Little Bits of History

Plane Crazy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 15, 2012

May 15, 1928: A six minute black-and-white cartoon premieres. The silent cartoon was distributed by Celebrity Pictures of Buena Vista, California. It was mostly drawn by Ub Iwerks who took six weeks to produce the short. The main character was co-produced by him and his partner. Ub was 27 years old at the time of the release and went on to work with his far more famous co-producer and brilliantly successful creation. Although not immediately popular, the main character became world famous when he first performed in a sound cartoon.

Plane Crazy starred Mickey Mouse – six months before the release of Steamboat Willie. In Plane Crazy, Mickey imitates his hero, Charles Lindbergh. Mickey builds an airplane and his girlfriend, Minnie, gives him a good luck horseshoe. Mickey invites Minnie for a ride and they suffer some spectacular misadventures. Mickey’s main goal throughout the short film is to get Minnie to give him a kiss. He finally steals one before Minnie bails from the plane (using her bloomers for a parachute). Mickey is so distracted, he crashes the plane. Minnie storms off after Mickey laughs at her so Mickey throws the good luck charm away. It boomerangs back and the cartoon ends with it swinging around Mickey’s neck.

Walt Disney produced the cartoon and co-directed it. He and Ub collaborated in the writing and a second release in December of the same year added a music background written by Carl Stalling. Mickey himself was a replacement for a character Walt Disney had drawn for Charles Mintz of  Universal Studios. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was “born” in 1927. When Disney asked for a larger budget for the project, he was instead informed he was facing a budget cut and most of his staff was hired away. Since Mintz owned Oswald, he thought he could not lose. Disney instead left and opened the new Disney Studio with just himself and Iwerks.

In Plane Crazy, Mickey was portrayed as both mischievous and amorous and was often described as a rogue. It wasn’t immediately popular and Disney was also faced with difficulties finding a distributor. The two men continued to collaborate and created The Gallopin’ Gaucho. Iwerks did all the animation on the cartoon. The men again failed to find a distributor. Not willing to give up, they tried once again. They finally caught the world’s attention when they put out Steamboat Willie. Mickey Mouse was on his way to stardom.

Mickey Mouse to a three-year-old is a six-foot-tall RAT! –  Robin Williams

When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity. – Walt Disney

Born of necessity, the little fellow [Mickey Mouse] literally freed us of immediate worry. He provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium cartoon animation towards new entertainment levels. He spelled production liberation for us. – Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse was the star in the early days, but he was too much of a Mr. Nice Guy. – Jack Hannah

Also on this day:

A Cattle Trail Grows Up – In 1905 Las Vegas is established.
Friends Hospital – In 1817, the first private psychiatric hospital in the US opened.
Puckle Gun – In 1718, the first machine gun was patented.

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