Fun Facts About Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse

mickey mouse
Credit: Disney

Did you know that Mickey Mouse is estimated to stand just over two feet tall? Or that he’s the most frequent selection for write-in candidates on U.S. election ballots? Here are eight more fun facts you may not have known about the world’s most iconic mouse.

1. He Was Originally Going to Be Named Mortimer

Alas, Walt’s wife Lillian is said to have hated the name Mortimer and instead suggested Mickey. The name was later recycled for Mickey’s rival, beginning with the aptly titled 1936 short Mickey’s Rival, and the character still continues to make appearances to this day. Differing accounts also assert that Mickey’s full name is actually Michael Theodore Mouse, though there doesn’t appear to be any concrete evidence to support this claim.

Mickey’s Rival

2. His First Words Would Become a Signature Phrase

While 1928’s Steamboat Willie may have been the first animated film to feature sound, it wasn’t until the following year’s The Karnival Kid that the now iconic mouse uttered his first words. The eight-minute short features a carnival that includes characters such as “Minnie the Shimmy Dancer”, but it is most notable for Mickey’s appearance as a food vendor trying to entice revelers by shouting “Hot dogs! Hot dogs!” In the ensuing years, “hot dog” would go on to become Mickey’s go-to exclamation.

The Karnival Kid

3. There’s a Reason He Wears White Gloves

1929 also marked the first appearance of Mickey’s white gloves. In The Opry House — which features Mickey playing the piano in front of a packed house — Walt decided to add gloves in order for viewers to better see the mouse’s hand movements while he tickled the ivories. He also gave the rodent human hands in order to make him seem more, well, human. Though he did subtract one digit, both because five seemed to be too much and because less fingers made it easier to animate the character.

The Opry House

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4. He Was the First Cartoon Character to Receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Naturally, as one of the most (if not the most) influential and globally recognized cartoon characters of all time, Mickey Mouse was the first such animated icon to receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The honor was bestowed upon him on the 50th anniversary of Mickey’s big screen debut in Steamboat Willie; November 18th, 1978. The character, however, actually appeared in two animated shorts prior to his debut as a steamboat pilot. Which brings us to our next entry on this list.

5. He Starred in Two Short Films Prior to Steamboat Willie

While Steamboat Willie is notable as the first animated production to feature sound, Mickey Mouse actually appeared in a pair of shorts prior to that film’s release. The very first — the silent, Charles Lindbergh-inspired Plane Crazy — also marked the first appearance of Minnie Mouse, and was screened for distributors on May 15th, 1928. Everyone passed on the film. The second attempt, The Gallopin’ Gaucho, was completed in August of that year, though its release was put on the back burner while Walt finished Steamboat Willie. Both of these shorts were later released with sound.  

Plane Crazy

6. He Was Originally Voiced by Walt Disney Himself

From 1929 to 1947, Walt provided the voice of his most precious creation. As his studio began to grow and his smoking habit began to take a toll on his voice, he decided to hand over the reins to Jimmy MacDonald. The only other person to voice Mickey up until 2009 was Wayne Allwine who, incidentally, was married to Russi Taylor, the woman who gave voice to Minnie Mouse for more than 30 years.

7. He’s a Platinum-Selling Artist

Coming at the tail end of the disco craze, Mickey Mouse Disco featured both disco versions of classic Disney songs — including “It’s a Small World”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” — as well as Disney versions of disco staples, such as “Macho Duck”. Released in 1979, the double platinum-selling album was later re-released on CD in the ‘90s and again as an LP in 2019. It can also currently be found for download.

8. He Has a Large Extended Family

Though they aren’t spoken of or seen very often, Mickey is actually part of a fairly extensive family. Mickey’s twin nephews, Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse, were introduced in comic strips in the 1930s and later appeared in other media, including most notably as Tiny Tim in 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Madeline Mouse — Mickey’s blonde city cousin — also appeared in serial strips in the 1940s, while his good old aunt Melinda has made regular appearances in Italian Disney comics. Even Oswald the Lucky Rabbit — Mickey’s predecessor in the Disney universe — has been referred to as his older half brother.

About Mike Riccardini

A second generation Disneyphile, Michael has visited the Orlando resort well over a dozen times, inheriting his passion for the Mouse House from his mother, a day one devotee of the Magic Kingdom and one of its staunchest advocates. Now a father himself, he remains devoted to sharing in the magic with his own daughter, allowing him to appreciate the Disney universe from an entirely new perspective and pass down his family’s traditions to the next generation of Mickey-eared enthusiasts.