I’ve always loved this picture of Mickey painting his self-portrait with Walt being the image that he creates. It begs the question, where was the fine line between the man and the mouse? I like that the answer is so blurry because naturally, everything we create holds something of us inside it. I plan on devoting many a Wednesdays to Walt’s alter ego and the bond that they shared.
Walt’s wife Lillian has been quoted saying, “Walt and Mickey were so simpatico. They almost seemed like they had the same identity.” Indeed, everything about Mickey came from Walt, including his voice. Below you’ll see a fantastic video I found in which Walt is voicing Mickey for a short called “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip.” Walt not only gave his voice but the animators also instilled some of his mannerisms into the character as well. The video explains that there were over 120 shorts created starring Mickey and Walt voiced over 100 of them up until 1946. I laugh when I watch that because we all know Walt’s actual voice. Hearing this squeaky, friendly, and albeit a bit awkward voice come out of his mouth so naturally is a bit comedic to me. In contrast, you see Billy Bletcher who on all accounts looks like a smaller man, but out of his mouth comes raspy and aggressive Pete. People say that animators are actors themselves and I have never doubted that fact.
Below is the actual cartoon short itself. If you have seven minutes to spare, I do recommend watching to see the lengths Mickey will go to to board a “no dogs allowed” train with his best pal, Pluto. (Although I wonder what the ASPCA thinks about stuffing your dog in a tiny suitcase for long periods of time… Don’t try this at home, kids.) They spend most of this cartoon running away from Pete, the scary conductor (which if you are from NY you may get LIRR flashbacks) and trying to get to their destination unscathed. Of course, hilarity ensues and the two friends share a sweet laugh and high five once they luckily arrive. Oh, Mickey, you jokester!
If you hadn’t noticed, my buddy Estelle is a huge Muppets fan and she recently told me that Jim Henson was the voice of Kermit the Frog. I never knew that, but to me it seems only natural. Both Mickey and Kermit were born from two extremely creative men who felt obligated to both protect the integrity of their creation as well as see the potential in them grow to heights I’m sure neither had imagined. It only seems fitting that they would lend their unique voices to their characters. As I write this, I’m wondering what would happen if Mickey and Kermit ever starred side by side in a cartoon? I don’t think Estelle and I would be able to contain ourselves as I’m sure, neither would you.