November 18 - 1928 - The Premiere of Steamboat Willie

By 1928, Walt Disney was a mildly successful cartoonist and animator. He also had lost his one popular character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and was struggling to break through with his new character, Mickey Mouse. When he saw the movie The Jazz Singer, the Al Jolson vehicle that first had significant synchronized sound, he decided he needed to make a fully synchronized sound short animated cartoon starring Mickey Mouse. Rather than remaking his previous, non-distributed shorts starring Mickey Mouse into sound films, Disney created a brand new shortfilm, Steamboat Willie. Steamboat Willie featured Mickey Mouse tormenting the character of Pete, a large dog, on Pete's own steamboat, accompanied by his girlfriend Minnie Mouse. Most of the dialogue, which was entirely performed by Walt Disney himself, was essentially grunts and squeaks. More strikingly, there was an extended gag featuring the traditional song, "Turkey in the Straw," meaning the soundtrack was key to the entire film. When Steamboat Willie premiered, it became a sensation, introducing Mickey Mouse to the world and setting Walt Disney on his way to massive success.

William Floyd