” The voice of Mickey Mouse, that familiar friendly falsetto, has also undergone
several personnel changes over the years. When Walt became too busy to record the
voice of Mickey the role went to sound effects artist, Jimmy McDonald, the second
to officially voice the character, beginning around 1946 until his
retirement in 1977. “Well here we are, Pluto. Boy, what a dream place! Ah, smell that air!” He’s buried here at Forest Lawn Glendale. At the bottom of
Jimmy’s marker you’ll see the inscription, Thank You Jimmy,
Wayne. Jimmy was the mentor of the third man to voice Mickey Mouse, Wayne Allwine,
to whom he passed on the torch with these words of advice:
“Remember, kid, you’re only filling in for the boss,” referring to Walt. Wayne Allwine is also
buried here at Forest Lawn Glendale. In fact, fittingly, he’s just a few feet from
Walt Disney, near the Freedom Mausoleum, though his grave is unmarked. Allwine
voiced Mickey Mouse for 32 years, beginning in 1977
until his death, making him the longest to voice the character. During that time
he voiced Mickey for everything from Mickey’s Christmas Carol to Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? “Jumpin’ without a parachute? Kinda dangerous, ain’t it?” “Yeah, you could get killed!” “You guys got a spare?” “Uh, Bugs does.” “Yeah, but I don’t think you want it.” “I do, I do, give it to me!” “Gee, better let him have it, Bugs.” “Okay, Doc, whatever you say. Here’s the spare.” “Thank you.” Allwine was married to Russi Taylor, who has been the voice of Minnie Mouse since
1986. While Walt, Jimmy, and Wayne were the first three to officially voice Mickey,
there was actually one man before all of them who spoke Mickey’s first words ever.
Here at Hollywood Forever is the crypt of Carl Stalling. He’s best known for his
work as a composer for the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodie cartoons, but before
that he worked for Disney writing music for their Silly Symphonies and the very
early Mickey Mouse cartoons, including Plane Crazy and Gallopin Gaucho. When it
came time for Mickey to speak his very first words, “Hot dogs,” in the 1929 film
The Karnival Kid, it was actually Carl Stalling who provided the voice. “Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs!” “Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs!” Clarence Nash, buried here at San
Fernando Mission Cemetery, is best known as the voice of Donald Duck. But in 1934
Walt was in Europe and couldn’t record his lines for Mickey in the cartoon The
Dognapper. So Clarence filled in just this once,
voicing both Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. “Hands up, you viper!” “Hands up, you viper!” At Valhalla Cemetery we find the
man who composed what would become the theme of the Walt Disney Company, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Leigh Harline composed music for films like Snow White and
Pinocchio, but throughout the 1930s many of the Mickey Mouse short cartoons were
scored by Harline, including Two-Gun Mickey and Mickey’s Service Station. Mickey wasn’t just popular on screen.
Beginning in the 1930s he was featured in a daily newspaper comic strip, which
helped increase Mickey’s reach and popularity immensely.
The man who helmed the Mickey comics for over four decades was Floyd Gottfredson,
who has since been named a Disney Legend and was introduced into the comic book
Hall of Fame in 2006. He’s buried here at Forest Lawn Hollywood, across the street
from Disney studio. In this same Cemetery, one section north, is the man who made
Walt’s visions, including Mickey Mouse, possible. While Walt was the creative, his
older brother, Roy, was the business man. Roy kept the company financially stable,
allowing Walt to continue to create Mickey Mouse cartoons, Fantasia,
Disneyland, and more. Happy birthday, Mickey!

