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Pencil Drawing, Mickey Mouse
1928

"Steamboat Willie"
America's most popular mouse was born in Walt Disney's imagination early in 1928 on a train ride he and his wife took from New York to Los Angeles. "I had this mouse in the back of my head," he recalled, "because a mouse is a sort of a sympathetic character in spite of the fact that everybody's frightened of a mouse...including myself." Disney spent the train ride conjuring up a little mouse in red velvet pants and named him Mortimer. But by the time the train screeched into the terminal station in Los Angeles, the new dream mouse had been rechristened. Walt's wife, Lillian, thought "Mortimer" too pompous. She suggested "Mickey" instead. A star was born.

Notes
"Steamboat Willie" was the world's first completely synchronized sound cartoon.
Drawing is one of six selected by Roy Disney (nephew of Walt Disney and a veteran animator) for donation.
Gift from The Walt Disney Company in honor of Mickey's 60th birthday, November 1988.
Web display only

Learn more!
· Smithsonian News Release, November 9, 1988 [SI-500-88]

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