DISNEY’S ANIMATED MOUSE TOOK WORLD BY STORM 90 YEARS AGO
Ninety years ago, a mouse changed pop culture forever.
Mickey Mouse is perhaps the most recognizable cartoon character in the world. And it all began in 1928, when Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks set out to produce a cartoon with a mouse wearing shorts, large shoes and white gloves.
“No one can deny Mickey’s importance in film and animation history and in the pop-culture fabric of the United States and the world,” says Jim Lentz, director of animation art at Heritage Auctions.
What better way to celebrate the mouse’s 90th anniversary, Lentz says, than a special collection of historical items being offered at Heritage Auctions’ animation art auction scheduled for Dec. 8 in Beverly Hills. “Some of the most notable collectors of Disneyana are opening their vaults to share their precious pieces of animation and original art with fans,” Lentz says.
Among the offerings is an original animation drawing from Plane Crazy, first shown to a test audience in May 1928, making it technically the first Mickey Mouse cartoon shown theatrically, Lentz says. “This drawing is attributed to the hand of Ub Iwerks,” Lentz says, “and is a major piece of Disney and Mickey Mouse history.”
Also offered are pieces of animation from other Disney classics, such as 1928’s Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse’s first widely released cartoon.
“The short was directed by Disney, who also provided the voice for Mickey Mouse,” Lentz says. “The animation was done by Iwerks. This is an extremely rare and important piece of Disney animation art, showing both Mickey and Peg Leg Pete. This image can be seen at the 7:02 mark of the film.”
The 1940 film Fantasia gave Mickey perhaps his greatest role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “This is one of the single best animation drawings from this performance we have seen,” Lentz says. “As total bedlam is going on, Yen Sid appears at the top of the stairs and waves his hands and arms, and all is returned to normal. This is an outstanding, one-of-a-kind piece that shows Mickey handing the hat back.”
All together, the auction includes 1,000 pieces from Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. and MGM, among others. “We also have key pieces from cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay that reflect the birth of animation,” Lentz says, “as well as artwork from the hand of Disney artist Mary Blair and artwork from the Mary Blair Family Trust.”
The auction represents one of the largest collections of early and important Mickey Mouse production artwork brought to market, Lentz says. “This auction offers collectors a great opportunity to acquire some of the most desirable pieces on the market today.”
This story appears in the Winter 2018-2019 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition