D23: The Official Disney Fan Club kicked off Destination D this morning at Walt Disney World in Florida. The weekend-long event celebrates Mickey’s 90th birthday by giving fans an unprecedented look backstage and behind the scenes of all things Mickey.
The first batch of presentations focused on Mickey’s early years, spotlighting the wild and wonderful moments of the beginnings of Walt Disney Animation Studios with Walt Disney Archivist Becky Cline, producer Don Hahn, and animators John Pomeroy and Mark Henn. They provided a wealth of knowledge… here’s some of the more interesting tidbits that even the most hard-pressed Disney fans may not know.
10. Mickey was once banned in Germany.
He apparently caused “paranomical dementia.”
9. A Mickey comic made a generation of children afraid of x-rays.
The comic, called “The Blaggard Castle,” involved Horace Horsecollar being zapped by a terrifying x-ray at the hand of a dastardly villain and facing certain doom until Mickey rescues him. The comic was so widespread and children became so unanimously in refusal of x-rays that Disney had to issue an official letter on behalf of Mickey ensuring kids that x-rays were safe and doctors were their friends.
8. The Mickey doll was patented during an historic week for America.
Ironically (or perhaps strategically), Walt Disney patented the doll model for Mickey toys on October 30, 1929, the day after the stock market crash. Mickey was truly a symbol of hope for the United States during the Great Depression. Also of note, even in the desperation of this era, Walt still spent $1 million each year on animation training alone. He valued the work of his employees, and knew the significance of what they were part of.
7. Some companies went rogue with Mickey.
Despite patents and copyrights, some companies did their own thing without consent from Disney. One such function was a surge in “Mickey Mouse Circuses,” touring circuses highlighted by real acrobatic mice. Yes, really.
6. There’s an unmade cartoon called “Mickey’s Toothache.”
The film, developed in the late ’30s, would have involved Mickey having a nightmare about punishment for not brushing his teeth, including judgment from a royal Wisdom Tooth and a chase from Pete as a villainous dentist.
5. There was a Silly Symphony ballet.
As part of a licensed live touring show which featured Mickey, Minnie, and “Bozo the educated dog” (yeah I dunno), favorite Silly Symphony shorts came to life in what undoubtedly haunted children for years after.
4. Mickey and Minnie… got married?
Again the work of unlicensed, unauthorized creatives, a company in the UK developed a comic and a touring show hailing the union of Mickey and Minnie as a married couple, officiated by Horace Horsecollar. Not canon, folks!
3. Mickey and Minnie… have children?
In a car commercial from the ’50s (which is notably in itself for a mid-century, modernist style for Mickey), Mickey and Minnie are depicted as apparently a married couple, or at least portraying one as actors for the sake of the commercial. In the backseat of their car are, again based on context clues, their two boys! Maybe Morty and Ferdie, or something more…? You decide.
2. Admission for The Mickey Mouse Club in the ’30s was a potato.
To help those in need during the Depression, admission for the popular Mickey Mouse Club functions at movie theaters around the country was a nickel and a potato. Oh, if only this was admission for D23 events!
1. Mickey Mouse was once played by a live monkey.
In an older, non-Disney version of Babes in Toyland, Disney authorized the likeness of Mickey to portrayed by a monkey in the film. Like, this is real. This actually happened.