Anyone who is a Disney fan loves Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. The duo went on to be household names of the Walt Disney Company. But what if we told you that Walt Disney wasn’t actually the one who created Mickey Mouse.
Animator Ub Iwerks was a Kansas City native known for some of the most iconic scenes of all time, including those in Disney’s Mary Poppins and Sleeping Beauty, as well as Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds. But what Iwerks doesn’t get credit for is creating the one and only Mickey Mouse.
That’s right, Kansas City animator Ub Iwerks is the one who designed Mickey Mouse in 1928 and single-handedly animated the first Mickey cartoon in Hollywood. Meaning all of those stories about how Mickey was inspired by a pet mouse that Walt Disney had in Kansas City at the Laugh-O-Gram Studios, or that Disney came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse while on a train from New York to California, are, in fact, false.
According to reports, Iwerks’s granddaughter Leslie Iwerks, said “[Ub Iwerks] said that it was not Walt creating the character on a train… So that was a very different story than the Disney company had put out or that Walt started telling after Mickey became successful.”
The real story of how Mickey Mouse was created is a simple one – the iconic mouse was born during an extremely tense, stressful moment. Walt Disney had just lost the rights to his first hit character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and all of his animators had abandoned him. Everyone except the Oswald co-creator, Ub Iwerks, who is the real person behind Mickey Mouse’s creation.
Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks met as teenagers, where they worked together at the same Kansas City commercial art studio. “He was the person who was doing most of the behind-the-scenes work. And when Walt was taking credit, Ub was the one who was denied credit,” says Jeff Ryan, author of “A Mouse Divided: How Ub Iwerks Became Forgotten, and Walt Disney Became Uncle Walt.”
But because Disney took the credit of creating Mickey Mouse, and did not give credit to Iwerks, it led to the friendship ending and Iwerks leaving Walt Disney Studios to start his own animation studio, citing “personal differences with Walt.”
Did you know that Walt Disney didn’t actually create Mickey Mouse single handedly? Let us know in the comments below.