INFO: Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse by Bill Iadonisi
INFO: Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse by Bill Iadonisi
One cannot evoke the name of Mickey Mouse without almost an unconscious thought of adding “Minnie Mouse”; much like “Muck and Mire” or “Ben and Jerry” they just go together. One of the interesting notes about the character of Minnie, she did not evolve from an extra in a cartoon short like Goofy or Pluto, but was originally created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in conjunction with Mickey. In 1928 Walt’s studio had lost his star Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to distributer Charles Mintz and Universal studios; although Walt and Ub created Oswald, he was the property of Universal. When they created Mickey, they realized that he needed a co-star, preferable a sweetheart. Oswald was a flirting kind of a playboy, and they wanted Mickey to imitate him, so they needed a substitute for his love interests, i.e. Miss Cottontail, Fanny and Miss Rabbit. This developed into Minnie Mouse.
Minnie’s physical appearance was akin to the flapper girls of that era. In the beginning, her hallmark outfit consisted of high heel shoes (One color), short dress that exposes her white bloomers, (In the early cartoons, a large patch on her knickers!). She started wearing a hat with a flower, and her dress was red with white polka dots, sometimes blue. She was also drawn only with a skirt and bow, bloomers, high heels and shirtless. She also wears the familiar white gloves.
To go off on a quick tangent, over the years this is a question that has really remained unanswered for fans…Are Mickey and Minnie married? Well Dave Smith, heading up the Disney archives say there was never was an understanding. John Grant, in The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Characters states that “There was a tradition among the Imagineers that they were”. But if you have seen all the early shorts, there is always a hint of a steady courtship, or going steady so to speak, but never the mention of marriage. There were a few rivals, one in particular in the short “Mickey’s Rival” (6-20-36) where an old friend of Minnie’s Mortimer Mouse, a rival of Mickey shows up and goes on a picnic with them. Mickey is jealous, but in the end, Minnie lets Mickey know that he is not her boyfriend, and they shake hands. It’s interesting to note that Mortimer was the name first suggested for Mickey. According to Walt Disney, Mickey and Minnie Mouse have never been married on screen. However, in 1933, during an interview with Film Pictorial, Walt said, “In private life, Mickey is married to Minnie... What it really amounts to is that Minnie is, for screen purposes, his leading lady.”
It was in 1940 during Minnie’s evolution, that she along with Mickey was re-designed. Her eyes were given more detail, and her hat was replaced with today’s familiar large bow, and bows were also added to her shoes. And along with Mickey, as he became more and more of a company symbol and conservative, she also moved into this direction. She now almost wears pink or red. Minnie’s first appearance with Mickey was in the first cartoon that Walt and Ub showcased their new star, “Plane Crazy”. This short, which capitalized on the solo flight across the Atlantic by Charles Lindberg, was released as a silent film to a theater audience on May 15th, 1928, but garnered no distributers. It was later released on March 17th, 1929 as the fourth Mickey Mouse cartoon released after Steamboat Willie, The Gallopin' Gaucho, and The Barn Dance. As most know, Mickey is a bit of a rascal, trying to kiss Minnie as she rides in the plane, but refuses and parachutes out to avoid Mickey.
But nonetheless, Minnie’s personality has gradually morphed from an early personality, as playful, flirtatious and musical. She was much like a dancer or entertainer, as a flapper in the roaring twenties. She quickly became a “Damsel in distress” that formed the basis of many a cartoon where Mickey is always trying to rescue her. As time goes by, her character became more complex and strong. She has a sweet and intelligent persona. She tends to see the good in others and is a hopeless romantic. She exhibits a maternal side, especially when involved with children and animals. (I.E, Mickey’s nephews, Mortie and Ferdie). She is affectionate, loyal and very loving. But she is not perfect…she is impulsive, naïve, obsessive and easily exasperated. Other characters describe her as gutsy and strong-willed. She is known to help Mickey in fighting his many foes, many times saving the day.
The cartoon that solidified their relationship was “Mickey’s Follies”, released on 6-26-29. In this short, Mickey is hosting a barnyard musical show. In this film, the song “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo” which became the theme song for the opening of the early cartoons, was first sung by Mickey and we see Minnie reacting to it by blowing a kiss, and voicing her familiar “Yoo-Hoo”. This ascertains them as a couple and continues this day as a theme song in Disney’s TV series and can still be heard in the parks. It would be their theme song for life.
