90 Happy birth­day Mickey Mouse!

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ruel S. De Vera

He has four fin­gers on each gloved hand—and he’s got the whole world in his hands. Start­ing life as a fig­ment of a ge­nius’ hand-drawn imag­i­na­tion, he is now the most fa­mous car­toon char­ac­ter of all time, a tes­ta­ment to the en­durance of op­ti­mism and hu­mor. He has be­come a ver­i­ta­ble sym­bol of en­ter­tain­ment it­self and is one of the most lu­cra­tive in­tel­lec­tual prop­er­ties ever. Are you ready? It is time to greet Mickey Mouse a happy 90th birth­day on Nov. 18.

To­day, Mickey is the face (and ears) of the sin­gle most prom­i­nent en­ter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ate in the world, the Walt Dis­ney Corp. But he is so much more than that, as his nearly a cen­tury of mak­ing peo­ple laugh and chang­ing lives shows. Why has he en­dured? Per­haps the best per­son to an­swer that ques­tion is the per­son in charge of the stew­ard­ship of Mickey: Dana Jones, di­rec­tor of En­ter­prise Fran­chise Man­age­ment at The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany. When it comes to the world’s most fa­mous mouse, she has the last say.

“What Mickey brings to the world through all the dif­fer­ent times and generations and coun­tries is the idea of both op­ti­mism and joy,” Jones told Su­per. “Mickey is a true op­ti­mist. He al­ways knows that things are go­ing to work out. I think that is some­thing that res­onates with peo­ple re­gard­less of who they are, re­gard­less of their age. The same goes for the idea of joy. Mickey brings joy to the world. Not in some grand big way, but in the lit­tle things, like wear­ing a Mickey T-shirt at the end of a tough day or watch­ing a Mickey car­toon with your fam­ily at the end of the day and get­ting that smile on your face that Mickey brings.”

It is amaz­ing con­sid­er­ing that Mickey was born out of a ge­nius’ heartbreak. In 1928, 26-year-old Walt Dis­ney has lost the rights to his first an­i­mated cre­ation, Oswald the Rab­bit. As he was on the train from New York to Los An­ge­les, he was deep in thought. “So I was all alone and had noth­ing,” Walt re­called in Dis­ney his­tor­i­cal records. “Mrs. Dis­ney and I were com­ing back from New York on the train and I had to have some­thing... so, I had this mouse in the back of my head ... be­cause a mouse is sort of a sym­pa­thetic char­ac­ter in spite of the fact that ev­ery­body’s fright­ened of a mouse ... in­clud­ing my­self.” As he imag­ined his new char­ac­ter into shape, he de­cided to make him Mor­timer. For­tu­nately, Walt’s wife, Lil­lian, sug­gested he change the name to a friend­lier Mickey.

‘Steam­boat Wil­lie’

Walt came up with two silent Mickey car­toons, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gal­lopin’ Gau­cho,” but could not find any­one to pick them up. With the ad­vent of talkies (movies with sound), Walt put his en­ergy into a Mickey car­toon with mu­sic and sound ef­fects all syn­chro­nized to­gether, and this car­toon, “Steam­boat Wil­lie,” was the first such car­toon, creat­ing an en­tire new stan­dard for an­i­ma­tion and in­tro­duc­ing a time­less char­ac­ter on Nov. 18, 1928.

Mickey spoke the first words in that inim­itable voice (Walt pro­vided the vo­cals) on 1929, and his ap­pear­ance be­gan chang­ing un­til he be­came the mouse we love to­day. He ap­peared in color for the first time in 1935. In 1940, Mickey ap­peared in his most fa­mous in­car­na­tion, the Sorcerer’s Ap­pren­tice in the an­i­mated tour de force “Fan­ta­sia.” He in­vaded TV in the “Mickey Mouse Club” in 1955, the same year Mickey wel­comed peo­ple to the open­ing of Dis­ney­land in Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia. Mickey is not just pop­u­lar but crit­i­cally ac­claimed: Walt earned a spe­cial Academy Award in 1935 for creat­ing Mickey and Mickey be­came the first an­i­mated char­ac­ter to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1978, on the oc­ca­sion of his 50th birth­day.

All this hap­pened with Mickey lead­ing a mer­chan­dis­ing revo­lu­tion, as the mouse ap­peared on every kind of item you can think. The sil­hou­ette of Mickey’s head, the dis­tinc­tive ears be­came the sym­bol of the ever-grow­ing Dis­ney Com­pany which to­day is an empire of en­ter­tain­ment fran­chises.

Mickey was fol­lowed by Min­nie Mouse, Donald Duck and other now clas­sic char­ac­ters. Dis­ney may now han­dle mer­maids, ice queens, Avengers and Jedi knights, but it’s great­est trea­sure is Mickey. Re­search to­day shows that 95 per­cent of peo­ple around the world rec­og­nize Mickey. The Mickey Mouse brand alone drives more than $10 bil­lion in re­tail sales an­nu­ally for the com­pany.

This is all proof that Mickey has never been more pop­u­lar, and one can only imag­ine how big he will be when he turns 100 in just 10 more years.

Jones re­lates a story about just how Mickey af­fects peo­ple. In 2015, Dis­ney did some­thing they had never done: They brought Mickey to the world, away from the theme parks, where Mickey had pre­vi­ously been ex­clu­sively as­signed. In eight mar­kets around the world, Mickey (the mas­cot) sud­denly ap­peared in ran­dom places such as Cuzco, Peru and Ky­oto, Ja­pan. “In Ky­oto, he sur­prised a shop­keeper. Mickey just walks down the street where her shop was, walked up to her and she im­me­di­ately burst into tears of joy,” Jones re­called. This is the best part of her job, Jones said, see­ing the joy Mickey brings to peo­ple’s faces.

The big­gest chal­lenge is co­or­di­nat­ing all the Mickey-re­lated

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