Disney's most popular character is celebrating a birthday today. No, its not Miley Cyrus. It's Mickey Mouse himself!
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Mickey got his start in life after his creator, Walt Disney, got screwed over by Universal Pictures. In 1928, Disney was heading up Disney Brothers Studio for Universal and riding high with his wildly popular character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Rather than reward Disney for his success, Universal stole his character, hired away his employees and offered to let him stick around at a reduced salary. That was an offer Disney could - and did - refuse.
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Walt Disney and his loyal animator Ub Iwerks went back to the drawing board, transforming Oswald the Rabbit into a mouse. Mickey, briefly known as Mortimer, struggled through a few animated bombs before finally getting his big break on November 18, 1928. On that date in New York City, Steamboat Willie premiered to rave reviews. The first animation to feature synchronized music and sound effects, the film made Mickey Mouse a star.
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With Mickey's popularity spreading across the country, Walt Disney kicked the marketing into high gear. Mickey Mouse merchandise was created and within two years, the lovable rodent had his own fan club - The Mickey Mouse Club. Take that, Universal Pictures!
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Over the years, Mickey has undergone numerous makeovers but his appeal remains constant. He has transcended his humble beginnings to become a cultural icon recognized and loved around the world.
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And unlike many other Disney stars, Mickey never succumbed to the temptations of fame and remains to this day an appropriate object of affection for children everywhere. Happy Birthday, Mickey!
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