100 Comments

  1. Craig Cook Author

    Hi Arthur. As usual, another outstanding production. Couple questions though. Why is Wayne's grave unmarked? Also, wasn't Roy Disney responsible for driving Walt's vision for what became Disney world? I guess this isn't really relative to the focus of your channel, but I only have a few minutes this morning, so I'm being a bit lazy. Anyway, you're doing great my friend! Please keep it up. Always interesting, and always appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Creighton Chaney 1941 Author

    I always 🖤-ed Mickey Mouse! Still do! Oswald was your sidekick in Epic Mickey 2. Nice little nod towards the past meeting the present. 😉

    Reply
  3. Bill L Author

    I don't know what Walts final take home pay was, but I wonder if he would have been surprised that current Disney head Bob Iger takes home about $45M a year.

    Reply
  4. Cortney Jenkins Author

    Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
    Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
    "Feed the birds, " that's what she cries
    While overhead, her birds fill the skies. Love everything about walt Disney. He is the reason I became a graphic designer and Artist!!!

    Reply
  5. Psych Corp Author

    Arthur Dark demonstrates his creative talent with another charming and informative video. Perfect for Thanksgiving. I give thanks for Arthur Dark and the many fantastic videos he has created. Thank you so much and have a joyous and memorable Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  6. Frank A. Tedesco Author

    Historic piece Arthur, Walt Before Mickey is a decent film to fill in some of the blanks. I hope people who think Walt is frozen under Disneyland get it now.

    Reply
  7. dadofducks Author

    One of the best channels on YouTube. I love the respect and history you provide for these videos, plus you do an amazing voice work. Bravo Sir, Bravo!

    Reply
  8. Natalia martinez miranda Author

    I remember going and trying to find Mr. Walt Disney's grave sight but I couldn't find it I'll gladly be visiting again hopefully Now I know where he is located and two videos I was not expecting that happy birthday to my favorite mouse ever

    Reply
  9. James Shave Author

    You so do your homework…. thank you …. looking forward more of your fascinating work chap … Jamie from England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

    Reply
  10. ReXrig G R Author

    Man this is #MagicallyInsane!!! #ArthurDarkIcon💞👍❣️🌻🌻🌻 Thanks for your awesome videos 👍👍👍👀#Happy90thBirthdayMickeyMouse🎂#MayYourDreamsComeTrue💞😄😍

    Reply
  11. Richard Croft Author

    How on earth can at writing there actually be 18 dislikes who doesn't love Mickey Mouse. My late father who has the same date of Birth 18th of November whom would have been 77years old if still alive. Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse and Happy Birthday Dad ❤❤❤

    Reply
  12. Sean Connors Author

    New subscriber – you got me hooked. Forgive me, but your encyclopedic knowledge is, well, spellbinding. Not to mention a throughly enjoyable presentation. I must admit – having grown up near so many of these memorial sites, I am truly embarrassed to say I just wasn’t paying attention!

    Reply
  13. The Llama of many voices Author

    See I actually grew up with some of Jimmy McDonald's Mickey through some old tapes that my grandma had. The one I grew up with the most so was Wayne allwine rest in peace. Nowadays it's a Bret iwan who voices him. Found out that Wayne actually started out the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until his passing and then Bret iwan took over

    Reply
  14. WinGate Mose Author

    The History Channel would do very well in hiring you to do a Famous Grave expose. The quality of your work shows out loud. Thanks for educating and entertaining me a job most people can not do !

    Reply
  15. daleturner Author

    I've seen a sheetload of these, but just now realized I'd never "subbed." I sucketh!!!! But now rectified!!! LOVE THESE!!!

    Reply
  16. Bruce Hubbard Author

    It's so sad to not have a marker for people, specially for someone like this. It's to bad Disney as a company dose not buy him a suitable marker. Disney can afford it.

    Reply
  17. The Misunderstood Assassin Author

    Today is the 1 year anniversary of when you uploaded this video. 🤓

    EDIT- 9:34 P.M.: finishes video 9 minutes later
    This video was short but interesting.

    Reply
  18. vividwatch47 Author

    Funny that the studio that would take away Oswald The Rabbit away from Disney would turn down "Star Wars" which would be distributed by the studio that Disney would buy (20th Century-Fox) and Lucasfilm Ltd..

    Reply

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