“He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad twenty years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb, and disaster seemed right around the corner.” — Walt Disney
Walt Disney had to think fast — his company’s first hit cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit had been stolen from him after a rights dispute with competitor Universal. Disney had to create a new character that could compete with his greatest creation, and one cross-country train ride later, he had sketched out an early form of Mickey Mouse. Oswald wasn’t so lucky after all, as his days were numbered as animation’s biggest animal when Mickey Mouse made his big screen debut 91 years ago today at a test screening of the cartoon “Plane Crazy”. The six-minute animated short featuring Mickey and friends trying to assemble an airplane failed to gain distribution, but months later Disney released Mickey’s first true public appearance with the enormous success “Steamboat Willie” — and a cartoon star was born.