But as time went by, Minnie after the second half of the thirties appeared less in the Mickey shorts. Most likely it was the introduction of Pluto, Goofy and Donald who replaced her role. But she, like Mickey seemed to be demoted to the role of “Straight-man”, just backing up the other characters. There were a few shorts that she had a starring role in with Mickey…"Bath Day", 10-11- 1946, "First Aiders " 9-22-44, and "Pluto's Sweater" 4-29-49. She did have major roles during the 1940 in the Pluto and Figaro cartoons. She made a comeback of sorts during the ‘80’s in Mickey’s Christmas Carol and a lead in “Totally Minnie”.
Minnie’s family background is interesting…In the comic strip “The Gleam” by Floyd Gottfredson and Merrill De Maris (Jan 19th to May 2nd, 1942) her full name was given as “Minerva Mouse”. In another comic strip, “Mr. Slicker and the egg robbers”, her father was introduced as Marcus Mouse, no name to her mother, who were both farmers. In the story, there were photos of Minnie’s Uncle “Milton Mouse” and grandparents “Marshal Mouse and Matilda Mouse” She also has better known uncle, Mortimer Mouse and has twin nieces, Melody and Millie Mouse. Her best friends are Daisy Duck and Clarabelle Cow. Also curious, in the ‘40’s Minnie has a pet, a black and white kitten named Figaro, the same from Pinocchio.
The voice for Minnie was Walt, who also voiced Mickey. There was an inker at the studio, Marjorie Ralston who voiced here in one short in 1929, but no record of that short’s name. From 1930 till 1939, her voice was Marcellite Garner. Thelma Boardman voiced Minnie from 1941 till ’42, and the radio program “Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air”. From 1942 to 1952, Ruth Clifford assumed the duties, and Janet Waldo continued in the ’74 Disneyland record album; “An adaptation of Dickens Christmas Carol”. Minnie would not speak again until 1986 when Russi Taylor, wife of late voice actor Wayne Allwine, who voiced Mickey from 1977 till his death in 2009, took over and continues to this day.
After Mickey’s Christmas Carol (She was cast as Mrs. Cratchit) and Totally Minnie, she had a cameo in 1988’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, abet with no spoken lines. In Television, she appeared in every episode of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. In Mickey Mouse Works, she stars in several of her own segments; she also starred in Maestro Minnie shorts, conducting an orchestra of living instruments. In the House of Mouse, she runs Mickey’s nightclub. She also appeared in the educational Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie’s Bow-Toons; here she manages a “Bow-tique” She stars as a queen and princess in the Kingdom Hearts series. She likewise stars with Mickey in the Disney on Ice play, “Disney Presents Pixar’s The Incredibles”.
Minnie appears with Mickey in the Mickey Mouse comic strips and comic books as his girlfriend, what else! Minnie has appeared in many video games alongside Mickey. Often, she either has to be rescued by Mickey or she joins him on his adventures, such as in Mickey Mousecapade, The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey and Minnie, and Hide & Sneak. A costume of Minnie is also available in Disney Universe and she also appears in Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. In the parks, she is third in popularity after Mickey and Donald. Her house can be toured in Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, and has meet and greets in Disneyland. She appears in Mickey’s “Soundsational Parade” and in the World of Color. In the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, a statue of her and Roy O. Disney sitting on a bench signifies their roles in helping Mickey and Walt. In Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire, Minnie is given a surprise by Mickey towards the end of the show…that being the appearances of Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Minnie also serves as a co-host in Mickey's PhilharMagic, voice only. For meet-and-greets, she can be found at Pete's Silly Sideshow.
In Tokyo Disneyland, Minnie was the central character in the high-energy musical show, Minnie Oh! MinnieDisney Cruise Line. She is a meetable character on the Disney Cruise lines and is the head statue in the atrium of the Fantasy. And Minnie was taken back to her roots in the 2013 Mickey Mouse series, regaining her flowered bowler hat and short flapper girl dress, along with the classic rubber-hose gags.
Minnie Mouse Trivia…
- Minnie's eyes are usually longer and wider than Mickey's, while her smile is slightly shorter and more closed than his.
◆ Compared to Daisy, Minnie acts more proper and lady-like.
◆ Minnie has over two-hundred outfits.
◆ Minnie is one of the 3 Disney icons to have officially a middle name. The others being Mickey Mouse, whose name was given as Michael Theodore Mouse in some comics, and Donald Duck, whose full name has been revealed to be Donald Fauntleroy Duck.
◆ Like Mickey, Minnie's ears always face the same way, no matter which direction she is facing.
◆ In Japanese Disney theme parks, it is more likely to find Minnie Mouse ears instead of Mickey Mouse ears.
◆ It has been officially stated that Minnie shares the same birthday as Mickey Mouse (November 18th).
◆ According to Mortimer Mouse, Minnie is his former girlfriend who left him.
So it appears that Mickey and Minnie will be an item for as long as there are Disney fans!