Mickey Mouse spawned an en­ter­tain­ment em­pire

Penticton Herald - - LIFE - FRED TRAINOR

There are a sur­pris­ing num­ber of fa­mous peo­ple in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try who are well past the age of 90. Olivia de Hav­il­land and Kirk Dou­glas are 102, Carol Chan­ning is 97, Betty White and Doris Day are 96 and Bob Barker is 95.

Tony Ben­nett, Harry Be­la­fonte, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Cloris Leach­man are all over 90.

The young man in that group, is Mickey Mouse, who turns 90 on Nov. 18.

That night, a look-back at his more than a hun­dred big screen roles, will air on ABC. Next Thurs­day, a 16,000 square foot ex­hi­bi­tion opens in New York, trac­ing Mickey’s in­flu­ence on Art and Pop Cul­ture.

What do you sup­pose Walt Dis­ney en­vi­sioned when he in­tro­duced the lit­tle guy in 1928 in the car­toon fea­ture Steam­boat Wil­lie?

Dis­ney proved to be a vi­sion­ary. He was an artist, voice ac­tor, film pro­ducer and en­tre­pre­neur when he in­tro­duced Mickey, af­ter which his ca­reer took off.

He died in 1966 at the age of 65 just be­fore Dis­ney­world in Florida opened. He was a bil­lion­aire, in to­day’s money.

Speak­ing of money, the Dis­ney Com­pany has an­nual rev­enues of $55 bil­lion, with net earn­ings last year of $9 bil­lion.

It would take a lot of pa­per to list what Dis­ney owns to­day, so here are a few of note: Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios, Marvel Stu­dios, Walt Dis­ney Theme Parks, Lu­cas Films, Pixar Films and ABC.

Dis­ney also has a Ven­ture Cap­i­tal arm and owns Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose air­plane. They em­ploy 199,000 peo­ple.

Michael Eis­ner was prob­a­bly the most well-known Chair­man and CEO (Af­ter Walt, of course). Eis­ner is cred­ited with bring­ing the com­pany back to life be­tween 1984 and 2005.

The cur­rent chair­man and CEO is Bob Iger, who took over from Eis­ner. He makes $36 mil­lion a year.

The grapevine says Eis­ner was a tyrant and dif­fi­cult to work for. Carol and I rented a house in Palm Springs one win­ter from a guy who is a re­tired se­nior VP, re­port­ing directly to Eis­ner. He told us some in­ter­est­ing sto­ries.

I never liked Mickey Mouse’s voice. Nor Goofy’s. Nor Min­nie’s. OK, I do like Goofy’s.

Fred Trainor is a re­tired broad­caster liv­ing in Okana­gan Falls. Email: fred­trainor@shaw.ca.

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