TV & Entertainment

Mickey Mouse Turns 90…But He’s Older than Most Think

Disney fans around the globe have reason to celebrate this weekend because their top symbol, Mickey Mouse, is turning 90.

In 1928, the year Mickey Mouse made his debut, a gallon of gas cost about 21¢. You could pick up a loaf of bread for a dime or so. A gallon of milk cost a whopping 58¢. 

Sound pictures were quickly becoming the rage, but there weren’t that many. The first film released as a “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, had only come out the year before, in October 1927.

Mickey’s big debut

But on November 18, 1928, an animated cartoon called Steamboat Willie arrived in theaters. It was Walt Disney’s first film with synchronized sound. It was also notable for being the public debut of Mickey Mouse.

The film ran just under seven-and-a-half minutes. It also featured the debut of Minnie Mouse.

In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States’ National Film Registry for being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Mickey was apparently the first mate of the tugboat, Steamboat Willie. The ship’s captain, Pete, isn’t amused by Mickey’s clowning around, and the parrot is more than amused when Mickey gets into trouble.

It’s a cute little cartoon, but other than the technical innovation of a musical score and characters that “talk” (but not in actual words), it doesn’t really go anywhere. Still, I’m sure that to audiences of the time, it was part of the coming revolution of sound pictures.

But if you’ve made it a point to celebrate Mickey’s big day on the right day, I’ afraid you’re already a bit late.

While Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse film that was actually distributed, Mickey appeared before that in a test screening.

So if you want to be precise, his debut came on May 15, 1928, during the test screening of a silent movie called Plane Crazy. (And just for the record, Minnie appeared in this one as well.)

After Steamboat Willie’s success, Plane Crazy was released as a sound film in 1929.

So Mickey’s real 90th birthday was about six months ago.

Still, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you’re still celebrating! After all, never before has a mouse been so highly regarded! 

Happy belated birthday, Mickey!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.