As each year goes by I find myself more and more fascinated with Walt Disney. With the recent success of Saving Mr. Banks there has been a lot more interest in Walt Disney and his life story. He always said that “It all started with a mouse” and I want to share a bit of the connection between Walt and Mickey.
Walt provided the original voice for Mickey Mouse from 1929 to around 1946 and kept doing it until he became so busy with the work at the studio that he had to get someone else to take over. In this rare clip you can see Walt Disney along with Billy Bletcher recording vocal tracks for two cartoons: Pluto’s Dream House and Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip.
Walt took a great deal of pride on voicing Mickey’s high falsetto voice until he handed it over to Jimmy MacDonald. From 1954 to 1959 the Mickey Mouse Club became a huge national hit and many of the episodes opened with Mickey addressing the audience. Walt once again took on the voicing of Mickey but the many years of smoking had taken its toll and our favorite mouse doesn’t quite sound like himself.
Jimmy MacDonald took the character over from Walt Disney. He was a sound guy for the studio as well. Wayne Allwine took the reigns of Mickey’s voice as well for a long period until his untimely death in 2009. In the clip below you can see the two long time voices of Mickey sitting chatting.
Walt and Mickey: Inextricably Tied Together
People have always said that Mickey Mouse was really Walt Disney and vice versa. You can really see that the Mickey Mouse persona that was defined in the 1920s-1940’s largely reflected Walt’s boyishness, enthusiasm and resilience.
Disney historian Jim Korkis wrote this touching piece about the Mickey and Walt connection. This happened during the opening ceremony of Walt Disney World. The year was 1971 and Walt had died five years earlier. Roy Disney (Walt’s brother) came out of retirement to complete the Florida project. During the opening day’s festivities Roy was to dedicate the park…
“As John Hench recounted, “Roy Disney stood facing the microphone before a crowd of guests ready to deliver the dedication speech at the opening ceremony. He suddenly turned and looked around and I heard him say quietly, ‘Somebody go find Mickey for me. We don’t have Walt any more, and Mickey is nearest thing to Walt that we have left.’ Mickey appeared and Roy promptly began his speech, with Mickey standing proudly at his side.”
Actually, looking at photos of the occasion, Mickey is respectfully bowing his head with his hands folded in front of him, completely aware of the importance of the occasion and the significance of Mickey’s presence at that moment in time.”