Happy Birthday, Mickey!


The Art of Walt Disney: from Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms and beyond, by Christopher Finch


In case you didn’t know, today marks the birthday of one of the 20th century’s most well-known cultural icons.  On November 18th, 1928, the silver screen lit up with the first ever appearance of Mickey Mouse.  The cartoon was of course Steamboat Willie, which can be viewed for free on YouTube.

Happy 86th Birthday, Mickey!

As a cartoon Mickey Mouse is most often associated with children.  However, many adults who grew up with the mouse have an interest in Mickey, either because of nostalgia, a fascination of how his father, Walt Disney, created a media empire, or how that empire effects our culture today.  So, I thought that in today’s blog post we could celebrate Mickey Mouse by exploring the places he lives in the Winnipeg Public Library collections from a more “grown-up” perspective.


uvm_00050087285104_thumbnailIf you now have “Turkey in the Straw” stuck in your head after watching Steamboat Willie, head over to WPL’s new streaming and downloading service, Hoopla Digital.  There you will find A Musical Tour:  Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, an album that highlights many of the great musical tracks from Disney films, including the aforementioned ditty.

If you are more interested in where the inspiration for Steamboat Willie came from, check out Steamboat Bill Jr. from our DVD collection.  It’s a silent comedy featuring Buster Keaton that was the inspiration for the Mickey Mouse film.  Keaton was a contemporary of Charlie Chaplin, and though Keaton is less well known today, the two were competing stars in the era of silent film.



To see how Mickey Mouse has influenced the art of Disney animation, as well as to see how Mickey himself has evolved over the years I recommend  The Art of Walt Disney: from Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms and beyond.  And if you want to learn more about the man behind the mouse, check out Walt Disney: the Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler, which provides a comprehensive overview of the life of Walt Disney.

Those who have more of a general interest in cartoonists might want to take a look at Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World.  This book is done in the style of a graphic novel and provides sixteen biographies of influential cartoonists including Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, and Edward Gorey.



Given the size of the Walt Disney Company and its long history, it should come as no surprise that Disney has faced its share of criticism.  In the United States the 1998 Copy Right Term Extension Act (CRTEA) was mockingly labeled as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act because it significantly lengthened the time it would take for copyrighted works such as ‘Mickey Mouse’ to enter the public domain.  A great book that looks at some of the problems associated with current copyright law and discusses possible solutions is William Patry’s How to Fix Copyright.

Meet the Mouse

Lastly, if you would like to meet the mouse, be sure to check out the many travel guides for Walt Disney World in our collection, including:  Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World without Kids.


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