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Mickey was soon an Amer­i­can sen­sa­tion and the “real ge­nius of Walt Dis­ney kicked in”, Time mag­a­zine’s Claire Sud­dath said.

He re­alised the mar­ket­ing power of his lit­tle mouse and within a mat­ter of months Mickey had his own line of mer­chan­dise and his own club, The Mickey Mouse Club.

The movies kept com­ing too. By 1937 the com­pany was pro­duc­ing 12 short Mickey films a year, fea­tur­ing the mouse who’d seen and done it all: signed up for the army, been a foot­ball hero, con­ducted a sym­phony, res­cued his pup Pluto from a dog catcher, lost his girl Min­nie to sev­eral beefy bad boys . . .

By the ’50s Mickey was the star of a news­pa­per comic strip, The Mickey Mouse Club had be­come a TV va­ri­ety show and Mickey was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the theme park Dis­ney­land.

By this time the Dis­ney stu­dios were flex­ing their mus­cles in full-length movies and the suc­cess of films such as Snow White, Bambi and Sleep­ing Beauty meant Mickey – who was near­ing 30 – could take a bit of a break.

He starred in two more movies – Mickey’s Christ­mas Carol in 1983 and The Prince and the Pau­per in 1990 – but TV was where he found his new home.

Shows such as Mickey Mouse Works, Dis­ney’s House of Mouse and, most re­cently, Mickey and the Road­ster Rac­ers, were all hits.

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