Mickey Mouse Birthday in Pictures: How the Character Has Evolved Over 91 Years

The week after Disney entered the streaming wars with its Disney+ service, the company celebrated a big birthday as its most famous character turned 91. Mickey Mouse, a character so integral to the Disney brand that the company is sometimes called the Mouse House, first appeared alongside Minnie in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928 and has appeared in countless iterations since appearing across dozens of movies and TV shows and appearing on everything from watches to videogames to works of art.

Though Mickey may be one of the most instantly recognizable characters in the history of cartoons, he has had a number of image changes across nine decades as he has evolved from black and white to colour to CGI.

How Mickey Mouse has evolved over 91 years

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Mickey Mouse in 'Steamboat Willie.' Disney

1928: Steamboat Willie

Though Steamboat Willie was the third Mickey Mouse cartoon to be produced, it was the first to feature synchronised sound and the first to be publicly screened, as Walt Disney himself realised that sound was the future after seeing first "talkie" The Jazz Singer. The eight-minute short established the classic Mickey look, but the character's white gloves do not appear until the following year.

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Mickey with creator Walt Disney. Getty/General Photographic Agency

1935: Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse

Mickey was an instant success for creator Walt Disney. By 1932, the same year Disney won an honorary Oscar for creating the character, The Mickey Mouse Club had one million members. Disney posed with his signature creation in 1935, the year the character first appeared in color and the year after Donald Duck joined the classic Disney cast.

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Mickey in 'The Band Concert.' Disney

1935: The Band Concert

After a brief color appearance in a film strip created for the 1932 Oscars, Mickey's first full color outing was The Band Concert, a short once named the third best of all time by animation professionals. Though the film showed Mickey in color, it would not be later until the classic Mickey costume of red shorts with white buttons was revealed, as he appears in a conductor outfit in the movie.

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Mickey in 'Fantasia.' Disney

1940: Fantasia

One of Mickey's most famous appearances was in "The Magician's Apprentice" segment of Fantasia, Disney's mix of classical music and animation which was a financial flop when first released but has since been held up as a masterpiece. Mickey's wizard hat has been associated with the character ever since, with a giant version of it at the center of Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.

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Still from 'Pluto's Party.' Disney

1952: Pluto's Party

With just two strokes of the pen, this '50s short changed the whole look of Mickey's face by giving him eyebrows.

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Mickey at Disneyland. Getty/Hulton Archive

1955: Disneyland

In 1955, Disneyland opened its doors for the first time in Anaheim, California in a former orange grove, with Mickey as its mascot. Disney's theme park division has since gone global, with parks in locations from Tokyo to Paris. Today, 16 million people visit the Anaheim park every year, with nearly 160 million visitors a year to all the parks and Disney attractions.

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Mickey Mouse in 'Mickey's Christmas Carol.' Disney

1983: Mickey's Christmas Carol

Over 30 years after the eyebrows were introduced, they were removed again in 1983 for Mickey's Christmas Carol (streaming on Disney+ now), a retelling of the Charles Dickens story with Mickey as Bob Cratchit in the character's first cinema appearance since 1953.

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King Mickey in 'Kingdom Hearts 2.' Square Enix

2002: Kingdom Hearts

Mickey has been appearing in video games since 1981, when Nintendo gave him his own Game & Watch console. However, in 2002, he literally became video game royalty as he starred as King Mickey in Kingdom Hearts, the series of games that brought Disney characters into a Final Fantasy-like world.

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Donald, Daisy, Minnie and Mickey in 'Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.' Disney

2004: Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas

Though 2002's Kingdom Hearts gave viewers a glimpse of what a computer-generated Mickey would look like, 2004's Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas (streaming on Disney+) was the first Disney film to feature a CGI version of the character.

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Mickey and Minnie in 'Mickey Mouse.' Disney

2013: Mickey Mouse

2013 saw the Mickey Mouse design go full circle as TV series Mickey Mouse brought back a Steamboat Willie-inspired look for the character.

Mickey Mouse Birthday in Pictures: How the Character Has Evolved Over 91 Years | Culture